Week 7 Rankings (2014): Top 40 Running Backs

by Ray Kuhn

We move right along in the NFL season as Week 7 is upon us. I know it sounds crazy, but come next Tuesday we will have already passed the halfway point of the fantasy season. The good news is that there are only two teams on bye this week, and only one legitimate starting RB will be sitting out (LeSean McCoy). Tampa Bay is the other team on bye, and that just means you don’t need to force yourself to start Doug Martin.  How do the running backs taking the field stack up?  Let’s take a look:

  1. DeMarco Murray – Dallas Cowboys – vs. NY Giants
  2. Matt Forte – Chicago Bears – vs. Miami
  3. Jamaal Charles – Kansas City Chiefs – at San Diego
  4. Andre Ellington – Arizona Cardinals – at Oakland
  5. Giovanni Bernard – Cincinnati Bengals – at Indianapolis
  6. Marshawn Lynch – Seattle Seahawks – at St. Louis
  7. Le’Veon Bell – Pittsburgh Steelers – vs. Houston
  8. Arian Foster – Houston Texans – at Pittsburgh
  9. Eddie Lacy – Green Bay Packers – vs. Carolina
  10. Branden Oliver – San Diego Chargers – vs. Kansas City
  11. Lamar Miller – Miami Dolphins – at Chicago
  12. Ben Tate – Cleveland Browns – at Jacksonville
  13. Justin Forsett – Baltimore Ravens – vs. Atlanta
  14. Shane Vereen – New England Patriots – vs. NY Jets
  15. Alfred Morris – Washington Redskins – vs. Tennessee
  16. Ronnie Hillman – Denver Broncos – vs. San Francisco
  17. Fred Jackson – Buffalo Bills – vs. Minnesota
  18. Joique Bell – Detroit Lions – vs. New Orleans
  19. Ahmad Bradshaw – Indianapolis Colts – vs. Cincinnati
  20. Andre Williams – New York Giants – at Dallas
  21. Jonathan Stewart – Carolina Panthers – at Green Bay
  22. Jarred McKinnon – Minnesota Vikings – at Buffalo
  23. Reggie Bush – Detroit Lions – vs. New Orleans
  24. CJ Spiller – Buffalo Bills – vs. Minnesota
  25. Steven Jackson – Atlanta Falcons – at Baltimore
  26. Pierre Thomas – New Orleans Saints – at Detroit
  27. Bishop Sankey – Tennessee Titans – at Washington
  28. Trent Richardson – Indianapolis Colts – vs. Cincinnati
  29. Branden Bolden – New England Patriots – vs. NY Jets
  30. Storm Johnson – Jacksonville Jaguars – vs. Cleveland
  31. Frank Gore – San Francisco 49ers – at Denver
  32. Zac Stacy – St. Louis Rams – vs. Seattle
  33. Chris Ivory – New York Jets – vs. New England
  34. Roy Helu – Washington Redskins – vs. Tennessee
  35. Donald Brown – San Diego Chargers – vs. Kansas City
  36. Jeremy Hill – Cincinnati Bengals – at Indianapolis
  37. Bernard Pierce – Baltimore Ravens – vs. Atlanta
  38. Peyton Hillis – New York Giants – at Dallas
  39. Tre Mason – St. Louis Rams – vs. Seattle
  40. Carlos Hyde – San Francisco 49ers – at Denver

 

Thoughts:

  • Just when it seemed that the Patriots running back situation was clear, aside from Shane Vereen failing to live up to expectations, Stevan Ridley is now out for the season. Ridley found success as the lead back in New England carrying the ball 94 times for 340 yards, including two 100-plus yard games. So who will get those carries? James White was a popular sleeper entering the season but the rookie has only carried the ball three times and he was inactive this past week. Vereen has carried the ball 42 times so far this season but has only gained 216 yards and his 18 catches have yielded just 114 yards. I would expect to see Vereen’s role increase with Ridley sidelined, but I wouldn’t bank on him being the Patriots’ every down back. That will likely be split between White, Branden Bolden and practice squad player Jonas Grey. The early thinking is that Bolden is the back to own here, and in the short term he might be, but White is probably the option to target for the rest of the season. The Patriots already value Bolden’s vital role on all the special teams units and he only has 15 carries for 25 yards so far this season.
  • Entering Monday night’s game against the Rams Frank Gore had two straight 100-plus yard games under his belt. That made it all the more surprising that Carlos Hyde was the recipient of the fourth quarter and goal line carries. The word is that Gore is healthy, and San Francisco is trying to keep it that way all season, but there has to be some concern regarding Hyde’s workload. Hyde didn’t have the best game either, gaining only 14 yards on 11 carries, but I would expect to see his role increase as the season progresses. Gore is still a lower end RB2 or FLEX option, but this is a situation you need to watch.
  • Just as quickly as Zac Stacy emerged on the scene last year around this time, it looks like the same could be said for Tre Mason or Benny Cunningham this season. Stacy, despite the fact that he is healthy, was only on the field for 34.2% on the snaps in St. Louis’ last game and he has not had success gaining only 240 yards on 61 carries. Cunningham has had moderate success gaining 133 yards on 34 carries and scoring two touchdowns, and he will likely have a complementary role all season, but Mason in the one to target here. In his first real work this season he gained 40 yards on five carries and also caught a pass for 12 yards. This week’s matchup against Seattle will prove to be difficult, though, regardless of who is in the backfield.
  • I wouldn’t run to drop Matt Asiata this week, but the time is getting near and it looks like his time is up. He was only on the field for 15 snaps this past week and got three touches while Jared McKinnon had 48 snaps and 17 touches. McKinnon has averaged five yards a carry and shows explosiveness Asiata just does not have.
  • There was some slight concern about Marshawn Lynch’s back prior to the season, but so far he has shown no signs of that. Yes Lynch only carried the ball 10 times this past week against Dallas, but there doesn’t appear to be anything to read into. Lynch gained 61 yards so it wasn’t a performance issue, rather just something relating to the game plan. I would move forward with him as one of the few unquestioned RB1’s left. The fact that he has three receiving touchdowns this year is a nice bonus.
  • A week after we questioned Lamar Miller’s role for the rest of the season, there is now no doubt as to what we can expect from Miami’s starting running back. Knowshon Moreno is lost for the season with a knee injury, so Miller is the guy to own. On the season he is averaging 5.2 yards per carry on 63 carries and also 15 receptions for another 93 yards. Miller fits in perfectly with Miami’s offensive plan and he can now be counted on for 20-25 touches per game. Roll with him as at worst a high end RB2 for the rest of the season.

Make sure to check out all of our Week 7 rankings:

Week 7 Rankings (2014): Top 15 Kickers
Week 7 Rankings (2014): Top 50 Wide Receivers

27 comments

  1. Steve L says:

    Should I drop Asiata for Bernard Pierce?

    • Dave says:

      I’m a huge Ravens fan, and I think going Pierce is a bad move. While it is hard to trust anyone on the Vikings right now, I would still take Asiata first. But as the Prof said, I would probably not start either if I had a choice.

  2. Mike says:

    Do you see Antone Smith’s workload increasing over the course of the season?

  3. Brandon says:

    You forget the other New Orleans RBs on accident or you don’t like either one of them in the top 40??

  4. Steve L – That’s tough, as I don’t love either one honestly. I’d stick Asiata, but it’s a coin flip. My preference would be own neither, though

    Mike – At this point it’s hard to imagine him not being more involved. Is it going to be enough, though? That’s what remains to be seen.

    Brandon – I can’t speak for Ray, but both Ingram & Robinson are going to be tough to trust until we get an idea of playing time. Still, I’d think they’d be at the tailend of the list

    • Ray Kuhn says:

      I kept both off on purpose as for now I expect them to take carries away from each other and I don’t like the matchup.

  5. Shan says:

    Should I drop Zac Stacy, Benny Cunningham, Chris Ivory, or Bishop Sankey to pickup a defense since Philly D is on bye for me?

  6. Addison says:

    I have two dilemmas this week in my leagues
    1.) Should I start Antone Smith or Storm Johnson?
    2.) Would you start McFadden or Stewart this week and going forward?

  7. Shan – It would be one of the first two, and I’d prob. lean Cunningham, but Philadelphia isn’t necessarily a “lock” defense (been more about special team’s scoring).

    Addison – 1) I’d lean Johnson, but don’t love either. 2) McFadden, but neither are likely great options moving forward

  8. Billy Bats says:

    Hey roto. Lamar miller, Terrance williams, ahmad brashaw, or andre williams at flex? And in wr 2 I’m between Michael floyd and Terrance williams in that spot. What’s your take? Also Matt Ryan or matthew stafford? Thanks again

  9. Dale H says:

    Khiry Roberson, Ingrem, or Hillman week 7

  10. Adel says:

    I’m torn between three players. I have a RB slot and a Flex spot open and have to decide between Bradshaw, Andre Williams, & Andre Holmes. Should I play both Bradshaw and Williams, or bench one of them in place of Holmes?

