RB Player Rankings – Week 5
(BYE: Baltimore, Cleveland, Dallas, Miami, St. Louis, Washington)
1. Arian Foster (vs. Oak) – Arian Foster is back and it looks like he was taking down the names of all those who doubted him over the first few weeks of the season. If you thought 155-yard day last weekend was nice, wait until you see him run against a Raiders D that allows a whopping 5.9 YPC and the second most fantasy points per game to opposing RBs. Without Andre Johnson in the lineup, Houston will likely give him the ball another 30 times this week which could set him up to break all sorts of records. By the way, in the 21 career games Foster has received 10-plus carries, 10 of them he’s gone for over 100 yards. Outstanding!
2. Darren McFadden (@ Hou) – Darren McFadden is whooping all sorts of fantasy ass this season and doesn’t look like he’ll slow down in Week 5. First of all, it’s clear Run DMC has turned the corner mentally as he’s running stronger and hitting the holes harder than ever before. Second, he leads the league in RB fantasy points and is currently on pace for 1,872 yards on the season (468 yards). If Michael Bush is banged up at all this week, McFadden will see even more opportunities against a Houston rush D he has 129 total yards against last year.
3. LeSean McCoy (@ Buf) – Mark my words—everybody and their mothers are going to get in on the fantasy action for the Eagles this week. Philly has to be pretty pissed off starting the year 1-3 after being dubbed the “dream team” while being predicted to go to the Super Bowl, and when talented squads get POed, they tend to turn up the juice. What this means is that from here on out, Andy Reid and Co. will be giving no quarter to their opponents in an effort to quiet their (now) many critics. McCoy will be a big part of the resurgence, especially against a porous defense like the Bills have.
4. Fred Jackson (vs. Phi) – The Bills are going to try to run run run against the Eagles and if that doesn’t work, then they might just try to run some more. Philly’s soft spot on D is in their linebacking corps, an area the Bills and Jackson will work to attack from the get-go. One way or another, F-Jax is going to have the ball in his hands at least 20 times this game and with the Eagles giving up the most fantasy points in the league to opposing RBs, you gotta like Fred’s chances for a good game.
5. Adrian Peterson (vs. Ari) – Just give this damn guy the ball 30-plus times a game and see what happens already, will ya?!?! The kid is only 26-years-old for crying out loud! It’s not like you’re going to run him into the ground or anything. Either way, every team seems to know that McNabb doesn’t have it anymore so the game-plan is to bunch the line and stop Peterson in any way they can. The problem this week is, McNasty might actually be able to do something against this awful Arizona pass D! When he does, watch the Cardinals pull back off the line and end up living with Peterson in their secondary for a couple of long runs.
6. Matt Forte (@ Det) – Forte did me right as my #1 ranked RB last week, but it won’t be as easy for him against this much improved Detroit defense. The yards will be there for him both running the ball and catching it out of the backfield, but the Lions have been super-tight around the end zone giving up just one rushing TD on the season. Last year Forte was able to put up 100-plus total yards in each of their meetings and had 151 yards receiving with two TDs in the first one. I can’t see that happening again, but if the Bears get him the ball at least 15-20 times like they should, he’ll have no problem putting up some serious fantasy numbers for your squad.
7. Ryan Mathews (@ Den) – From what I’ve seen, if Mathews can stay healthy, he could end up as one of the top ten, if not top five fantasy RBs the rest of the way. All it took was for him to understand the importance of pass protection and learn the playbook because his athletic ability is off the chart. Coach Norv Turner seems to agree as he recently stated that he would like to get the ball in Ryan’s hands a good 25 times a game going forward. If that is the case, watch out folks, starting this week against a Denver defense that has allowed the fourth most points in the NFL this year.
8. Ahmad Bradshaw (vs. Sea) – Seattle’s rush defense has held their own pretty well this season considering teams have attempted the fifth most rushes in the league against them, but I think that ends in Week 5. Neither Frank Gore, Rashard Mendenhall, nor Michael Turner were able to rush for more than 70 yards, but Ahmad Bradshaw will. Gore didn’t because he had no passing game to back him up, and neither Turner nor Mendenhall could do it because they try to run through people. Bradshaw has none of those characteristics working against him and should be able to find some holes both early and late in the game. By the way, he also had two TDs in their matchup last season.
9. Jahvid Best (vs. Chi) – The Bears have been run on all season long and I expect the trend to continue this Monday night. Chicago will likely play the pass with Stafford being on fire the way he is, but in doing so, a bunch of holes will be left along the line for Best to squirm through. Jahvid is so incredibly quick and shifty, especially at home in the dome, that even the speed of the Bears defense will have trouble keeping up. Jahvid should be able to tally 100-plus total yards and cross the goal-line at least once this week.
10. Michael Turner (vs. GB) – The Packers rush D is undoubtedly one of the best in the league, but Willis McGahee proved last week that they can be run on. In their two meetings last season, Turner ran for 110 yards and a TD in the first game but could only manage 39 yards (plus a TD) in the other. Atlanta kept the game close and actually won the first matchup, which is exactly the reason why Turner was able to have such a nice output. When they got behind in the second one, they abandoned the running game thus leaving Turner with no role in the offense. I think Turner gets 20-plus carries in a close game this Sunday night which should be enough to get him close to 100 yards and a TD.
