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Running Back Player Rankings – Week 2
Running Backs (Updated: Saturday, Sept. 15 - 2:04PM CT)
1. Adrian Peterson (@ Ind) – Adversity has ALWAYS brought the best out in Peterson, so last week’s performance against the Jaguars shouldn’t come as TOO much of a surprise. Actually, I’m guessing that it probably was for most people as it really is hard to believe that a man can not only come back from ACL/MCL/meniscus surgery so quickly, but also be as dominant as he was in Week 1. Well folks, Purple Jesus IS back and should be even more in control of this game than he was last weekend. Not only did Indianapolis give up the third-most fantasy points to RBs in 2011, but then proceeded to allow the MOST fantasy points to them in Week 1.
2. Jamaal Charles (@ Buf) – The top two spots this weekend belong to two guys coming back from season-ending injuries last year, which is a surprise even to me. Jamaal, however, showed last weekend that Peterson isn’t the only one who can return from ACL surgery and look good as he put up 87 yards on 16 carries (5.4 YPC) against a pretty stout Atlanta rush D. The main reason I have him up this high is because Charles LOVES playing the Bills and has had some of the best games of his career against them. In 2010 he put up 238 total yards (177 rushing) on 26 touches and in 2009 had 181 total yards (143 rushing) with a TD. Buffalo could barely stop the slow-rolling Shonn Greene last weekend, so what are their chances against a lightning bolt this Sunday?
3. Ray Rice (@ Phi) – Looks like the 15 combined touchdowns Ray Rice put up last season weren’t a fluke as he ran in two more last Monday night against the Bengals. Philly’s defense in general is better than Cinci’s, but I’m not so sure they’ll be ready to stop a player of Rice’s caliber in the Ravens new up-tempo, no-huddle offense. One of the Eagles main problems last season was controlling RBs that were good at making plays coming out of the backfield, a quality that happens to be one of Rice’s strengths.
4. Arian Foster (@ Jax) – Foster was held in check yardage-wise in Week 1 against the Dolphins, but his two TDs pretty much made up for it in the fantasy column. Miami has a better rush D than Jacksonville does, but for some reason, Foster has struggled to go off on them throughout his career…except for in Week 17 of 2010 when he had 180 yards rushing in a meaningless game for the Jags. He’ll almost assuredly score a TD or two for your fantasy team, however, as he’s put one in the endzone each of in his four career starts against them, but don’t expect some sort of monster game this week.
5. Darren McFadden (@ Mia) – What McFadden did in Week 1 against the Chargers was more than just a little bit strange. First of all, he gained just 32 yards on 15 carries (2.1 YPC), which was unexpected against a San Diego defense that allowed almost 4.5 yards per carry to RBs last season. Even stranger was the fact that he had 13 receptions on 18 targets after having just 19 receptions in seven games last year. The reason for this was that Denarius Moore was out of the lineup, so the Chargers simply keyed in on stopping the run. That won’t be the case this weekend, however, as Moore is now back and ready to stretch the D. Look for some holes to open for Run DMC this Sunday.
6. Stevan Ridley (vs. Ari) – Ridley put his stamp on the Patriots season-long starting RB job last weekend going off for 125 yards and a TD on just 21 carries. Arizona did pretty well with Marshawn Lynch in Week 1, but they were able to concentrate their efforts on the run with Seattle sporting a rookie QB at the helm. Not quite the case with Tom Brady running the show and I fully expect to see some gigantic holes for Ridley to pound through, putting up some hefty fantasy points in the process. When New England gets up big—which they will—it might be the Ridley show from then on out as well.
7. C.J. Spiller (vs. KC) – I love that this kid pulled it together last season after being considered a bust for the first year and a half of his career… and now he seems to have proven that he wasn’t just lip-syncing. With Freddy Jackson on the mend for about a month, Spiller will have sole possession of the backfield once again and should be able to do well against a Chiefs defense that looked pretty porous against Atlanta in Week 1. Last year, Spiller and Jackson combined for 128 yards and a TD on 25 carries against KC.
8. LeSean McCoy (vs. Bal) – No touchdown for McCoy in Week 1?!?! Absurd! Now in Week 2, Shady will have a tough Baltimore D to contend with though frankly, they looked a little weak on the inside against BenJarvus Green-Ellis last Monday night. Whatever the case, if Jeremy Maclin sits this one out with his hip pointer (now DeSean Jackson has a hamstring injury as well!), the Eagles will put the ball in McCoy’s hands 30 times on Sunday. With that kind of action coming, I like his chance of producing.
9. Alfred Morris (@ StL) – Though Shanahan has already gone on record saying Alfred Morris is his starter this Sunday, you know it can change any second so I’d absolutely keep an eye on all the news coming out of the Redskins camp right up until game time. That being said, Morris DID in fact look like an NFL starter in Week 1 putting up 96 rushing yards and two TDs against the Saints. If he does indeed start again, he’ll have a great matchup to get him in your lineup as the Rams gave up the fifth-most fantasy points to RBs in 2011 and the second-most already this season…to supposedly one of the worst rushing offenses in the league (Detroit).
10. DeMarco Murray (@ Sea) – Murray showed that he gets better as the game wears on which is a potential nightmare for all defenses that have to face him this season. Seattle has one of the better rush D’s in the league right now for sure and showed their mettle against the Cardinals in Week 1, but that was the Cardinals. This is the Cowboys and if you don’t pay special attention to their two wideouts, Romo, Bryant and Austin will kill you quick. I’m not expecting the world here, although Murray DID put up 186 total yards (139 rushing) against these Seahawks in Week 9 last season.
