NFL Fantasy Football Week Eight Rankings: Running Backs

Michael WhooleySenior Writer IOctober 29, 2009

JACKSONVILLE, FL - OCTOBER 18:  Steven Jackson #39 of the St.Louis Rams runs during the game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at Jacksonville Municipal Stadium on October 18, 2009 in Jacksonville, Florida.  (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

We here at the Bruno Boys are always discussing how football is a constantly changing landscape. Due to injury, poor play, and Tweets, that definitely holds true for the running back position as we head into Week Eight.

Injury: With Leon Washington done for the season, Shonn Greene now becomes the New York Jets’ No. 2 running back. Based on his 144 yards and two scores in Week Seven, fantasy football owners will want to take notice.

Poor Play: Tim Hightower may be able to find the end zone, but his 3.0 yards per carry just weren’t cutting it. As a result, Beanie Wells recorded 14 carries to Hightower’s four in Week Seven for the Arizona Cardinals.

Tweets: Larry Johnson blasted Kansas City Chief head coach Todd Haley on his Twitter page following the team’s Week Seven loss, a post that used a gay slur. Johnson has been suspended indefinitely, opening the door for Jamaal Charles.

To see where Greene, Wells, and Charles rank in Week Eight, along with the rest of the running backs who will be seeing action, check out the Bruno Boys Fantasy Football Week Eight Running Back Rankings.


1. Adrian Peterson (Minnesota Vikings) @ Green Bay

Adrian Peterson has been living up to the offseason billing as the No. 1 fantasy running back. He has rushed 139 times for 693 yards with eight touchdowns this season and has added 18 receptions for 145 yards. He had 18 carries for 69 yards with a touchdown last week against the Pittsburgh Steelers, who boast the second-ranked rush defense in the NFL.

Peterson should be in line for another big game this week as the Vikings travel to Lambeau Field to take on the Green Bay Packers and their No. 12-ranked rush defense. He should be used as a must-start RB1 in all formats.

Point Projection: 22 points


2. Steven Jackson (St. Louis Rams) @ Detroit

On the surface this 2009 season has been a bit of a disappointment for Steven Jackson owners. His 70 fantasy points through seven games has him ranked at No. 13 among running backs, but what he has been able to do in St. Louis’ inept offense is pretty amazing.

He has carried the ball 143 times for 635 yards, which ranks him third in the NFL in rushing yards. He has not scored a touchdown this season, but he has added 21 receptions for 169 yards.

He had 23 carries for 134 yards Week Seven against the Indianapolis Colts, and he has a good matchup this week as the Rams travel to Detroit to play the Lions, who are ranked No. 20 against the run. Jackson should be in line for a very solid game this week and should be considered a high-end RB1.

Point Projection: 20 points


3. Chris Johnson (Tennessee Titans) vs. Jacksonville

Chris Johnson has been one of the few bright spots for the winless Titans this season. He has rushed for 596 yards on 95 carries and has three total touchdowns through Tennessee’s first six games. His 6.3 yards per carry (YPC) are the best in the league among running backs that have at least 50 rushing attempts.

Johnson will be well-rested this week coming off a bye week as the Titans take on a Jacksonville Jaguars team that is ranked 13th against the run this season. Use him as a No. 1 fantasy running back in this matchup.

Point Projection: 18 points


4. Steve Slaton (Houston Texans) @ Buffalo

From a rushing standpoint, this season has seemed like a bit of a sophomore slump for Steve Slaton. He has carried the ball 109 times for 341 yards for an average of 3.1 YPC, but he has made up for a lack of rushing production with 27 receptions for 304 yards. He had 89 total yards Week Seven against the San Francisco 49ers with two touchdowns, giving him five total touchdowns this season.

Slaton has an excellent matchup this week against a Bills team that is ranked dead last against the run and has given up 1,207 rushing yards through seven games. He should be used as a starting fantasy running back in all formats this week.

Point Projection: 18 points


5. Maurice Jones-Drew (Jacksonville Jaguars) @ Tennessee

In his first season as the Jaguars' starting running back, Maurice Jones-Drew has 108 carries for 463 yards, and his eight rushing touchdowns are tied for the league lead. He has scored 102 fantasy points through six games, and he is the third-ranked fantasy running back.

Jacksonville faces their AFC South division rival Tennessee Titans this week in what is their second matchup of the season. Jones-Drew had 33 rushes for 133 yards with three touchdowns in his last game against the St. Louis Rams Week Six, and it was the second time this season that he has scored three touchdowns in one game. MJD is a weekly must-start, including this week against the Titans.

Point Projection: 17 points


6. Matt Forte (Chicago Bears) vs. Cleveland

After an excellent rookie campaign last year, Matt Forte has rushed for just 318 yards with one touchdown in six games this season. In 2008 he seemed to score double-figure fantasy points on a weekly basis, but he has only scored double digits twice this season.

A game against the Cleveland Browns should be exactly what he needs, as they are ranked 31st against the run this season and have given up 1,194 yards with 10 touchdowns. Forte should be used as a mid-level RB1 this week as the Bears look to bounce back from a blowout loss to the Cincinnati Bengals last week.

