Week Five Running Back Rankings
1. LaDainian Tomlinson @ Broncos – Lord help me this week. Every running back listed has serious question marks around them. It seems as though every back this week is either injured, on bye, or sucking. I’ll do my best.
2. Willis McGahee @ 49ers – He’s not a sneaky play, but McGahee is a strangely safe one this week. He hasn’t scored a rushing touchdown all year, but his yardage numbers remain solid. As long as you’re in a 50-50 league, or, hell, a league that awards even 25 per cent of points based on yardage, McGahee is a must start.
3. Edgerrin James @ Rams – With Anquan Boldin probably out against St. Louis, James will get every chance to run until the wheels come off. Talking about that phrase, I’ve been seeing it way too much this season. The wheels coming off equals the end of a guy’s career, so brazenly claiming you are going to do that to your player is not good. Read this carefully, Steelers’ fans.
4. Ronnie Brown @ Texans – Hey, maybe this Brown guy can play after all. After seeing hardly any evidence of that for a while, Brown has turned in some nice games this season. The Texans’ defense is improved, but it’s by no means the end of the line for Brown.
5. Derrick Ward vs. Jets – Need any more evidence of how sad this week’s running backs are?
6. Willie Parker vs. Seahawks – One bad game shouldn’t sway you. And considering Parker is on pace to end his career some time around this point next year, you might as well use the guy.
7. DeShaun Foster @ Saints – I don’t like Foster. He’s just standing in the way of the dynamic DeAngelo Williams. But them’s the breaks and the Saints don’t stop much.
8. Kenton Keith vs. Bucs – I have a suspicion that Joseph Addai won’t see much, if any, action this weekend. The Colts have a bye the following week, so it makes more sense to rest him. Keith is a decent fill in, and considering he’ll be running on three-man fronts all day, he stands to do well.
9. Reggie Bush vs. Panthers – This is my last try with the Saints. If Bush doesn’t total 100 yards and get a touchdown, they will be dead to me.
10. Patriots Starting Running Back vs. Browns – Honestly, I don’t think anyone really knows what to expect from the Patriots’ running game. Laurence Maroney and Sammy Morris are just as much of a committee as Julius Jones and Marion Barber are. I’d stick with Morris if you have both.
11. Shaun Alexander @ Steelers – Keep trucking on, Shaun. Keep trucking on.
12. Frank Gore vs. Ravens – Gore hasn’t exactly lit the world on fire this season. I’m not sure what the problem is, exactly. The offense was just as terrible last year, after all. Maybe the aging offensive line has jumped the shark. Or maybe Norv Turner needs to come back to town. Either way, the Ravens aren’t the team that allow slumps like these to end.
13. Marion Barber @ Bills – Despite averaging over five yards per carry, Barber was only allowed to carry the ball eight times and it led to a disappointing day. This was compounded by the Cowboys scoring 35 points while Barber owners sat twiddling their thumbs. I don’t expect many more days like that.
14. Marshawn Lynch vs. Cowboys – You can keep Adrian Peterson. I’d be quite happy to have Lynch on my roster. No running back has had a tougher schedule so far this season, and Lynch possesses about a score and 80 rushing yards per contest. When the opponents ease up – and they will – Lynch could very well lead your fantasy team to a title. Reading between the lines here, trading for Lynch might be a good idea, as his value is still tempered somewhat.
15. Selvin Young vs. Chargers – An interesting trend in the preseason was Travis Henry being pegged a sleeper while Young was often picked as a deep sleeper. Basically, if you have a shot to run for the Broncos, you have a shot to be a fantasy contributor. With Henry mired with both injury and off the field issues, I expect Young to get the lion’s share of carries.
16. Larry Johnson vs. Jaguars – I don’t think I’m going to allow myself to talk about Johnson quite yet. We’re still seeing how the season unfolds. But rest assured, the I-told-you-so’s are mounting up.
17. Jamal Lewis @ Patriots – If nothing else, Lewis will see 20 carries against the Patriots. He might score. He might not. His yardage numbers will not be impressive. But he’ll get those carries. That’s something.
18. Clinton Portis vs. Lions – Portis said he’s ready to go, but I’m still worried about his health. If he were 100 per cent ready to go, I’d push him into the top seven. Unfortunately, his penchant for missing plays, coupled with a competent backup in Ladell Betts, ultimately makes Portis a risky play.
19. Cedric Benson @ Packers – I was a closet Benson fan this preseason. I was much too worried about the offense around him and the distrust he had built up with teammates to actually say this officially anywhere, but I was kind of expecting something from him this season. So, there you go. Sometimes it pays to be gutless.
20. Earnest Graham @ Colts – Well, he’s better than Michael Pittman at least. And somehow I made it through this running back ranking column. I’m so sorry to fantasy owners out there who have to deal with this. And that means all of us.