Week 9 Rankings: Top 40 Running Backs

There are a lot of stories going on when it comes to many of the running backs around the league.  Whose healthy?  Who is going to carry the load in Washington and Denver, among other places?  What has happened to Chris Johnson?  Let’s take a look at how everything shakes out for the coming week:

  1. Arian Foster – Houston Texans – vs. Cleveland
  2. LeSean McCoy – Philadelphia Phillies – vs. Chicago
  3. Fred Jackson – Buffalo Bills – vs. New York Jets
  4. Matt Forte – Chicago Bears – at Philadelphia
  5. Frank Gore – San Francisco 49ers – at Washington
  6. Michael Turner – Atlanta Falcons – at Indianapolis
  7. Steven Jackson – St. Louis Rams – at Arizona
  8. Darren McFadden – Oakland Raiders – vs. Denver
  9. Ray Rice – Baltimore Ravens – at Pittsburgh
  10. DeMarco Murray – Dallas Cowboys – vs. Seattle
  11. Ryan Mathews – San Diego Chargers – vs. Green Bay
  12. Cedric Benson – Cincinnati Bengals – at Tennessee
  13. Beanie Wells – Arizona Cardinals – vs. St. Louis
  14. LeGarrette Blount – Tampa Bay Buccaneers – at New Orleans
  15. Darren Sproles – New Orleans Saints – vs. Tampa Bay
  16. Ahmad Bradshaw – New York Giants – at New England
  17. Shonn Greene – New York Jets – at Buffalo
  18. Peyton Hillis – Cleveland Browns – at Houston
  19. Chris Johnson – Tennessee Titans – vs. Cincinnati
  20. James Starks – Green Bay Packers – at San Diego
  21. Knowshon Moreno – Denver Broncos – at Oakland
  22. Rashard Mendenhall – Pittsburgh Steelers – vs. Baltimore
  23. Jackie Battle – Kansas City Chiefs – vs. Miami
  24. BenJarvus Green-Ellis – New England Patriots – vs. New York Giants
  25. Reggie Bush – Miami Dolphins – at Kansas City
  26. Marshawn Lynch – Seattle Seahawks – at Dallas
  27. Mike Tolbert – San Diego Chargers – vs. Green Bay
  28. Pierre Thomas – New Orleans Saints – vs. Tampa Bay
  29. Daniel Thomas – Miami Dolphins – at Kansas City
  30. Delone Carter – Indianapolis Colts – vs. Atlanta
  31. Ryan Torain – Washington Redskins – vs. San Francisco
  32. Alfonso Smith – Arizona Cardinals – vs. St. Louis
  33. Michael Bush – Oakland Raiders – vs. Denver
  34. Ben Tate – Houston Texans – vs. Cleveland
  35. Carnell Williams – St. Louis Rams – at Arizona
  36. LaDainian Tomlinson – New York Jets – at Buffalo
  37. Ryan Grant – Green Bay Packers – at San Diego
  38. Danny Woodhead – New England Patriots – vs. New York Giants
  39. Brandon Jacobs – New York Giants – at New England
  40. Kregg Lumpkin – Tampa Bay Buccaneers – at New Orleans

Thoughts:

