Fantasy Football Week Nine Rankings: Running Backs

Michael WhooleySenior Writer INovember 5, 2009

NASHVILLE, TN - NOVEMBER 01:  Maurice Jones-Drew #32 of the Jacksonville Jaguars breaks away from Vincent Fuller #22 of the Tennessee Titans during their game at LP Field on November 1, 2009 in Nashville, Tennessee.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Dating back to the early days of fantasy football , running backs have always been considered the most important position. Sure, there are always fantasy owners who like to think outside the box and will give more value to either the quarterback or wide receiver positions, but for the most part fantasy football revolves around the running backs, and with some of the performances that we saw from the running backs in Week Eight, it’s hard to argue their value. You had Jacksonville’s Maurice Jones-Drew and Tennessee’s Chris Johnson going head-to-head and both backs posted monster games. Between them, they totaled 405 rushing yards with four touchdowns of 50-yards or longer. Not to be outdone San Francisco’s Frank Gore also had a touchdown run of more than 60 yards.

With big performances coming from the running back position each week, it’s extremely important to find the right running backs to input into your starting line-up. So, as you search for the right combination to bring you to a big victory this week, please enjoy the Bruno Boys Fantasy Football Week Nine Running Back Rankings .

1. Maurice Jones-Drew (Jacksonville Jaguars) vs. Kansas City

On just eight carries, Maurice Jones-Drew rushed for 177 rushing yards in Week Eight against the Tennessee Titans for an amazing 22.1 yards per carry. With touchdown runs of 80 and 79-yards respectively, he was the lone bright spot for a Jacksonville team that gave the Titans their first win of the season. It was the third time this season that he scored more than 30 fantasy points in a game, and he has 10 rushing touchdowns in seven games. He is averaging 5.5 yards per carry this season and is a must start option this week against a Kansas City team that is ranked No. 26 against the run this year. In two career games against the Chiefs, MJD is averaging 6.1 yards per carry.
Point Projection: 22 points

2. Michael Turner (Atlanta Falcons) vs. Washington

Michael Turner has scored a touchdown in six straight games, and he topped 100 yards rushing for the second time this season last week as he had 20 carries for 150 yards with one touchdown in a NFC South division battle against the New Orleans Saints . With eight TDs over his last six games, Turner has once again emerged as a touchdown machine again this season. He has a good match-up this week against a Redskins’ team that is ranked No. 22 against the run this season, and he should be used as a starting fantasy running back in all formats.
Point Projection: 20 points

3. Cedric Benson (Cincinnati Bengals) vs. Baltimore

Heading into the Bengals’ bye week, Cedric Benson was leading the NFL with 720 rushing yards in seven games and had added five touchdowns to his yardage. He has found new life in Cincinnati this season after being released by the Chicago Bears , who considered him a bust after taking him as their No. 1 pick in 2005. In Week Seven, Benson was able to exact some revenge against the Bears when he carried the ball 37 times for 189 yards with one touchdown. He had 120 yards rushing with one touchdown in Week 5 during his first meeting with Baltimore, which means he should be used as a must-start RB1 in this one.
Point Projection: 19 points

4. Ryan Grant (Green Bay Packers) @ Tampa Bay

In the Packers’ big game last week against Brett Favre and the Minnesota Vikings , Ryan Grant had just 10 carries for 30 yards. He also added three receptions for 21 yards, but he did not find the end zone. Grant, though, has scored double digit fantasy points in every game this season but two. He should be used as a RB1 this week against a Tampa Bay Buccaneers team that is giving up over 162 rushing yards per game and has allowed seven rushing touchdowns in seven games.
Point Projection: 19 points

5. Frank Gore (San Francisco) vs. Tennessee

Frank Gore had a good game against the Indianapolis Colts last week when he rushed for 91 yards on 13 carries, which included a 64-yard touchdown run in the first quarter. It is puzzling to fantasy owners that the 49ers only handed him the ball 13 times in a game that he was running the ball so well, although he did add five receptions for 43 yards. Gore has three touchdowns this season of 60-yards or more, and this week he gets to face a Titans defense that allowed Jacksonville’s Maurice Jones-Drew to run for touchdowns of 79 and 80-yards last week. Gore should be used as a No. 1 fantasy running back this week in this favorable match-up.
Point Projection: 18 points

6. Ray Rice (Baltimore Ravens) @ Cincinnati

Through seven games this season, second-year man Ray Rice has emerged into No. 1 fantasy running back. He rushed for 84 yards and a touchdown in Week Eight against the Denver Broncos , who were ranked third against the rush heading into the game. He has 874 total yards with five touchdowns this season. In week 5 against the same Bengals’ defense he’ll face in week nine, he had 143 total yards with a touchdown. Look for a similar point total from Rice this week, as he has become a weekly must-start fantasy running back.
Point Projection: 18 points

7. Chris Johnson (Tennessee Titans) @ San Francisco

Chris Johnson set a Tennessee franchise record by rushing for 228 yards on 24 carries last week against the Jacksonville Jaguars . He averaged 9.5 yards per carry in the game and accumulated most of his yardage on touchdown runs of 52 and 89-yards in the second half. In his second season, he has become one of the most dynamic running backs in the NFL and is averaging 6.9 yards per carry this year. He has totaled 365 rushing yards over his last two games, and he is leading the NFL in rushing with 824 yards. Johnson has emerged into a must-start fantasy running back on a weekly basis, including this week against a 49ers defense that is ranked No. 2 against the run.
Point Projection: 16 points

