Week 5 Rankings: Top 40 Running Backs

Who should benefit from favorable matchups?  Who has the potential to struggle this week?  What injuries should be of specific concern and who has returned to health?  Let’s take a look at everything comes together for our running back rankings this week:

  1. Arian Foster – Houston Texans – at New York Jets
  2. Adrian Peterson – Minnesota Vikings – vs. Tennessee
  3. Ray Rice – Baltimore Ravens – at Kansas City
  4. Marshawn Lynch – Seattle Seahawks – at Carolina
  5. Jamaal Charles – Kansas City Chiefs – vs. Baltimore
  6. LeSean McCoy – Philadelphia Eagles – at Pittsburgh
  7. Trent Richardson – Cleveland Browns – at New York Giants
  8. Frank Gore – San Francisco 49ers – vs. Buffalo
  9. Matt Forte – Chicago Bears – at Jacksonville
  10. Alfred Morris – Washington Redskins – vs. Atlanta
  11. Reggie Bush – Miami Dolphins – at Cincinnati
  12. Ryan Mathews – San Diego Chargers – at New Orleans
  13. Maurice Jones-Drew – Jacksonville Jaguars – vs. Chicago
  14. Willis McGahee – Denver Broncos – at New England
  15. Steven Jackson – St. Louis Rams – vs. Arizona
  16. Ryan Williams – Arizona Cardinals – at St. Louis
  17. Chris Johnson – Tennessee Titans – at Minnesota
  18. Michael Turner – Atlanta Falcons – at Washington
  19. Cedric Benson – Green Bay Packers – at Indianapolis
  20. BenJarvus Green-Ellis – Cincinnati Bengals – vs. Miami
  21. C.J. Spiller – Buffalo Bills – at San Francisco
  22. Darren Sproles – New Orleans Saints – vs. San Diego
  23. Ahmad Bradshaw – New York Giants – vs. Cleveland
  24. Donald Brown – Indianapolis Colts – vs. Green Bay
  25. Stevan Ridley – New England Patriots – vs. Denver
  26. Ben Tate – Houston Texans – at New York Jets
  27. Shonn Greene – New York Jets – vs. Houston
  28. Rashard Mendenhall – Pittsburgh Steelers – vs. Philadelphia
  29. Jonathan Stewart – Carolina Panthers – vs. Seattle
  30. DeAngelo Williams – Carolina Panthers – vs. Seattle
  31. Fred Jackson – Buffalo Bills – at San Francisco
  32. Kendall Hunter – San Francisco 49ers – vs. Buffalo
  33. Jackie Battle – San Diego Chargers – at New Orleans
  34. Pierre Thomas – New Orleans Saints – vs. San Diego
  35. Michael Bush – Chicago Bears – at Jacksonville
  36. Andre Brown – New York Giants – vs. Cleveland
  37. Isaac Redman – Pittsburgh Steelers – vs. Philadelphia
  38. Ronnie Hillman – Denver Broncos – at New England
  39. Mark Ingram – New Orleans Saints – vs. San Diego
  40. Danny Woodhead – New England Patriots – vs. Denver

Thoughts:

  • Aren’t the New York Jets supposed to be one of the best defenses in the league?  Granted, they have lost Darelle Revis, but how does that explain them allowing 172.8 rushing yards per game (second most in the league) and 7 rushing TD (most in the league)?  Arian Foster and Ben Tate both could be big options this week.
  • Why was Ryan Mathews not starting in Week 4?  Why did Jackie Battle get a lot of the carries?  It’s possible that the team was sending Mathews a message that he needs to protect the football.  Whatever the reason, it is hard to imagine Mathews not playing a much bigger role this week. Considering they are facing the New Orleans Saints, who is allowing a league worst 186.8 rushing yards per game, Mathews upside keeps him as a low-end RB1/high-end RB2.
  • The Seahawks passing game continues to leave a lot to be desired, but Marshawn Lynch continues to shine on the ground.  Through four games he has rushed for 423 yards and 2 TD, just ahead of Jamaal Charles (415) for the league lead.  With the Carolina Panthers able to be beat on the ground (we all saw what Andre Brown did to them a few weeks ago), look for another big game for Lynch.
  • Have the Redskins actually found a running back they trust as their consistent RB1?  Alfred Morris continues to get the touches and now gets a Falcons defense that is susceptible on the ground (fourth most rushing yards allowed).  With Robert Griffin III keeping defenses honest, Morris should be considered a RB1 this week.
  • While Maurice Jones-Drew has been good this season, he draws a tough matchup with the Chicago Bears.  That has to drop him down a couple of notches.
  • Matt Forte returned to the lineup in Week 4 and clearly quickly re-established himself as the lead back for the Bears.  With a matchup against the Jacksonville Jaguars, far from a team that imposes fear in the hearts of running backs (third most rushing yards per game at 150.2), he should be thrust right towards the top of your rankings immediately.
  • While Brandon Bolden was a great story in Week 4, it just goes to show that we really never know what to expect from Bill Belichek and the New England Patriots.  Would it shock anyone if another back were to suddenly rise to lead the charge in Week 5?
  • Both C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson ended up playing in Week 4.  With Jackson struggling to get going (13 carries for 29 yards) and how impressive Spiller was when acting as the lead back, would it surprise anyone to see Spiller be the workhorse if healthy in Week 5?  He would be an elite option if that were to happen and he should be considered a RB2 (though we’ll need to monitor the news to be sure he is healthy), only because of a difficult matchup with the 49ers.
  • It was definitely nice to see Chris Johnson produce in Week 4, but the Minnesota Vikings is not going to be an easy matchup.  I would still keep your expectations in check for this week, though the “breakout” performance does give us hope.  Consider him a RB2 with upside for another week.

