Week 8 Rankings: Top 40 Running Backs

by Will Overton               

There were some monster rushing numbers put up last week across the league from Adrian Peterson, Arian Foster, even rookie Demarco Murray who was making his first start and doing it in style. It’s been a passing league all year, but last Sunday the running back stole the glory and it’ll be interesting to see if they can repeat that in Week 8. Here is how I rank the top 40 RB’s for the coming week:

  1. Adrian Peterson at Carolina
  2. Arian Foster vs. Jacksonville
  3. Fred Jackson vs. Washington
  4. Ray Rice vs. Arizona
  5. Frank Gore vs. Cleveland
  6. Lesean McCoy vs. Dallas
  7. Chris Johnson vs. Indianapolis
  8. Demarco Murray at Philadelphia
  9. Maurice Jones-Drew at Houston
  10. Ahmad Bradshaw vs. Miami
  11. Rashard Mendenhall vs. New England
  12. Steven Jackson vs. New Orleans
  13. Ryan Matthews at Kansas City
  14. Knowshon Moreno vs. Detroit
  15. Darren Sproles at St. Louis
  16. Ben Jarvus Green-Ellis at Pittsburgh
  17. Mark Ingram at St. Louis
  18. Jackie Battle vs. San Diego
  19. Mike Tolbert at Kansas City
  20. Jonathan Stewart vs. Minnesota
  21. Daniel Thomas at NY Giants
  22. Bernard Scott at Seattle
  23. Deangelo Williams vs. Minnesota
  24. Delone Carter at Tennessee
  25. Montario Hardesty at San Francisco
  26. Reggie Bush at NY Giants
  27. Roy Helu at Buffalo
  28. Ryan Torain at Buffalo
  29. Pierre Thomas at St. Louis
  30. Peyton Hillis at San Francisco
  31. Alfonso Smith at Baltimore
  32. Maurice Morris at Denver
  33. Marshawn Lynch vs. Cincinnati
  34. Ben Tate vs. Jacksonville
  35. Joseph Addai at Tennessee
  36. Larod Stephens-Howling at Baltimore
  37. Lance Ball vs. Detroit
  38. Keiland Williams at Denver
  39. Leon Washington vs. Cincinnati
  40. Tashard Choice at Philadelphia
  • I am aware of what the Jacksonville defense did to Ray Rice on Monday Night this week. It was an extremely impressive performance and I do believe the Jaguars defense is for real. That said, Arian Foster is an elite level talent and while Jacksonville may slow him down, they will not stop him. Houston will certainly make it a point to give their star back the ball more than 8 times in the game and with the way he is going right now you have to think he approaches and probably surpasses 100 yards, despite the defense.
  • You know if we all keep predicting that Chris Johnson will breakout, maybe eventually he actually will breakout. If he doesn’t do it this week I may stop predicting it though because matchups don’t get much friendlier than this one. The Colts let anyone and everyone on the Saints team gouge them on the ground for big yardage and there is no reason Chris Johnson shouldn’t do the same thing this week. It’s got to happen eventually right?
  • The Detroit Lions have allowed a 100 yard rusher in three straight weeks now and are quickly sinking to the bottom of the rushing yards allowed category. With Willis McGehee out of action this week that means Knowshon Moreno has a very nice opportunity to redeem himself and that is why he is ranked 14th despite still not showing signs of being a top level back yet in his career. The Lions have only surrendered 3 rushing TD’s and Moreno will have to compete with Tim Tebow at the goal line, but the matchup is to nice to not play Moreno this week.
  • Coming off a 253 yard rushing performance last week it is extremely hard to not overreact and move Demarco Murray even further up this ranking list, but I am trying to check my expectations. Philadelphia isn’t great against the run, but they’re better than the Rams are and the Cowboys shouldn’t be going into “eat up the clock mode” in the first half like they did last week. Jason Garrett hasn’t announced if Murray will start over Tashard Choice, but it does seem a foregone conclusion and Murray is still a top ten back despite the things I mentioned.
  • After gouging the second worst rush defense in the league last week the Saints trio of backs must be licking their chops for a chance to get at the St. Louis Rams and their league worst rush defense. Mark Ingram would have ranked higher than Darren Sproles on this list if there weren’t injury concerns after he left the game Sunday. Expectations are he’ll be fine, but for now Sproles is the top back from the Saints I want. That said, none of the three are bad options this week.
  • Reports coming out of Cleveland are that Peyton Hillis is starting to do some light work at practice and there is a chance he plays on Sunday. I’m not overly optimistic as of right now, but if he does play I don’t think he’ll be the featured back considering the injury and considering Hardesty is coming off a nice game. The Browns showed last week that they love to pound the football and even with a semi-healthy Hillis looming, I really like Hardesty this week.
  • It is weeks like this one that I really wish Mike Shannahan wasn’t the coach of the Washington Redskins. The Redskins are facing one of the league’s worst rush defenses this week, but with Tim Hightower out for the season its anyone’s guess who gets the bulk of the carries between Roy Helu and Ryan Torain. The popular opinion seems to be that Torain will get the start, but I have Helu ranked a spot higher simply because I think he’s the better back with the higher upside. Because of the matchup either guy could make for a very nice play this week, but there is a lot of risk involved, so beware.
  • As of yet I haven’t heard any word on Joseph Addai’s status after he came back Sunday Night and than proceeded to get hobbled up once again. Delone Carter however looked really good against the Saints Sunday Night rushing for 89 yards on 10 carries and crossing the goal line once. I have a hunch that even if Addai can go Sunday, Carter could still see the bulk of the carries and would make a nice flex play going up against Tennessee.
Week 8 Rankings: Top 50 Wide Recievers
Week 8 Rankings: Top 25 Quarterbacks


