Fantasy Football Week 5 Rankings: Running Back Projections

Pauly Kwestel@pkwestelWFAN Correspondent IOctober 7, 2010

Fantasy Football Week 5 Rankings: Running Back Projections

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    It's Week 5 in the NFL and that means fantasy football seasons are hitting their strides just as (hopefully) most No. 1 running backs are hitting theirs.

    However, with more and more teams employing multiple running backs and splitting carries, stud fantasy running backs are becoming a premium for owners. 

    There are fewer and fewer backs who owners can count on week in and week out to produce big points. With this trend on the rise, it is becoming more and more important for owners to pick and choose their backs wisely in hopes of hitting big points. 

    Here are eight running backs whose stock is high for this week's matchup, as well as some whose stock has fallen. 

On the Rise, But Immediately on the Decline: Danny Woodhead

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    The undrafted running back has scored touchdowns in back-to-back weeks for the Patriots. Despite the bye week, many owners with a spot on the bench to spare have decided to pick up Woodhead for the future as he seems to be winning the starting role. 

    Woodhead's stock was rising fast after the Monday night game against the Dolphins, but it is now going to come crashing down.

    With the Patriots trading Randy Moss away on Wednesday, the Patriots' passing attack has become much weaker. While this means the Patriots may run the ball more often, defenses won't have to be as worried about stopping the pass and can concentrate more on stopping the run against the Pats. 

    Verdict: Don't get sucked into Woodhead's recent success. He is not likely to keep it up. 

Clinton Portis

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    It is getting very close to the time to pull the plug on Clinton Portis.

    While many thought he would have a strong rebound year because of new quarterback Donovan McNabb and head coach Mike Shanahan, that has not been the case. The Redskins' offensive line is advancing in age and Portis' production has dropped.

    The Redskins have not been running the ball as often as in the past; instead playing more of a true West Coast offense that has McNabb throwing many short routes. It is going to be difficult for Portis to put up the numbers we are used to seeing from him. 

    Verdict: With a tough matchup against Green Bay, Portis should only be used if you have no other option, otherwise he should sit comfortably on your bench. 

    Now here are the top eight running backs for Week 5. 

8. Chris Johnson

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    At the start of the season Chris Johnson said that 2,500 rushing yards was a realistic goal for the 2010 season. Through four games, Johnson has racked up just 354 yards, far off that pace. 

    Johnson's Week 5 matchup is against the tough Dallas run defense, which has given up just 251 yards on the ground for averages of 3.9 yards per carry and just 83.7 yards per game.

    The big number however is zero—as in the number of rushing touchdowns allowed this season. The 'Pokes are one of just two teams to do that, with the other shockingly being Cleveland. 

    This does not look like it will be the game where Johnson will turn his season around. 

    Verdict: Johnson has earned his reputation as one of the few premier backs in the NFL and a consistent fantasy contributor. He is always a threat to go off and therefore he should never be benched, even against an unfavorable matchup. However it would be wise to make sure your other running backs are strong this week. 

7. LaDainian Tomlinson

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    Be cautious with LaDainian Tomlinson.

    Tomlinson finally broke out in Week 4 against the Buffalo Bills when he had 19 carries for 133 yards and two touchdowns. Be careful about how these numbers are skewed since the Jets have rushed for 840 yards in their last three meetings against Buffalo. 

    Week 5 presents a much tougher matchup against a Minnesota defense that is exceptional at stopping the run. While the Jets' offensive line has begun to click and get back to the run-blocking form it showed last year, it is a legitimate question as to whether the line will be able to have the same amount of success against Minnesota. 

    Verdict: Be very careful with this matchup. If you have a flex spot you could think about using Tomlinson there. He may steal a short-yardage touchdown, but I wouldn't expect anything close to the numbers he put up last week. 

6. Adrian Peterson

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    Adrian Peterson is another man who has established himself as one of the few premier must-have players for a fantasy owner. His numbers have been good so far, as he has racked up 392 yards and three touchdowns through three games this season. 

