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: Arizona Cardinals, Cleveland Browns, Green Bay Packers, Washington Redskins)
50. Peyton Hillis (at Pit, Monday night)
49. Brian Leonard (vs. NYG)
48. Donald Brown (at Jax, Thursday night) – 14 rushes - 42 yards - 0 TDs // 0 catches - 0 yards - 0 TDs
47. Chris Ivory (vs. Atl)
46. Michael Bush (vs. Hou, Sunday night)
45. Bryce Brown (vs. Dal)
44. Robert Turbin (vs. NYJ)
43. Bernard Pierce (vs. Oak)
42. DeAngelo Williams (vs. Den)
41. Ronnie Hillman (at Car)
40. Ronnie Brown (at TB)
39. Jacquizz Rodgers (at NO)
38. Kendall Hunter (vs. StL)
37. Danny Woodhead (vs. Buf)
36. Daryl Richardson (at SF)
35. Steven Jackson (at SF)
34. Andre Brown (at Cin)
33. Felix Jones (at Phi)
32. Shonn Greene (at Sea)
31. Daniel Thomas (vs. Ten)
30. Marcel Reece (at Bal)
29. Joique Bell (at Min)
28. Jonathan Dwyer (vs. KC, Monday night)
27. Jonathan Stewart (vs. Den)
26. Taiwan Jones (at Bal)
25. BenJarvus Green-Ellis (vs. NYG)
24. Shane Vereen (vs. Buf)
23. Chris Johnson (at Mia)
22. Mikel Leshoure (at Min)
21. Fred Jackson (at NE)
20. Isaac Redman (vs. KC, Monday night)
19. Vick Ballard (at Jax, Thursday night) – 12 rushes - 48 yards - 0 TDs // 2 catches - 11 yards - 0 TDs
18. Ahmad Bradshaw (at Cin)
17. Jamaal Charles (at Pit, Monday night)
16. Pierre Thomas (vs. Atl)
15. Rashad Jennings (vs. Ind, Thursday night) – 11 rushes - 27 yards - 0 TDs // 0 catches - 0 yards - 0 TDs
14. Reggie Bush (vs. Ten)
13. Matt Forte (vs. Hou, Sunday night)
12. Ryan Mathews (at TB)
11. C.J. Spiller (at NE)
Top 10 RB Plays for Week 10
10. Michael Turner (at NO)
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.
This is exactly what happened last week against the Dallas Cowboys when Turner rushed for 102 yards, along with a three-yard touchdown.
This week, he gets to take on a New Orleans Saints defense that has allowed the most rushing yards, the most total yards and the fourth-most points per game in the league this year.
The Atlanta and New Orleans offenses also both rank in the top-ten in points per game this season, so in a game that looks like the shootout matchup of the week, you’d have to think that Turner will at least be a nice contributor to the overall offensive onslaught of the game.
9. LeSean McCoy (vs. Dal)
This is the last time I will mention this, as I’m sure his fantasy owners are annoyed as hell with the situation.
In each of the Eagles' three wins this season, LeSean McCoy was the main focus of the offensive game-plan and received 25-plus touches during the game because of it. In each of Philly’s five losses, he didn’t. Plain and simple.
Why in the world the coaching staff doesn’t know this and get the ball in his hands is beyond my comprehension.
That being said, Michael Vick made it crystal clear last week that he no longer has the shoulders to carry a team, so no matter how blind the Eagles coaches are, I believe they are now forced to let McCoy run this offense.
Good timing, too, because over the course of Shady’s awe-inspiring 2011 season, no game was better than the one he turned in at home against these same Dallas Cowboys.
I doubt he puts up 200 total yards (185 rushing) and two touchdowns like last year, but he does seem poised for a bit of a breakout here.
8. Frank Gore (vs. StL)
Frank Gore and the rest of the 49ers offense should be raring to go after their nice little midseason bye last weekend.
Just prior to the week off, the ‘Niners were doing all they could to keep Frank the Tank good and rested for a strong second-half push, so I expect them to start amping up his touches again as they look to gain home-field advantage for the playoffs.
Despite his recent lack of usage, Gore still sits just outside the top 10 in fantasy points a game, though it wouldn’t shock me to see him jump up a couple of spots after an afternoon against the Rams this Sunday.
Across the pond in England back in Week 8, the Patriots drubbed this St. Louis rush D for over 150 rushing yards, two touchdowns and 34.5 fantasy points, so it stands to reason that the 49ers' top-ranked rushing offense will be able to do the same.
7. Doug Martin (vs. SD)
All right, so we’ve heard all the stories now about how Doug Martin broke all sorts of fantasy league records after rushing for 251 yards and four touchdowns against the Raiders last week.
What you may NOT know, however, is that throughout NFL history, six other players have rushed for 200-plus yards and four TDs in the same game; Clinton Portis (2003), Mike Anderson (2000), Corey Dillon (1997), Barry Sanders (1991), Cookie Gilchrist (1963) and Jim Brown (1961).
Rare company indeed.
