Week 15 Rankings: Top 40 Running Backs

by Ray Kuhn

It is crunch time. You know where your team stands and what you have to do.  Your performance in the regular season is now meaningless as all you must do is win, by any means necessary, making every roster decision is that much more critical.  With that said lets take a look at some running back options for Week 15:

  1. Doug Martin – Tampa Bay Buccaneers –  @ New Orleans
  2. Adrian Peterson – Minnesota Vikings – @ St. Louis
  3. Arian Foster – Houston Texans – vs. Indianapolis
  4. Jamaal Charles – Kansas City Chiefs – @ Oakland
  5. Marshawn Lynch – Seattle Seahawks – @ Buffalo
  6. Ray Rice – Baltimore Ravens – vs. Denver
  7. Trent Richardson – Cleveland Browns – vs. Washington
  8. Chris Johnson – Tennessee Titans – vs. New York Jets
  9. CJ Spiller – Buffalo Bills – vs. Seattle
  10. Darren McFadden – Oakland Raiders – vs. Kansas City
  11. Ryan Matthews – San Diego Chargers – vs. Carolina
  12. DeMarco Murray – Dallas Cowboys – vs. Pittsburgh
  13. Knowshon Moreno – Denver Broncos – @ Baltimore
  14. Frank Gore – San Francisco 49ers – @ New England
  15. BenJarvus Green-Ellis – Cincinnati Bengals – @ Philadelphia
  16. Matt Forte – Chicago Bears – vs. Green Bay
  17. Darren Sproles – New Orleans Saints – vs. Tampa Bay
  18. Alfred Morris – Washington Redskins – @ Cleveland
  19. Shonn Greene – New York Jets – @ Tennessee
  20. Reggie Bush – Miami Dolphins – vs. Jacksonville
  21. Steven Jackson – St. Louis Rams – vs. Minnesota
  22. Mikel Leshoure – Detroit Lions – @ Arizona
  23. Stevan Ridley – New England Patriots – San Francisco
  24. Ahmad Bradshaw – New York Giants – @ Atlanta
  25. Bryce Brown – Philadelphia Eagles – vs. Cincinnati
  26. Michael Turner – Atlanta Falcons – vs New York Giants
  27. David Wilson – New York Giants – @ Atlanta
  28. DeAngelo Williams – Carolina Panthers – @ San Diego
  29. Beanie Wells – Arizona Cardinals – vs. Detroit
  30. Jonathan Dwyer – Pittsburgh Steelers – @ Dallas
  31. Vick Ballard – Indianapolis Colts – @ Houston
  32. Montell Owens – Jacksonville Jaguars – @ Miami
  33. Pierre Thomas – New Orleans Saints – vs. Tampa Bay
  34. Bilal Powell – New York Jets – @ Tennessee
  35. Joique Bell – Detroit Lions – @ Arizona
  36. Jacquizz Rodgers – Atlanta Falcons – vs. New  York Giants
  37. LaMichael James – San Francisco 49ers – @ New England
  38. Alex Green – Green Bay Packers – @ Chicago
  39. Daniel Thomas – Miami Dolphins – vs. Jacksonville
  40. Mark Ingram – New Orleans Saints – vs. Tampa Bay

Thoughts:

  • Darren Sproles was highly regarded coming into this season, but that was based on last season and expectations for this season.  That now is ancient history.  He is a running back that will catch about 5 passes a game, average 8 yards a catch and score a touchdown once every other game.  He also has been averaging about 5 carries per game and this past week he happened to break a big run for a touchdown (his first rushing touchdown of the season).  He looks to be healthy and there should be plenty of opportunity for his this week as Tampa’s pass defense leaves something to be desired.  However, when considering Sproles against other options you must weigh his production without the 2 touchdowns, because if he does not find the end zone he is not producing enough other value. 
  • The Ravens rushing defense certainly looked beatable Sunday as Alfred Morris rushed for 122 yards and a touchdown on 23 carries.  Morris is proving that he can be relied upon and does not look like he is hitting a rookie wall.  What is an even better sign for Morris is that Mike Shanahan has pretty much settled with Morris as his every down running back and you don’t have to sweat workload issues.  Granted he is not any kind of receiving threat, but as an RB2 his steady production is just what you need.  On average he will get in the end zone once every other game and he is averaging 94.5 yards rushing per game.  He is clearly a player that has outperformed his draft position and he is showing no signs of breaking down.
  • As opposed to other running backs that have been taking a pounding all season, Knowshon Moreno is relatively fresh.  This will be Moreno’s fourth week as a starter so it is no surprise that he was able to absorb 32 carries last week and still caught another 4 passes.  Catching 4 passes a game seems to be the norm for Moreno, and it was a good sign to see his carries increase from 20 the past 2 weeks to 32 this week.  This is another situation where there is no debate as to who the number one running back is and Moreno will gain yards and thereby value almost by attrition.  Of course having Peyton Manning as his quarterback does not hurt either.
  • At this point it seems that both Shonn Greene and Bilal Powell have value.  While I could give the slight edge to Greene, as he is still technically the starter, it looks like there are enough carries to go around for both of them.  Last week against the Jaguars Greene carried 20 times for 77 yards and a touchdown and Powell 19 times for 78 yards and a touchdown.  The Jets are a good team running the ball and it is clear that is where their game plan is leaning quite heavily.  Mark Sanchez will never be trusted and the Jets defense ensures they have good field position and that they get the ball back often.
  • Now with Fred Jackson done for the season, the ball fully belongs to CJ Spiller and Chan Galley has come out and said that, so there is no mistaking Spiller is the man.  He is a dual threat running and receiving on an offense that does not have much fire power.  Whenever the ball has been in his hands this season he has made something happen, and there is no reason not to expect that to continue.  All that will happen is the volume will increase and as Spiller showed when Jackson was out earlier this season, that will only lead to more good things.
  • So will Darren McFadden now be ready to help out owners that, until now, wasted an early draft choice on him.  He says he is fully healthy and has returned to practice.  Until his injury last week he was averaging less than 5 yards a carry and had another 2 catches for a touchdown.  For the most part that is the best McFadden has looked all season and one of his two 100+ yard games came against the Chiefs, who he is playing this week.  There is no reason not to expect a repeat performance this week.

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Make sure to check out all of our Week 15 rankings:

 

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

27 comments

  1. Chris says:

    rice, forte, s jackson, wilson and reece….playing three

    • Ray Kuhn says:

      It looks like McFadden is healthy so Reece goes back to fullback and I would sit him…Depending on Bradshaw’s status, that would determine Wilson or Jackson. Jackson is more of the same choice because he’s guaranteed more carries but Minn is a tough defense Wilson has more upside.

  2. Josh says:

    Morris has gotten 20 carries a week the last 4 weeks, 100 yards the last three, and I’d think they’ll run the ball more with RG3 injured. Why so far down the rankings?

    • Srsly says:

      Morris at 18, Sproles ahead of Morris after a complete 2TD abberation in his scoring, and Ryan Matthews at 11… surely there’s just a typo somewhere?

  3. Nick Tenaglia says:

    Crunch time…..

    Which QB?
    Dalton versus Philly
    Eli versus Falcons

    Need 2 WR and Flex
    Victor Cruz vs Falcons
    Mike Wallace vs Dallas
    Steve Smith vs San Diego
    Miles Austin vs Steelers
    DeMarco Murray vs Steelers

    • Nick Tenaglia says:

      Oh and I forgot Pierre Garcon…. oops

      • Nick Tenaglia says:

        I REALLY REALLY REALLY want to go with Dalton because that is what my gut is telling me, but Eli has the ability to go off for a 3/4 TD day. But the matchups definitely favor Dalton.

        Cruz, Garcon, Smith and Murray have been hot the last couple weeks – and now Wallace breaks out for a big game. Garcon and Smith have statistically the best matchups, but I am lost as to who should really earn those 3 spots.

  4. Cara says:

    So I have asked you before should I play Steve Jackson or Chris Johnson. In the past few weeks Johnson has just barely ranked above him yet did nothing. I have seen Jackson ranked higher than you have him for this week and am wondering how confident you are in playing Johnson over Jackson this week??
    I am 11-2 with a bye last week but am being killed by injuries and have to win this week!!
    Thanks!!