  1. JR says:

    Would you start Jackie Battle in the flex position over either Dez Bryant, Steve Johnson, or Brandon Marshall? One of the above three is going to be my WR2 as well. Thanks Rotoprof

    • Will Overton says:

      This is a tough call. The Chargers have gotten run on hard the last two games by Wills McGehee and Shonn Greene. So Jackie Battle has a good chance to put up some very nice numbers, however he hasn’t been the first option at the goal line, and I’m not sure he is the second one either. So until he finds the end zone I think you need to go with the more dependable WR’s.

    • Justin says:

      Battle is battling on Monday night this week how could you not want him as a flex player.. Next best choice this week Steve Johnson

  2. Cody says:

    Ppr league and need to start 2 rb and I just can’t pick who do you think?
    S Jax

  3. Justin says:

    Wow Cody, I wish those were my backs…
    -Prof, who would you go with between battle and moreno in a ppr league?
    I like Moreno’s opportunity, but it scares me that a) lance ball will steal some carries and b) tebow stealing goalie carries
    I think moreno has a higher ceiling but is more risky than battle

    What do you think?

    • Will Overton says:

      I think you have it nailed there Justin. Battle is the safe choice, but Moreno certainly has the most upside.

      Your concerns about Moreno make sense, but keep in mind Dexter McCluster picked up 10 carries last week for KC too and the Chiefs also turn to Laron McClain and Thomas Jones at the goal line. So some of the same concerns can be applied to Battle.

      Moreno is also more likely to catch a few passes. He could be a nce safety outlet for Tebow and even if they aren’t big gains in a PPR league they all count.

      Moreno against Detroit is too tempting for me to pass up, but you are right in thinking Battle is safer.

  4. Jared says:

    I can go Ingram or Green-Ellis for my RB2 this week…if Ingram indeed is healthy on Sunday is he the choice? And regardless, would you play Fred Davis at FLEX over either because of all the injuries Washington has suffered?

    • Will Overton says:

      Having a RB go against the Rams is far more tempting than one against the Steelers so I am leaning towards Green-Ellis.

      Even if Ingram does play, if he is hampered at all by the heel injury he won’t be a lock for double-digit carries in the game.

      Green-Ellis is just the safer choice to me because he should see more chances. Obviously with the way I have them ranked I think this is a close one though.

      As for the flex spot, as you’ll see tomorrow in my TE rankings I love Fred Davis this week. If Ingram is healthy I would still play Ingram over him, but if Ingram is hampered at all, I’d go with Davis.

  5. Mike says:

    What’s the deal with Mendenhall!!!!!! He’s killing me!!!! And what are your thoughts on Beanie Wells? Will he be healthy soon?

  6. Mike says:

    There’s a guy in my league who is 1-6 and has really no hope of making the playoffs… He has a ton of guys that just went on IR and have byes this week so I’m thinking of trying to give him Reggie Wayne and Ladanian Tomlinson for Roddy White and Tim Hightower (On IR)…I think he might do it since wayne/LT are ALRIGHT and he would be able to start them both while he’d only be losing White because Hightower he’d have to drop anyways. Do you think it’s smart of me?

  7. Mike mike says:

    Who should I start at flex stewart car, jenkins min WR, hardesty, brown pit?

    • Will Overton says:

      I have to hope Mendenhall will turn things around as he gets fully healthy finally. We’ll see what he can do this week against an average New England run defense.

      As for Beanie, I have heard only a week or two out.

      If you can land Roddy White for Wayne and LT you have to do that in a heartbeat. No reason not to at all.

      As for your flex spot question I think it is between Stewart and Brown. I’d tend to lean towards Stewart unless it is a PPR league which might push Brown into the spot.

  8. rolandw says:

    K professor I lost last week it was a gd run in 6-1 now what do u think (tebow,flacco)(d.murray,battle,ridley,or b.Jacobs) I have turner and forte on bye (dem.Thomas,v.j.,boldin,crabtree) I need 2 rbs 2 ers and the flex

    • Will Overton says:

      I like Tebow over Flacco. You may get some varying opinions on that one since Flacco has a nice matchup this week, but I see Tebow scorng a couple times including a run.

      At RB it’s Murray and Battle for me. Ridley’s playing time is inconsistent and Jacobs availability is still in question.

      WR have to be V.J. and Boldin, who could both have big games. And in the flex spot I’d probably roll Crabtree out over Thomas. I like Tebow in fantasy, but I don’t trust him to get the ball to his WR’s consistently.