  11. Chris says:

    My rbs for this week… Vereen, Bradshaw, joique bell, sankey, which 2 would u start?

  12. Ish says:

    Hey Prof thanks for the advice last week! It helped me pull off a monster win!

    Still confused about the RB1,2 and Flex situation.

    Options are Forsett, J Bell, Oliver and Kelvin Benjamin.

    I like Forsett and Oliver as RBs 1 and 2 but am having trouble between J Bell and Kelvin. Just not sure how they’re going to use Bell with Bush back. Thanks again for your help!

  13. kevin says:

    should I drop cunningham for mason?

  14. Billy Bats – QB – Ryan; WR – Floyd; FLEX – It’s extremely close between Miller, Bradshaw & Williams. I’d lean Bradshaw, given the offense, but it can go either way.

    Dale H – Hillman, the New Orleans RB are too risky with their roles

    Adel – I’d go with the two RB. While I like Holmes, when it’s close I always lean towards the RB

    Chris – I’d go Bradshaw/Bell. I have no trust in Vereen and don’t believe he’s going to assume lead back duties. As for Sankey, it’s an extremely tough matchup

    Ish – I agree it’s tough, but I’d lean towards Bell I think. Even with Bush back, without Calvin Johnson he should still get a lot of work.

    kevin – Tough call, but Mason seems to have a higher upside. That said, it’s going to be tough to trust any of them for now

  15. Adam says:

    Hey professor, who do you think is going to hold more value the rest of the season: Jarred McKinnon or Isaiah Crowell? I know Crowell’s value is tied directly to Ben Tate’s health, and has more upside if handed lead back duties, but it’s not easy predicting injuries.

    Thanks for the help in advance!

  16. Andrew H says:

    Hey roto got a 12 team ppr. I need 1 wr 1 rb and a flex. I have kendel wright, Cordero patterson, vareen, Hillman , McKinnon , sjax and gates. Any advice as always is very appreciated.

  17. Adam – I’d go with McKinnon. While, at least for now, it looks like Matt Asiata’s role is going to expand again the fact is that he isn’t very good. While Crowell is ahead of Terrance West, for now, there’s no guarantee that he remains there even if Tate goes down again.

    Andrew H – I know there’s going to be a lot of hype on Vereen, but I wouldn’t trust him given the matchup and performance. Chances are he’s not going to be the lead back
    RB – Hillman
    WR – Patterson (he has a favorable matchup, though I don’t love either option)
    FLEX – Gates

  18. brady says:

    Who should I start in my flex position in a .5 ppr league? I’m trying to decide between Chris Ivory, Jonathon Stewart, Cecil Shorts, and Andre Holms. Right now I’m leaning towards Shorts because of the .5 ppr, but I just wanted to see what your thoughts were. Oh and I also have Dwayne Bowe, so that’s always an option lol.

    • Def. not Ivory. I could see Stewart, given the matchup and the fact that he’s likely going to lead the way. If you want to go with the WR, I’d actually lean Holmes. When it comes to Shorts, while he’s coming off a big game there are a lot of other options in Jacksonville.

  19. Jesse says:

    I was just proprsed a trade….My peyton manning and lacy for demarco murray and stafford…..i really want to do do it, but am worried about stafford with megatron out. What should i do???

    • I wouldn’t, honestly. It’s hard to imagine Murray maintaining this type of production (plus there’s the risk of injury). It’s not terrible, but it’s probably an overall downgrade

  20. Jesse says:

    Thanks for the advice man, i definitely had my doubts about it too.

  21. clark says:

    I just traded Branden Oliver for Emmanuel Sanders. I do not have as much depth at running back (lynch, martin, stewart, crowell) as I do at receiver (Julio, fitz, crabtree, wayne, lafell), however I thought for value for the rest of the season it was a bold move that will pay off in the long run. Thoughts?

  22. theo says:

    Should i pick up doug martin?????

  23. clark – It’s not a bad deal, but long-term Oliver could’ve been your #2 RB so it’s tough

    theo – Depends who you need to drop, but yes I would

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