  • There’s a lot of talk surrounding if Darren McFadden is going to play this week against the Denver Broncos or not.  If he plays we all know he’s a good option, despite having failed to break 100 yards and having scored just 1 TD over his past four games.  He’s been included on the rankings, but owners will have to monitor the news just in case.
  • If Beanie Wells were healthy he would be a much better option against the St. Louis Rams.  While he did produce in Week 8 (83 yards and 1 TD), he averaged just 3.8 yards per carry.  In fact, he’s averaged under 4.0 yards per carry in each of his last three starts.  He’s a viable option, but I would prefer having him as a RB2 for now.
  • Philadelphia’s vaunted secondary could play right into the Chicago Bear’s hands.  It’s not like their passing game is electric as it is, with the offense running through Matt Forte (1,091 total yards through seven games).  Look for him to be the focus early and often, giving him an opportunity for yet another big day.
  • The Indianapolis Colts defense has been among the worst in the league against the run this season.  In fact they are currently allowing 24.33 points to running backs per game (according to nfl.com).  Having allowed 144.0 yards/game and 10 TD, it really shouldn’t be a surprise.  Even with Julio Jones likely back, Michael Turner has rushed for 100 or more yards four times this season and is a must use RB1 in all formats.
  • Despite DeMarco Murray’s “poor” showing in his second start, you have to remember that the Cowboys fell behind early and were forced to pass.  He still managed to rush for 74 yards on eight carries.  Over the past two weeks he has 327 yards on 33 carries.  You would think he has earned the right to carry the load, even if Felix Jones is back in the lineup.
  • Chris Johnson’s stock plummeted this week, having split carries with Javon Ringer (14 apiece).  We all know what type of upside potential and how good he is, but is it possible to trust him as anything but a mid-level RB2, especially against a Bengals defense allowing just 85.4 rushing yards per game?  He’s rushed for 302 yards on 107 carries, an average of just 2.8 yards per carry.  Maybe the holdout really hurt his performance, but this is looking more and more like a lost year.
  • The New Orleans Saints have a positive matchup for their running backs once again, taking on a Buccaneers defense that has allowed 123.4 rushing yards per games as well as 7 TD.  That said, after Darren Sproles managed 76 total yards (16 rushing, 60 receiving) and Pierre Thomas had 34 yards and 1 TD (23 rushing, 11 receiving) last week is anyone considering them RB1 this week?  Obviously, falling down early hurt their ability to produce, but it is still a little bit eye opening.  Sproles remains the better option, but he should be considered a RB2.
  • We’ll have to wait and see if Peyton Hillis is healthy and ready to go for this week.  It would appear like he is going to be, especially with Montario Hardesty out, but you never know.  The ranking is conservative, for now, but look for him to potentially move up once we get more information.
  • The situation in Miami is going to be an intriguing one.  The first question is if Daniel Thomas will even play.  The second is, even if he does, will Reggie Bush once again be the lead back?  Bush rushed for 103 yards in Week 8, and at the least the two should share carries.  It’s going to be a tough situation for fantasy owners, limiting both to more of a FLEX option, if possible.
  • We never know what Mike Shanahan is going to do.  Now they’ve added Tashard Choice (though he’s not expected to play) to join Ryan Torain and Roy Helu.  Throw in a matchup with the best rushing defense in the league (the 49ers have allowed 73.4 yards/game and 0 TD) and this is a situation to basically avoid.

Make sure to check out our other Week 9 articles:

Week 9 Rankings: Top 50 Wide Receivers
Week 9 Rankings: Top 25 Quarterbacks

56 comments

  1. Muddy Cleats 18 says:

    got a logjam this week. need 2RB 2WR and RB/WR flex out of this bunch
    Rice/Tolbert(Matthews is hurt)/Blount/Moreno
    V.Jackson/Maclin/Manningham/S. Johnson/Antonio Brown
    also – wondering who has better matchup Def. Atl vs. Indy or Raiders vs. Denver
    Thanks

    • I think Rice is the must play at RB. If Mathews is going to miss (as has now been discussed) and Tolbert is healthy, he becomes the RB2 to use.

      For the WR, I’d go V.Jackson & Maclin

      The FLEX is rather tricky between Manningham & Blount. I Both should be good options, though it’s hard to guarantee Manningham is going to get the looks over Cruz. Still, with how bad the Patriots passing defense has been and TB potentially being forced to pass the ball….

      My gut is leaning towards Manningham, but it’s a bit of a coin flip.

      • Muddy Cleats 18 says:

        thats what I was thinking – prob go with blount and hope he gets some 3rd down work…bet Antonio Brown gets 12 – 18 points though…

        • I could see using Brown if you are comfortable with him, though it is a tougher matchup with Baltimore. You have a lot of viable options, but I just like the other options a little bit more.

  2. Mike says:

    I was just offered a trade and don’t know if I should do it… I would give Antonio Gates and would receive Steve Johnson… What do you think?

    • Mike says:

      These are my RB/WR’s:
      RB’s = Bradshaw, Mendenhall, Wells, Daniel Thomas, Jackie Battle, LT…

      WR’s = Heyward Bey, Decker, Wayne, Antonio Brown, Torrey Smith, Emmanuel Sanders.

