RB Player Rankings – Week 3
1. Adrian Peterson (vs Det) – Good lord! In eight career games versus the Lions (tied for his most against any team), Purple Jesus has put up seven TDs while averaging 101.8 yards per game on 5.4 yards/carry. For PPR leaguers, he also has the most receptions versus in his career against them with 20. Seeing that he already dominates at home putting up 30 TDs in 31 games along with 106.7 yards/game on 5.1 yards/carry, AP28 is pretty much a no-brainer here. Besides that, I expect the Vikings to run quite a bit anyway in order to keep the ball out of Matty Stafford’s hands.
2. Maurice Jones-Drew (@ Car) – With Coach Jack Del Rio opting to go with rookie QB Blaine Gabbert this week, you can almost guarantee the Jaguars will have at least 35 carries by the end of the game, with MJD snagging around 25 of them. If that is the case, then I expect a decimated Carolina front seven who already allow a 4.8 YPC on the year to give up at least 125 yards and likely a TD or so to the Wrecking Ball this Sunday. Book it.
3. Ray Rice (@ StL) – The Rams have allowed the most rushing yards in the league thus far in 2011, though the numbers are slightly inflated due to a Week One matchup with Michael Vick and the Eagles. Rice has been a beast for fantasy owners through the first couple weeks of the year and seeing that he plays really well indoors (averages 148 total yards and one TD in games he has started), there’s no reason to believe the onslaught won’t continue.
4. LeSean McCoy (vs NYG) – This isn’t the greatest matchup for McCoy due to the Giants (sometimes) stifling front seven, but there still are positives for McCoy fantasy owners to take into the week. First of all, in two games against New York last season, McCoy averaged 87.5 yards rushing (108.5 total yards) on 7.3 yards per carry. Second, LeSean seems to be in a nice groove so far this season putting up the most fantasy points for running backs through two weeks of action. If Vick is slowed at all by that (very) minor concussion he suffered last week, the Eagles may lean on McCoy just a little bit more in this one.
5. Rashard Mendenhall (@ Ind) – The Colts rush D has been pretty bad thus far allowing the most rushing TDs (4) and the fourth-most rushing yards per game (136.5). Pittsburgh will certainly take advantage of this and get the ball in Mendenhall’s hands at least 20-25 times this Sunday. If you’re hoping for a cherry on top, look no further as Mendenhall has scored a touchdown in every indoor game he’s ever played in, so I expect at least one of those as well.
6. Michael Turner (@ TB) – Michael “Not so much a burner anymore” Turner started off the season with two straight 100-yard games and should be able to continue the streak this Sunday. Tampa was the fifth-worst defense last season allowing 131.7 yards/game (on a second-worst 4.7 YPC) and hasn’t gotten any better allowing the second-most yards/game (156.0) so far in 2011. The Centaur put up 97.5 rushing yards/game and three TDs in the two games he faced the Bucs last season, so I feel confident some RB1 numbers will be coming against this weekend.
7. Matt Forte (vs GB) – Matt Forte is currently second in the league in total yards from scrimmage with 324 yards (Steve Smith, Car – 334) and if he keeps up this pace, he’ll break Chris Johnson’s record of 2,509 by 83 yards. Pretty outstanding stuff. Actually, Matt is also ninth in the league in receiving yards at this point with 207. Also pretty amazing. The Packers had bottled Matty up pretty well over his career up until the last game of the 2010 season and then in the playoffs where Forte averaged 155.5 total yards during those two games. The Bears will look to Forte once again this Sunday in an effort to keep the ball away from the Packers offense, so I expect some good total yardage once again from him.
8. Chris Johnson (vs Den) – CJ2K has been an extreme disappointment for fantasy owners so far this season, but I believe that changes this Sunday. Denver’s rush D hasn’t been able to stop anybody since 2006, and with the Titans passing offense suddenly becoming a formidable force, the Broncos can’t just put eight in the box against him. If Johnson is going to bust out at all this year, this Sunday will be the day he’ll do it.
9. Darren McFadden (vs NYJ) – The Jets are once again pretty stingy against the run this season, but McFadden won’t care. He’s on a mission to show the world he’s one of the top three RBs in the league and nobody is going to stop him. Right now he’s second in the NFL in rushing yards with 222 and third in fantasy points with 21.0 per game. If the Jets try to stop the run, he’ll do it through the air and vice versa. Don’t worry about Run DMC this weekend.
10. Ryan Mathews (vs KC) – Being just a sophomore, Mathews doesn’t have an extensive sample set of games to look at just yet, but he has faced Kansas City twice and done well against them both times. San Diego should be able to go up early in this one and win the game with ease, so the likely scenario will be for the coaching staff to get the youngster a little more game-experience on Sunday while they have a chance and let him show them what he can do. Expect high-end RB2 numbers with nice upside.
