Bryce Brown: Eagles RB a Must-Start Despite Tough Week 14 Matchup

Zach Kruse@@zachkruse2Senior Analyst IDecember 8, 2012

Dec 2, 2012; Arlington, TX, USA;  Philadelphia Eagles running back Bryce Brown (34) runs the ball during the game against the Dallas Cowboys at Cowboys Stadium. The Cowboys beat the Eagles 38-33. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Despite a trip south to face one of the NFL's top run defenses in Week 14, Philadelphia Eagles running back Bryce Brown remains a must-start in most fantasy football leagues and formats. 

While the Eagles will take on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and their No. 1-ranked run defense in a pivotal week fantasy-wise, teams that have committed to the run—much like Philadelphia will likely do Sunday—have enjoyed a measure of success against Tampa Bay. 

In games against Minnesota, Washington and Atlanta, the Buccaneers allowed an average of over 21 fantasy points to opposing running backs. In fact, despite possessing the top-ranked run defense yardage-wise (82.3 yards a game), Tampa Bay is still allowing opposing backfields to average 15.1 fantasy points a game this season. That number ranks in the middle of the pack. 

Brown should see a healthy diet of carries Sunday. 

The Eagles, starting a rookie quarterback in Nick Foles, have attempted 26 running plays in each of the last two games. Foles will start again Sunday, so that kind of run-heavy distribution should continue on the road in Week 14.

If the better-than-it-appears matchup doesn't sway your opinion, just consider what Brown has done as the Eagles' primary ball-carrier. 

In two starts since LeSean McCoy suffered a concussion, Brown has totaled 347 rushing yards and four touchdowns—both of which lead the NFL over that stretch.

Also, his individual game totals of 178 yards against the Carolina Panthers and 169 against the Dallas Cowboys represent the highest the Eagles have had rushing the football since McCoy tallied 185 against the Cowboys in Week 8 of last season. 

To add more context on the back-to-back 160-yard games, consider that McCoy and Brian Westbrook—the two primary running backs in Philadelphia over the last decade or so—have a combined two career games with 160 or more rushing yards.

Brown has also caught four passes in each start, which also makes him a worthy starter in all PPR leagues.

Overall, saying Brown has been special and historically good in two early starts would be a fantasy understatement. 

That said, there are inherent risks at play here that drive this question in the first place.

Brown has suffered from a little fumbling problem (three in two weeks), and rookies with such evident problems can be risky usage-wise. Young players like Brown can also be frustratingly inconsistent, even if the first two contests say otherwise. Expecting another 160-yard game Sunday in Tampa Bay is more than likely pushing your fantasy luck. 

But those who did get lucky enough to snag Brown on the waiver wire this month shouldn't fret about having him in the lineup in Week 14, the start of the fantasy playoffs for many leagues. 

The Bucs aren't as scary a fantasy matchup as it may seem, Brown is getting consistent touches in the run and pass game and the production is there at historic levels.

Don't overthink the decision. Start Brown with confidence.