      Here is the other guy’s team (maybe I can counter the trade)… BTW I don’t have any backup TE’s and he has Dallas Clark and Pettigrew…

      RBs: Ray Rice, Chris Johnson, CJ Spiller, Maurice Morrice, Javon Ringer.

      WRs:Steve Johnson, Mike Williams, Greg Jennings, Dwyane Bowe, Johnny Knox, Crabtree.

      What do you think about my trade? Should I accept? Or counter for Bowe? Thanks

      • Are there any TE you can pick up on waivers? Otherwise, you are probably leaving yourself way too thin at that position. Gates should give you an advantage (assuming he’s healthy), so it’s tough to endorse the deal without knowing who you might be able to pick up.

        • Mike says:

          The best available TE on the waivers is Brent Celek. What do you think?

        • I’m not sure it’s a big enough improvement to make the deal. The only reason I’d consider it is if you do not believe in Gates’ health.

          • Mike says:

            I am going to propose this trade. I listed my team above. Please let me know if it is a good trade on my end. I would send Beanie Wells, Mendenhall, and Reggie Wayne and I would get Dwyane Bowe, Chris Johnson, and some no name that I just threw in there to make it look like he’s getting more…

          • It’s a risk, because you are depleting your RB depth a bit and putting a lot of your eggs in CJ’s basket. That said, having D. Thomas & Battle does help alleviate that.

            The deal also improves your WR corps, something that I do think you can use. Honestly, I’d rather be dealing one of the RB, if possible, but you have the depth to support the deal.

          • Mike says:

            The guy actually just countered the trade and said he wants me to give him bradshaw and wells for bowe and johnson… i don’t think i want to do that but what do you think? Maybe I should counter it again and say I want bowe and i don’t know, greg jennings or steve johnson? What do you think? Thanks for ALL the help, once again.

          • No, I definitely wouldn’t do that trade. You can try countering, but it feels like he is valuing the WR a lot more than necessary.

          • Mike says:

            I made the trade once I saw Bradshaw’s foot is bothering him, especially with a cracked bone I really don’t have confidence in him. I don’t know, but I hope CJ breaks out soon. What do you think?

          • Well, Bradshaw’s injury obviously does change things a bit. CJ still has the potential, obviously, but it’s hard to call it a given at this point considering how long he’s struggled.

            Fingers crossed!!!

  3. Cara says:

    Thinking I need to sit Mendenhall this week vs Ravens. I don’t have any stud RB’s though. Reggie Bush, Torain, Pierre Thomas. Can also pick up Ringer or D. Carter. I am leaning towards Buch and Thomas. I know all these guys are hot or miss. Thoughts????

  4. fiji.siv says:

    I’m not really thrilled with Murray’s matchup against Seattle. In his two starts he has faced StL and Phi, both teams that allow 5.5+ Y/C and 1 rushing TD/G. This week he faces a Seattle D that gives up 3.15 Y/C and 0.57 rTD/G.

  5. Brandon says:

    I know there is alreayd a post up with regards to Mendenhall, but in my FLEX spot in a standard PPR should I play Mendy or Santonio Holmes.

  6. Cara – I like Bush, but only if Thomas is sitting out. Otherwise I’d go with Mendenhall & Thomas (even with Mendenhall’s tough matchup). Is Michael Bush available to pick up?

    Brandon – That’s a really, really tough call. I know Mendenhall has a tough match-up, but does anyone have any faith in the Jets’ passing game? I’d go with Mendenhall and take my chances.

  7. Mike says:

    I sent a trade: I’d be getting Dwyane Bowe and Chris Johnson and I’d give Beanie Wells and Eric Decker… Do you think that is a fair trade?

    And I sent a trade last week that got accepted by the other person which was I sent Victor Cruz and Brandon Lloyd for Ahmad Bradshaw. Do you think that was a bad trade by me? Because I made the trade with my good friend so I’m sure he’d allow me to undo the trade if I want to.

    What do you think?

  8. Maria says:

    Hi,

    Should I put in Javon Ringer or LaDanian Tomlison?

    Thanks,
    Queen B from A Girls Only Fantasy League

  9. Jason says:

    what two should i start?
    mendenhall,greene, mcgahee, torrain, tate

  10. Mike – With the way Johnson is playing, you are making out well for yourself with that deal (due to his upside). Not sure the other guy pulls the trigger, though. As for the deal you made, it all depends on team need. If you had the WR depth, it’s a fine move.

