Here are my top 40 running backs for Week 5 (standard-scoring leagues).
To clarify, this countdown doesn't lean on a particular stat. It's merely an educated best guess of which rushers will tally the best combination of total yards and touchdowns for the NFL's fifth weekend.
NOTE: The Lions, Buccaneers, Raiders and Cowboys have bye weeks.
Top 40 Backs For Week 5
1. Arian Foster @ N.Y. Jets
2. Ray Rice @ Kansas City
3. Marshawn Lynch @ Carolina
4. Frank Gore vs. Buffalo
5. Maurice Jones-Drew vs. Chicago
6. LeSean McCoy @ Pittsburgh
7. Adrian Peterson vs. Tennessee
8. Trent Richardson @ N.Y. Giants
9. Michael Turner @ Washington
10. Matt Forte @ Jacksonville
11. Ryan Mathews @ New Orleans
12. Jamaal Charles vs. Baltimore
13. Ahmad Bradshaw vs. Cleveland
14. Alfred Morris vs. Atlanta
15. Chris Johnson @ Minnesota
16. Stevan Ridley vs. Denver
17. Darren Sproles vs. San Diego
18. Reggie Bush @ Cincinnati
19. BenJarvus Green-Ellis vs. Miami
20. Steven Jackson vs. Arizona
21. Cedric Benson @ Indianapolis
22. Willis McGahee @ New England
23. Ryan Williams @ St. Louis
24. Fred Jackson @ San Francisco
25. Ben Tate @ N.Y. Jets
26. Donald Brown vs. Green Bay
27. Jonathan Stewart vs. Seattle
28. Shonn Greene vs. Houston
29. Isaac Redman vs. Philadelphia
30. Jackie Battle @ New Orleans
31. DeAngelo Williams vs. Seattle
32. C.J. Spiller @ San Francisco
33. Michael Bush @ Jacksonville
34. Kendall Hunter vs. Buffalo
35. Brandon Bolden vs. Denver
36. Pierre Thomas vs. San Diego
37. Andre Brown vs. Cleveland
38. Lamar Miller @ Cincinnati
39. Jacquizz Rodgers @ Washington
40. Robert Turbin @ Carolina
40a. Evan Royster vs. Atlanta
40b. Rashard Mendenhall vs. Philadelphia
1. Arian Foster may not be a healthy lock for 140 total yards and one touchdown on Monday, but he certainly has the most attractive matchup of any elite rusher—on paper. The Jets rank No. 31 in rushing yards allowed per game (172.8)...and the duo of Foster/Ben Tate might be motivated to match or eclipse the 49ers' 245 rushing yards against New York in Week 4.
2. In successive games, Andre Brown (130 total yards, two TD) and Michael Turner (171 total yards, one TD) have plundered the Panthers for 301 total yards and three touchdowns. Consequently, it makes good fantasy sense to earmark Marshawn Lynch (473 total yards, two TD in 2012) for similar greatness in Week 5.
3. My tepid expectations for Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller have little to do with their injuries or the Bills' second-half scoring woes. I simply cannot remember the last time ANY rusher had a stellar fantasy day against the 49ers in San Francisco.
4. Alfred Morris (376 rushing yards, four TD) has officially earned his stripes as a rusher who can be counted for good fantasy stats, even when the matchup isn't so enticing. In other words, the minimum bar of expectations for Week 5 should be 85 total yards or 70 total yards/one TD.
5. It's getting to the point where Adrian Peterson (122 total yards vs. Detroit) should be considered a weekly lock for 20-plus touches and 100 total yards. Not bad for a guy who's only at 85 percent capacity with his surgically repaired knee—or something like that.
6. In his last 10 games against AFC opponents (2010-12), Philly's LeSean McCoy boasts per-outing averages of 96 total yards and one touchdown. The Steelers, in turn, are allowing 101 rushing yards per game.
7. Week 5 could be a telling matchup for Cincy's BenJarvus Green-Ellis (332 total yards, two TD), as he takes on the NFL's No. 1 rush defense at home. Seriously, who could have guessed the Dolphins would be surrendering only 55 rush yards per game at this point?
Jay Clemons can be reached on Twitter, day or night, at @ATL_JayClemons.
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