8. LaDainian Tomlinson (San Diego Chargers) @ New York Giants

After not scoring a touchdown since Week One, LaDainian Tomlinson found the end zone twice during the Chargers Week Eight game against the Oakland Raiders . He once again didn’t gain a lot of yardage as he had 18 carries for just 56 yards, and he has yet to top 71 rushing yards in a game this season. Still, he has had 18 or more carries in each of the last three games and has resumed his role as the clear cut No. 1 running back role in San Diego. Tomlinson should be used as a RB1 this week against a New York team that has given up 12 rushing touchdowns this season. In one previous meeting with the Giants, Tomlinson had 21 carries for 192 yards with three touchdowns. Don’t expect him to duplicate those numbers, but a solid outing should be in order.
Point Projection: 16 points

9. Brandon Jacobs (New York Giants) vs. San Diego

Brandon Jacobs had 20 carries for 86 yards in a Week Eight loss to the Philadelphia Eagles . He once again led the team in carries, but fantasy owners are a little concerned with the fact that when the Giants got down to the goal line they gave the ball to Ahmad Bradshaw rather then Jacobs for the touchdown. New York continues to use both Jacobs and Bradshaw for a change of pace in the running game, with Jacobs getting a bulk of the carries. Use Jacobs as a low-end RB1 this week against a Chargers defense that is giving up over 130 rushing yards per game and has allowed seven rushing touchdowns on the season.
Point Projection: 15 points

10. DeAngelo Williams (Carolina Panthers) @ New Orleans

DeAngelo Williams topped 150 rushing yards for the second time in three weeks when he had 23 carries for 158 yards last week against the Arizona Cardinals , but he did not score a touchdown, as two of them went to Jonathan Stewart . It was just the second time this season that Williams topped 100 yards rushing, but it is also just the second time he has topped 20 carries in a game since the Panthers have played from behind more often than not this season. He has rushed for 399 yards with three touchdowns over the past three weeks, and he should be used as a low-end RB1 this week against a Saints team that has been good against the run this season, but gave up 150 yards and a touchdown to Atlanta’s Michael Turner in Week Eight.
Point Projection: 15 points

11. Matt Forte (Chicago Bears) vs. Arizona

With 24 fantasy points last week against the Cleveland Browns , Matt Forte had his most productive game of the season from a fantasy standpoint. He had 26 carries for 90 yards with two touchdowns, while adding two catches for 31 yards. It was only the third time this season that he has had double digit fantasy points. He has 118 carries for 408 yards with three touchdowns this season, and he has added 24 catches for 185 yards. Forte should be used as a RB1 this week against a Cardinals team that is ranked No. 9 against the run this season, but did allow the Carolina Panthers to rush for 270 yards and two touchdowns in Week Eight.
Point Projection: 15 points

12. Clinton Portis (Washington Redskins) @ Atlanta

In seven games this season, Clinton Portis has rushed 120 times for 490 yards, but has only managed two total touchdowns. After a Week Eight bye week, the Redskins face an Atlanta Falcons team that is ranked No. 22 against the run and, through their first seven games this season, is allowing 117.7 rushing yards per game and to go along with six rushing touchdowns. Portis should be used as a low-end No. 1 fantasy running back this week against the Falcons.
Point Projection: 15 points

13. Rashard Mendenhall (Pittsburgh Steelers) @ Denver

Even after losing a fumble in each of the Steelers’ last two games Rashard Mendenhall has received a vote of confidence from head coach Mike Tomlin , who stated that he will remain Pittsburgh’s starting running back coming off the team’s bye week. He failed to score a touchdown in Week Seven against the Minnesota Vikings for this first time in four games since taking over the starting role. Mendenhall has a tough match-up against the Denver Broncos this week who have the No. 3 run defense in the league, but they did allow Baltimore’s Ray Rice to score 16 fantasy points last week. Consider Mendenhall a No. 2 fantasy running back this week against in Denver.
Point Projection : 15 points

14. Brian Westbrook (Philadelphia Eagles) vs. Dallas   **CHECK INJURY STATUS**

After suffering a concussion Week Seven against the Washington Redskins , Brian Westbrook was inactive for the Eagles’ game last week against the New York Giants. However, he was a game time decision, leading us to believe he should be ready for this week’s outing with the Cowboys. In 14 career games against Dallas, Westbrook is averaging 89.3 total yards per game with nine total touchdowns. If active this week, he should be used as a No. 2 fantasy running back, just make sure you keep an eye on the injury report.
Point Projection : 14 points

15. Ronnie Brown (Miami Dolphins) @ New England

With just 27 yards rushing, Ronnie Brown   had his worst outing of the season against the New York Jets in Week Eight. This week, he faces a New England Patriots team that is giving up just under 110 yards per game, but has only surrendered one rushing touchdown this season. Brown has averaged 58.3 rushing yards per game against the Patriots with five touchdowns in six career games. Use him as a RB2 in this match-up.
Point Projection : 14 points