Figuring out who the best fantasy football running backs will be from week to week is a little easier than predicting which wide receivers will shine, but it is by no means simple—especially in Week 8, with four teams on byes and injuries galore throughout the league.
That's why those of us in the fantasy industry put together these lists for you—to give you an idea 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: New England Patriots, New York Jets, San Francisco 49ers, St. Louis Rams)
50. Mike Goodson (vs. TB)
49. Montario Hardesty (vs. Bal)
48. Peyton Hillis (at SD, Thursday night)—FINAL STATISTICS: 7 carries, 14 yards, 0 TDs; 1 rec, 7 yards, 0 TDs
47. Baron Batch (at NYG)
46. James Starks (vs. Ari)
45. Brian Leonard (vs. Den)
44. Bernard Pierce (at Cle)
43. Bryce Brown (at NO, Monday night)
42. Mark Ingram (vs. Phi, Monday night)
41. Chris Rainey (at NYG)
40. Justin Forsett (vs. Buf)
39. Ronnie Brown (vs. KC, Thursday night)—FINAL STATISTICS: 6 carries, 38 yards, 0 TDs; 5 recs, 35 yards, 0 TDs
38. DeAngelo Williams (at Was)
37. Phillip Tanner (at Atl, Sunday night)
36. Jacquizz Rodgers (vs. Dal, Sunday night)
35. Andre Brown (vs. Pit)
34. Vick Ballard (vs. Mia)
33. Michael Bush (at Ten)
32. Joique Bell (at Jax)
31. Alex Green (vs. Ari)
30. Donald Brown (vs. Mia)
29. Daniel Thomas (at Ind)
28. Ronnie Hillman (at Cin)
27. LaRod Stephens-Howling (at GB)
26. Felix Jones (at Atl, Sunday night)
25. Chris Johnson (vs. Chi)
24. BenJarvus Green-Ellis (vs. Den)
23. Michael Turner (vs. Dal, Sunday night)
22. Jonathan Stewart (at Was)
21. Isaac Redman (at NYG)
20. C.J. Spiller (at Hou)
19. Ahmad Bradshaw (vs. Pit)
18. Fred Jackson (at Hou)
17. Mikel Leshoure (at Jax)
16. Rashad Jennings (vs. Det)
15. Pierre Thomas (vs. Phi, Monday night)
14. Doug Martin (at Oak)
13. Darren McFadden (vs. TB)
12. Jamaal Charles (at SD, Thursday night)—FINAL STATISTICS: 12 carries, 39 yards, 0 TDs; 3 recs, 27 yards, 0 TDs
11. Reggie Bush (at Ind)
Top 10 RB Plays for Week 9
10. Trent Richardson (vs. Bal)
It turns out the scare fantasy owners had when Richardson exited the Indy game two weeks ago after re-injuring his ribs was really nothing at all.
It became obvious he was just fine while watching him run for 122 yards and a touchdown against a Chargers defense last week that hadn’t allowed a 100-yard rusher since Week 12 of last season.
This Sunday, he takes on a decimated Baltimore D for the second time this season. Back in Week 4, Trent put up 104 total yards and a touchdown against them, but that was with all of their defensive studs still healthy, so I’m expecting a much better turnout this time around.
There are a lot of classic matchups this weekend, and I have no doubt that this one between Richardson and Ray Rice will become one of the best over the next few years.
9. Adrian Peterson (at Sea)
Who in their right mind would have said that Adrian Peterson would be leading the league in rushing yards after eight weeks of the season?
Nobody, that’s who.
But that doesn’t mean there weren’t plenty of fantasy owners out there willing to take the chance on him early in their drafts, and to them I would just like to say this: Congratulations, you’ve earned the rewards that have been delivered to you.
Last week against Tampa Bay was the first time all season that AP wasn’t given 20-plus touches in a game, and quite frankly, it showed in the Vikings boxscore (36-17 loss at home).
This Sunday, the Vikes travel to Seattle to take on a tough-as-nails Seahawks rush defense, but Peterson has been well rested enough this past week to take on a full load and will undoubtedly be out to prove he’s still the baddest man in the NFL.
In a classic brawn-versus-brawn matchup, it will be interesting to see which monster comes out on top: Purple Jesus or Fugly Skittles.
8. Matt Forte (at Ten)
Tennessee’s main problem with opposing running backs is not so much in defending the rush, but more so against multidimensional RBs that can do just as much damage through the air as they can on the ground.
In fact, the Titans D has allowed the most receiving yards, most receiving touchdowns and second-most receptions to running backs this season.
In short, the things the Titans are worst at are the same things Matt Forte happens to be best at.
Because the Tennessee offense can actually be pretty lethal at times, the Bears will want to control the clock, as well, so look for Forte to get a healthy amount of work this weekend en route to a low-end RB1 fantasy day.
In PPR leagues, go ahead and change that “low-end” designation to “high-end.”
7. Alfred Morris (vs. Car)
Alfred Morris has put up double-digit fantasy points in six of the Redskins' eight games this season, and I have no doubt that he’ll make it seven this week.
The kid also has five rushing TDs, which is tied for second in the league behind Arian Foster.
