Try these backup running backs for Week 13


As some fight to improve their seeding in the fantasy football playoffs, teams on the bubble find themselves in a must-win situation. Every point matters, and the only thing worse than dealing with an injury to a marquee player is when that player doesn’t take the field until Monday night.

Unless you have a sensible pivot who plays Monday as well, you could be forced into starting someone purely out of desperation. So goes the road for those who roster and need a strong game from Jaguars running back Travis Etienne.

Last week was a tough one for those who used Etienne, as he rushed for just 56 yards on 20 carries and failed to find the end zone. He did receive four carries inside the 10-yard line, three inside the 5, but continued to come up empty. Then it was revealed he suffered a chest injury and though he managed to return to the game, he was ineffective.

Some missed practices early in the week put his fantasy managers on notice, and as the week ends, we are left with one limited practice and a questionable tag for Monday.

For those who start Etienne each week, there is a real danger of him missing his Week 13 matchup against a soft Bengals run defense. The immediate move should be to add D’Ernest Johnson, as the veteran journeyman has surpassed rookie Tank Bigsby on the depth chart. Should Etienne be out, Johnson should be the one to shoulder the load. However, if Johnson is unavailable, then desperation is likely to set in.

You simply cannot wait on Etienne’s status without having a Monday night pivot, and if Johnson isn’t available, you are going to have to sift through the rubble and find help. Zack Moss was the waiver darling this week, so if he’s available, grab him. If not, you have to look even deeper.

D'Ernest Johnson has surpassed rookie Tank Bigsby on the Jaguars' depth chart.
D’Ernest Johnson has surpassed rookie Tank Bigsby on the Jaguars’ depth chart. AP

You could look to Moss’ immediate backup, Trey Sermon, but he is more of a speculative add, and guessing his workload level could be is a dangerous game.

Former Jets running back Michael Carter, who landed with Arizona is an option. He played 39 percent of the snaps in his first game with Arizona and saw four carries and four targets. It isn’t pretty, but it’s also not a zero.

Betting on the NFL?

Backup running backs who have an actual path to touches are tough to find, but when it comes to making the playoffs, desperate times call for desperate measures. You can let this be a lesson to you for the future, the importance of handcuffing your running backs, but the lesson doesn’t help you today.

Don’t chance the zero. Grab what you can and hope for better news by Saturday night. If you don’t get it, don’t wait until Monday. Start whomever you can.

Howard Bender is the head of content at Follow him on X @rotobuzzguy and catch him on the award-winning “Fantasy Alarm Radio Show” on the SiriusXM fantasy sports channel weekdays from 6-8 p.m. Go to for all your fantasy football advice. 

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