Make sure to check out all of our Week 5 rankings:

Week 5 Rankings: Top 15 Defenses
Week 5 Rankings: Top 25 Tight Ends

39 comments

  1. Ryan says:

    Professor,
    I have D.Brown, SJAX, JStew, and Andre Brown. I need to start 2 and I am in SSL. Your rankings indicate to go with D.Brown and SJAX whose matchups scare me with NY playing Cleveland is the gamble of playing Andre over SJAX and hoping he gets a nice set of carries worth it? Or do I hope SJAX decides to show up against what it seems one of the leagues best defenses this year?

  2. GT says:

    Do you know of any sites that offer “vs. team” stats ie Cedric Benson’s career #s vs. IND. I know that the NFL is a redraft league, but defensive coordinators have a way of knowing how to shut certain guys down (like Benson vs. IND).
    It’s sometimes frustrating how advanced stats are used to their full potential in baseball but so many calls in football are from the gut.

  3. Chuck says:

    I’m trying to get Demarco Murray or Darren Mcfadden from someone in my league who needs a RB immediately since those 2 share a bye week.

    12 team league, .5 PPR, we run 2rb, 2wr, 1flex. My current RB’s are MJD, Matthews, and Mendenhall. My current WR’s are Harvin, Cruz, Welker, and Maclin.

    Tell me if you disagree, but I wouldn’t part with MJD or Matthews and I love Harvin/Cruz. I’m still worried about Welker when Edelman and Hernandez come back and he’d be a sell high now (probably still risk free for a few more weeks too). Would he laugh off Mendenhall and Maclin for Murray or DMC? What do you think about Welker straight up for one of them?

    Do you still agree DMC > Murray?

    Sorry for the long post. Thanks for the input! Love the site and your responsiveness!

    • Chuck, agree I would much rather has McFadden, but I don’t think your first offer would get it done. Welker/Mendenhall is worth a shot, though.

      Is there a free agent wide receiver you could ass for depth?

      • Chuck says:

        I found out this guy is a huge raiders fan and has a mancrush on mcfadden so my only trade is for Murray. Is Maclin/Mendenhall too much for Murray?

        I have lafell as a 5th WR. Our league is pretty picked over on free agent WR depth. I could grab tampa Mike Williams, James Jones, Kerley, or Kendall wright

        • It’s worth the gamble if you are comfortable with your WR depth. Honestly, I wouldn’t be because as we’ve said, Welker is no lock to continue.

          I’d be much more apt to trade Welker

  4. Cara says:

    Gonna play Cedric Benson.. So for a number 2 Steven Jackson or Chris Johnson???

  5. Marc says:

    12 team PPR. 1 pt for every 2 rush attempts..
    2 rbs, 3 WRs and a flex of rb/Wr/TE.
    Got MJD,CJ2K,Benson, Reggie Bush. I need 2 and for Wrs; Amendola,J.Jones,Maclin, J.Simpson.

    I’m playin owen daniels at TE with Tamme out.

  6. Marc says:

    i was thining Benson, Reggie and Mjd or Cj Flex
    wr; J. jones, amendola, j. Simpson

    Your thoughts?

  7. KJ says:

    My 3 running backs available this week (after BYES) are Matt Forte, Michael Bush, and Benjarvus Green-Ellis..

    Do you think it’s a good idea to roll out the 2 Bears backs against the Jags, or should I go Forte/Green-Ellis? I’m not liking the Miami matchup for the Law Firm..

  8. Marc – I would use Bush & Jones-Drew at RB and Jones, Amendola & Maclin (if healthy)

    KJ – Bush’s health is the issue, but I would still go Forte/Green-Ellis. I know the matchup is an issue, but I still think BGE could find the end zone and rush for 60 yards.

