As point-per-reception fantasy football leagues have grown in popularity and quarterbacks break the 5,000-yard passing mark like it's nothing, the running back position has lost its stranglehold atop the pecking order in fantasy football.
However, as Doug Martin of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers demonstrated very aptly against the Minnesota Vikings on Thursday night, having a running back go ballistic can still leave your fantasy squad riding high.
With that in mind, here's a look at a trio of running backs that are set to "Martin-ize" their opponents in Week 8.
Matt Forte, Chicago Bears (vs. CAR)
Fantasy owners of Chicago Bears running back Matt Forte haven't exactly gotten what they'd bargained for in 2012, as an ankle injury suffered by the 26-year-old in Week 2 cost Forte one game and hampered him in a couple of others.
However, after rushing for 213 yards over his past two starts the fifth-year pro appears to be back to 100 percent, and as center Roberto Garza recently told Michael Wright of ESPN, he sees even better games in Forte's near future:
You see the games that Matt Forte has had in the past. We know what he’s capable of and we know what Michael Bush is capable of as well. I’m not saying that we’re gonna rush for over 200 yards. I’m just saying that we’ve seen the types of runs that he can do on the field. We saw what Michael Bush can do. I think both guys are getting ready for some big games.
One of those big games could easily come on Sunday when the Bears play host to the Carolina Panthers, as no team in the National Football League has allowed more fantasy points per game to running backs this season than the Panthers.
Willis McGahee, Denver Broncos (vs. NO)
To say that the New Orleans Saints have struggled defensively this season is one whopper of an understatement. Not only does New Orleans rank last in the NFL in total defense, but the team has allowed more yardage through six games than any team in the last half a century.
This week the Saints will travel to face the Denver Broncos on Sunday night. That game will mark the beginning of a four-game stretch of favorable fantasy matchups for Denver running back Willis McGahee, who has gained 432 yards on the ground and scored three touchdowns so far this season.
The 10th-year veteran has struggled a bit of late, averaging fewer than four yards a carry in each of the last two games. With that said, this matchup would seem tailor-made for a bounce-back effort from McGahee, whose nine 100-yard games since the beginning of the 2011 season trails only Arian Foster of the Houston Texans.
Vick Ballard, Indianapolis Colts (at TEN)
With starting tailback Donald Brown sidelined after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery, the Indianapolis Colts were forced to hand the reins in their backfield over to rookie Vick Ballard, and fantasy owners in a bye-week pinch that rolled the dice on Ballard last week were not disappointed.
Ballard racked up 103 total yards in a win over the Cleveland Browns in Week 7, and the youngster's strong effort earned the praise of interim head coach Bruce Arians, according to The Associated Press via Fox News:
When he came here I thought he had that in him, it was nice to see that come out. He's a good, solid back and I think that the future is bright for him and I just want to stack those weeks together now.
Brown has returned to practice this week and is a game-time decision for Sunday's matchup with the Tennessee Titans. Even if Brown eats into his touches somewhat, Ballard should still see enough carries to be a viable fantasy RB2 against a Titans defense that has given up the most fantasy points to the running back position in 2012.