Figuring out who the best fantasy football running backs are from week to week is a little easier than predicting which wide receivers will be the best, but by no means is it simple—especially in Week 6 with four teams on a bye and a few super-tough matchups on the menu.
That's why those of us in the fantasy industry put together these lists for you—to give you a gauge of what to expect from your players on any given Sunday.
With that, here are the weekend's top 50 running backs, along with some detailed analysis on the 10 best plays for the week.
(BYE: Carolina Panthers, Chicago Bears, Jacksonville Jaguars, New Orleans Saints)
50. Jaime Harper (vs. Pit - Thursday Night) – 2 carries - 1 yard - 1 TD; 0 Recs - 0 yards - 0 TDs
49. Daryl Richardson (@ Mia)
48. John Kuhn (@ Hou - Sunday Night)
47. Jackie Battle (vs. Den - Monday Night)
46. Bernard Pierce (vs. Dal)
45. Brandon Jacobs (vs. NYG)
44. David Wilson (@ SF)
43. James Starks (@ Hou - Sunday Night)
42. Ronnie Hillman (@ SD - Monday Night)
41. Jacquizz Rodgers (vs. Oak)
40. Isaac Redman (@ Ten - Thursday Night) – 5 carries - 14 yards - 0 TDs; 4 Recs - 105 yards - 0 TDs
39. Kendall Hunter (vs. NYG)
38. Lamar Miller (vs. StL)
37. Shaun Draughn (@ TB)
36. Chris Johnson (vs. Pit - Thursday Night) – 19 carries - 91 yards - 0 TDs; 4 Recs - 23 yards - 0 TDs
35. Brandon Bolden (@ Sea)
34. Joique Bell (@ Phi)
33. Ben Tate (vs. GB - Sunday Night)
32. Danny Woodhead (@ Sea)
31. LeGarrette Blount (vs. KC)
30. LaRod Stephens-Howling (vs. Buf)
29. Bilal Powell (vs. Ind)
28. Ahmad Bradshaw (@ SF)
27. Alex Green (@ Hou - Sunday Night)
26. Vick Ballard (@ NYJ)
25. Shonn Greene (vs. Ind)
24. C.J. Spiller (@ Ari)
23. Steven Jackson (@ Mia)
22. Stevan Ridley (@ Sea)
21. Mikel Leshoure (@ Phi)
20. William Powell (vs. Buf)
19. BenJarvus Green-Ellis (@ Cle)
18. Fred Jackson (@ Ari)
17. Alfred Morris (vs. Min)
16. Rashard Mendenhall (@ Ten - Thursday Night) – 6 carries - 6 yards - 0 TDs; 1 Rec - 11 yards - 0 TDs
15. DeMarco Murray (@ Bal)
14. Doug Martin (vs. KC)
13. Willis McGahee (@ SD - Monday Night)
12. Marshawn Lynch (vs. NE)
11. Darren McFadden (@ Atl)
Top 10 RB1 Plays for Week 6
10. Reggie Bush (vs. StL)
Bush has been playing through some pain the last couple of weeks and still isn’t quite at 100 percent, but I don’t think he’ll need to be against the Rams on Sunday.
St. Louis hasn’t been awful against the run this season, but was one of the worst teams at defending the run in 2011 and hasn’t improved enough to make me think that a dynamic runner like Bush won’t put up some nice stats against them.
I doubt Ryan Tannehill will be able to break through their surprisingly top-notch secondary, so look for the Dolphins to feed Bush as many touches as he can handle.
He’s a low-end RB1 this week with some really nice upside.
9. Michael Turner (vs. Oak)
He ain’t pretty and he ain’t sexy, but damn does the Centaur get the job done.
He’s visibly slow compared to the rest of the league at this point and might have trouble beating out a cement mixer in a race, but with the Falcons' offense being so wide open right now, defenses are forced to play back and let Atlanta run whenever they want.
Since Oakland just happens to be one of the worst in the league against the run this season, it’s kind of a no-brainer that Turner will have a nice game here.
8. LeSean McCoy (vs. Det)
McCoy is definitely getting back into the flow of the offense again now, but should still be used more in this style of offense and the Eagles know it.
Coming back home will be nice for McCoy after a rough, hard-fought loss to the Steelers last Sunday, but the Lions are no cakewalk either.
Detroit’s got a pretty good rush D over there, but can be beaten by a good, dynamic running back like McCoy if he is utilized properly.