Martin’s 386 rushing yards and six touchdowns over the past two weeks has been ridiculous, but you have to think it slows down a bit this Sunday against a Chargers defense that allows the fourth-fewest rushing yards per game (84.0) and the fifth-fewest yards per carry (3.7), as well as just a half a rushing TD per game.
I still expect some nice numbers, but don’t expect lightning to strike twice this weekend.
6. Arian Foster (at Chi, Sunday night)
How do you put a guy who has a touchdown in 12 straight games (including playoffs) outside of the top-five in your rankings? Frankly, I’m not quite sure, but that Chicago Bears defense might have something to do with it.
However, even with the Bears being as good as they have been all season, I still expect Foster to perform rather well this week or else I would have ranked him somewhere in the double-digits.
Before this season, the Texans All-Pro running back ran for way fewer yards away from home, putting up just five of his 18 career 100-yard games there, yet actually had more touchdowns on the road than he did in Houston.
This season has been the exact opposite with Foster running for 100 yards in each of his three away games, but scoring only three TDs, while putting up just one 100-yard game in five home games, yet gathering eight total TDs.
I’m not sure if any of these little tidbits will matter this Sunday night, but I guess what I’m trying to say here is that for whatever reason, at least so far in 2012, Arian Foster has been bucking all the trends and doing what you least expect him to do.
5. Willis McGahee (at Car)
I’m not sure people realize how much of a difference it makes when players and teams take on a foe outside of their conference.
The NFC has no idea what to expect from the AFC and of course, the same holds true in the reverse.
This generalization undoubtedly stands up when it comes to Willis McGahee.
In his two games against the NFC so far this season, McGahee put up his two highest rushing totals (122 and 113 yards) and three of his four touchdowns while amassing over 5.2 yards per carry, when his season average is just 4.2 YPC.
See what I mean?
This week he takes on an NFC-based Carolina Panthers team that has improved their run defense as the year has gone by, but it’s not quite good enough to buck the AFC-NFC trend.
4. Stevan Ridley (vs. Buf)
Ridley seems to have had one of the more up-and-down seasons in fantasy this year, although after looking at the numbers, I was amazed by what I found.
Exactly halfway through the season, Ridley is on pace for 300 carries, 1,432 yards and 10 touchdowns. He’s also put up 100 rushing yards in half of his games and currently ranks seventh in fantasy points per game.
It’s true he’s been a bit of a boom-or-bust guy as well putting up three games of 6.5 fantasy points or less thus far, but the booms have been outstanding and well worth getting him in the starting lineup each week.
Stevan’s biggest fantasy game of the season came in Week 4 against these same Buffalo Bills when he rushed for over 100 yards and ran in two touchdowns on the day.
Can he repeat those numbers this Sunday?
It’s a tall task, but well within the realms of possibility.
3. Adrian Peterson (vs. Det)
Out of control, folks. What Adrian Peterson is doing this year is simply out of control.
Nobody in their right mind would have fathomed what we’re seeing right now but believe me, nobody will ever question Peterson’s dominance again.
Heading into Week 10, Purple Jesus leads the league in both rushing yards (957) and long runs of 20-plus yards (11), is second in yards per carry (5.7; C.J. Spiller is at 7.2) and third in fantasy points per game.
This week, he takes on an inter-division Detroit Lions team that has stacked up pretty well against the run this year, but I doubt AP really cares.
Not only did he rush for over 100 yards against them earlier this season, but he’s also averaged 5.2 yards a carry and 99.4 rushing yards in 10 career games against them.
The stars align even further when you see that Peterson has averaged 105 yards and almost a touchdown a game at home throughout his career while his favorite and best statistical month to run in has been November.
2. Marshawn Lynch (vs. NYJ)
You would think that with Seattle not yet having their bye week, Lynch would’ve tired and slowed down a little bit by now, but of course, you’d be wrong.
In fact, the former first-rounder out of California just put up his third straight 100-yard game (fifth of the season) while accumulating the most touches he’s seen all year last week against the Vikings.
Even though he’s behind pace in terms of scoring, he also had his fourth touchdown of 2012 in the game as well.
This week, the Seahawks take on a relatively porous New York Jets rush D that has allowed the ninth-most fantasy points per game to running backs this season.
Look for HC Pete Carroll to give fantasy owners a big smile this week as he rides his workhorse back to a fifth straight home win this Sunday.
1. Ray Rice (vs. Oak)
What the Baltimore Ravens allowed Ray Rice to do this past weekend wasn’t just the best thing for their team as they move into the second half of the season; it was the best thing for fantasy owners as well!
Even though he was only able to go for 3.9 yards per carry, the 25 carries he received was the most he’s had since Week 14 of last season, while his 27 touches were tops for 2012.
The Ravens not only won the game with their new run-oriented game plan but they also won the time of possession battle, so I’m guessing they’ll stick it for at least the foreseeable future.
Rice’s fantasy owners will undoubtedly be happy if they do, especially this week when Baltimore takes on a Raiders rush D that just allowed Ray Rice Jr. (Doug Martin) to run for 251 yards and four touchdowns against them.
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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