by Ray Kuhn
Fantasy football is not easy and you need a lot of things to go right to get to this point, so hopefully you still have something to play for this week. While we won’t object to third place, especially if there is a financial benefit, first place is where the glory lies.
Remember that this is a short week. While things still goes through Monday night, the majority of the week’s action will be taking place on Saturday. That means one less day of practice and one less day of decision making. Let’s not waste any time as we jump into the running back rankings for this week:
- Le’Veon Bell – Pittsburgh Steelers – vs. Baltimore
- Ezekiel Elliot – Dallas Cowboys – vs. Detroit
- LeSean McCoy – Buffalo Bills – vs. Miami
- DeMarco Murray – Tennessee Titans – at Jacksonville
- David Johnson – Arizona Cardinals – at Seattle
- Latavius Murray – Oakland Raiders – vs. Indianapolis
- Devonta Freeman – Atlanta Falcons – at Carolina
- Jordan Howard – Chicago Bears – vs. Washington
- Carlos Hyde – San Francisco 49ers – at Los Angeles
- LeGarrette Blount – New England Patriots – vs. New York Jets
- Lamar Miller – Houston Texans – vs. Cincinnati
- Bilal Powell – New York Jets – at New England
- Todd Gurley – Los Angeles Rams – vs. San Francisco
- Robert Kelley – Washington Redskins – at Chicago
- Jay Ajayi – Miami Dolphins – at Buffalo
- Spencer Ware – Kansas City Chiefs – vs. Denver
- Jeremy Hill – Cincinnati Bengals – at Houston
- Frank Gore – Indianapolis Colts – at Oakland
- Doug Martin – Tampa Bay Buccanneers – at New Orleans
- Mark Ingram – New Orleans Saints – vs. Tampa Bay
- Jonathan Stewart – Carolina Panthers – vs. Atlanta
- Thomas Rawls – Seattle Seahawks – at Arizona
- Ryan Mathews – Philadelphia Eagles – vs. New York Giants
- Ty Montgomery – Green Bay Pakcers – vs. Minnesota
- Kenneth Farrow – San Diego Chargers – at Cleveland
- Kenneth Dixon – Baltimore Ravens – at Pittsburgh
- Isaiah Crowell – Cleveland Browns – vs. San Diego
- Dion Lewis – New England Patriots – vs. New York Jets
- Tevin Coleman – Atlanta Falcons – at Carolina
- Theo Riddick – Detroit Lions – at Dallas
- Paul Perkins – New York Giants – at Philadelphia
- Adrian Peterson – Minnesota Vikings – at Green Bay
- Terrance West – Baltimore Ravens – at Pittsburgh
- T.J. Yeldon – Jacksonville Jaguars – vs. Tennessee
- Duke Johnson – Cleveland Browns – vs. San Diego
- Charles Sims – Tampa Bay Buccanneers – at New Orleans
- Tim Hightower – New Orleans Saints – vs. Tampa Bay
- Rashad Jennings – New York Giants – at Philadelphia
- Justin Forsett – Denver Broncos – at Kansas City
- Darren Sproles – Philadelphia Eagles – vs. New York Giants
- It was a weird week for Mark Ingram who had a sideline eruption directed towards Sean Payton. After watching Tim Hightower find the end zone for the second time on the afternoon, fantasy owners would have been well within their rights to act in the same manner. The fact that Hightower carried the ball 11 times for 37 yards or that he caught three passes for another 11 yards shouldn’t have much, if any, fantasy impact. However two of those carries were in goal line situations, and they resulted in touchdowns while Ingram stood on the sideline. On the surface it has been a pretty good season for Ingram who is averaging 5.1 yards per carry on 167 carries, but the last few weeks have been rough for him. Entering action on Sunday he had a combined 14 carries in the past two weeks for 51 yards, on the heels of a 14 carry, 146 yard effort. He was dealing with a toe injury, but there isn’t much of an excuse for his usage. He certainly appeared healthy enough against the Cardinals as he carried the ball 17 times for 78 yards, and caught two passes for another 14 yards. When the Saints played Tampa Bay two weeks ago Ingram gained just 14 yards on seven carries, but there is no reason to think he won’t touch the ball 20 times this week. It is a concern that he only has three touchdowns this season, but you likely are without a better option.
- Stay away. I’m sure a lot of you have been keeping Adrian Peterson on the end of your bench over the past few weeks just for this week, but resist the temptation. The original thought process was that he would return for this week, only if the Vikings were in playoff contention. After last week’s disaster against the Colts Minnesota’s chances are bleak, and Peterson didn’t do anything to render himself fantasy worthy for the rest of the season. He had just seven touches on the day, six carries for 22 yards and one catch for a yard, but he also lost a fumble and was barely on the field in the second half. As it is Peterson played on just 21% of the Vikings’ snaps, and you can’t expect much more than that for this week. He did have one run of 13 yards in which he showed a little something, but there is not enough to bank on.
- Kenneth Farrow got his chance, and that is about all you can say for the rookie running back. Farrow was a hot addition this past week and also a popular sleeper option when setting your lineups, but he failed to meet expectations. San Diego did their part as he had 17 touches compared to seven for Ronnie Hillman, but he didn’t show much. Farrow gained 39 yards on his 15 carries, fumbled twice (losing one) and caught two passes for 14 yards against the Raiders. It’s hard to knock the Chargers’ match-up for this week, Cleveland, but, at least early in the week, there are a lot of uncertainties. Melvin Gordon didn’t practice on Tuesday, and while he has spoken to the contrary, it doesn’t appear he will be on the field. If Gordon does appear to be healthy and takes the field then it’s hard to argue with his status as an RB1. However, at least at this point, I am excluding him from my rankings as there is certainly risk involved. Hillman didn’t exactly do too much better, seven carries for 34 yards with 17 of those yards coming on one play, and his role will likely remain unchanged. That means Farrow will be seeing another heavy workload, and despite his lack of success he can’t be ignored when facing the Browns. I would tread carefully, because while there is a high ceiling, we saw the floor the last two weeks.
- As the Giants get set to clinch a playoff berth, we may be a seeing a changing of the guard in their backfield. Shane Vereen re-injured his triceps so he is now out for the season, which leaves Rashad Jennings and Paul Perkins as the main running backs. The Giants brought Perkins along slowly, but, as they begin to trust him more as a complete back (read: pass protection) he is seeing more time on the field. Jennings will still be a factor, especially on early downs, but his upside is limited. On Sunday Jennings gained just 38 yards on 18 carries, but it also needs to be noted that he was the one carrying the ball in the second half. So far this season he is averaging just 45.2 yards per game and 3.7 yards per carry. Perkins had the best game of his career last week, as he ran it 11 times for 56 yards. The 3.8 yards per carry he is averaging isn’t much better than Jennings, but Perkins has been improving each week and he is the more explosive running back. This is a situation I would like to avoid, but of the two Perkins is the better option.
- And back to Ty Montgomery we go. The Packers were committed to Montgomery as a running back, and we should be as well. Most importantly the results backed it up. Montgomery gained 162 yards on 16 carries while scoring two touchdowns and ripping of multiple big runs; 61, 36 and 26 yards. This week hey does face a tougher defense in Minnesota, but it’s hard to ignore that type of production and explosiveness.
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