  5. Chris – I agree with Ray, Jackson a the “safe” choice, but if Bradshaw is out I like Wlson better. Te upside s there and too great to ignore.

    Josh – I agree with you. I believe Morris is a Top10 back this week and would start him in almost any circumstance.

    Nick:
    QB – it’s close, but I still like Eli in wha could be a shootout

    WR – Cruz/Smith

    FLEX – Murray

    I know Wallace had a big game, but the could just as easily go t a healthy Antonio Brown the week…

    Cara – Te Jets rushing defense s fairly poor and Jckson could lose carries to Daryl Rochardson. I would go with Johnson and hope for the best!

  6. Andy says:

    i will start Ray Rice and Knowshon Moreno, but who you think i should start for the best. I also have Alfred Morris, Bryce Brown and Darren McFadden. Thanks.

    • I would play Morris over Moreno actually

      • Andy says:

        Thanks for replying. If RG3 can play on Sunday then Brown Def will focus on Morris moves.
        While Cleveland has given up the 16th most fantasy points to Running Backs this season and Baltimore has given up the 9th most fantasy points to Running Backs this season. Should it be better for Moreno? Plus they also worry Manny will throw and open for Moreno to run? Thanks

  7. Casey says:

    It’s crunch time and I’m trying to figure out the best line up for week 15). It’s a PPR league with 2 RB, 2 WR, and a flex. Here are my player options:

    RB Trent Richardson, Alfred Morris, Chris Johnson

    WR: Demaryius Thomas, Marques Colston, Denario Alexander, Eric Decker

    My gut is to go with the following but not sure who to look the flex in with.
    RB: Trent and Alf
    WR: Thomas, (Alexander – hot the past few weeks with a tougher matchup)
    Flex: ??? (Johnson or Colston or Decker ALL questionable but anyone could go off)

    Who would you go with this week?

    Thanks, Casey

  8. Joe says:

    PPR league, who would you start out of these 3 Denarius Moore, Dez Bryant (If starts), or Steven Ridley?

  9. Double G says:

    Would you really start Shonn Greene over Bryce Brown?

  10. Andy – I don’t think RG3 factors into the equation. If he doesn’t play, you can argue Morris is going to get even more touches. I know Moreno is coming off a 32 carry day, but it’s impossible to expect that again. Morris is one of the few every down backs, so it’s tough to sit him.

    Casey – I’d probably go Colston at the WR over Alexander, but that’s really a coin flip and is close. As for the FLEX, it’s Johnson all the way for me.

    Joe – It really depends on the news and the health of Bryant. Ridley’s matchup is tough, so I would use Bryant if all sounds right, if not I have to go with Ridley. It’s impossible to trust Moore right now.

    Double G – I don’t think I would, but believe it or not I have seen the same ranking elsewhere. Personally, I don’t trust anything New York Jets, though.

  11. Steve says:

    QB- KAEPERNICK, RIVERS, OR RUSSELL WILSON (HORRIBLE SEASON FOR MY QB POSITION)
    RB-BRYCE BROWN OR DAVID WILSON AT FLEX? ALSO HAVE BRADSHAW IN AT RB2 POSITION

  12. mogli says:

    I can either start 3 WR or 1 RB OR 2 RB and 2 WR anf my Restor is
    WR: Cruz
    Dez
    Kenny Britt
    Demariys Thomas (Denver)

    RB: Ray Rice
    Demarco Murray

    plz do reply

  13. Steve – Kaepernick and Wilson s now a must use with Bradshaw out.

    Mogli – Thomas, Cruz and the RBs for me. Dez is too big of a risk with the injury.

  14. tim says:

    In a bind with Bradshaw out. I have Rodgers at the Giants, Michael Bush at Green Bay. Picked up Marcel Reece and LaMichael James off waivers. Who of these four is likely to see the most touches?

  15. tim says:

    correction – Rodgers and Bush are both home this week. Thanks!

  16. Paul says:

    I’ve got another tough choice, Murray or Mathews?

  17. bucsfan17345 says:

    I have decker austin and ridley and need one wr and one flex.

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