11. Beanie Wells (@ Sea) – The Seahawks defense isn’t as bad as it looks, but that shouldn’t stop Beanie from getting another opportunity to shine. Seattle has allowed just a 3.1 YPC through two weeks of the season but they’ve also allowed three rushing TDs as well. The youngster looks determined to put last year’s debacle behind him, and I’m thinking the Cardinals give him at least the first half of the game to do it.
12. Peyton Hillis (vs Mia) – Hillis hasn’t been overwhelmingly awesome by any means yet, but he still carries a load and is still in the top-10 in fantasy points thus far. Miami held the big guy down pretty well last year, but that game was toward the end of the season when Peyton was tiring out. That’s not the case this year. I expect Hillis to get another 25-30 touches in this one which will mean solid fantasy production yet again.
13. Ben Tate (@ NO) – It looks as if the Texans are going to play it safe and hold Arian Foster out again this week, so those of you with Ben Tate on your squad, get him in there as a RB2 this Sunday. The Saints have been good against the run so far, but it looks as if Tate isn’t just a workhorse back – he can actually catch the ball out of the backfield as well. I mention this because it will serve as a nice plus on Sunday considering that New Orleans has given up the third-most receiving yards to running backs this season. High scoring games mean high scoring in fantasy. That’s what I expect in this one.
14. LeGarrette Blount (vs Atl) – Blount finally got his game going in the second half of last game after fantasy owners were beginning to crap their pants through the Bucs first six quarters. He’s definitely a beast once you get him rolling, and I expect Tampa to do just that again this Sunday against the Falcons. In the game at home against them last year, Blount had 103 yards on 20 carries with a TD, numbers that wouldn’t shock me to see again this weekend.
15. Frank Gore (@ Cin) – Cincinnati is in the middle of the pack against the run yet again this year, so Gore should be able to get his game going this weekend. With Braylon Edwards likely out, Frank the Tank might see an increased workload both in carries and catches out of the backfield, so he’ll at least have a shot to improve on his mediocre numbers. That said, Cinci has no reason not to stack the box against him, so temper your expectations to somewhere in the mid-RB2 range.
16. Jahvid Best (@ Min) – Best is finding way to make a difference in this offense while Stafford is lighting up the fantasy world, so keep playing him until he shows differently. It’s tough to judge anything on last year’s games seeing that Best was fighting turf toe all season and Stafford wasn’t even playing, so I’ll have to go on what I know. What I know is that Jahvid has jaw-dropping speed and quickness and that those traits can go a long way playing indoors. I’m betting on the Vikings over-pursuing the QB once or twice this game and Matty dropping it off to Best for a couple of long gainers. Watch for it.
17. Ahmad Bradshaw (@ Phi) – The Eagles can be beat on the ground as they’ve surrenders the third most rushing yards per game this season (146.0) on a whopping 5.3 YPC. Last year Bradshaw was the one the Giants gave the ball to against Philly after trying Jacobs a bit with no success. They’ll need Bradshaw’s speed out there again this Sunday, though I’m tempering my expectations a bit with the possibility the game turns into a slugfest.
18. James Starks (@ Chi) – Starks is the man in this offense, and everyone knows it. I guarantee you even Ryan Grant knows it. The question is, how soon will it be before the Packers give him the ball 20 times and let him do his stuff? Probably not this weekend, but he DID get 22 carries against the Bears last year in the playoffs which he turned into 74 yards and a TD. Grant has simply gotten too slow to be effective against this speedy Chicago D, so I can see Starks taking on a larger role this weekend and possibly put up some nice fantasy points with the well-earned time.
19. BenJarvus Green-Ellis (@ Buf) – It’s not often the Law Firm sees more than just his normal goal-line/short-yardage work in a game, especially with the Patriots passing offense running so smoothly. However, last season Green-Ellis got 35 carries in the two games against the Bills with which he rattled off 202 yards and a touchdown. You never know what Emperor Belichick has up his sleeve, and with the Bills seeing what Brady is doing to teams this year, they’ll likely play the pass a bit more than normal which could pay into BJGE’s hands. Even if New England does end up passing all over the place, I can still almost guarantee a touchdown out of BenJarvus this Sunday.
20. Mike Tolbert (vs KC) – Tolbert is a fine back in this offense, that’s for sure, but the Chargers may not need him so much in this one. Ryan Mathews seems to be turning the corner in his play as of late and with Tolbert still nursing a bit of a knee injury (along with a slight case of fumble-itis), he may not get much of a workload. That said, he’s the goal-line/short-yardage back, so against a Chiefs defense that has surrendered three rushing TDs and 126 yards a game thus far, he still has low-end RB2 value.
21. Shonn Greene (@ Oak) – Alright, this is the last straw for Mr. Greene. Either he puts up a real nice game against a Raiders rush defense that has allowed an unfathomable 6.7 YPC this season, or I’m officially calling the kid a bust. Take your chances with him as your RB2 one last time and hope for the best.
