Like most opposing Running Backs I’ve been picking on the Dallas Cowboys and Chicago Bears all season. This week, the matchups dictate doing the same. In the Cowboys game, decision making is easy: Eddie Lacy appears to be ready to big go after getting in a day of practice on Friday and his volume/talent combination makes him an ideal start this week in the Big D. In Chicago, the situation is more complex.
It isn’t looking like the Browns will have their most frequently used back available as Willis McGahee is still suffering ill effects from the concussion sustained against New England and is unlikely to be available for this contest after not practicing on Friday, if at all for the remainder of the season.
— Nate Ulrich (@NateUlrichABJ) December 13, 2013
Next in line? The Silent G himself, Chris Ogbonnaya. At times this season, OGB has flashed promise of utility, particularly in PPR but his limited opportunities with the ball have made him anything but a reliable fantasy option. Fozzy Whittaker is in the mix and the only true projection here is that someone will run well against Chicago because someone always does. The Bears D has been among the league’s worst all season in both fantasy circles and on the field. Chicago is giving up the 3rd most fantasy points to RBs over the past month, consistent with their ranking on the season and they have allowed a 100 yard rusher in every game since their Week 8 bye (Alfred Morris managed a meager 95 in the game preceding it).
I’m leaning toward Ogbonnaya, while he may do some of his damage as in the passing game as opposed to continuing the century mark streak, he should be able to produce a respectable total yard effort and is very likely available in your league’s free agent pool (25% owned in Yahoo!). There isn’t much precedent here as McGahee has at least been on the field for a portion of every game since joining the Browns, but I’d have to pick Ogbonnaya as the most likely player to benefit.
For starters, he’s on the field more than anyone else, by virtue of his role as Fullback. Don’t mistake his use while playing FB or the designation as a reason to avoid him, though. Ogbonnaya has been catching the ball out of the backfield all season, topping five receptions four times and his total receptions trail just 10 backs. In part because of his duties as a blocker, he’s led Cleveland backs in snap count in all but three games and has been much busier than Whittaker with McGahee in the lineup. Without him, Fozzy will factor in but I’d expect most of the work to go to Ogbonnaya.
A 13-16 touch outing wouldn’t be a surprise, given that Ogbonnaya has averaged 9.5 over the last month while sharing the field with McGahee, and against Chicago that could go a long way (the Bears also rank 3rd in the league with .603 fantasy points per touch yielded to opposing RBs). With a negative 108.8 rating per Pro Football Focus the Bears rank as the worst run defense by 48.4 points over the next worst unit. They don’t stop the run, and they won’t this week. Expect opportunity for Whittaker as well, but owners looking for a replacement for, say, MJD or Adrian Peterson could do worse than the Silent G this week, particularly if Jordan Todman and Toby Gerhart are unavailable. A 8/50, 6/65 line isn’t out of reach and a score would be icing on the FLEX play cake.
Not convinced? Go take a look at the damage done by DeMarco Murray last week – he was rarely opposed within five yards, reaching the second level on every play as the Dallas line handled the Bears up front.
Now that you’re intrigued, why not try Ogbonnaya as a value play in this week’s draft street free roll?