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Running Back Player Rankings – Week 3
Running Backs (Updated: Sunday, Sept. 23 - 11:45AM CT)
1. Maurice Jones-Drew (@ Ind) – It may not have looked like much, but MJD’s double-digit fantasy points against the Texans last weekend was one of just a handful of such games against them over the past two seasons. Say what you want about his holdout or whatever, but also know that he’s one of the best in the game and looks to be back at full-speed/strength again. This, of course, is terrible news for the Indianapolis Colts, especially since Jones-Drew ALSO happens to play his finest ball against this team. In his 12 career games against them, MJD has averaged 101.0 rushing yards and 127.7 total yards while hitting pay-dirt 13 different times (9 rush, 3 rec, 1 return). Last year alone he averaged 141.5 rushing yards in their two matchups…and that was when Gabbert sucked and defenses were stacking 8 or 9 in the box against him.
2. C.J. Spiller (@ Cle) – Holy cow has Spiller been on fire this year! If you thought his RB1 fantasy stats over the last five weeks of the 2011 season were a fluke, come to terms with reality and admit you were wrong. He’s obviously better than anyone thought he was and should be a fixture on fantasy teams as an RB1 until Fred Jackson returns. 292 rushing yards (10.1 YPC) and three TDs in a game and a half is simply ridiculous and he should be able to add heavily to those totals against the Browns this Sunday. Cleveland has certainly improved their rush defense, but not enough to stop the former first-round pick.
3. DeMarco Murray (vs. TB) – Murray wasn’t able to get enough touches last week against the Seahawks with the Cowboys playing from behind or else his numbers would have been a lot heftier with him being the type of back that gets better as the game goes on. He won’t have that problem this weekend against the Bucs as I expect Romo and company to go up early and then use DeMarco to seal the deal with 25 or so carries throughout the rest of the game. Murray’s career numbers at home are staggering as he’s run for nearly 94 yards/game while averaging 6.6 yards per carry. All of his TDs have come at home as well, though he’s only had two thus far.
4. Ray Rice (vs. NE - Sunday Night) – Rice has been, well, Ray Rice this season putting up 245 total yards and two TDs in two games. He’s only played two regular season games against the Patriots in his career but showed well in both running for 191 yards (4.9 YPC) while catching 13 balls for another 87. The Ravens new up-tempo offense hasn’t hurt his fantasy numbers either as he’s averaging about the same amount as he did last season. The only thing that scares me this week is if the Patriots do what they normally try to do and do everything they can to take away Baltimore’s biggest asset which is of course, Mr. Rice. It won’t happen, though, as Rice is at his best at home putting up 21 TDs in 30 career home games compared to just 10 in 32 on the road.
5. Arian Foster (@ Den) – It doesn’t matter much who Foster plays as it seems the only thing he knows how to do is score touchdowns and put up fantasy points. His yards-per-carry is down this season at 3.5 compared to 4.7 in his three years prior, but that will change as the year goes on. He’s already ran the ball 54 times in two games (seven receptions), numbers which are music to fantasy owners ears as you can’t get the points without the touches. Denver has a pretty good rush defense and Ben Tate will get his fair share of carries as well, but the Broncos stud linebacker, Von Miller, is a bit banged up so look for Houston to rely on Foster once again.
6. Trent Richardson (vs. Buf) – Now THAT’S the Trent Richardson we were all expecting to see this year. And thank goodness for that for the millions of fantasy owners who risked taking a rookie early in drafts as their RB1. Of course, if you have him as your RB2, you’re ecstatic right now as it turns out his little knee scope was more like ripping a band-aid off a hairy leg than anything else. However, I’m not going to get TOO carried away as he was playing a Cincinnati Pasta Strainer Bengals defense, but for this week, I’ll stay high on him as the Buffalo Bills haven’t been much better. Last year the Bills allowed the fourth-most fantasy points to opposing RBs while this season, they’ve already allowed 4.4 yards/carry, a touchdown to Shonn “TD Repellant” Greene and 56 yards on five carries to someone named Shaun Draughn (AKA – the missing Mr. Purple in Reservoir Dogs).
7. Michael Bush (vs. StL) – Matt Forte, though a LOT better off than first reported, has been declared Out for the contest this weekend so the Touchdown Vulture will take over the starting duties for the Bears. The Rams allowed the fifth-most fantasy points to opposing running backs last season and are surrendering almost five yards per carry so far in 2012, so it doesn’t seem like much has changed. If Chicago goes back to at least some semblance of a run-based offense after their debacle against the Packers last Thursday night, and I suspect they will, then Bush should be in line for 20-25 carries and a whole boatload of fantasy points. The Rams secondary has been much better than expected and I’ll assume the Bears coaches know it, so Bush should get some major work.