11. Frank Gore (vs. TB) – Gore looked great last week against the Eagles despite an injury that almost kept him out of the game entirely. That being said, Tampa Bay’s rush D is significantly better than Philly’s (who’s isn’t?), so don’t expect the same type of showing. He did nothing against them last season gaining just 23 yards on 12 carries (though he had 60 total yards), but Coach Harbaugh’s offense this year is completely different than in 2010, so you can’t really judge anything on that. If Frank can get between 15 and 20 touches, he’ll put up some nice RB2 fantasy numbers this week.
12. Maurice Jones-Drew (vs. Cin) – What in the world the Jaguars were thinking letting Blaine Gabbert throw the ball 42 times and having MJD run the ball just 11 times is beyond my comprehension. The good thing is that Coach Jack Del Rio admitted his mistake and vowed to get Jones-Drew a bunch more touches this weekend. The Bengals will more than likely stack the line against such a game-plan, so the Wrecking Ball might not produce the way owners would like, but he’ll still hover around RB1 status by the end of the game.
13. Willis McGahee (vs. SD) – According to Coach John Fox, the Donkeys will ride the hot hand in their backfield from here on out, which means Moreno is out and McGahee is in. Last week against Green Bay’s #1 rush defense in the league, Willis ran for 103 yards on 15 carries (6.9 YPC) proving that although he may be turning 30 in a few weeks, he still has the ability to carry the load. He’ll face another tough defense in San Diego this Sunday, but I expect Fox’s offensive system to be able to get him up around 100 yards once again.
14. Cedric Benson (@ Jax) – Despite his (likely) being able to play this week, Benson probably still has more on his mind than just football right now, which actually ended up being a good thing for him last Sunday. The less Benson thinks on the field and the more he just runs balls-out, the better off both he and his fantasy owners are. The guy is a workhorse and will likely get a good 20-plus carries again this weekend, so get him in your lineup against a middling Jacksonville D.
15. Chris Johnson (@ Pit) – CJ2K has another excuse for his lack of production this week with “timing” between he and the offensive line being the culprit this time around. You know what CJ? In between all your excuses and “show me the money” yammering, you’ve lost your weekly place amongst the top-ten fantasy running backs. Why don’t you show ME the money and put up one of those 150-yard, two-TD games like you used to and I’ll get you back up there. With Kenny Britt done for the year, the Titans will lean on Johnson more than ever and against a troubled Steelers front seven, he just might produce.
16. Beanie Wells (@ Min) – Don’t get me wrong with this somewhat low ranking for Beanie this week as I actually really like what he’s shown this year so far (other than the injury, of course). This middling RB2 ranking is more about the Vikings front seven than anything else as it seems they have their ferocity back holding teams to just 76.3 yards rushing per game this year. Wells is running strong and looking like the beast he truly is, but trying to crush through this Vikings defense just isn’t going to work. He’ll end up with decent numbers, but nothing like his performance last week against the Giants.
17. BenJarvus Green-Ellis (vs. NYJ) – There will be a changing of the guard in this New England backfield sometime soon, but not quite this weekend. Rookie RB Stevan Ridley is a bigger and more skilled back than the mediocre Law Firm, but I think the Patriots stick with what they know in another tough game against the Jets this weekend. He might not get a ton of touches, but Green-Ellis will at least have a chance to put up a TD or two with Brady leading the team down the field. The Patriots will also likely test the Jets front seven this week as their defense is far more susceptible to the run than the pass.
18. Joseph Addai (vs. KC) – Addai didn’t do as well as expected against the Bucs last Monday night, but he’ll have a chance to redeem himself against a Kansas City defense that has allowed the fourth-most fantasy points to opposing RBs this season. The Colts receivers still draw enough attention for defenses not to be able to stick eight in the box while Painter seemed to do well enough to at least keep the Chiefs on their guard. I’m not expecting the world here, but low-end RB2 numbers seems reasonable.
19. LeGarrette Blount (@ SF) – I’m convinced that San Francisco has the best rush defense in the game; period. Does that mean Blount won’t be able to do anything at all against them? Maybe, but he did have 82 yards rushing against them last season (albeit on 26 rushes; 3.2 YPC), so my guess is he can do it again. This matchup has the feel of a game that will be played in the trenches, so 25 or so carries might be had here…which is exactly what he’ll need to make a fantasy impact.
20. Darren Sproles (@ Car) – Sproles is just the type of little jitterbug Carolina and their 31st ranked rush defense hates to face. Scratch that. Sproles is the type of jitterbug EVERY TEAM hates to face as there is really no way in the world to game-plan against him. Not only is he as unpredictable as it gets with the ball in his hands, but being on the Saints, you also have no idea when he’ll get the ball due to their spread-it-around offense. Darren has been outstanding in all formats every week of the season, a trend that doesn’t look to change in Week 5.
