2014-2015 Wild Card Round: Top 15 Running Backs

by Ray Kuhn

As we enter the Wild Card Round the running back position is quite thin. To call it top heavy could potentially be an understatement, as it really is a tier of one. While Jeremy Hill and Justin Forsett did carry many fantasy owners to success this year, DeMarco Murray is the one name that truly stands out with the likely absence of Le’Veon Bell.  Keep that in mind as you check out the rankings for this week:

  1. DeMarco Murray – Dallas Cowboys – vs. Detroit
  2. Jeremy Hill – Cincinnati Bengals – at Indianapolis
  3. Justin Forsett – Baltimore Ravens – at Pittsburgh
  4. Joique Bell – Detroit Lions – at Dallas
  5. Dan Herron – Indianapolis Colts – vs. Cincinnati
  6. Jonathan Stewart – Carolina Panthers – vs. Arizona
  7. Giovanni Bernard – Cincinnati Bengals – at Indianapolis
  8. Reggie Bush – Detroit Lions – at Dallas
  9. Kerwynn Williams – Arizona Cardinals – at Carolina
  10. Josh Harris – Pittsburgh Steelers – vs. Baltimore
  11. Joseph Randle – Dallas Cowboys – vs. Detroit
  12. Trent Richardson – Indianapolis Colts – vs. Cincinnati
  13. D’Angelo Williams – Carolina Panthers – vs. Arizona
  14. Bernard Pierce – Baltimore Ravens – at Pittsburgh
  15. Ben Tate –  Pittsburgh Steelers – vs. Baltimore

Thoughts:

  • There really is no nice way to put this; Pittsburgh’s running back situation is a great big mess. The loss of Bell is a major one and could lead to an early exit for the Steelers. Since there are only eight teams taking the field this weekend, it is hard to ignore Pittsburgh’s running backs, as much as you may want to. Josh Harris will likely get the majority of the carries after he ran the ball five times for seven yards this past Sunday, although we must note that he had a 59 yard touchdown run called back on a penalty. Sunday gave Harris 16 rushing yards on the season and that is combined with Dri Archer’s 40 yards for the season to make a less than imposing backfield. The Steelers also added Ben Tate and his 3.11 yards per carry, but I would be very surprised to see him with more than 8-10 carries. If you are looking for a value then Harris is the option to go with, but this game will come down to the passing game. Baltimore has allowed the fewest fantasy points to running backs this season, so don’t expect much.
  • We know that Arizona’s offense is a mess, and I wouldn’t expect things to be much different this week. Carolina’s run defense came in at the middle of the pack this year for fantasy purposes, but Kerwynn Williams and Stepfan Taylor are two of their weakest opponents. Williams can be expected to receive 65-70% of the touches at a minimum, but Carolina will likely stack the box. Williams carried the ball 17 times last week for 67 yards compared to seven carries for 26 yards for Taylor. On ten less carries, 53 compared to 63, Williams has gained 28 more yards, 208 and 246.
  • Owners of DeMarco Murray can’t be happy with the news that Ndamukong Suh will be playing this week, but he still is clearly the best bet. Yes the Lions have the 3rd ranked defense against the run from a fantasy perspective, but Murray and his 1.845 rushing yards and 13 touchdowns cannot be discounted. He also has 57 catches for 416 yards and I would not be scared away by the fact that Detroit has only allowed 3.0 yards per carry with Suh in the lineup.
  • Jeremy Hill only has five games with 20-plus carries, including in each of the past three weeks. I wouldn’t expect that to change as he gained 395 yards in those games to put him at 1,124 yards for the season. He will continue to carry the load for the Bengals, but Giovanni Bernard is no slouch with 680 rushing yards and 43 catches for 349 yards.

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