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Run at them or run away

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Colts running back Donald Brown might find some running room against the porous defense of the Panthers.

A Cleveland Browns running back I had never heard of until three weeks ago recently boosted me to wins in both of my fantasy leagues.

Chris Ogbonnaya, thanks for the memories. I’m not sure you’ll remain in my lineup, but the 115 rushing yards and the touchdown you produced Sunday are numbers I’ll take every week.

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Picking up Ogbonnaya after injuries to Peyton Hillis and Montario Hardesty was the definition of a flyer. The former Texas Longhorn was signed off the Texans’ practice squad in October, and after a slow start with Cleveland, he has made the most of his two recent starts.

Ogbonnaya is one of many unheralded runners who may affect your leagues as the fantasy playoffs approach. Let’s analyze some under-the-radar backs you should consider, and others you should avoid.

Three up:

Donald Brown, RB, Indianapolis: Despite the fact that he plays for the Colts, who seem as if they’re trying not to score, Brown has a good matchup this weekend: the Panthers. Carolina’s rushing defense is so poor it made Chris Johnson look good two weeks ago.

Da’Rel Scott, RB, New York Giants: A rookie from Maryland, Scott has barely played. But when he’s on the field, his ability is obvious. With Ahmad Bradshaw’s foot injury, D.J. Ware’s concussion, and Brandon Jacobs playing like he’s breaking down, Scott could get an opportunity.

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Tashard Choice, RB, Buffalo: With starter Fred Jackson out for the season with a broken bone in his right leg, go with Choice, who was released by Washington Tuesday after starting the season with Dallas. He was picked up by Buffalo when Jackson was placed on injured reserve Wednesday. Choice is likely available in your league - pick him up now.

Three down:

Toby Gerhart, RB, Minnesota: Gerhart has backed up Adrian Peterson for a year and a half, and when Peterson went down, Gerhart played like a backup. Seven carries for 18 yards isn’t a résumé builder.

Shane Vereen, RB, New England: Nothing is as frustrating as relying on a Mike Shanahan running back, but Bill Belichick’s use of runners comes close. Vereen was productive in garbage time against Kansas City, but don’t make your life difficult by picking him up.

C.J. Spiller, RB, Buffalo: With Jackson out, Spiller’s role will increase. The former Clemson star has never produced when given the chance, so why should now be any different?

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