Week 5 Rankings: Top 40 Running Backs

Injuries once again play a huge factor in the rankings for the upcoming week.  Not only do we have all the Week 4 injuries to contend with, but new ones to Darren McFadden, LeSean McCoy and others complicate things further.

Let’s take a look at how things currently stand, but remember we will update these later in the week depending on the news:

  1. Maurice Jones-Drew – Jacksonville Jaguars – at Buffalo
  2. Arian Foster – Houston Texans – vs. New York Giants
  3. Frank Gore – San Francisco 49ers – vs. Philadelphia
  4. Cedric Benson – Cincinnati Bengals – vs. Tampa Bay
  5. Jahvid Best – Detroit Lions – vs. St. Louis
  6. Steven Jackson – St. Louis Rams – at Detroit
  7. Michael Turner – Atlanta Falcons – at Cleveland
  8. Chris Johnson – Tennessee Titans – at Dallas
  9. Jamaal Charles – Kansas City Chiefs – at Indianapolis
  10. Ray Rice – Baltimore Ravens – vs. Denver
  11. Adrian Peterson – Minnesota Vikings – at New York Jets
  12. Peyton Hillis – Cleveland Browns – vs. Atlanta
  13. Ryan Mathews – San Diego Chargers – at Oakland
  14. LaDanian Tomlinson – New York Jets – vs. Minnesota
  15. Joseph Addai – Indianapolis Colts – vs. Kansas City
  16. Pierre Thomas – New Orleans Saints – at Arizona
  17. Ryan Torain – Washington Redskins – vs. Green Bay
  18. DeAngelo Williams – Carolina Panthers – vs. Chicago
  19. Matt Forte – Chicago Bears – at Carolina
  20. Knowshon Moreno – Denver Broncos – at Baltimore
  21. Ahmad Bradshaw – New York Giants – at Houston
  22. Beanie Wells – Arizona Cardinals – vs. New Orleans
  23. Mike Tolbert – San Diego Chargers – at Oakland
  24. Mike Bell – Philadelphia Eagles – at San Francisco
  25. Tim Hightower – Arizona Cardinals – vs. New Orleans
  26. Thomas Jones – Kansas City Chiefs – at Indianapolis
  27. Marion Barber – Dallas Cowboys – vs. Tennessee
  28. Brandon Jackson – Green Bay Packers – at Washington
  29. Christopher Ivory – New Orleans Saints – at Arizona
  30. Michael Bush – Oakland Raiders – vs. San Diego
  31. Shonn Greene – New York Jets – vs. Minnesota
  32. Brandon Jacobs – New York Giants – at Houston
  33. Felix Jones – Dallas Cowboys – vs. Tennessee
  34. Carnell Williams – Tampa Bay Buccaneers – at Cincinnati
  35. Jason Snelling – Atlanta Falcons – at Cleveland
  36. C.J. Spiller – Buffalo Bills – vs. Jacksonville
  37. LaGarrette Blount – Tampa Bay Buccaneers – at Cincinnati
  38. Fred Jackson – Buffalo Bills – vs. Jacksonville
  39. Willis McGehee – Baltimore Ravens – vs. Denver
  40. Jonathan Stewart – Carolina Panthers – vs. Chicago