Point Projection: 17 points


7. Kevin Smith (Detroit Lions) vs. St. Louis

Kevin Smith is another of the second-year running backs that came into this season with high expectations. Through six games he has rushed 109 times for 348 yards with three touchdowns, while adding 19 receptions for 143 yards for the Lions. He has topped 100 yards rushing just one time this season, and he had 15 carries for 61 yards against the Green Bay Packers in Week Six.

Coming off Detroit’s bye week, Smith has an excellent matchup against the Rams, who are ranked No. 27 against the run this season and have given up 11 rushing touchdowns in seven games. Start Smith as a No. 1 fantasy running back this week.

Point Projection: 17 points


8. Ronnie Brown (Miami Dolphins) @ New York Jets

With 16 carries for 48 yards last week against the New Orleans Saints, Ronnie Brown is coming off one of his least productive games of the season. That being said, he did score a touchdown and still managed 10 fantasy points. He was outshined by fellow running back Ricky Williams against the Saints, but he is still the No. 1 option in the Dolphins offense.

Brown is the king of the wildcat offense, and his 94 fantasy points are fifth among running backs. He has scored 20 or more points in a game three times this season, and you should continue to use him as a RB1 this week against the New York Jets, who are giving up an average of 116.1 rushing yards per game this season.

Point Projection: 16 points


9. Frank Gore (San Francisco) @ Indianapolis

Frank Gore struggled last week in his first game back after missing two games with an ankle injury. He rushed for 32 yards in the game, but he was limited to 13 carries after the 49ers got down by 21 points in the first half and were forced to pass the ball to get back in the game.

In four starts he has 52 carries for 273 yards with four total touchdowns, but most of those numbers came in the first two games of the season before he was injured. Gore is now healthy, and he should be used as a low-end RB1 this week against a Colts defense that is ranked No. 19 against the run.

Point Projection: 16 points


10. Michael Turner (Atlanta Falcons) @ New Orleans

In a Week Seven loss to the Dallas Cowboys, Michael Turner had 18 carries for 50 yards with a touchdown. He now has seven rushing touchdowns this season and has scored in five straight games.

He might not be living up to the expectations that were set upon him after he rushed for 1,699 yards with 17 touchdowns in 2008, but he is a touchdown machine, and he should be used as a low-end No. 1 fantasy running back this week against a Saints defense that has been good against the run this season.

Point Projection: 16 points


11. Ray Rice (Baltimore Ravens) vs. Denver

Ray Rice is having a breakout season in his second year in the NFL. He has carried the ball 73 times for 443 yards with three touchdowns and has added 33 receptions for 325 yards with one touchdown. He has scored 93 fantasy points through six games this season. He is the clear-cut No. 1 running back in Baltimore and is quickly becoming a weekly must-start fantasy option.

Rice should be used as a low-end RB1 this week against a Denver Broncos defense that is ranked No. 3 against the run this season.

Point Projection: 16 points


12. LaDainian Tomlinson (San Diego Chargers) vs. Oakland

Against the Kansas City Chiefs last week LaDainian Tomlinson had 23 carries for 71 yards, but he failed to score a touchdown for the third straight game. He now has back-to-back games with at least 70 yards rushing, and he appears to be healthy after missing two games earlier this year due to injury.

Tomlinson may no longer be the elite running back he once was, but he is still a good fantasy option when the matchup is right, and he has a good matchup this week against an Oakland Raiders defense that has given up 1,188 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns this season. Be sure to insert him into your starting lineup this week.

Point Projection: 16 points


13. DeAngelo Williams (Carolina Panthers) @ Arizona

DeAngelo Williams has rushed for 241 total yards with three touchdowns over his past two games. He has 105 carries for 461 yards with five touchdowns this season, and he has added 18 receptions for 173 yards.

He should be used as a starting fantasy running back every week, but the Panthers have struggled passing the ball this season, allowing apposing defenses to stack against the run. Start Williams as a low-end RB1 or a RB2 this week against an Arizona Cardinals defense that is ranked No. 1 against the run this season, giving up a league-low 405 yards.

Point Projection: 15 points


14. Pierre Thomas (New Orleans Saints) vs. Atlanta

After missing the better part of the first two games of the season with a sprained MCL, Pierre Thomas has 56 carries for 314 yards with three touchdowns this season. He has battled knee and hamstring injuries this season.

Thomas has played in five games, but he has been the Saints' starting running back in just one game. He and Mike Bell have been splitting carries this season, which has been a concern for fantasy owners.

Thomas and the Saints face an Atlanta team that is ranked 23rd against the run this season, and he should be used as a No. 2 starting fantasy option.

Point Projection: 15 points


15. Ricky Williams (Miami Dolphins) @ New York Jets

Ricky Williams had his best game of the season last week, when he rushed the ball nine times for 80 yards with three touchdowns against the New Orleans Saints. With 84 fantasy points over six games this season, he has been one of the biggest surprises in football.

Williams has really turned his career around over the past two seasons. Many of us had given up on him as a football player and never thought he would have any fantasy value. He is the No. 2 running option on the Dolphins, who have the second-ranked rushing attack this season.

Use Williams as a RB2 fantasy option this week against the New York Jets.

Point Projection: 14 points