1. LaDainian Tomlinson (SD) – He finally looked more like a running back than a receiver last week, breaking the 100-yard barrier for the first time this season. Tomlinson faces a fairly weak Denver run defense that he has absolutely embarrassed in the past. He should have his best game of the season so far.
2. Edgerrin James (ARI) – James will finally face a defense that he can really exploit in St. Louis. He has pieced together a pretty solid season so far against some of the league’s best run defenses. We think he will have a monster game.
3. Clinton Portis (WAS) –The Redskins coaching staff must increase his workload to enable him to have a monster game. Portis should be able to run all over a porous Detroit defense. He has managed to hit pay dirt in each of his first three games and we expect at least one TD from him this week as well.
4. Travis Henry (DEN) – He looks as though he will likely make it into the starting lineup this week after tweaking an ankle in last week’s game but Henry now faces a bigger issue in an alleged positive drug test that could leave him suspended immediately for the entire season. He has a good match up against a struggling Charger defense but his status is up in the air. (Check player news: possible suspension)
5. Joseph Addai (IND) – He comes into this week’s game a little beat up and facing a pretty stout Buccaneer run D. Addai should be fine once he gets the adrenaline going and Peyton should open things up for him with the passing game. It is not his best match up but he should post good numbers as usual. (Check injury report: shoulder, listed as questionable)
6. Marion Barber (DAL) – He was not up to his usual standards last week but he really was not needed. Barber should get back to form this week with a great match up against the Bills.
7. Larry Johnson (KC) – Johnson finally appears to have his football legs under him. It took him a few weeks to knock the rust off but he appears to be back. He still needs to find the end zone to complete his restoration but that should come soon. He faces an up and down Jacksonville run defense this week, so anything could happen, but we are optimistic about his chances as the Chiefs offense is coming to life.
8. Ronnie Brown (MIA) – He has been on quite a roll the last two weeks after a very slow start. Brown will face a tougher defense this week in Houston than he faced the last two games, so his numbers will likely deflate a little. Never the less, he should still have a really solid game.
9. Shaun Alexander (SEA) – It could be a difficult week for him against a stingy Pittsburgh run defense. Alexander will likely have to fight and scrap for every yard but that is something he is good at. It’s a tall order, but Alexander is talented enough to get the job done.
10. Willie Parker (PIT) – The Cardinal defense was able to completely neutralize Parker’s speed in last week’s game by stuffing him with eight guys in the box. Look for the Sea Hawks to use the same philosophy this week as it proved to be effective. The Steelers must counter early with a strong passing game to free him up. If that happens, Parker should be back to business as usual. If it does not happen, it could be another long day for him.
11. Willis McGahee (BAL) – He continues to show bursts of greatness but he has yet to score a TD this season. McGahee must get into the end zone to solidify his fantasy value. He faces a stubborn 49er run defense this week but he should be up to the challenge.
12. Reggie Bush (NO) – His primary role should remain in the passing game but Bush should have an increased role in the running game with the season ending injury to Deuce McAllister. He will likely still share carries with McAllister’s replacement, Aaron Stecker. Bush knows he must step up in this offense and you should see a better effort from him which should pull him out of his sophomore slump and translate into fantasy production for you. Good match up against a struggling Panther run D.
13. DeShaun Foster (CAR) – Foster appears to have pretty much taken sole possession of the Carolina RB job, at least for now. He is coming off of a tough week against a tough defense, but look for him to bounce back this week in New Orleans.
14. Laurence Maroney (NE) – After sitting last week out, he should be back in the starting line up. He faces a pretty soft Brown’s run defense. Maroney’s only draw back is that he is not the goal line back but he is plenty capable of breaking a long one against this defense. He may be still be limited by his injury
15. Marshawn Lynch (BUF) – Lynch isn’t scorching opposing defenses on the ground, but he has been solid, and he has been able to find the end zone on a pretty consistent basis. He also gets almost all of the teams carries which adds to his value. It will be a tough week for him against the Dallas defense but he has passed the test so far.
16. Brandon Jacobs (NYG) – It is unclear what the future arrangement will be in the Giants backfield but we assume Jacobs will take the bulk of the load including the goal line carries. He is matched up this week vs. a pretty sad Jet’s rush defense and so long as he gets at least 15 carries, Jacobs should have a good day. That is barring any setback with the knee.
17. Sammy Morris (NE) – He filled in quite nicely last week and has been productive every week. Morris will likely have a limited number of carries but he is the goal line back and is a likely candidate to find the end zone again this week. Great match up!