    At the start of the week, Peterson's Week 5 matchup looked like a nightmare, going against the New York Jets' defense on Monday Night Football. With Brett Favre slightly banged up, you know the Jets will bring pressure every play, which could make it difficult for Peterson to run. The Jets are allowing just 3.2 yards per carry and only 74.8 yards per game. They have already shut down the likes of Ray Rice, and the two-headed Dolphins' attack of Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams. 

    Things all changed on Wednesday though when the Vikings traded for Randy Moss from the New England Patriots. The addition of Moss gives the Vikings a downfield threat and could open up the Vikings' running game. However this matchup still remains a mystery as the Jets have had great success in containing Moss and thus may still focus on stopping the run. 

    Verdict: Peterson should see more openings then he originally thought he would, but I would not expect a monster game. 

5. Matt Forte

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    Matt Forte is looking to continue his bounce-back year after a miserable 2009 for his fantasy owners. Forte has just 139 yards on the ground, but has shown his value by adding 209 receiving yards and three touchdown catches. 

    This week Forte will get a chance to get his rushing game back on track as the Bears take on last-place Carolina. The Panthers are 20th against the run, allowing 113.5 yards per game to opposing rushers. 

    Verdict: A good play this week. Expect Forte to bounce back after a poor showing against the Giants and be dominant on the ground and as a receiving threat out of the backfield. 

4. Frank Gore

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    No matter what kind of drama is going on in San Francisco, Frank Gore has always been just racking up the rushing yards. Gore has been a threat on the ground and in the passing game this season. He has 270 rushing yards and 263 receiving yards, with a touchdown in each category.

    In Week 5 the 49ers welcome the Philadelphia Eagles, who have been awful against the run. The Eagles are allowing 4.4 yards per carry and 138 yards per game. Expect to see a lot of Gore as the 49ers will give the ball to their biggest weapon and look to get their first win of the season.

    Verdict: Gore is set to have a monster game this week against a weak Philly defense.  

3. Ahmad Bradshaw

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    The Giants are looking like they have gotten their running attack back on track, with Ahmad Bradshaw as their guy.

    Bradshaw is fifth in the league in rushing yards with 382 yards and has scored three touchdowns. He will continue to see the bulk of the carries in the Giants' running game as he has exerted his dominance over Brandon Jacobs. 

    Bradshaw is looking at a tough matchup this week though as the Giants travel to Houston to take on the Texans, who are fifth against the run after giving up just 70.3 rushing yards a game. The promising number for Bradshaw owners is that the Texans have also given up four rushing touchdowns, so they can be beat. 

    Verdict: This is a tough matchup but the Giants have been finding ways to run in every game this season. The Giants' preseason strategy was to get back to more running and less passing. They will try early and often to get Bradshaw going so his carries will be there. He may not rush for 100 yards, but he should be able to sneak in a touchdown. 

2. Jahvid Best

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    Lions' rookie Jahvid Best has gotten off to a flying start this season. Though he has just 174 rushing yards, he is proving to be a dual threat with 217 receiving yards. His big value comes in his four rushing touchdowns, as well as another TD on a catch. 

    Best should continue his strong start this week when the Lions take on the St. Louis Rams, who are 21st against the run. The Rams have been giving up an average of 116.3 rushing yards per game.

    Verdict: Best is a great play this week. Expect Best to have a breakout running game this week against the weak Rams defense. 

1. Arian Foster

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    The undrafted second-year running back out of Tennessee has been the biggest surprise in the NFL this season. Foster leads the league in rushing by far with 537 yards and four touchdowns. He adds an impressive 152 receiving yards and one touchdown to that total. 

    Foster must be drooling for the prospect of what faces him this week, as the Texans host the New York Giants. Though the Giants are coming off a strong defensive performance, they rank just 23rd in the league against the run.

    Verdict: It will be another big week for Foster. Houston's line shouldn't have much trouble creating holes against the Giants' defense as the Giants will be concentrating on how to stop WR Andre Johnson, which should enable Foster to be able to run free.