    Maria – A lot of the news has been changing as the week progressed. At this point, I’d go with Ringer because it seems like he is going to get a fair opportunity.

    Jason – I’d go Mendenhall & Greene with McGahee as the third option (though his injury concern is a worry)

  11. Triz says:

    Oh, I have a bad feeling I am going to be cranky at you when the D list comes out. (IF IT EVER DOES). I stuck with the Bengals and the Steelers, AS YOU SUGGESTED, so please try to think optimistic things about them. (Of course, you saying “take the Bengals!” last week got me the win, so).

    Now, I know you are dealing with vacation and soon-to-be mini-prof, so I will keep it short. Basically I have two questions:

    Flex: Starks or Tolbert? Thinking Starks (I have Mathews).

    Kicker: Kasay or Janikowski? No thoughts on this as I DO NOT LIKE Janikowski, but you telling me to draft him and then to keep playing his creepy self has been the difference in at least two weeks.

    Hi to A :) Hope the vacation was fun!

    • Triz says:

      PS Can you ask A if she thinks I should keep Janikowski? He is giving me the yips (the boyfriend says that he is only charged)

    • I can’t take credit for the Cincinnati idea, since Will made the suggestion :) That said, the list is going to be out later today (I hope), so please don’t be too cranky!!

      As for your Qs:

      FLEX – We have to see what happens with Mathews. If he’s out I would go with Tolbert.

      Kicker – (and I’ll ask A) – Both are actually Top 5 kickers for me. Assuming Janikowski is playing, we’ve seen that he’s a difference maker and I would probably stick with him. That said, Kasay is no slouch so don’t sell out if your heart is that much against it. :)

      • Triz says:

        Yeah, no that was you I think. Steelers D vs Bengals. (Not that Will isn’t good, but I think you told me to sit down the Steelers) (actually, it must have been you, as I whined and questioned about it for a while before agreeing to do it and only you are that patient about such things).

        Mathews is going to be out?!! This is going to be a terrible week! For me AND the Chargers. Luckily I am too busy anxiousing about Jets vs Bills. There is no good result there.

        Re the creeper kicker – waiting to hear A’s response.

        • Triz says:

          PS Oh shoot, taking that back. No Janikowski readings for A! Stick to the lovely people like David Nelson. I will suck it up and decide my own self this week. No Janikowski near the miniprof!

        • Ha! I’ll ask her for you, but I think I know what her reaction is going to be…lol

          As for the D, sorry I don’t remember but glad I could give you such sound advice :) The D rankings will actually be up at around 10 AM this morning!

  12. Timmaayyyy says:

    Working on a deal to send Chris Johnson far away from my team … talking to several other teams … looking at Beanie; Blount; Sproles/Addai or Sproles/Jacobs … any thoughts on which would be best?

  13. Timmaayyyy says:

    BTW – current team:
    QB – Eli/Tebow
    RB – FJax; CJ; Felix; Ingram
    WR – Fitz; Santonio; Jordy; TBMike; Antonio B
    TE – Graham; Celek

    So right now – I am somewhat hurting at RB …

    • None of those are really ideal, since CJ still has more upside then any of them. I agree that depth would help, but Addai/Jacobs as an “extra” back is not necessarily better than what you currently have. If Wells were healthy he would probably be my top choice of the group, but CJ still has more upside potential.

      • Timmayyy says:

        I ended up getting Sproles & Jacobs – knowing that CJ has much higher upside – I just don’t see him doing anything this year – and I can’t bench him. The deal looks a little better for me if Bradshaw is out for more than just this week … CJ may end up being the biggest 1st round (top 3 pick) bust ever in FF.

  14. Mike says:

    I have Daniel Thomas sitting on m bench right now but there are 2 flex spots on my team so I was wondering if you think I should start him over one of these guys: Antonio Brown, Heyward-Bey, Jackie Battle, Dwyane Bowe, Chris Johnson, Mehndenhall???

    • I would definitely use him over Heyward-Bey, assuming Thomas is playing (you’ll have to monitor the news)

      • Mike says:

        Why do you think ESPN only projects Antonio Brown to get 6.2 and Jackie Battle to get 6.4?? I’m nervous!!

