Picking out which running backs to start on a weekly basis has become one of the toughest parts of fantasy football. Aside from the elite options, there are a bunch of timeshare situations, bye weeks and injury concerns that give owners a headache.
While most owners end up sticking with the players they selected higher on draft day, there are some other backs worth considering. Here's a breakdown of three underrated options that should be in starting lineups in Week 7.
Jones should receive a heavy workload for the Dallas Cowboys with DeMarco Murray unlikely to play due to a foot injury. The backup gained 92 yards and scored a touchdown while filling in for a sidelined Murray last week.
Fantasy owners are probably hesitant to rely on Jones given his struggles in the past, including in his time as the Cowboys' starter. However, given his strong showing last week and the favorable matchup awaiting him on Sunday, it's hard not to like his chances of having a big game.
Even though he wasn't able to prove he could handle 16 games as the lead back, he's been effective in short bursts. That's enough to warrant a lineup spot against a Carolina Panthers defense giving up nearly 130 yards per game on the ground.
Ballard got his chance to start last week for the Indianapolis Colts with Donald Brown out, but failed to make an impact, gaining just 25 yards on eight carries. It probably caused many of his new fantasy owners to exile him to the bench for this week.
He should be in line for a much better performance against the Cleveland Browns, though. Last week's lack of touches was mostly due to the fact the New York Jets built a big lead and the Colts were forced to throw. That always kills a fantasy RB.
It shouldn't be a serious concern in Week 7 since they are facing the Browns. Cleveland's run defense is also suspect, giving up 4.6 yards per carry and 131 per game. Ballard is still a solid flex option until Brown returns from injury.
Slowly but surely, Richardson is starting to make his presence felt in a St. Louis Rams backfield that's been dominated by Steven Jackson for nearly a decade. Last week, the rookie received one less carry than the veteran and gained 24 more yards.
For the season, Richardson is averaging more than five yards per carry while Jackson is below four. The Rams coaching staff can't ignore that type of production, which means the seventh-round pick's workload should continue to increase moving forward.
St. Louis should be planning to run the ball a lot against the Green Bay Packers because the team doesn't have enough firepower to keep pace in a shootout. That means plenty of chances for Richardson to make plays, putting him in the sleeper category for Week 7.