18. Frank Gore (SF) – The good news is that Gore should see plenty of carries this week. The bad news is that he has not lived up to the hype, the offense around him is crumbling, and he will be facing a very disgruntled Baltimore defense. Gore is much too talented to keep out of the starting line up but do not expect one of his better games.
19. Cedric Benson (NYJ) – He is only as good as the offense around him and that offense is struggling right now. Benson can be productive when he gets a lot of carries; unfortunately, the Bear’s continue to play from behind and have to turn to the passing game. He matches up against a Packer defense that has made life tough for opposing running backs this season. It is unlikely you will see a great game from him this week but he should get you a few points.
20. Thomas Jones (NYJ) – He has had a roller coaster last couple of weeks. Jones has been very inconsistent this season but a lot of that is due to the fact that they are not getting him the ball enough. When he gets 20 or more carries he produces decent results. He is a battle tested and proven starting running back but the Jets have to keep him involved in the offense. He faces a fairly stout Giant’s run defense this week.
21. LenDale White (TEN) – He should again give up some of the work load to Chris Brown which will limit him, but he should be well rested off the bye week, and has a good match up vs. the Falcons.
22. Ron Dayne (HOU) – It appears as though Dayne will again start in place of the injured Ahman Green. Dayne has not done a bad job filling in but he has been far from great. He has a very favorable match up this week against a bad Miami rush D. Check on the status of Ahman Green before deciding to use Dayne this week.
23. Warrick Dunn (ATL) – He is not the great RB he used to be but he garners fair numbers on a weekly basis. Dunn faces a stingy Titan’s run defense this week but should manage to scrape up a few fantasy points for you.
24. Maurice Jones –Drew (JAC) – We all know that he is capable of amazing things on the football field but he has yet to provide any positive highlights so far this season. Jones-Drew will likely return to form at some point this season but who knows when that will be? Hopefully he was able to work out his issues in the bye week and can get back to doing what he does best, getting you tons of fantasy points.
25. Jamal Lewis (NE) – He has managed to put up good numbers overall this season; unfortunately most of them came from one game. Lewis is a capable back but he faces the monumental task of overcoming a great Patriot’s defense. This is not likely to be his best week.
26. Fred Taylor (JAC) – Before the bye week, he seemed to be picking up the pace a bit, but he was far from stellar. He faces an improved Chief’s defense but hopefully the bye week has him well rested and ready to go. Taylor should get the bulk of the carries, what he does with them is kind of a mystery at this point.
27. Brian Leonard (STL) – Considering the crappy offense he has to work with, Leonard performed fairly well last week in his first ever start. This back up will again be surrounded by a cast of back ups and will likely struggle right along with them. The good news is that he should see plenty of touches.
28. Julius Jones (DAL) – This guy actually resembled a starting NFL running back last week. He even managed to find the end zone. Jones has a pretty good match up again this week against the Bills but he is likely to return to mediocre status.
29. Derrick Ward (NYG) – He will return to the role of back up this week but should still see some game action. It is unclear how often they plan to use him this week and in the future but Ward looks to be a gambler’s play. He has played well and has a great match up against the Jets. It is up to the coaching staff as to what he has to offer in week 5.
30. Earnest Graham (TB) – Graham will likely take over as starting running back in place of the seriously injured Cadillac Williams, unfortunately he will share that duty with Michael Pittman. He faces a fair match up this week in Indianapolis and could provide nicely as the goal line back, but TD’s are never a guarantee for any RB.
31. Aaron Stecker (NO) – He will be forced into action this week replacing the injured Deuce McAllister. Stecker is a very talented running back with a proven track record as a fill in. He just picked a bad time to fill in. He should get plenty of carries this week but it is unlikely that he will provide more than McAllister did, which had not been much.
32. Kevin Jones (DET) – He should continue to split carries evenly with Tatum Bell. Jones will not produce a lot of offense but he is the more valuable of the two as the goal line back. He is always a threat to find the end zone.
33. Michael Pittman (TB) – Pittman will share carries with Earnest Graham from here on out. He has produced good results in terms of yardage in his limited play but is unlikely to provide much in way of TD’s. He is a decent option if you find yourself in a tight spot.
34. Chris Brown (TEN) – Brown is still the back up in the Titans running game but he is capable of taking the spotlight any given week. He has a good match up but he will be limited in his number of touches. He is a very risky start but he could pay off nicely.
35. LaDell Betts (WAS) – Betts has seen his workload decrease dramatically this season but he could see more action this week if Portis suffers a set back with his sore knee. If you are desperate and willing to role the dice, it is a good match up, and it could be worth the risk. We do not recommend it though.