Week 17 Fantasy Rankings: Running Backs

Kevin Hanson@EDSFootballAnalyst IIIDecember 29, 2011

ST. LOUIS, MO - DECEMBER 18: Cedric Benson #32 of the Cincinnati Bengals scores a touchdown against Josh Gordy #38 of the St. Louis Rams at the Edward Jones Dome on December 18, 2011 in St. Louis, Missouri.  The Bengals beat the Rams 20-13.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

Bengals running back Cedric Benson does not seem to have a favorable matchup in Week 17.

His two best performances of the season came against the Browns. He had two of his three 100-yard games against the cross-state rivals. After you exclude his two games against Cleveland, his best game (fantasy wise) came when he faced the Ravens the first time this season.

In that game, Benson only rushed for 41 yards on 15 carries, which is an average of 2.7 yards per carry. But he rushed for two touchdowns and finished with 16 fantasy points.

While it will be difficult to duplicate his Week 11 performance, this week's matchup is a win-and-you're-in proposition for Benson and the Bengals. In other words, there is plenty of incentive for the Bengals to leave it all on the field—and perhaps give Benson a heavy workload.

In our rankings this week, Benson is a low-end RB2.

Here are some more running back notes for Week 17:

- Last year, Bucs running back LeGarrette Blount finished the season strong and became only the second undrafted free-agent rookie running back to reach 1,000 rushing yards in a season.

This year, Blount is crawling down the stretch. Even before getting benched for fumbling last week, Blount was not lighting up the fantasy scoreboard. In three of his last four games, Blount has 21 rushing yards or less (or two fantasy points or less).

- As we pointed out in Tuesday's poll of the day, Vikings running back Toby Gerhart has had five consecutive games with double-digit fantasy points.

During that five-game span, Gerhart had 70 carries for 346 yards. He also had 16 receptions for 114 yards, plus four touchdowns.

Since Week 5, however, the Bears have allowed only one running back (LeSean McCoy, 71 yards in Week 9) to rush for more than 70 yards.

- With Roy Helu inactive last week, Redskins running back Evan Royster got his first career start. He finished the game with a career-high 132 rushing yards.

- Seattle running back Marshawn Lynch took his touchdown-scoring streak into last week's game against the 49ers, a team that had not allowed a rushing touchdown all season. One had to give.

Lynch, who has now scored in 11 consecutive games, also became the first running back to rush for more than 100 yards against the Niners. He has had six 100-yard games in the past eight weeks.

During that eight-game span, Lynch had 855 rushing yards. He had nine touchdowns, plus 15 receptions for 124 yards and a touchdown.

- Steelers running back Rashard Mendenhall had his second 100-yard game of the season last week against the league's worst run defense (St. Louis).

This week, he gets a rematch against one of the league's worst run defenses in Cleveland (although the team has been better in the past three weeks). From Weeks 8 to 13, the Browns allowed six 100-yard rushers. Since then, they haven't allowed any.

- Three weeks ago, Browns running back Peyton Hillis had only 10 carries for 25 yards against the Steelers on Thursday Night Football. In his past two weeks, however, Hillis has a total of 50 carries for 211 yards and a touchdown against the Cardinals and Ravens.

- Jaguars running back Maurice Jones-Drew became the fifth player in NFL history to rush for 80-plus yards 14 times in a season. The other four are Eric Dickerson (1984), Barry Sanders (1997), Corey Dillon (2004) and Chris Johnson (2009).

This week, MJD faces the Colts, a team that has allowed the third-most fantasy points to opposing running backs this season.

- In the process of throwing the ball 59 times, the Jets gave Shonn Greene only 14 carries against the Giants last week.

In Weeks 13 and 14, Greene had two games with 46 carries—for 217 yards and four touchdowns. In Weeks 15 and 16, Greene has only 32 carries for 131 yards and no touchdowns.

This week, the Jets face the Dolphins, who rank third in the NFL in rushing defense (93.4 yards per game allowed).

- Dolphins running back Reggie Bush has four consecutive games with 100-plus yards. That includes his 203-yard performance. No other running back has more rushing yards than Bush (519) during that span.

Here are our top 40 fantasy running backs for Week 17:

1. Maurice Jones-Drew, Jaguars (vs IND)
2. Ray Rice, Ravens (at CIN)
3. Marshawn Lynch, Seahawks (at ARI)
4. Ryan Mathews, Chargers (at OAK)
5. Frank Gore, 49ers (at STL)
6. Rashard Mendenhall, Steelers (at CLE)
7. Reggie Bush, Dolphins (vs NYJ)
8. LeSean McCoy, Eagles (vs WAS)
9. C.J. Spiller, Bills (at NE)
10. Michael Turner, Falcons (vs TB)
11. Michael Bush, Raiders (vs SD)
12. Willis McGahee, Broncos (vs KC)
13. Toby Gerhart, Vikings (vs CHI)
14. Kahlil Bell, Bears (at MIN)
15. Shonn Greene, Jets (at MIA)
16. Ahmad Bradshaw, Giants (vs DAL)
17. Chris Johnson, Titans (at HOU)
18. Beanie Wells, Cardinals (vs SEA)
19. Arian Foster, Texans (vs TEN)
20. Cedric Benson, Bengals (vs BAL)
21. Darren Sproles, Saints (vs CAR)
22. DeAngelo Williams, Panthers (at NO)
23. Felix Jones, Cowboys (at NYG)
24. Evan Royster, Redskins (at PHI)
25. Steven Jackson, Rams (vs SF)
26. Jonathan Stewart, Panthers (at NO)
27. Peyton Hillis, Browns (vs PIT)
28. Ben Tate, Texans (vs TEN)
29. Roy Helu, Redskins (at PHI)
30. Donald Brown, Colts (at JAX)
31. Pierre Thomas, Saints (vs CAR)
32. Kevin Smith, Lions (at GB)
33. Stevan Ridley, Patriots (vs BUF)
34. Mike Tolbert, Chargers (at OAK)
35. Brandon Jacobs, Giants (vs DAL)
36. Sammy Morris, Cowboys (at NYG)
37. LeGarrette Blount, Buccaneers (at ATL)
38. BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Patriots (vs BUF)
39. Darren McFadden, Raiders (vs SD)
40. Christopher Ivory, Saints (vs CAR)

If you're in a point-per-reception (PPR) league, here are our running back PPR rankings for Week 17.

For more positions and/or flex rankings, visit our fantasy section.

To keep track of our fantasy updates throughout the week, you can follow us on Twitter @EDSFootball,  "like" us on Facebook or both.

Good luck in Week 17!


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