  9. Chad Pate says:

    Who would u pick between Roy Helu or a returning Brandon Jacobs in a flex spot? Helu hasn’t done much this year but seems like he could have a breakout game with Hightower out for the season and Jacobs is always a red zone threat b/c of his size, but is coming off of an injury. What do u think?

  10. Will Overton says:

    I may be partial but I like Helu a lot going forward. Most people think Torain will be the guy in Washington but I’m backing Helu myself.

    Jacobs coming back is tempting, but coming off the injury and not knowing what kinda touches he’ll see, I like risking it with Helu more.

  11. Jon VS says:

    Hello Prof!!
    Im looking to pick up a flex RB for this week and its aweful bye situation.
    Jonathan Stewart, Bernard Scott, Roy Helu, or NoShow Moreno. Pick your favorite two. Thank you.

  12. Cara says:

    I have now asked about WR’s TE’s and now RB’s. Guess I need help!! I have Mendenhall and then can’t decide my number two (and obviously my number one is no guarntee!). I have Torain, Pierre Thomas and still avail are Ingram, Battle, and Carter. I dropped Ingram for Thomas because I thought he was hurt. Help again?! Thanks!!!

    • Will Overton says:

      Battle is a surefire number one for his team and so I like him the most. Thomas will be tempting though if Ingram can’t play.

      • Cara says:

        So avoid Torain? I figured with Hightower done… Would you bench Mendenhall in favor of Battle or Pierre Thomas?

        • No, Mendenhall is a must use option.

          I’d love to recommend Thomas, but it’s hard to predict how many carries he’s going to get even with Ingram out.

          I know why Will is hesitant about Torain, though I do think he offers a little bit more upside then Battle. That said, with Shanahan at the helm anything is possible. Battle is probably the “safer” option, since he doesn’t have any competition for touches. I think Torain has the higher upside, however. Both are fine plays, so you just need to decide if you want to take the gamble or not.

  13. Dennis says:

    Hey Prof.
    Need help at flex, starting R.Rice,F.Jackson, M.Wallace, A.J Greene. I have Boldin, D.Murray and Demarius Thomas to choose from for flex. Thanks for the help.

  14. rolandw says:

    Ty sir maybe with ur help I can roll off another 6 straight wins and have momentum going into the playoffs talk to u next week thanks again

  15. K says:

    Hey prof,
    Which RBs are the best long-term pickups? Pick 2.

    1. D. Carter – lingering/sensitive Addai injury, easy schedule but terrible team unit

    2. Helu – avg. upside, big potential downside with Shanahan as head coach

    3. Hardesty – how big will his fantasy hit be when Hillis returns? Also an easy schedule going forward.

    4. D. Murray – Great for now, but Jones will be back in a couple weeks


    • K says:

      Also, if I were to have Dez, Murray, and Dan Bailey all starting, would that be a terrible play, not the smartest thing to do, or just fine?

  16. Ryan says:

    Hey Prof,

    Pulling out my hair while i try to plug in a flex. I have the battle of the williams… Deangelo or Ricky? DWill obvious gives me more carries but Ricky has the better upside with the goalie carries.. Im stumped do I go for the guarnteed 3-4 its with DWill and hope he breaks free or role the dice with ricky?

  17. K – It’s tough to start three players from the same team, but with one being your kicker I wouldn’t worry about it too much. The Cowboys are going to both run and pass, so both Bryant & Murray should be well worth using.

    As for the RB, I think I like Helu/Murray the best. Hardesty has shown very, very little and is easy to remove from the list. As for Carter, he’s very close, but with the Colts we know they could easily go passy happy.

    Ryan – I’d definitely go with DeAngelo’s upside. Ricky is way too big of a risk.

  18. Garrett says:

    Hello Prof,

    PPR league
    Battle or Bernard Scott in flex?


  19. Zakk says:

    Would you start Pettigrew or Gates this week?

  20. RR says:

    Hey Prof,

    Picked up DeMarco a week ago got a big game and a win out of him and and now have a chance to trade him for a more known quantity in BenJarvus, thoughts? If so I would have to choose between BJGE and Knowshon for this week?

  21. Garrett – Very tough call and I would expect them to be rather close this week. Neither has a huge advantage based on the defense they are taking on. I’d probably lean towards Battle, given what he’s shown and the fact that the Chiefs could struggle to pass the ball.

    Zakk – I’d go with Gates. He showed last week that he’s healthy and should play a vital role in the offense.

    RR – Murray is by far the better play for this week, and if he continues to produce while Jones is out it isn’t impossible to see him continue handling the bulk of the carries. I would be hesitant to pull the trigger, unless you absolutely need a more “certain” (not that BJGE is a lock to produce). Who are your other backs?

  22. Joseph says:

    Thomas or Battle!!!! HELP!

    • It’s really, really close. I am a big fan of Daniel Thomas, considering how bad the Dolphins’ passing game is. He also has the more favorable matchup against the Giants.

      Health is the one concern, as Thomas is a bit banged up. If it appears like he is going to get the bulk of the carries I would lean towards him this week. Otherwise, Battle is a fine alternative.

  23. Jason says:

    ryan torain or ben tate?

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