Week 8 Rankings (2014): Top 40 Running Backs

by Ray Kuhn

Nobody should be surprised by this, but we had another interesting week where running backs are concerned in fantasy football. One team lost their top two running backs in the same game and now we are advocating for a player who hasn’t been active all season. A converted quarterback/wide receiver had one of the best games of the week. A running back who was off draft boards by the second or third round of just about every draft didn’t gain a single yard.  And we can go on.

Those are just a few of the things fantasy owners had to deal with this week at the running back position. This week there are just two teams, New York Giants and San Francisco 49ers, on bye. With all that in mind, let’s take a look at how our rankings shake out for the coming week:

  1. DeMarco Murray – Dallas Cowboys – vs. Washington
  2. Jamaal Charles – Kansas City Chiefs – vs. St. Louis
  3. Matt Forte – Chicago Bears – at New England
  4. Arian Foster – Houston Texans – at Tennessee
  5. Marshawn Lynch – Seattle Seahawks – at Carolina
  6. Andre Ellington – Arizona Cardinals – vs. Philadelphia
  7. Giovanni Bernard – Cincinnati Bengals – vs. Baltimore
  8. Le’Veon Bell – Pittsburgh Steelers – vs. Indianapolis
  9. Ben Tate – Cleveland Browns – vs. Oakland
  10. Shane Vereen – New England Patriots – vs. Chicago
  11. Lamar Miller – Miami Dolphins – at Jacksonville
  12. Ronnie Hillman – Denver Broncos – vs. San Diego
  13. Joique Bell – Detroit Lions – at Atlanta
  14. Justin Forsett – Baltimore Ravens – at Cincinnati
  15. Eddie Lacy – Green Bay Packers – at New Orleans
  16. LeSean McCoy – Philadelphia Eagles – at Arizona
  17. Branden Oliver – San Diego Chargers – at Denver
  18. Tre Mason – St. Louis Rams – at Kansas City
  19. Mark Ingram – New Orleans Saints – vs. Green Bay
  20. Ahmad Bradshaw – Indianapolis Colts – at Pittsburgh
  21. Jarred McKinnon – Minnesota Vikings – at Tampa Bay
  22. Reggie Bush – Detroit Lions – at Atlanta
  23. Denard Robinson – Jacksonville Jaguars – vs. Miami
  24. Steven Jackson – Atlanta Falcons – vs. Detroit
  25. Jonathan Stewart – Carolina Panthers – vs. Seattle
  26. Chris Ivory – New York Jets – vs. Buffalo
  27. Alfred Morris – Washington Redskins – at Dallas
  28. Doug Martin – Tampa Bay Buccaneers – vs. Minnesota
  29. Darren McFadden – Oakland Raiders – at Cleveland
  30. Trent Richardson – Indianapolis Colts – at Pittsburgh
  31. Bernard Pierce – Baltimore Ravens – at Cincinnati
  32. Khiry Robinson – New Orleans Saints – vs. Green Bay
  33. Anthony Dixon – Buffalo Bills – at New York Jets
  34. Roy Helu – Washington Redskins – at Dallas
  35. Jeremy Hill – Cincinnati Bengals – vs. Baltimore
  36. James Starks – Green Bay Packers – at New Orleans
  37. Bryce Brown – Buffalo Bills – at New York Jets
  38. Bobby Rainey – Tampa Bay Buccaneers – vs. Minnesota
  39. Tavoris Cadet – New Orleans Saints – vs. Green Bay
  40. Jonas Gray – New England Patriots – vs. Houston


Thoughts:

  • Tavoris Cadet has been a sneaky player so far this season in the New Orleans backfield. That has especially been true over the past few weeks as his role has begun to increase. Entering the season, there was the assumption that Pierre Thomas value would increase with the trade of Darren Sproles. However Thomas has 29 targets while Cadet has 21. Now with Thomas sidelined for the next few weeks, look for Cadet to take on an even bigger role in the passing game. We know that the Saints offense is not as good as it has been in years past, but he still will be a valuable option, especially in PPR leagues. Last week he was targeted nine times and caught six passes for 51 yards. What does limit his value is that he is not an option in the running game as he has three carries all season and was on the field for 20 snaps Sunday. Yes, Cadet is a worth a look, but don’t overrate him just because he is on the Saints. In the running game, I would expect Thomas’ carries to be distributed between Mark Ingram and Khiry Robinson.
  • Last year it was Knowshon Moreno and this year it is Ronnie Hillman. I’m not saying Hillman will be just as good, but he certainly does have value in Denver’s offense. Last week he proved that he is the one to own as he carried the ball 14 times for 71 yards and two touchdowns while also catching four passes for 29 yards. Perhaps more importantly, he was the goal line back and showed a good burst with a 37 yard scoring run. Hillman faces the Chargers this week, which is the first of two straight matchups against subpar rushing defenses.
  • Who would have thought that there would be two starting caliber running backs coming out of the Colts’ backfield? Ahmad Bradshaw is the obvious choice, especially for as long as he can stay healthy. He has been a factor both in the running game and the passing game with 94 combined touches – 24 receptions and 70 carries. He has shown the ability to gain yardage, but of greater importance is his six receiving touchdowns along with one rushing touchdown. Bradshaw is also carrying the ball enough, an average of 10 carries a game for 48 yards, that he has value in all formats. What is surprising, though, is that Trent Richardson has actually looked pretty good. He is also a factor in the receiving game with 19 catches and he carried the ball 14 times for 77 yards last week against the Bengals. His hamstring appears to be fine, and while I have Bradshaw ranked ahead of him the Colts’ offense is showing ability to support both running backs.
  • Bryce Brown hasn’t been active yet this season, but there is optimism surrounding the Buffalo running back for Week 8. With both Fred Jackson and CJ Spiller sidelined, someone needs to pick up the slack. Last week that was Anthony Dixon who carried the ball 13 times for 51 yards. On the season Dixon has 27 carries for 137 yards in a complementary role and was active ahead of Brown due to his value on Special Teams. In the short term, Dixon might continue to receive the majority of the carries but Brown is the one to own here. Buffalo likely will not reduce Dixon’s role on Special Teams, and this gives them opportunity to get a look at a player who they are high on. This might take a few weeks, and even then Dixon will still likely have a role in short yardage and goal line situations, but that is about it. Dixon is probably a more guaranteed source of points, but Brown has the most potential. However, this week against the Jets, neither are great options.
  • The Jaguars backfield is in flux. Two weeks ago Storm Johnson was named the starter, but last week he only had six carries for 16 yards (which did include a 3 yard TD run), while Denard Robinson got the start. Robinson carried the ball 22 times for 127 yards and touchdown and appears to have earned himself another week as starter. The assumption is that Robinson will continue to hold that role as long as he keeps on producing, but I’m not sure how many more 100-plus yard games we can expect. Oh, and Toby Gerhart is slated to return this week as well. If you must target Robinson, but do it with caution.
  • In St. Louis, it is time for Tre Mason show. After carrying the ball five times for 40 yards in his debut, he had 18  carries for 85 yards and a touchdown last week. The rookie added an explosiveness to the Rams running game that was not present earlier in the season. Benny Cunningham will still be a factor in the passing game and for the occasional carry, but I would expect Mason’s role to continue to increase. This means that Zac Stacy is now droppable in most leagues as he didn’t even touch the ball last week. 

