The bye weeks continue this week with the Colts, Texans, Jets and Lions off in Week 7. That means there is a healthy amount of running back talent sitting on your fantasy bench this week with each team featuring RB1s or RB2s in their starting lineups, including the leading fantasy running back in Arian Foster of the Texans.
We’re not going to state the obvious here. Rather, the focus is on the mid-tier options as well as players who are normally starters, but might be worth a sit in a given week.
Chris Ivory, Saints vs. Browns
Ivory clearly separated himself from the Saints' other backup running backs this week with his first big performance of the season. He had a healthy 158 yards on just 15 carries and chipped in 17 receiving yards on his lone reception.
Ladell Betts and Julius Jones looked pedestrian, and Pierre Thomas has yet to even test his injured ankle in practice, which means Ivory could be in line for significant touches this week against a porous Browns defense that ranks 23rd in the league against the run.
Knowshon Moreno, Broncos vs. Raiders
Moreno, the first running back taken in the 2009 draft, has had a slow start to the season due to a hamstring injury suffered in the preseason, and he didn’t do much in his first game since Week 2 with 12 carries for 48 yards.
Moreno owners also certainly took note of the 13 carries that went to Correll Buckhalter and Laurence Maroney. However, Moreno was benched for taking a false start penalty and fumbling and was likely being eased back into action by head coach Josh McDaniels.
Look for Moreno to have his first big game of the year this week at home against a Raiders run defense that is once again amongst the worst in the league. Oakland sits 30th in run defense, giving up 150 yards and a touchdown per game on the ground.
Darren McFadden, Raiders vs. Broncos
While McFadden has been limited in practice this week, Raiders head coach Tom Cable has indicated that he’s getting close to being ready, and it appears that he will be a go this week against the Broncos.
In four games this year, McFadden has been explosive, totalling 554 total yards and a pair of touchdowns. He has been equally effective in the running and passing game and with Michael Bush having a poor performance last week, McFadden figures to get the majority of the work as soon as he is ready.
The Broncos rank 25th in the league in rushing defense and have given up seven touchdowns on the ground, tied for worst in the league with five other teams.
If McFadden isn’t a go, then Bush is a solid option.
Marshawn Lynch, Seahawks vs. Cardinals
The fantasy spin on Lynch this week has been that he has established himself as a decent option as a RB2 in Seattle.
Huh? Sure, his fantasy points were nice, but he had just 44 yards on 17 carries against the Bears with a touchdown to boot. So, no, I’m not buying Lynch as a RB2 just yet.
Nonetheless, I’m going to recommend him this week against a Cardinals defense that ranks 29th in the league against the run and is giving up a touchdown per game.
Cadillac Williams, Bucs vs. Rams
This isn’t the same Rams defense we’ve piled on for most of the last decade and this isn’t the Cadillac we knew from a few years ago.
The Rams have given up 17 or fewer points in five of six games this season, they have given up only 11 touchdowns in six games (most of those in a 44-6 blowout loss to Detroit) and they rank a respectable 13th against the run, giving up 106 yards per game but just two rushing touchdowns.
As for Williams, he is averaging a paltry 2.5 yards per carry and the Bucs have all but admitted they want to replace him, but they have no other options with Kareem Huggins on injured reserve, Earnest Graham suffering from a hamstring injury and LeGarrette Blount and Gregg Lumpkin not trusted as pass blockers.
The Dolphins running game just isn’t what it was last season, and neither Brown nor Williams has done much thus far in 2010. Brown currently sits 29th amongst running backs in fantasy points, while Williams is at 38th.
So much for the theory that Brandon Marshall’s presence in the passing game would open things up on the ground for Brown and Williams.
This week, they face the league’s top ranked run defense in the Steelers, and there is basically no reason to suggest that Brown or Williams will break out of their season long slumber in Week 7. Frankly speaking, I don’t even like either of them as a flex play.
Beanie Wells, Cardinals at Seahawks
Here’s the good news: it appears that Wells is going to be the undisputed lead back in Arizona from this point forward, provided he can stay healthy.
Here’s the bad news: he gets to face the Seahawks second-ranked run defense this week in a road game in Seattle. More bad news: rookie quarterback Max Hall has done exactly nothing to suggest that opposing defenses should fear the Cardinals passing attack.
While that isn’t an entirely fair comment given that he has been working with a depleted cast of receivers, all of whom are expected to return to the lineup this week, it is very likely that Seattle’s game plan on defense will be to focus on stopping the run and forcing Hall to win the game through the air.
That doesn’t bode well for Wells. If you have better options, use them.
Marion Barber, Cowboys vs. Giants
In the last two games, Barber has received 10 touches and 13 touches. He’s averaging 3.4 yards per carry and 3.5 yards per reception.
Meanwhile, Felix Jones has 19 and 24 touches over the last two weeks and is averaging 4.5 yards per carry and 6.4 yards per reception.
At 1-4, the Cowboys need to shake things up on offense, and Jones has the ability to supply the big plays that Barber no longer seems capable of producing. Barber certainly isn’t worthy of a start against the Giants' seventh-ranked run defense, and he may not even be worth owning in shallow redraft leagues.