7. Frank Gore (vs. NYG)
The Giants have given up a lot of yardage on the ground this year, and though they haven’t allowed the TDs to follow, they are certainly vulnerable to the run game.
Gore has outshone what many thought he would be doing this year as he’s received 12 or more carries in every game thus far and has a touchdown in four of five games.
His 5.4 yards per carry rivals his 2006 output as well, so it seems the 29-year-old was underestimated in many ways this season.
One of the main reasons he’s been able to run so well is that the 49ers finally have a passing attack to pay attention to, and as a result, holes have opened up for Gore to run through.
The Giants' defense can be beat in all sorts of ways right now, so look for Gore to have a little fun this weekend.
6. Ryan Mathews (vs. Den - Monday Night)
Like with Jamaal Charles, all it took was one game against the decrepit Saints defense for Mathews' season to completely turn around. I expect Mathews to follow in Charles' footsteps and take control of his RB1 potential from here on out as well.
The Broncos actually have a pretty good rush defense over there, but they don’t seem to play as well away from home…as New England clearly showed last weekend.
It’s time for Mathews to be handed the reins to this offense, and though I believe this will end up being a shootout, Mathews should be able to grab at least one TD.
If he gets around 20 touches like he should, 150 total yards wouldn’t be out of the question either.
5. Adrian Peterson (@ Was)
Peterson is running like a monster again and seems to be getting better and better every week. One of these games he’s going to break out and show the world that Purple Jesus has indeed risen again to lead his fantasy owners back into the Promised Land.
That week could be upon us as the Redskins, though not bad against the run, have one of the more porous defenses in the NFL, allowing the fifth-most points (29.4) and seventh-most total yards (416.4) per game.
They are certainly better against the run than they are against the pass, but the Vikings like to ride AP in games like these and surely want to get him back into the flow of red zone dominance sooner rather than later.
Peterson hasn’t had a TD since Week 1, but you can bet on that changing this weekend.
4. Ray Rice (vs. Dal)
After playing his first four games in an 18-day span to start the season, Rice got some rest and it showed against the Chiefs last weekend. 102 yards on 17 carries (6.0 YPC) is right around where the Ravens would like to see him in their up-tempo/no-huddle offense, though it would have been nice to see him get more than 18 touches during the course of the game.
They’ll be sure to get him more involved against the Cowboys this weekend with the Dallas pass D being tough as nails this year.
Whatever the case, Rice has been a far superior player at home throughout his career (22 TDs in 32 games at home, 10 TDs in 33 games on the road), and I expect that trend to continue this weekend.
3. Trent Richardson (vs. Cin)
Richardson is a beast and everyone knows it.
He runs as hard as anyone I’ve seen since the guy he’s been compared to, Adrian Peterson, and he won’t slow down for the rest of the season.
We’ve also been shown what a touchdown-monger he is as he’s currently tied for second in the league in total TDs with five (Victor Cruz, James Jones), one behind Arian Foster. His rushing yardage isn’t quite there yet, but you know it's coming.
This weekend he’ll face a Bengals defense that he absolutely dominated during their first contest back in Week 2. In that one, Trent put up his first career 100-yard rushing game (109) along with both his first rushing and receiving TDs.
I expect more of the same this weekend.
2. Arian Foster (vs. GB - Sunday Night)
I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again—it doesn’t matter who Foster and the Texans play at this point as his coming away with at least one touchdown in the game has almost become a foregone conclusion.
Nine straight games the man has hit pay-dirt, and he has scored a TD in 15 of the last 16 games, with 20 TDs in that span.
This Sunday night he’ll go up against a Packers defense that’s been pretty darn solid against the run, but can certainly be beaten by a good running team as the 49ers showed earlier in the season.
Foster’s prowess at home has been unbelievable thus far as he’s averaged 104.2 rushing yards and exactly a touchdown per game in 19 career contests there.
1. Jamaal Charles (@ TB)
In the last three weeks alone, Jamaal Charles has 465 rushing yards on 80 carries (5.8 YPC) with three total TDs.
Kind of a disgusting display for a guy coming off of an ACL tear last season, wouldn’t you say?
This week he’ll be strutting his stuff against a Tampa Bay Buccaneers rush D that has looked good so far, but was the worst in the league last season giving up the most yards, TDs and fantasy points in 2011.
The fact is, the Chiefs will be starting Brady Quinn at QB this week, but regardless of how bad he is, Kansas City would likely be giving Jamaal the ball around 30 times anyway with Cassel in there.
With 30-plus carries, The Ostrich can do no wrong.
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