8. Jamaal Charles (@ NO) – I wrongfully predicted a Charles breakout week last Sunday against the Bills but it wasn’t because he sucked…it was just that he just bruised his knee and the coaches chose to be cautious about it. I was wrong, I admit it, but I’m not jumping off the wagon on “The Ostrich” just yet. This weekend he’ll be going against another giant sieve of a defense when the Chiefs take on a New Orleans defense that ranks close to last in every defensive category. They simply can’t stop any facet of the game and if the battle turns into another shootout—as they almost ALWAYS do with the Saints—then there will be plenty of touchdowns to be had by Jamaal Charles and company. I understand the fear in his knee acting up again, but fantasy titles/weeks/games are won by those who TOOK that chance, not by those who played it safe.
9. LeSean McCoy (@ Ari) – McCoy hasn’t been bad by any means, but he hasn’t quite lived up to his top-5 fantasy draft pick status just yet. That being said, if he had scored a touchdown (or two) against the Browns in Week 1 like he should have, there would be no complaints about his start to the 2012 season. This week he draws an underrated Cardinals defense that will be able to focus on McCoy a little more with Jeremy Maclin out for the game, but I still expect him to see a good 25 touches like he has been in each of the first two games. Both Marshawn Lynch and Stevan Ridley were kept out of the endzone by this team, however, so the fantasy points might be a little tough to come by for Shady in this one.
10. Ryan Mathews (vs. Atl) – He’s no Michael Jordan, but I have no problem in using one of Jordan’s old lines; “He’s Back”. Ryan Mathews, the running back who before the season probably had the best chance to break into the top 1-3 fantasy RBs this year, is playing this Sunday against the Atlanta Falcons. Is his clavicle completely healed? I’m going to say it’s probably 95 percent healed, yes. Will he play the whole game and get RB1-type touches? I’m going to say yes, he will, because the Chargers will be forced to play him as an every-down back in order to keep up with the Falcons offense. There are rumblings that Ronnie Brown and/or Curtis Brinkley will take on the third-down role…and they might for the first half…but Mathews will show that he’s fine and demand to play every down in the second…and he will. Atlanta is no slouch of a defense, but they’ve looked pretty shaky against the run lately so I expect the Chargers and Mathews to exploit that this weekend in a home game that can put them at 3-0 for the first time since 2002.
RUNNING BACKS 11-50
11. Reggie Bush (vs. NYJ)
12. Alfred Morris (vs. Cin)
13. Doug Martin (@ Dal)
14. Marshawn Lynch (vs. GB)
15. BenJarvus Green-Ellis (@ Was)
16. Frank Gore (@ Min)
17. Darren McFadden (vs. Pit)
18. Stevan Ridley (@ Bal - Sunday Night)
19. Donald Brown (vs. Jax)
20. Adrian Peterson (vs. SF)
21. Darren Sproles (vs. KC)
22. Chris Johnson (vs. Det)
23. Michael Turner (@ SD)
24. Mikel Leshoure (@ Ten)
25. Steven Jackson (@ Chi)
26. Peyton Hillis (@ NO)
27. Beanie Wells (vs. Phi)
28. Mark Ingram (vs. KC)
29. Isaac Redman (@ Oak)
30. Willis McGahee (vs. Hou)
31. Jonathan Dwyer (@ Oak)
32. Ben Tate (@ Den)
33. Kevin Smith (@ Ten)
34. Cedric Benson (@ Sea - Monday Night)
35. Shonn Greene (@ Mia)
36. Pierre Thomas (vs. KC)
37. Daryl Richardson (@ Chi)
38. Ryan Williams (vs. Phi)
39. Jacquizz Rodgers (@ SD)
40. Roy Helu (vs. Cin)
41. Danny Woodhead (@ Bal - Sunday Night)
42. Vick Ballard (vs. Jax)
43. Kendall Hunter (@ Min)
44. Lamar Miller (vs. NYJ)
45. Bernard Scott (@ Was)
46. Bilal Powell (@ Mia)
47. Daniel Thomas (vs. NYJ)
48. Tashard Choice (@ Cle)
49. Felix Jones (vs. TB)
50. Curtis Brinkley (vs. Atl)
Thursday Night Game
Andre Brown – 20 carries – 113 yards – 2 TDs ; 2 recs – 17 yards – 0 TDs
David Wilson – 1 carry – -2 yards – 0 TDs ; 1 rec – 3 yards – 0 TDs
DeAngelo Williams – 11 carries – 50 yards – 0 TDs ; 2 recs – 23 yards – 0 TDs
Mike Tolbert – 3 carries – 4 yards – 0 TDs ; 4 recs – 47 yards – 0 TDs
Jonathan Stewart – OUT
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