        • Mike says:

          And why are you so sure about Thomas over Heyward-Bey? HB is Oakland’s primary target and Thomas is going to have to split carries with Bush even if he gets to play…

        • I’m sure matchups have something to do with the projections, but I can’t say for sure.

          As for DHB, he has been playing well lately but still has just 1 TD and you really don’t know how well he will produce with Carson Palmer (especially with the addition of T.J. Houshmandzadeh, who has a history with Palmer).

          If Thomas is healthy he has proven to be a productive option carrying the ball and he does have a favorable matchup. Generally, when things are close, I always lean towards the RB.

  15. Jason says:

    ok here it goes..I need to fill 2rb 3wr and 1 flex spot…who should i go with?

    RB
    ryan torain, brandon jacobs, ben tate, willis mcgahee, shonn greene, rashard mendenhall

    WR
    Hakeem Nicks, Jeremy Maclin, Brandon Marshall, Darrius Heyward-Bey

    • Here’s how I’d do it:

      RB – Greene
      RB – Jacobs (assuming Bradshaw is out, otherwise Mendenhall)
      WR – Hakeem Nicks (if playing, otherwise obviously DHB)
      WR – Maclin
      WR – Marshall
      FLEX – McGahee (assuming he’s playing)

      With all the potential injuries your dealing with, it has to be fluid. Mendenhall is the first one in for RB/FLEX

  16. Rich says:

    i have to start either moreno or benjarvus?
    I also need to choose between crabtree, dhb, fred davis and antonio brown. thoughts on those players?

  17. PEDRO says:

    I can’t decide which RB to start this week

    I am in two RB format and I am definitely starting LeSean McCoy but can’t decide between Frank Gore and Fred Jackson

    NEED help
    Thanks

    • That’s an awfully nice situation to be in! I have all three ranked in the Top 5, so you really can’t go wrong. Given the Jets passing defense, I would roll with Fred Jackson since the Bills will likely lean on him.

      That said, there really shouldn’t be a wrong answer to this question.

  18. Jay says:

    need some help!!! have to start 2: crabtree, mike williams (TB) or John Baldwin. i have josh freeman starting, so leanign towards tree/williams…but i am playing matt cassel…so balwin is intriguing…any thoughts?

  19. Triz says:

    I’m in a not good situation this week anyway, and people being potentially in (or out) isn’t helping.

    I am PRETTY sure from things you have written that at RB I should start Arian Foster and Tolbert, and at WR Stevie Johnson and Santonio Holmes.

    But what to do about the WR/RB? I have Mathews and McGahee, but also Starks and David Nelson.

    Any suggestions about the order in which to put them in, depending on who is and is not playing? (luckily all the questionable, I think, ones except Nelson play in the late afternoon).

    Thanks!

    PS Oh, still going back and forth between Steelers and Bengals D (such a weird thing to write). Any last minute leanings? They are right next to each other on your list.

  20. Jay – I agree with Williams being a must use option of the group. Among the other two I would be torn as well, but I wouldn’t let Cassel be the reason to make the decision. It’s just as possible that he throws TD to Dwayne Bowe or Steve Breaston, leaving you in a hole. I could see Crabtree getting more targets, which means more opportunity. It’s Williams & Crabtree for me.

    Triz – My order for your WR/RB would be McGahee then Starks (who should be playing). There’s too much risk in Mathews and I wouldn’t consider Nelson anything more than an emergency option.

    As for the D, I can understand going back and forth. It could go either way. My gut is telling my Pittsburgh, but there is a much bigger risk of the Ravens piling up the points. I agree with you, though, the fact that this is even a debate is just odd.

  21. jeff says:

    Bit of a jam here guys- crabtree or manningham?? my gut tells me manningham, but its hard to put a #2 in there with crabtree the niners #1 on the bench… both projected in the same area.

    The other jam is Cedric Benson or Demarco Murray?? not sure if i should roll the dice on murray, or take the steady pts from Benson. Any advice appreciated

    • With Nicks out, Manningham is an easy call against a weak Patriots secondary. He’s a borderline WR1 this week and a must play in all formats.

      As for the RB, I think both are RB1 this week so you really can’t go wrong with either one. That said, Murray has been extremely impressive and there’s a good chance the Cowboys roll to a lead and focus on running the ball. That’s the way I’d go.

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