Fantasy Football Week 15 Rankings: Running Backs

Michael WhooleySenior Writer IDecember 18, 2009

NASHVILLE, TN - DECEMBER 13: Chris Johnson #28 of the Tennessee Titans runs with the football against the St. Louis Rams at LP Field on December 13, 2009 in Nashville, Tennessee. The Titans defeated the Rams 47-7 as Johnson scored three touchdowns. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Joe Robbins/Getty Images

The deeper you get into an NFL season, the more injuries seem to cause havoc for fantasy football owners, and that is surely the case this season, especially at the running back position.

Fantasy owners have been dealing with injuries to running backs all season. Whether they've been to primary or secondary running backs on their rosters, injuries are making it difficult to field a solid starting fantasy lineup.

We have lost Miami’s Ronnie Brown, Washington’s Clinton Portis, Houston’s Steve Slaton, and now Detroit’s Kevin Smith to injured reserve this season. Not to mention the many other running backs who are dealing with injuries that are causing them to miss significant playing time.

Between all the injuries and some tough match-ups for starting running backs, you will notice a big shakeup in the Bruno Boys Fantasy Football Week 15 Running Back Rankings. Good luck to all of you in this very important Week 15 matchup.

1. Chris Johnson (Tennessee Titans) vs. Miami

In a Week 14 victory over the St. Louis Rams, Chris Johnson had another outstanding game. He had 28 carries for 117 yards with two touchdowns, and added three catches for 69 yards, including a 66-yard touchdown.

It was his eighth-straight game of more then 110 yards rushing and it was his second three touchdown performance this year. Johnson has been nothing short of amazing this season and he has been an outstanding source of fantasy football points. Continue to use him as an elite, No. 1 fantasy running back this week as the Titans take on the Miami Dolphins.

Point Projection: 22 points

2. Adrian Peterson (Minnesota Vikings) @ Carolina

Following his worst game of the season in Week 13, in which he had just 13 carries for 19 yards against the Arizona Cardinals, Adrian Peterson bounced back with 26 carries for 92 yards and two touchdowns against the Cincinnati Bengals last week.

Heading into that game the Bengals defense was ranked No. 1 against the rush, allowing 81.9 yards per game with just six rushing touchdowns through 12 games. This game was a great sign for fantasy owners who were counting on Peterson heading into the playoffs. He should be used as a high-end running back this week against a Carolina Panthers defense that has allowed 1,785 yards rushing, and 17 rushing touchdowns through 13 games.

Point Projection: 21 points

3. Ray Rice (Baltimore Ravens) vs. Chicago

Ray Rice had 13 carries for a career-high 166 yards with a touchdown, and added four receptions for 53 yards in Baltimore’s blow-out victory over the Detroit Lions in Week 14. It was the third time this season he had more than 100 rushing yards in a game and he now has 1,041 rushing yards this season.

Not only is it his first season with 1,000 rushing yards, he has also added a team-high 68 receptions for 652 receiver yards. Rice is on pace to total over 2,000 yards and has been very good to fantasy owners this season. After watching the Chicago Bears try and defend Green Bay Packers running back Ryan Grant in Week 14 you should start Rice with confidence this week.

Point Projection: 20 points

4. Thomas Jones (New York Jets) vs. Atlanta

In the Jets Week 14 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Thomas Jones had another very good performance. He finished the game with 24 carries for 99 yards and two touchdowns. He may just be the most underrated running back in all of fantasy football, as he has rushed for 1,167 yards with 11 touchdowns and he has scored double digit fantasy points in 11 of 13 games this season. Jones should once again be used this week in a solid matchup against the Atlanta Falcons defense that has been allowing points in bunches of late.

Point Projection: 19 points

5. Maurice Jones-Drew (Jacksonville Jaguars) vs. Indianapolis

After a being held scoreless for two straight games, Maurice Jones-Drew scored a touchdown in a Week 14 loss to the Miami Dolphins and he now has a league-high 14 rushing touchdowns this season. He finished the game with 18 carries for 59 yards and two receptions for 24 yards.

It was the fourth game in a row in which he had less than 80 rushing yards, but with his knack for finding the end zone he remains a must-start fantasy option. Jones-Drew should be used as a RB1 this week against an Indianapolis Colts defense he had 97 rushing yards and a touchdown against in Week 1. On top of that, MJD has scored double-digit fantasy points in every game against the Colts in his career. Point

Projection: 18 points

6. Frank Gore (San Francisco 49ers) @ Philadelphia

In a Monday night victory over the Arizona Cardinals, Frank Gore had his best outing since Week Two, as he had 25 carries for 167 yards with a touchdown. He torched a Cardinals defense that had been very good against the run this season as he had three carries that went for 20-yards or more.

He has 1,116 total yards with 10 total touchdowns this season, and he remains a very good fantasy option on a weekly basis. With the 49ers expected to use a balanced attack in Week 15 you can consider Gore as a must-start RB1 this week, even against a solid Philadelphia Eagles run defense.

Point Projection: 18 points

7. Steven Jackson (St. Louis Rams) vs. Houston   **CHECK INJURY STATUS**

After missing practice all week with a sore back, Steven Jackson had a season-low 47 rushing yards on 19 carries. It was the third week in a row that he had missed practice time during the week due to the sore back, but Jackson did total 201 rushing yards in his two previous games. After scoring a touchdown in four-consecutive games he was held scoreless for the second-straight game. St. Louis got behind early and had to play from behind all game, which likely contributed more to Jackson’s low rushing totals than the back injury.

