Week Sixteen Analysis: Vick Ballard is really coming alive down the stretch of his first NFL season. He's averaged 5.2 yards per carry over the last three weeks, while scoring in one game and topping 100 total yards in the other two. He's received 20 and 18 touches the last two weeks, so he has some nice momentum going into a very winnable matchup with the Chiefs' 27th-ranked run defense. Over the last two weeks, Cleveland and Oakland backs have totaled 361 yards and two touchdowns against Kansas City. Ballard has a lot of things working in his favor this week.
Week Fourteen Analysis: Vick Ballard has notched at least 12 touches in seven consecutive games, and he'll be in line for much more this week with Donald Brown out. With an average of 3.7 yards per carry, and just two touchdowns all season, Ballard will need as much work as he can get to be useful. Fortunately, he'll be aided by a phenomenal matchup. Against opposing backs, Tennessee ranks 26th in rushing yards, 29th in receiving yards, and they've given up a touchdown per game to the position. One of those scores was Ballard's Matrix-inspired overtime game-winner last month, and the rookie will have a great opportunity to make some noise again this week.
Week Twelve Analysis: Last week Vick Ballard played 46 snaps to Donald Brown's 11, and he received 17 touches to Brown's six, so as of now he's clearly the preferred Indianapolis fantasy back. Still, Ballard has scored just once all year, and he runs at an uninspiring 3.7-yard per carry clip. Moreover, he doesn't do much in the passing game, and this remains a committee that also includes Delone Carter, who got the touchdown last week. Buffalo's 31st-ranked run defense has given up a league-worst 16 touchdowns to opposing backs, but we thought there'd be enough for both Reggie Bush and Daniel Thomas last week and we got bit. It's a great matchup, but there are no guarantees.
Week Ten Analysis: With Donald Brown looking doubtful for Thursday night, Vick Ballard is in line to carry the load. Outside of his Matrix-inspired game-winning touchdown catch in Tennessee two weeks ago, Ballard's been very ordinary. As a rusher, he's averaged 16 carries for 66 yards and no touchdowns over the last three games, but Jacksonville could be just the elixir he needs. Prior to last week's tilt with the Jaguars, Mikel Leshoure had gone four straight games without a score. As you probably know, Leshoure racked up three touchdowns against the Jags, and Joique Bell added a fourth for good measure. Ballard should post solid yardage numbers with at least a coin flip's chance of a score.
Week Eight Analysis: Last week against a beatable Cleveland run defense, Vick Ballard notched career highs of 20 carries, 84 rushing yards and 19 receiving yards. It was a very pedestrian, Donald Brown-like performance, but this week Ballard somehow gets an even more favorable matchup. The Titans have given up eight touchdowns to opposing backs through seven games, and last week Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller combined for 222 combo yards against Tennessee. Ballard is an ordinary talent, but Tennessee is a well-below-ordinary run defense, so he's a worthy option if you're in a pinch.
Week Seven Analysis: Vick Ballard fell by the wayside when Indianapolis got behind early against the Jets last week, but that shouldn't be the case at home against the 1-6 Browns. Cleveland is giving up over 5.0 yards per carry to opposing backs, and we're just two weeks removed from Ahmad Bradshaw's 200-yard shellacking. As bad as Cleveland has been against the run, they've only given up two rushing scores, which feels like a fluke. The Colts should be playing with a lead, so this matchup is perfect for a determined between-the-tackles runner like Ballard.
Week Six Analysis: If not for the New Orleans Saints completely ignoring opposing running backs, the New York Jets would be the worst team in the league defending the run. Over the last three weeks they have given up just under 600 rushing yards and they have allowed six rushing touchdowns. With Donald Brown out this week, the Vick Ballard era gets its start for the Colts. In 2010 Ballard finished 6th in college football with 20 touchdowns, and last year he finished second in the SEC with almost 1,400 yards from scrimmage, while averaging 6.2 yards-per-carry. In very limited duty this year, Ballard hasn't done much, but this matchup is so strong, he's a starter in most leagues.