Week 8 Rankings: Top 40 Running Backs

There are questions about the running back situations in Pittsburgh, Dallas, Green Bay and Arizona, among others.  How do those situations impact the rankings?  How can Chris Johnson be considered the top option?  Let’s take a look:

  1. Chris Johnson – Tennessee Titans – vs. Indianapolis
  2. LeSean McCoy – Philadelphia Eagles – vs. Atlanta
  3. Ryan Mathews – San Diego Chargers – at Cleveland
  4. Adrian Peterson – Minnesota Vikings – vs. Tampa Bay
  5. Jamaal Charles – Kansas City Chiefs – vs. Oakland
  6. Frank Gore – San Francisco 49ers – at Arizona
  7. Marshawn Lynch – Seattle Seahawks – at Detroit
  8. Reggie Bush – Miami Dolphins – at New York Jets
  9. Alfred Morris – Washington Redskins – at Pittsburgh
  10. Willis McGahee – Denver Broncos – vs. New Orleans
  11. Matt Forte – Chicago Bears – vs. Carolina
  12. Darren McFadden – Oakland Raiders – at Kansas City
  13. Doug Martin – Tampa Bay Buccaneers – at Minnesota
  14. Trent Richardson – Cleveland Browns – vs. San Diego
  15. Ahmad Bradshaw – New York Giants – at Dallas
  16. Michael Turner – Atlanta Falcons – at Philadelphia
  17. Stevan Ridley – New England Patriots – at St. Louis
  18. Rashad Jennings – Jacksonville Jaguars – at Green Bay
  19. Darren Sproles – New Orleans Saints – at Denver
  20. Vick Ballard – Indianapolis Colts – at Tennessee
  21. Mikel Leshoure – Detroit Lions – vs. Seattle
  22. Shonn Greene – New York Jets – vs. Miami
  23. Jonathan Dwyer – Pittsburgh Steelers – vs. Washington
  24. Felix Jones – Dallas Cowboys – vs. New York Giants
  25. Steven Jackson – St. Louis Rams – vs. New England
  26. LaRod Stephens-Howling – Arizona Cardinals – vs. San Francisco
  27. Alex Green – Green Bay Packers – vs. Jacksonville
  28. Michael Bush – Chicago Bears – vs. Carolina
  29. Pierre Thomas – New Orleans Saints – at Denver
  30. Daryl Richardson – St. Louis Rams – vs. New England
  31. Jonathan Stewart – Carolina Panthers – at Chicago
  32. Kendall Hunter – San Francisco 49ers – at Arizona
  33. Jamie Harper – Tennessee Titans – vs. Indianapolis
  34. DeAngelo Williams – Carolina Panthers – at Chicago
  35. Montario Hardesty – Cleveland Browns – vs. San Diego
  36. Mike Goodson – Oakland Raiders – at Kansas City
  37. Andre Brown – New York Giants – at Dallas
  38. Danny Woodhead – New England Patriots – at St. Louis
  39. Philip Tanner – Dallas Cowboys – vs. New York Giants
  40. Toby Gerhart – Minnesota Vikings – vs. Tampa Bay


  • The reemergence of Chris Johnson continued in Week 7, as he rushed for 195 yards and 2 TD.  That gives him over 100 total yards in three of the past four weeks and now hoe draws an Indianapolis defense this is allowing 141.7 rushing yards per game and 8 TD.  It should be another impressive showing.  I know it’s tough to have him sitting atop these rankings, but it is hard to find a potentially better option.
  • Adrian Peterson looks completely healthy, but he draws a Tampa Bay defense that has been beaten up by the pass and is allowing just 76.0 yards per game.  Do I think he’s going to be shut down?  Of course not, but there is enough worry to keep him from sitting atop the rankings.
  • Maybe this will be the week the Eagles lean on LeSean McCoy?  He’s scored 3 TD (1 rushing, 2 passing), but has a favorable matchup and Michael Vick continues to struggle.  You have to think it’s only a matter of time.
  • It has been a very slow start for Ryan Mathews, though he had 26 touches in Week 6 and finally appears primed to live up to the preseason expectations we all had for him.  With the Browns being in the bottom 10 in the league against the run, look for him to possibly post his first 100 yard rushing game of the year.
  • The New Orleans Saints have been beaten up by teams running the football this season, allowing 160.3 rushing yards per game as well as 8 TD.  The problem?  The Saints could easily turn this into a shootout, with Peyton Manning being capable of matching them play-for-play.  That keeps McGahee’s potential down a little bit, pushing him outside the Top 5.
  • Trent Richardson is banged up and draws a tough match-up against San Diego.  We are going to keep him on the rankings, for now, but there’s a chance he doesn’t play or is limited in how long he can go.  Owners are going to have to be very careful and monitor the news, but he is more of a RB2 at this point.
  • Well, it was a nice one week explosion for Felix Jones, wasn’t it?  As it is there is a chance DeMarco Murray returns to the lineup (though we are leaving him off the rankings until we have more information on that), but Jones failed to impress with just 44 yards and 15 carries and is banged up himself.  He’s a low-end option, at best, and probably better left as a FLEX play if Murray is not dressing.
  • Shonn Greene didn’t have quite the same performance in Week 7, though he did manage 54 yards and 1 TD on a day that the Jets went pass heavy.  He did temporarily leave the game with an injury and, while he did return, fantasy owners will have to monitor the news just in case.  Even a healthy Greene would be a risk against a Dolphins’ defense that is among the best in the league against the run.  Consider him a RB2, at best.
  • I know Alex Green struggled in Week 7 (35 yards on 20 carries), but St. Louis isn’t the worst rushing defense in the league.  This week he draws a Jaguars team allowing 147.3 rushing yards per game and 8 TD.  As a RB2, he’ll be worth the risk as the team appears to be committed to him, for now (though that status is questionable), and the favorable match-up.
  • Steven Jackson is no longer the lead back, as he is sharing touches with Daryl Richardson.  That leaves both as more of FLEX options for now.
  • Time will tell if Rashard Mendenhall is back in Week 8, but Jonathan Dwyer opened eyes in Week 7 (122 yards on 17 carries) and the Steelers could easily go pass happy against the Redskins.  Dwyer would be my top choice, but even he is more of a low-end option.
  • It was a monster game for LaRod Stephens-Howling, rumbling for 104 yards and 1 TD while adding 45 yards on 4 receptions.  There were concerns about his ability to operate as a lead back, due to his size, and it is unlikely he gets as many opportunities this week.  The 49er run defense has been porous against the run in recent weeks (Ahmad Bradshaw and Marshawn Lynch have gone for over 100 yards in back-to-back weeks), so I would consider Stephens-Howling more of a low-end RB2/FLEX option.

