We are one-quarter of the way through the NFL regular-season and are now entering the part of the season with bye weeks.
Did you notice that there is a 16-game week within that period of bye weeks?
In other words, there are six teams on bye for the next four weeks. After those 24 teams have their bye, there are four teams on bye in Week 9, no teams with a week off in Week 10 and then the final four teams have their bye in Week 11.
All six teams with a bye this week have running backs that could be in the top 20 running backs in any given week with Baltimore's Ray Rice being the best of the group.
Other running backs on the bye this week include Cleveland's Peyton Hillis, Dallas' Felix Jones, St. Louis' Steven Jackson, Washington's Ryan Torain, Tim Hightower and Roy Helu (who knows which will get the opportunity with Mike Shanahan running the show?) and Miami's Daniel Thomas.
Here are some notes on running backs that will play in Week 5:
Titans running back Chris Johnson eclipsed the 100-yard mark for the first time this season. In fact, it was the first time in six games that Johnson exceeded 60 rushing yards. Considering his slow start (98 rushing yards in first three games), Johnson is averaging only 2.88 yards per carry through the first quarter of the season. In Week 5, Johnson faces the Steelers, who have allowed the most rushing yards (478) in the first four games of the season since 1994.
Of those 478 yards, the Steelers allowed Houston's Arian Foster to gain 155 of them last week. Foster, who missed two games and left a third early, really tested his hamstring with 30 carries. Going forward, Foster should continue to see heavy workloads and it's comforting to know that his hamstring can handle them.
Cardinals running back Beanie Wells had said that he sat last week to "be safe" for this week. Not only was he "safe," but Wells set career highs in rushing yards (138) and rushing touchdowns (three) in his return from injury. It was only the second time in his career that he has rushed for 100-plus yards, but he has 90-plus yards and a score in all three games he has played this season.
Against the Bears Sunday, Panthers running back DeAngelo Williams rushed for more yards (82) on 10 carries than he had in his previous three games (61) on 27 carries.
Chicago's Matt Forte rushed for a career-high 205 yards against the Panthers last week. Coincidentally, his previous career high was set against the Panthers. Forte is on pace for more than 2,500 yards from scrimmage this season.
Ten players are on pace for 100-plus receptions this season and three of them are running backs: Forte, Darren Sproles and Mike Tolbert. In addition, Earnest Graham has 23 receptions, which is a 92-reception pace. Both Forte, and Tolbert's teammate, Ryan Mathews, are on pace for more than 1,000 receiving yards.
After three games with 95 yards rushing or more and a score or two, Philadelphia's LeSean McCoy rushed for only 18 yards on nine carries against the 49ers. Against the Bills this week, McCoy should get the 15-plus carries he got in the first three games. While the Bills are better against the run this year, they are still allowing 4.9 yards per carry.
San Francisco's Frank Gore had a great matchup against the Eagles rush defense, but it appeared as though his ankle would keep him from exploiting it. After all, there was a Sunday morning change to start Kendall Hunter after warm ups. Then Gore rushed for 127 yards and a touchdown. Is this the catalyst that gets Gore out of his funk? This week, the Niners face the Bucs, who held the Colts running backs to only 62 rushing yards on 18 carries in Week 4.
It's Fred Jackson's turn to exploit the Eagles run defense, who have allowed a running back to rush for 85 yards or more in all four games this season. Jackson ranks fourth in the NFL in rushing (369 yards) in addition to hauling in 13 receptions for 147 yards. In his past three games, Jackson has four touchdowns.
Here are my top 40 running backs for Week 5:
1. Darren McFadden, Raiders (at HOU)
2. Arian Foster, Texans (vs OAK)
3. Adrian Peterson, Vikings (vs ARI)
4. Matt Forte, Bears (at DET)
5. LeSean McCoy, Eagles (at BUF)
6. Fred Jackson, Bills (vs PHI)
7. Ryan Mathews, Chargers (at DEN)
8. Maurice Jones-Drew, Jaguars (vs CIN)
9. Ahmad Bradshaw, Giants (vs SEA)
10. Chris Johnson, Titans (at PIT)
11. Michael Turner, Falcons (vs GB)
12. Beanie Wells, Cardinals (at MIN)
13. Frank Gore, 49ers (vs TB)
14. LeGarrette Blount, Buccaneers (at SF)
15. Cedric Benson, Bengals (at JAC)
16. Jahvid Best, Lions (vs CHI)
17. Joseph Addai, Colts (vs KC)
18. Mike Tolbert, Chargers (at DEN)
19. Willis McGahee, Broncos (vs SD)
20. Darren Sproles, Saints (at CAR)
21. Isaac Redman, Steelers (vs TEN)
22. Mark Ingram, Saints (at CAR)
23. BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Patriots (vs NYJ)
24. Shonn Greene, Jets (at NE)
25. Jonathan Stewart, Panthers (vs NO)
26. James Starks, Packers (at ATL)
27. DeAngelo Williams, Panthers (vs NO)
28. Brandon Jacobs, Giants (vs SEA)
29. Stevan Ridley, Patriots (vs NYJ)
30. LaDainian Tomlinson, Jets (at NE)
31. Marshawn Lynch, Seahawks (at NYG)
32. Ryan Grant, Packers (at ATL)
33. Rashard Mendenhall, Steelers (vs TEN)
34. Dexter McCluster, Chiefs (at IND)
35. Pierre Thomas, Saints (at CAR)
36. Michael Bush, Raiders (at HOU)
37. Kendall Hunter, 49ers (vs TB)
38. Knowshon Moreno, Broncos (vs SD)
39. Ben Tate, Texans (vs OAK)
40. C.J. Spiller, Bills (vs PHI)
Please note that these are our initial rankings for the week. We will update our rankings, as necessary, throughout the week. To get the most up-to-date rankings and see rankings for other positions, visit our fantasy section here.
If interested, here is our free Week 5 fantasy football contest.
Good luck in Week 5!
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