11. Reggie Bush (vs. Oak) – Bush is coming off a pretty impressive game against the Texans where he finished with 115 total yards with 6 receptions and a 4.9 yards per carry average. Daniel Thomas suffered a concussion in week 1 and his status is uncertain. Bush will face the Raiders defense which showed their toughness, without a long snapper and horrible field position, against the Chargers, but the Chargers were without Ryan Matthews. Bush could be a sneaky start as west coast teams always seem to have trouble going to the east coast and playing in the early game.
12. BenJarvus Green-Ellis (vs. Cle) – Was that really the Law Firm running the ball last weekend against the Ravens or did Corey Dillon make a comeback at 37 years old? Actually, Dillon always sucked against Baltimore so that MUST have been Green-Ellis in there. Cleveland had one of the worst rush defenses last season allowing the second-most yards to RBs in the league and probably won’t be all that much better this season, so I expect BJ to have a pretty nice fantasy day this weekend.
13. Marshawn Lynch (vs. Dal) – Lynch was a question mark leading into Week 1, but he ended up playing and being the workhorse carrying the ball 21 times for 85 yards. Lynch will face another tough defense against the run this week in a Cowboys team that is vulnerable to giving up the big play. Lynch should be able to find the endzone in Week 2, however, like he did last season when he rambled off 135 yards and a TD against Dallas in Week 9.
14. Ahmad Bradshaw (vs. TB) – Tampa Bay looked pretty awesome against the run last weekend shutting down Cam Newton and the Panthers all game long. Don’t be fooled, though, as they also had the worst rush D in the business for the whole of 2011. Bradshaw had a couple of nice plays against Dallas in the NFL’s Wednesday opener and ripped off 78 yards with a TD, but he looked a little hesitant at the line which could be a little worrisome down the road with David Wilson nipping at his heels (despite his benching for fumbling in Week 1). It shouldn’t matter much against Tampa, however, and I expect a nice RB2 stat-line to show up in the Monday boxscore for your fantasy team.
15. Maurice Jones-Drew (vs. Hou) – MJD did not have a typical game for his standards and played more like you would expect a player to play that held out at the beginning of the season, but 95 total yards isn’t bad. MJD will get a much needed week of practice, though, and should have a better grasp of the new offense in Week 2. MJD had good success against the Texans at home last season with 166 total yards, but Houston did have the second-best rush D last season in terms of fantasy, so something’s gotta give.
16. Doug Martin (@ NYG) – Martin showed that he will be the bell cow for the Buccaneers this year as he carried the ball 24 times last week while adding four receptions for 118 total yards. The first-round rookie will be facing a Giants defense this week that got roughed up by the Cowboys in the opener allowing DeMarco Murray to run for 131 yards against them, but didn’t allow a rushing TD. The Giants will be looking to rebound from their stinging loss, but Martin will still have lead dog opportunities for Tampa and should be a pretty nice fantasy play after 60 minutes of action.
17. Jonathan Dwyer (vs. NYJ) – Dwyer was the most impressive runner for the Steelers in Week 1 averaging 4.8 yards per carry. If Mendenhall is not activated then this could be the week that Dwyer gets his chance. He will still be splitting some carries and facing a Jets defense that is looking to make up for being gashed on the ground for 169 yards on 14 carries by C.J. Spiller.
18. Steven Jackson (vs. Was) – Jackson had about as bad a start as you can have finishing week 1 with 53 rushing yards on 21 attempts, for a putrid 2.5 yards per carry. Jackson and the Rams face the Redskins this week after shocking the Saints last week. The Redskins should have a good chance to jump to an early lead against the Rams which could end up limiting the attempts for Jackson. Tack on some major troubles along the Rams offensive line and it could be a stressful day for fantasy owners. Jackson needs to prove it this game or it could be a long season.
Running Backs 19-48
19. Frank Gore (vs. Det - Sunday Night)
20. Darren Sproles (@ Car)
21. Chris Johnson (@ SD)
22. Michael Turner (vs. Den - Monday Night)
23. Trent Richardson (@ Cin)
24. Willis McGahee (@ Atl - Monday Night)
25. Ryan Mathews (vs. Ten) – IF ACTIVE, Questionable – If Mathews makes his debut against Tennessee, he’ll likely have his carries limited. That being said, Ryan is a competitor and will want to be on the field as much as possible. Mathews was setting up for a huge season before the injury and will be looking for blood when he gets the ball. Stevan Ridley was able to exploit the Titans defense at home so if Mathews plays, he is still a threat even with limited carries, but make sure to check on his status before game-time. He may not be worth the risk here.
26. Shonn Greene (@ Pit)
27. Jonathan Stewart (vs. NO)
28. Kevin Smith (@ SF - Sunday Night)
29. Donald Brown (vs. Min)
30. Mark Ingram (@ Car)
31. Peyton Hillis (@ Buf)
32. Ryan Williams (@ NE)
33. DeAngelo Williams (vs. NO)
34. Beanie Wells (@ NE)
35. David Wilson (vs. TB)
36. Kendall Hunter (vs. Det - Sunday Night)
37. Jacquizz Rodgers (vs. Den - Monday Night)
38. Ben Tate (@ Jax)
39. Pierre Thomas (@ Car)
40. Roy Helu (@ StL)
41. Isaac Redman (vs. NYJ)
42. Toby Gerhart (@ Ind)
43. Bilal Powell (@ Pit)
44. LeGarrette Blount (@ NYG)
45. Bernard Scott (vs. Cle)
46. Danny Woodhead (vs. Ari)
47. Vick Ballard (vs. Min)
48. Curtis Brinkley (vs. Ten)
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