Top 4 RB Matchups of NFL Week 5
1) Seattle Seahawks RBs vs. Carolina Panthers
Michael Turner was criminally underrated coming into 2012 fantasy drafts, but the fact is he runs like a roly-poly at this point.
I am foaming at the mouth to see what Marshawn Lynch is capable of doing against this Swiss cheese Panthers front that Turner made look like children in Week 4. I told you in this column last week about Turner, as well as mentioning that Jacquizz Rodgers would serve as serviceable option against the Panthers.
Lynch is my No. 1 RB of Week 5, and if I am desperate at the flex position due to byes, I take a long look at Robert Turbin as a spot play. I do not like Turbin as much as I liked Rodgers last week, though, as I do not believe the Seahawks will get out to an early lead.
2) San Diego Chargers RBs vs. New Orleans Saints
Ryan Mathews owners have to be wondering what on Earth is going on. Jackie Battle?
Ryan Mathews is "healthy," yet still, it was Jackie Battle in Week 4 who saw 43 percent of snaps while Mathews only saw 33 percent.
Battle also racked up the two touchdowns that Mathews owners thought would be theirs when drafting him in late August. This is hardly the level of involvement that many expected out of the RB that Chargers head coach Norv Turner publicly promised (as usual) to get 300 touches on the season.
I see this being the week that Mathews gets back on the map before he gets injured and screws his owners yet again. You didn't hold onto Mathews through the preseason injury this long to sit him now—not against a dream matchup.
I would recommend picking up Battle in 12-team leagues in which he is available, however. It is only a matter of time before Mathews is limited, and we have now seen where the fantasy production goes in 2012 when this occurs.
3) Houston Texans RBs vs. New York Jets
Everyone always has a smile on their face when inserting Arian Foster into their starting lineup, but this week calls for extra cheer.
The New York Jets are a team that has been missing assignments along the defensive line and causing massive lanes for opposing runners. Ben Tate owners should recognize that Tate, thus far in his career, has been a better away-game than home-game player.
Tate has also been very off-and-on with fantasy production, despite tallying a 1,000-yard season in 2011, simply because he is not a major TD scorer.
Everything lines up this week for lots of Ben Tate garbage-time action as Houston heads to play a reeling Jets squad that opened as nine-point underdogs at home. Get both Texans backs in your lineups this week.
4) Minnesota Vikings RBs vs. Tennessee Titans
Adrian Peterson is amazing. He may be the first to prove the "two-year ACL rule" regarding RBs coming off reconstructive surgery to be a theory rather than a law.
He's always in your lineup. Toby Gerhart is a low-end flex option with an extremely low fantasy floor but relatively good upside, especially in the event of a big Minnesota lead.
Worst 4 RB Matchups of Week 5
1) Buffalo Bills RBs at San Francisco 49ers
Like this whole Buffalo Bills backfield conundrum wasn't bad enough for fantasy owners to begin with:
- C.J. Spiller, when Fred Jackson was hurt in two separate seasons, has looked like the best back in the league behind a great run-blocking line.
- When Jackson and Spiller are both healthy, head coach Chan Gailey obviously prefers Jackson as the primary runner for some reason.
- Neither are healthy.
Jackson seems healthier, though. For this week, it doesn't matter. This is a horrible matchup in which you hope Steve Johnson will get tripped up right at the goal line. Even then, you'll have to sweat which back runs in for the 1st-and-goal set.
Lots of trade offers went out this week from Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller owners. I am buying low on both of them and currently value Jackson a small bit more than Spiller. I do not like either runner this week, though.
2) Tennessee Titans RBs at Minnesota Vikings
Chris Johnson finally ran like he was an NFL running back on Sunday against a very stiff defense. Johnson says he'll be as good as his offensive line allows him to be, which to me means one thing:
Chris Johnson will be as good as the start he gets out to. Before he starts pouting and deciding that his lack of discipline and heart in the face of adversity are anyone's fault but his.
You have to start him after the breakout performance last week, but I'd be worried. And something tells me you are.
3) Carolina Panthers RBs vs. Seattle Seahawks
The Seattle Seahawks are a nightmare matchup across the board, but many will find themselves in the unenviable position of having to start either DeAngelo Williams or Jonathan Stewart.
I would downgrade expectations for both, but it seems like the back-and-forth nature of their productivity would indicate that we are due for a game plan that features Stewart once he is fully healthy.
It's hard to love either against this Seattle front, though. I am selling high on DeAngelo Williams like crazy this week.
4) New England Patriots RBs vs. Denver Broncos
The Austin Chronicle and RosterWatch on ESPN Radio had Mike Loyko reporting live from Patriots training camp this August.
He would constantly harp on three things during his call-in appearances:
- Stevan Ridley will be the guy this season.
- Aaron Hernandez will be Tom Brady's No. 1 option.
Bill Belichick seems to really love Brandon Bolden.
Bolden is now the No. 2 runner in an offense that will have plenty of opportunities for scoring productivity.
Will there be typical, unnerving "Patriot Games" at the RB position? Of course. There is something to see here, however. I see Bolden holding some real value down the stretch, but I don't love either Patriots runner this week.