As long as he is healthy enough to play this week, he should be used as a No. 1 fantasy running back against the Houston Texans, who allow 114.5 rushing yards per game but have been stubborn to opposing running backs over the last 10 weeks..

Point Projection: 17 points

8. Jamaal Charles (Kansas City Chiefs) vs. Cleveland

Jamaal Charles had his best performance of the season with 20 carries for 143 yards and a 76-yard touchdown in a Week 14 loss to the Buffalo Bills. He posted season-highs in both carries and yardage, while adding seven receptions for 38 yards. He has 87 carries for 453 yards and four rushing touchdowns over his last five games.

Charles has a good matchup in Week 15 against a Cleveland Browns defense that is allowing 148.1 rushing yards per game and has given up 14 rushing touchdowns. Coming off a big game and with another excellent matchup he should be used as a No. 1 fantasy running back option this week against the Browns.

Point Projection: 17 points

9. Ricky Williams (Miami Dolphins) @ Tennessee

In Miami’s Week 14 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars, Ricky Williams had 28 carries for 108 yards with a touchdown. It was his fourth 100-yard rushing performance in his last five games.

He has filled in nicely as the Dolphins starting running back since the season ending injury to Ronnie Brown, although he did fumble the ball three times against the Jaguars, losing one.

Despite the fumbling issues last week, Williams should be used as a low-end No. 1 fantasy football running back this week when Miami travels to Tennessee to face the Titans who have allowed just 99.4 yards per game against the run in 2009.

Point Projection: 17 points

10. Cedric Benson (Cincinnati Bengals) @ San Diego  

Cedric Benson had 16 carries for 96 yards in a Week 14 loss to the Minnesota Vikings who are stout against the run and entered the game allowing just 84.2 yards per game. It was good to see him put up a solid rushing total against a very good run defense, and fantasy football owners were also happy to see Benson get most of the carries.

There were reports heading into the game that he would spit carries with Larry Johnson, but Johnson had just three carries for four yards in the game. Benson’s hip appears to be feeling better and he is the No. 1 rushing option in Cincinnati.

Use him as a low-end No. 1 fantasy running back this week against a San Diego Chargers run defense that gives yardage but has allowed just eight rushing touchdowns through 13 games.

Point Projection: 16 points

11. Laurence Maroney (New England Patriots) @ Buffalo

Laurence Maroney tied a season-high in carries in a Week 14 victory over the Carolina Panthers when he rushed the ball 22 times for 94 yards. He did not find the end zone for the second-straight game, but he still has eight rushing touchdowns over his last eight games.

Maroney has maintained the starting running back role even after the return of Sammy Morris from injury and he should be used this week against the Buffalo Bills who rank last in the NFL against the run. On the season Buffalo has allowed 17 rushing touchdowns so don’t be surprised if the Patriots feature the running game and let Maroney pound the ground at the goal line.

Point Projection: 16 points

12. Knowshon Moreno (Denver Broncos) vs. Oakland

Rookie running back Knowshon Moreno led the Broncos in rushing once again when he had 23 carries for 63 yards, but he was kept out of the end zone after scoring three touchdowns in his previous two games. He is having a very good rookie season with 837 rushing yards and six total touchdowns.

Consider Moreno faces an Oakland defense that is allowing 154 rushing yards per game and has given up league-high 20 rushing touchdowns this season. He had 91 rushing yards and a touchdown against the Raiders in Week 3.

Point Projection: 16 points

13. Joseph Addai (Indianapolis Colts) @ Jacksonville   **CHECK INJURY STATUS**

Indianapolis running back Joseph Addai led the team in receiving with five receptions for 49 yards in Colts Week 14 victory over the Denver Broncos. He also had 16 carries for 67 yards in the game, but he was held without a touchdown.

He did role his ankle when he was tackled from behind and at first glance it appeared to be serious, but he was able to remain in the game. This is a situation worth keeping an eye on though, as the Colts have clinched home field advantage throughout the playoffs with the victory in Week 14 and there will be no reason to rush him into action if the ankle is bothering him.

If Addai is healthy enough start this week against the Jacksonville Jaguars he should be used as a No. 2 fantasy running back. Keep in mind that the Colts take on the Jaguars on Thursday Night Football.

Point Projection: 16 points

14. Michael Turner (Atlanta Falcons) @ New York Jets   **CHECK INJURY STATUS**

Michael Turner missed his second-straight game with an ankle injury when the Falcons lost to the New Orleans Saints in Week 14. It was the third time in four games in which he was sidelined with the ankle injury and he remains questionable for Week 15 when Atlanta faces the New York Jets.

When healthy, he is a must-start option, and in 10 games played this season he has 864 yards rushing with 10 touchdowns. If Turner is active for this week’s battle with the Jets he should be used as a No. 2 fantasy running back, but he will be a bit of an injury risk. If he is inactive for a third straight week the Falcons will once again turn to Jason Snelling and Jerious Norwood to share the rushing load.

As an owner of Turner you need to monitor this situation and if you have similar ranked players or players ranked ahead of Turner consider using them.

Point Projection: 14 points

15. DeAngelo Williams (Carolina Panthers) vs. Minnesota   **CHECK INJURY STATUS**

After missing one game with an ankle injury DeAngelo Williams returned to action in the Panthers Week 14 loss to the New England Patriots. He had 13 carries for 82 yards and added two receptions for 15 yards. It was his fourth game in a row without a touchdown and the fourth time this season that he failed to score double-digit fantasy football points.

He has a tough matchup this week when Carolina faces the Minnesota Vikings who have a top-five run defense. Even with the tough matchup, Williams should be used this week, unless you have another back of his caliber with a better matchup.

Point Projection: 14 points