  • There are significant concerns about Darren McFadden’s ability to play in the Raiders Week 5 game after suffering a hamstring injury on Sunday.  It’s terrible news for fantasy owners who had been enjoying his breakout over the first four weeks of the season.  For now it appears Michael Bush will step in and get the bulk of carries, making him a solid RB2 in all formats.  McFadden will be left off the rankings, though we’ll update that accordingly towards the end of the week.
  • There didn’t appear to be any ill effects to Arian Foster’s attitude, after he was benched in the first quarter of the Texans Week 4 matchup.  He remains one of the better options in the league.
  • With Clinton Portis limited with a groin injury, and potentially out for the team’s Week 5 game against the Packers, Ryan Torain appears primed for his first NFL start.  After going for 70 yards and a touchdown in Week 4, he should be a hot commodity off the waiver wire.  Portis is being left off these rankings for now.
  • Unbeknownst to fantasy owners, LeSean McCoy suffered a broken rib on Sunday.  It is possible that he plays, but it’s hard to imagine him making a very big impact if he does.  Kevin Kolb’s stock just got an extra little boost, huh?  We’ll be leaving McCoy off these early rankings, with Mike Bell instead making the list.  As always, when we know more we will update these rankings later in the week.
  • After seeing Maurice Jones-Drew return to form this week, as well as the Jets thrashing of the worst rushing defense in the league (the Bills allow 174.0 rushing yards per game), it’s hard not to rank him at the top this week.
  • Despite injury concerns, Steven Jackson suited up on Sunday and rushed the ball 22 times for 70 yards against a Seattle defense that has been stout against the run all season long (averaging 72.8 yards per game).  This week he has a much better matchup, facing off against the Lions.  It’s safe to assume he’s going to play, at least for now, making him a solid RB1 in all formats.
  • Ray Rice is a potential Top 5 option in most weeks, if he were healthy.  However, he had just eight carries in Week 4 and is a question mark at this point.  Even if he plays, he’s a risk. Consider him a low-end RB1x, though the news during the week could change his status later on.
  • It was a disappointing week for Chris Johnson, rushing for just 53 yards on 19 carries (2.8 yards per carry).  In four weeks, he has two games under 55 yards and two games of at least 125 yards.  That’s extremely inconsistent for a player expected to lead your fantasy squad.  He remains a RB1, but he’s got a Cowboys defense who is allowing just 83.7 rushing yards per game.
  • The Colts have allowed 149.5 rushing yards per game and get a Kansas City Chiefs team that is built around the run.  Jamaal Charles and Thomas Jones will both hold value, but Charles is the more explosive back and should be a good bet to produce.  He’s a RB1 this week.
  • He was questionable in Week 4, but Joseph Addai still got 16 carries (which he had 63 yards and 2 TD), as well as 3 receptions for 19 yards.  However, he has a tough matchup against a Chiefs defense that is allowing 75.0 yards per game.  He’s a RB2 this week.
  • The Jets and Vikings are two of the better rushing defenses in the league, though both teams are built around the run.  It’s going to be an interesting game, and while LaDanian Tomlinson and Adrian Peterson should continue to hold value, Shonn Greene is a wild card.
  • The only reason Beanie Wells is not a RB1 is the potential for him to lose carries to Tim Hightower.  In his first game he had 19 carries for 75 yards, but in Week 4 he had just 5 carries for 19 yards.  Of course, the fact that they were getting blown out factored into things, but the Saints are allowing 138.2 rushing yards per game and you have to think he’s going to produce.
  • The presence of Mike Tolbert costs Ryan Mathews some potential value, but quotes from head coach Norv Turner state that Mathews is still the man.  He’s a low-end RB1, only because of potential limited touches.  Against Oakland, you have to expect him to produce.
  • Pierre Thomas may or may not play, but for now it seems like he will.  We’ll rank him as if he were going to suit up, but check back later in the week to be sure.
  • There’s a good chance Knowshon Moreno returns to the field this week against a tougher Ravens defense.  Still, if he’s on the field he’s a RB2.
  • Ahmad Bradshaw is hurting, so Brandon Jacobs could get some extra touches this week.  Of course, the Texans are notoriously bad against the pass, so the Giants running game may be lacking this week.
  • Carnell Williams or LaGroutte Blount?  No one knows who is going to get the bulk of the carries, meaning neither is more then a low-end FLEX option.

What are your thoughts on these rankings?  Who’s too high?  Who’s too low?

Make sure to check out the rest of our Week 5 Rankings:

    Week 5 Rankings: Top 60 Wide Receivers
    Week 5 Rankings: Top 25 Quarterbacks


    1. Steve says:

      I’m not sure Ryan Mathews should be that high at all. If we believe Norv Turner that Mathews is the guy then why would he give Mathews the bulk of the carries in garbage time? Clearly if Mathews was the true #1 back there he would not have gotten any carries in garbage time especially while nursing 2 injuries. Actions don’t match up to words here and I think Tolbert will have much more of a role than people think.