21. James Starks (@ Atl) – Ryan Grant being back will eat into Starks’ workload, but he’ll still touch the ball a good 15-plus times this week as the Packers will look to control the clock against a potent Falcons offense. If Rodgers can lead the team down to the goal-line a couple of times, which he will, Starks should be able to get his second rushing TD of the season against a somewhat banged up Atlanta front seven.
22. Mark Ingram (@ Car) – New Orleans is going to run the ball and run it often this Sunday. No ifs, ands or buts about it. I know it’s weird to hear seeing how they’ve not only attempted the most passes in the league this year, but also have the second-highest completion percentage as well. That said, after missing out on home-field advantage in the playoffs last season, the Saints are all about wins this year and the way to beat the Panthers is to run the hell out of the ball and keep it out of Cam Newton’s hands. Ingram will be a large part of that game-plan this Sunday and should produce nicely with the opportunity.
23. Isaac Redman (vs. Ten) – It’s looking iffy for Mendenhall to go this week after missing practice on Wednesday and if he doesn’t, Redman will get his shot. He’s a hard runner who will have something to prove being a career-long backup in the league, but it won’t be easy against one of the top defenses in the league at stopping the run this year. He’ll get his chances, though, as QB Ben Roethlisberger is hobbled and could end up handing the ball off more often than not this Sunday.
24. Mike Tolbert (@ Den) – Although Mathews seems to have pinned down the lion’s share of the backfield work at this point, Tolbert will still get his opportunities as their goal-line back. He should have a chance this week to rack up a TD or two as the Chargers should be able to move the ball with relative ease against this Denver D. Expect around 10 touches with a chance to hit paydirt in the red-zone.
25. DeAngelo Williams (vs. NO) – DeAngelo was paid too much money to be playing as poorly as he was through the first few weeks, so he finally got it going against the Bears in Week 4. Could his 10-carry, 82-yard performance be the spark that sets him back on fire? We’ll see, as the Panthers have to realize sooner or later that they can’t depend on rookie Cam Newton to rush the ball eight times and throw it 40 times a game the rest of the season. Since his 2008 breakout campaign, DeAngelo has had incredible success against them averaging 120 yards (on 6.2 YPC) and one TD in four games. He could be worth a shot this Sunday.
26. LaDainian Tomlinson (@ NE) – Tomlinson isn’t quite the back he used to be, but he’ll get some good work this week against the Patriots as the Jets will be forced to throw the ball in order to stay in the game. LT21 can still do some damage coming out of the backfield, so I’m tentatively expecting a good 15 or so touches for him this weekend which could easily set him up with some low-end RB2 or flex fantasy numbers.
27. Brandon Jacobs (vs. Sea) – Whatever defects Bradshaw doesn’t find in the Seattle defense this Sunday, Jacobs will. Even if it only turns out to be with a few goal-line carries, Brandon will do some damage. Last season he was able to put up 78 yards on 11 carries against them, so he obviously knows something that works. I’m expecting at least one touchdown from the Juggernaut come Sunday.
28. Jonathan Stewart (vs. NO) – Just when you think you know the situation between these two Carolina backs, they go and switch it up on you. Stewart was clearly working towards a more prominent role in the offense over the first few weeks of the season, but now that Williams stepped up his game a bit last weekend, who knows? They’ll probably split snaps as usual and sap each other’s fantasy potential, but this dual could also bring out the best in each of them as it did in 2008 and make them both fantasy starters. Use him as a flex this week on the chance he plays angry.
29. Stevan Ridley (vs. NYJ) – At some point, Ridley is going to take over for Green-Ellis as the Patriots main ball-carrier, but not quite yet. You wouldn’t be wrong if you decided to take a chance on him as a flex this week as it’s obvious he’s being worked in to the Patriots game-plan, but I think next week is a more likely time for Stevan to break out.
30. Shonn Greene (@ NE) – Thought to be a breakout candidate this year, it’s a bummer how poorly Greene has played and you might have to sit him on your bench until he figures it out. He’s a flex play at best right now, even against a Patriots team that has given up the seventh most fantasy points to opposing running backs this season. Coach Ryan thinks he’s going to re-instill the “ground-and-pound” approach this week, but my guess is that the Patriots will force him to rely on Sanchez’s arm once again, thus making Greene relatively insignificant.
Rounding out the Top-50...
31. Earnest Graham (@ SF)
32. Marshawn Lynch (@ NYG)
33. Pierre Thomas (@ Car)
34. Ryan Grant (@ Atl)
35. Thomas Jones (@ Ind)
36. Kendall Hunter (vs. TB)
37. Michael Bush (@ Hou) – If Healthy
38. Ben Tate (vs. Oak) – If Healthy
39. Marion Barber (@ Det)
40. C.J. Spiller (vs. Phi)
41. Knowshon Moreno (vs. SD)
42. Delone Carter (vs. KC)
43. Danny Woodhead (vs. NYJ) – If Healthy
44. Justin Forsett (@ NYG)
45. Deji Karim (vs. Cin)
46. Javon Ringer (@ Pit)
47. Bernard Scott (@ Jax)
48. Keiland Williams (vs. Chi)
49. Toby Gerhart (vs. Ari)
50. Jacquizz Rodgers (vs. GB)