Make sure to check out all of our Week 8 rankings:

 

Week 8 Rankings (2014): Top 15 Defenses
Week 8 Rankings (2014): Top 50 Wide Receivers

29 comments

  1. BMO says:

    Hi Professor,

    I was able to get Mason on a pretty insubstantial waiver bid, but while both Brown & Dixon were initially claimed, apparently people thought better of it & they’re both floating on the wire again. I’m thinking with Fred Jackson originally back Mason is the guy to go with here, but do you think either of the others might have more potential down the stretch?

  2. jack says:

    Hey Professor,

    I was offered Lacy and Hillman for Jamaal Charles. My RB corps is prettg weak right now (Vereen, Sankey, Cunningham). Do you think I should except the trade?

    • Any chance of improving on the Hillman part of the trade? It’s not terrible, and Hillman has the potential, but he also could lose his job if he slips up. I love to get two “certain” backs if I’m dealing Charles.

      At the same time, your spot in the standings and potential keeper rules factor in as well. It your team needs to improve now, or the season is lost, then I’d be a bit more apt to do it.

  3. Steve L says:

    Should I drop Asiata for Cunningham or Stewart?

  4. Sam says:

    Start tre mason over sankey and b cunningham then?

  5. brady says:

    Do Montee Ball, Zac Stacy, or Toby Gerhart have any long-term potential in your opinion? They’re all sitting on the free agents list in my league as of this week.

  6. Paul says:

    #21 Jerick McKinnon (not Jarred)

  7. The Overthinkers says:

    Oliver or Ingram!? QUICK! Before the game starts!

    lol

    Thanks,

    The Overthinkers

  8. mpgli says:

    Who should i start

    Ben Tate OR

    LeSean McCoy

  9. The Overthinkers – Oliver as Ingram is going to continue sharing time

    mpg li – I couldn’t sit McCoy personally, even though Tate may have a better matchup. ,McCoy upside is just too great

  10. Jon says:

    I have sankey as a rb3 on my team. With the return of Shonn Greene nearing, do you see any significant upside to claiming him off waivers this week and dropping Dixon (Buf) ? Or should I see how the situation in buffalo plays out and keep sankey for now?

    • I’d sit on the Buffalo situation to see how it goes. Neither Greene nor Sankey have shown much, so owning both just kills a spot. Sankey has the highest upside in Tennessee and at least Dixon has an opportunity (though I’d prefer to own Brown)

  11. Bob says:

    Flex appeal:

    Bryce Brown, Alfred Morris, or Bishop Sankey?

    My head is churning over here.

  12. boo says:

    really having a hard time deciding who to start

    forsett cause he’s been consistent all year and matchup with cinci

    or

    vereen worried about the volume he’ll get

  13. K says:

    RB2: Tate at home vs OAK after losing Mack & last week’s performance, or Joique vs ATL in London for the REALLY early game?

  14. chad says:

    start lacey or mckinnon

  15. brady says:

    I need to fill for Matt Ryan who has a bye next week, is Bryce Brown drop-able? My other option would be Andre Holmes or possibly Ryan Mathews, but I have a feeling Mathews is going to return to fantasy relevance soon.

    • I wouldn’t drop Mathews. Depending on your WR/RB situation either Brown or Holmes is droppable, but it really depends on where you need more elp

      • brady says:

        That’s what I was thinking, I’ve got Larry Fitz, Dwayne Allen, Andre Holmes, Mathews and Bryce Brown on the bench so I’ll have to decide between those two. I actually have a pending trade of Fitz and Brown for Brandon Marshall and Eli Manning so we’ll see if that goes through first lol.

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