Make sure to check out all of our Week 8 rankings:

Week 8 Rankings: Top 15 Kickers
Week 8 Rankings: Top 25 Tight Ends


  1. Randy says:

    If you had to drop two of the following in a standard league, who would it be? BJGE, Ben Tate, and Daryl Richardson. My other RBs are McFadden, Ridley, Morris, and Rashad Jennings. Thanks!

  2. Rob says:

    What do you think about this trade? I’m sort of torn:

    Id give Marshall and Sproles

    Id get Matthews and Decker

    .25 ppr

  3. Randy – given your other options all are droppable. BGE has the best chance for regular carries, so I’d probably hold him,though I like Richardson’s potential at this point. Could you trade them?

    Rob – to me, you are getting the best player in Maews and a Top 20 WR back. I’d do it.

  4. Dustin says:

    I need a fill-in for A. Foster this week. S. Greene(Jets) or R. Jennings(Jags) ?

  5. ddschmidt says:

    I’m looking at a Flex play this week and was wondering which of Randall Cobb, Vick Ballard, or Denarius Moore would be the best play this week? Thanks

  6. Dustin – For me it is Jennings. I really just don’t trust the Jets at this point.

    Ddschmidt – Tough call. I generally g RB, bt those are appealing WR (especially Cobb). I consider it a coin flip between Ballard and Cobb, but I would lean Cobb.

  7. Nemo says:

    Sproles or Decker in the flex? And is it worth dropping Mendenhall to pick up MJD who just was dropped?

    • Wow, MJD was dropped?! It depends on your other options (aka if you need Mendenhall), but if you don’t I would definitely grab MJD and take the gamble.

      As for the FLEX, I generally say go with the RB but in this case I would go Decker. The match-up and potential for a high scoring affair makes him worth it.

  8. Ted says:

    Hey Professor,
    I have a flex question about a few players that have been in the news this week. I’m starting Mathews and Morris at RB and like RBs at flex, so I’ve rostered a few and it’s between: T-Rich, J Stew, Dwyer, LSH, and D Richardson. T-Rich’s limited use last week cost me my week, reports say he’s feeling better but seems risky. Any advice?

  9. Lambda says:

    Dwyer or Felix Jones the rest of the season?

  10. Ted – Monitor the news, br if Richardson appears healthy he is te clear play. If not (or you don’t want to risk it), I would play Dwyer or Stewart (if you want to roll the dice).

    Lambda – Jones is too injury prone, but Dwyer could be a non-factor. I wouldn’t count on either, but Jones may have new potential if healthy. Is a coin flip.

  11. RT says:

    RP – Reading that Donald Brown is practicing and possible start this weekend. What’s the value of V Ballard at this point. Dont have too many options since my #1 RB A Foster is on a bye and left with Steven Jackson, V Ballard and L. Stephens Howling. Thanks!

  12. Gamer says:

    Related to prior question; do you have any intel on Donald Brown this week and his ability to play? I’ve got Jordy Nelson in my flex but am concerned that he may not play. With byes and injuries, I’m assessing if Brown could be my fill-in for Nelson if he is out. Thanks!

  13. RT – It all depends on the news and how much they think Brown could play. If they think he’s completely healthy, Ballard will probably share carries (at best).

    Gamer – It’s possible, but still a pretty big risk. Any other options?

  14. RT says:

    RP – J Dwyer just became available on waivers. Would you swap (drop) Ballard for Dwyer?


  15. truthceez says:

    Who will give me most points at flex please help… W. Welker, R. Jennings, H. Nicks, J. Jones?

  16. RT – Are you looking at this week or long-term? If Brown is going to play (seems like he will), Dwyer offers more upside for this week. However, long-term I think Ballard could get more of an opportunity as a lead back.

    truthceez – It’s close between Welker and Jennings. I’d probably lean Welker, but I don’t think you could go wrong either way (though if the Packers pile up the points, Jacksonville could be forced to pass more potentially taking Jennings out a little bit).

  17. Gamer says:

    12 Team Non-PPR. Short handed this week without Jordy Nelson, Greg Jennings, Ray Rice or Demarco Murry. Current only flex option is Donald Brown. Not a great option this week, but has future value. Should I drop him for one of these: Kendle Hunter, Ben Tate, Jaquizz Rodgers, Joique Bell or Jackie Battle. I’m off to a good start this week with Doug Martin, so alsothinking long term. Thanks for the advice!

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