    2. Nick Tenaglia says:


      I thought the same thing you did until I actually thought about it from Norv Turner’s point-of-view. Assuming that Matthews was not 100% for the Week 4 game, you would think that there would be a 50-50 split in carries (best case scenario), but probably more likely a running game that Kansas City uses (majority of carries to the bulky RB, and the rest to the change-of-pace RB).

      If you look at the 1st Half plays, this above logic makes sense
      Tolbert opened up every San Diego drive with a run. Tolbert got every short-yardage situation. Matthews was in as the change-of-pace back for Tolbert.

      What happened in this game wasn’t that Matthews lost the starting job. Rather it was that Tolbert was having such an incredible game that it was decided to let him keep on rolling because he earned it. In the first half he had 5 rushes that went for at least 10 yards (long of 23).

      To begin the 2nd half, the Chargers gave the ball to Tolbert 5 times before Matthews got another rush. The first drive had Tolbert rush 4 times for 8 yards, and in the next drive he had 1 rush for 7 yards – a very UNDERwhelming performance after the first half that he had. So to begin the next San Diego drive Matthews got the first play from scrimage – he rushed it 15 yards for a TD. From that point onwards Matthews got every rush (5 for 20 yards) until the second string was put in with 9 minutes left on the game clock.

      Again, I can see the point that you are making by calling Matthews’ runs as “garbage time”, but maybe that was the gameplan from the beginning. Have Tolbert get 60% of the carries and Matthews 30% because Matthews was not yet 100% ready to go. This is only a question because of the way those carries were split – aka, Matthews’ coming in “garbage time” – but as I pointed out earlier that is only because Tolbert was so dominant in the first half that he earned the right to keep running the ball.

    3. Brandon says:

      What is LT’s real value this week. Am I better using a WR such as Colston or Santonio Holmes in my Flex Spot.. I am Starting Ray Rice and Michael Turner as RB 1 and 2. I mean can Holmes be a sleeper in his first week back.. And Colston has to come out someitme right. Why not against the Cardinals. the saints should be looking to get their offense back on track and go off.

    4. Mike R. says:

      Do you rank Beanie over Lynch (this week) now that he is traded to Seattle? How about long term? I have Rice, SJax, J.Stew, Beanie, and Lynch. I need to make room for a Cutler backup in case he decides to get me negative points again (or he doesn’t make the start this week). I’m thinking M.Sanchez… At receiver I have Austin, R.White, H.Ward, M.Wallace and Dez. At TE I have Z.Miller and H.Miller. I think Heath takes over WK6 when BigBen gets back so Zach becomes trade bait for a need or opens up a spot for S.Rice to sit and wait to explode. What are your thoughts?

    5. Mike R. says:

      And….Do you drop J.Stew or B.Wells for Torain?

    6. admin says:

      Brandon – I would not use Santonio Holmes, but I think Colston is a must play. If you aren’t using him at WR, he’s an easy call at the FLEX this week.

      Mike – I still like Beanie over Lynch. He’s the more dynamic runner and I think long-term, he’s still has higher option. As for Torain, there’s no guarantee that he gets full-time carries long-term. I’d hold onto both Wells and Stewart for him, at least for now. I just wouldn’t give up on an early round pick this early in the year.

    7. Mike R. says:


    8. John E says:

      I am really thin at the rb position. With Moreno out again this week, I am forced to choose between Snelling and Brandon Jackson and I can’t decide who to give the start to. Snelling has more talent and is facing a weaker run defense in Cleveland but he is still behind Turner while Jackson is splitting carries with Kuhn against Washington? Thanks

    9. I have S.MoCoy RB / M.Bush RB / and M. Barber RB I’m not sure if I should start MoCoy due to (rib) injury??? I do think M. Barber and the Cowboys are going to run more and I think M. Barber may surprise everyone this wk. Am I out of it w/ this thought ???

    10. admin says:

      Sorry John, realized I missed yours. I like Jackson’s potential to produce more then Snelling who, like you said, is definitely buried behind Turner. Jackson has the potential to emerge as the top back, and could produce.

      dennis – Barber has the potential, but they are talking about mixing Felix Jones into the mix more. That certainly hurts his potential value. If McCoy were healthy, he’s the obvious call. I could understand the nervousness there, however, and if you don’t want to take that gamble, I would go Bush.

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