  9. Marc says:

    Okay i hear ya on that and thank you. No love for Simpson tho ,even at Flex? He grabbed 4out of 5 balls for 50 yrs in my league he got 9 pts. He kind of grew on me but would you put him or Benson at Flex?

  10. Marc says:

    fair enough, Thnks again

  11. Jason says:

    michael bush or donald brown?

  12. Aaron says:

    1 point ppr league. At my FLEX I have Andre Roberts. Just read that Jackie Battle is being listed as the number 1 RB. Picked him up off waivers, should I switch him out for Roberts in the FLEX spot?

    • I always say when it’s close, go with the RB. That said, I know Battle is being listed as the starter, but I wouldn’t bet on Mathews getting fewer touches than him this week. It’s only a matter of time.

      Of course, Roberts isn’t a great option, so I would say go with your gut. If you believe Battle is going to get enough carries to hold value, then he’s worth using.

  13. Josh says:

    I need to start Mendenhall or Spiller this week due to Murray and Martin being on byes … Which do I play as RB2?

    • Both are risky, but I would think Spiller’s upside is significantly higher. The Steelers could try to ease Mendenhall back into the mix, and who knows how effective he will be.

      I would go Spiller

  14. Kris says:

    What 2 RBs should I start?
    McCoy, A Bradshaw, F Jackson, D Williams

    Nervous about McCoy against Steelers defense this week but I find it difficult to bench my 1st rd draft pick.

    What 2 WRs should I start?
    P Harvin, M Floyd, S Johnson, J Maclin, M Crabtree

    I’m playing Harvin so actually I only need 1 more.

    Then who should I put in Flex?

  15. Andy says:

    I have RB1 is Ray Rice and thinking to use Alfred Morris as RB2 and bench Ryan Mathews in this week 5. Should I use Ryan Mathews instead ?

  16. Kris – I would go McCoy for sure, with Bradshaw as your best choice as a RB2. As for the WR, I would go Floyd with S. Johnson as my FLEX (though, F. Jackson is very close there so take your pick)

    Andy – Mathews probably has the higher upside, by Morris is the “safer” play and has proven to be the lead back on his team. I’d go Morris.

  17. Shane says:

    Hopefully I can gather a quick response before tomorrows games.

    Bye weeks and injuries are killing me this week. Had to start Amendola at WR2 and well we all know how that turned out. Nicks and Britt are both hurt and DMC is on bye.

    Should I start Shonn Greene, Mike Bush, Fred Davis or someone like Kendall Wright this week in my flex? Im leaning towards Bush as he obviously has the goal line duty and if they blow the jags out he could see quite a few touches. Im rolling the dice with whoever I get stuck with :(. Thanks!

    • Shane says:

      Non-PPR by the way

    • Yea, that’s nearly an impossible situation. I hate Shonn Greene, but at least he is the “lead” back in a poor offense. You have to think he’s going to get touches, wouldn’t you? That said, seeing them get frustrated and go with Bilal Powell wouldn’t be completely surprising…

      Still. I think his potential upside is the way I’d go, with Bush being my second choice for the reasons you said.

  18. Brenden says:

    I have Alfred Morris, Jamaal Charles, and Matt Forte on the roster and not sure which combo to use for RB1 and RB2. Morris has been producing with Forte out and seems to be the safe play, but Forte looks to be back and it is also very tough to bench Charles. Which 2 should I start?

    • Brenden says:

      I know this might be late but the help would be appreciated.. I also have Spiller on the bench but I don’t think I’m considering starting him over any of these 3. And if you’re wondering how I have all 4; I drafted Charles and Spiller, traded Romo for Forte (while he was hurt, others included in deal), and acquired Morris as a week 2 waiver. Any advice is appreciated.

    • Brenden, that is a good problem to have though you need to be prepared to leave points on the bench. It’s just going to be a risk you run from week-to-week.

      That said, Spiller is the easy one to bench and Charles is the easy one to start.

      That leaves Forte/Morris for the final spot. I have them back-to-back on the rankings, so it really is a coin flip. I would go Forte, however, just because I can see the Redskins-Falcons game falling into a shootout, which would minimize Morris’ potential touches.

      In reality, though, you probably can’t go wrong with either one.

  19. Paul says:

    Who should I start? Sproles or A Morris? I’m starting forte as my number 1 back. I don’t kno who to start at my number 2 back

  20. Paul says:

    I have Pitt d and Philly d. Who should I start?

  21. Nemo – It’s Sproles for me, since we don’t know what type of role or how many carries Mendenhall is going to get in his first game back.

    Paul – I like Pittsburgh’s defense better overall, so that’s the way I’d go.

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