22. Fred Jackson (vs NE) – Freddy has been outstanding this season, much better than anyone outside of Buffalo had anticipated. He’s currently fifth in the league in fantasy points (standard scoring) and has the most rushing yards in the entire league with 229. Still, I’m not expecting much against the Patriots as his touches will likely be limited due to situational playing time. If Buffalo goes into passing mode, which they will likely have to, C.J. Spiller will see a fair amount of time in the backfield.
23. Tim Hightower (@ Dal) – Dallas has been crushing opponents trying to run against them, holding teams to just 59.5 yards and one rushing TD on the ground through the first two weeks of action. Hightower has been a horse so far carrying the ball 45 times in two games (second most in the league – Ben Tate, 47), but I can’t see him getting much more than 15 totes in this one after the coaching staff sees him get stuffed every other time he touches the ball.
24. Willis McGahee (@ Ten) – It seems that even if Knowshon Moreno comes back to play this weekend (it’s looking like he will), McGahee will still handle the bulk of the workload against the Titans. Not that I see him doing too much with it, seeing how his YPC continues to drop each year and how the Titans have held ball-carriers to just 3.3 yards per carry and one rushing TD on the season.
25. DeAngelo Williams (vs Jax) – DeAngelo has been a major disappointment for both fantasy owners and Panthers fans alike this season, but he’s got to come alive at some point, right? He still has the talent to be a top back in the league, so my guess is that it’s just a matter of time. It doesn’t help, of course, that teams are putting eight in the box against rookie QB Cam Newton, but that should soften up soon enough. The Jaguars front seven have actually been really tight so far this year after ending up in the bottom third of the league in 2010, so it might not happen this week.
26. Cedric Benson (vs SF) – I’ll say this until the cows come home… I can’t stand Cedric Benson. Being from Chicago, I’m sure you understand, but I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one who feels this way about him right now. After going off for 121 yards and a TD against the Browns in Week One, Benson pulled off a real stinker against one of the worst rush D’s in the league last week in Denver. Basically, the guy can’t be trusted, both in real life and in fantasy. Regardless, Ceddy is going up against the top rush D in the league this weekend, a 49ers squad that has allowed just 2.5 YPC, 54.5 yards/game, a long run of only 13 yards and zero touchdowns. Now watch, CedBen will go off again and screw us all over.
27. Brandon Jacobs (@ Phi) – I like the way Jacobs was running last Monday night against the Rams and I think the Giants are about to get him more involved in the offense going forward. Maybe not so much this weekend against the Eagles as they’ll need Bradshaw’s speed and versatility out of the backfield more than Jacobs’ power, but soon. However, if things go the Giants way from the get-go, they may try to stuff the Juggernaut down their throat.
28. Mark Ingram (vs Hou) – Ingram will eventually get more carries and a few touchdowns in this offense, but it might not be this week with another shootout possibly at hand. If the Saints go up early, Ingram will certainly be used to eat the clock and drive the team down the field, but I’m seeing more of a three-way split between him, Pierre Thomas and Darren Sproles again this weekend.
29. Daniel Thomas (@ Cle) – So there is the big-time rookie RB Miami was looking for all preseason long. Granted, Thomas got some extra carries against the Texans due to Reggie Bush coming up lame with a slight groin injury (shocker, another Bush injury!), but he definitely looked real good with the gift. If Bush is ready to go this Sunday, which it looks like he will be, then the Dolphins will throw out a 50-50 timeshare, thus limiting the fantasy potential of both backs.
30. Felix Jones (vs Was) – Felix is banged up and was thought to probably miss some time with a dislocated shoulder, but it looks like he’ll suit up this weekend against the Redskins. I don’t expect more than maybe 15 touches for him, though; as he’ll share time with both DeMarco Murray and Tashard Choice, so play him only if you absolutely have to.
Rounding out the rest of the Top-50 RBs...
31. Steven Jackson (vs Bal) – If Healthy, he should jump up a few slots
32. Jonathan Stewart (vs Jax)
33. Reggie Bush (@ Cle)
34. Danny Woodhead (@ Buf)
35. Darren Sproles (vs Hou)
36. Thomas Jones (@ SD)
37. Marshawn Lynch (vs Ari)
38. Joseph Addai (vs Pit)
39. Knowshon Moreno (@ Ten)
40. Ryan Grant (@ Chi)
41. Michael Bush (vs NYJ)
42. Pierre Thomas (vs Hou)
43. C.J. Spiller (vs NE)
44. Delone Carter (vs Pit)
45. LaDainian Tomlinson (@ Oak)
46. DeMarco Murray (vs Was)
47. Earnest Graham (vs Atl)
48. Roy Helu (@ Dal)
49. Javon Ringer (vs Den)
50. Deji Karim (@ Car)