Basically, The Butler is the real deal, folks, and there doesn’t seem to be a need to worry about him being in a Shanahan offense either.
This weekend he’ll be up against a Panthers rush defense that was one of the worst in the league for a while there, but has somehow turned it around and done pretty well in its last few games.
That being said, Carolina's focus will be mainly on Robert Griffin III this Sunday, so there should be plenty of open holes for Morris to barrel through and rack up the rushing yards.
6. Willis McGahee (at Cin)
I think McGahee kind of likes this Peyton Manning-led offensive system.
He’s currently ninth in the league in fantasy points per game, 10th in rushing yards and tied for eighth in rushing TDs, so what’s not to like?
Some games have been better than others, but I fully expect this to be one of his better ones going up against a Cincinnati defense that has allowed the fifth-most fantasy points per game and second-most rushing touchdowns in the league.
McGahee put up 101 yards and a TD against the Bengals last season, so with the Denver offense clicking the way it has been lately, there’s no reason not to expect the same this time around.
5. Marshawn Lynch (vs. Min)
Lynch has four 100-yard games on the season, yet, surprisingly, only one of them has come at home. I mention this because last year he had six 100-yard games with only one of them coming on the road.
Basically, Lynch is due for another home 100-yarder—and it's coming this week.
The Vikings didn’t allow a single RB to put up double-digit fantasy points against them through the first five weeks of the season. However, Minnesota has allowed this in each of its last three games, with all of those runners putting up at least one rushing touchdown and the last two going up over 100, as well.
Lynch should be fed like crazy in this game, which almost assuredly means RB1 fantasy numbers.
4. Ryan Mathews (vs. KC, Thursday night)
This fumbling problem of his simply won’t go away, but at least the Chargers aren’t messing around and taking him out of their lineup anymore, as they’ve come out to admit that they need Ryan Mathews to be successful in order for their team to be successful.
The guy is simply the most athletic player on the team and needs to have the ball in his hands to make things happen, which is why the Chargers have given him 26 touches in each of the last two games.
The Cleveland Browns were able to contain him last week, holding him to just 104 yards on those 26 touches, but it will be tough for the Chiefs to do the same.
Considering that they allow the sixth-most yards per rush this season (4.6 YPC) along with the seventh-most fantasy points per game, Mathews should be in for a real nice fantasy day.
FINAL STATISTICS: 13 carries, 67 yards, 0 TDs; 2 recs, 5 yards, 0 TDs
3. Ray Rice (at Cle)
The Ravens are a completely different team with their defense as banged up as it is, which might actually play into Ray Rice’s hands.
If I were on the Ravens coaching staff right now, I would vehemently suggest more of a ball-control offense from here on out, as opposed to the up-tempo style they were playing, so they can keep their weakened defense off the field, and from what I’ve read recently, it looks like the Ravens are going to do just that.
Rice didn’t have the greatest game against the Browns earlier this season, but he normally loves playing them, as he’s averaged nearly 100 rushing yards in nine career games against them, including his only 200-yard rushing performance, just last year, in Cleveland.
If Baltimore can get him around 25 touches this week, as they should, look for Rice to put up some of his best fantasy stats on the season.
2. LeSean McCoy (at NO, Monday night)
If Arian Foster is sitting pretty with the dream matchup of the week, then Shady McCoy is at least sleeping in the bunk bed below him.
We all know LeSean hasn’t been the fantasy stud he was drafted to be this year, but on Monday night against the New Orleans Saints, owners will finally see the running back they were hoping for.
Every main ball-carrier New Orleans has faced this year has scored at least one touchdown against them—except for the Packers’ Cedric Benson, that is, and the only reason he didn’t was because Rodgers decided to keep all four touchdowns to himself.
McCoy should see at least 25 touches in this game for a couple of reasons.
First, if Michael Vick wants to win this game and keep his job, he’ll have to stop turning the ball over and start getting it into his best player’s hands.
Second—and I hope the Eagles coaching staff knows this—is that in each of the Eagles' three wins, McCoy got 25-plus touches, and in each of their three losses, he didn’t. Plain and simple.
Two touchdowns and 175 total yards could be in order here.
1. Arian Foster (vs. Buf)
With his having fresh legs coming out of a bye, Arian Foster owners couldn’t have asked for a dreamier fantasy matchup than this one.
Just prior to the break, Foster was slowing down a bit, averaging just 19 touches a game over the last two weeks. Now that he’s ready for the stretch run, I expect his usage to be back up closer to the 28.4 touches he was averaging through the first five games.
What Foster will be able to do with 30 touches against this Bills defense only the fantasy gods know.
Through the halfway point of the season, not only do the Bills allow the most fantasy points per game to running backs, but they’ve also allowed the most rushing touchdowns (13), most rushing yards per game (176.9) and most yards per carry (6.0).
With Foster putting up at least one touchdown in every game this season and 10 total on the year, don’t be surprised to see that number rise to 13—maybe even 14 by the end of this game.
For rankings at all the positions, check out the: Pyro® Rankings
For advice on who to start, check out the: Pyro® Start 'Em Sit 'Em
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