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Fantasy football: Top backfields to exploit or avoid down the stretch

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Why fantasy managers shouldn't give up on Saquon (1:22)

Jordan Raanan suggests it isn't time for fantasy managers to move on from Saquon Barkley. (1:22)

It's time -- if not past time -- to get your fantasy backfields in order.

This has been a season of constant flux at the running back position. The top five selected on average during the preseason have missed a combined 18 games. Five of the 18 performances worth 30-plus PPR fantasy points this season have come from players drafted 30th or later at the position. Players like Saquon Barkley, Antonio Gibson and Miles Sanders have underperformed. Yes, running back unpredictability might be a pattern we see every season, but this year has been especially tricky to navigate with the increasing amount of key injuries.

Being Week 13 -- or at least it will be by midnight Tuesday morning -- it's essential that you solidify your fantasy football team's running back plan now, with the trade deadline in ESPN leagues set to arrive on Wednesday at 12 p.m. ET, and the fantasy playoffs set to begin in two short weeks. Consider: All but eight teams are beyond their bye weeks, greatly diminishing the need to keep your bench spots free for bye-week plug-ins, so in addition to leaning on the trade market, it's also prime time to grab insurance-policy backups behind your incumbent running backs.

To help you in your quest, I've pulled the latest Matchups Map data, typically published in my weekly Thursday column, to analyze NFL backfields ideal to exploit or avoid down the stretch and in the fantasy postseason. These numbers include all Week 12 Thursday and Sunday games, with only Monday's Seattle Seahawks-Washington game excluded from the analysis, and account for both full-season and past-five-weeks (the latter being what's used in the weekly column) data.


Load up on these backfields/players