* RB’s that participated in Thursday’s CHI@WAS game are not included in this week’s rankings. Thursday game participants are listed separately each Wednesday.
1. Adrian Peterson (MIN) – While Peterson’s knee was not considered to be 100% last week, you would have never known it, as he rushed for 116 yards and scored 2 TD’s. This week’s match up against the 49ers 26th ranked run defense is very favorable, and despite giving up a few carries to Chester Taylor again, Peterson is a must start. (Check injury report: knee)
2. Brian Westbrook (PHI) – In Westbrook’s last 2 games against the Giants he has a combined 261 total yards and 3 TD’s. He is as close to a lock as you will find in week 14. (Check injury report: knee)
3. LaDainian Tomlinson (SD) – He will have his work cut out for him this week against a healthy Titans run defense that ranks 7th, but, as usual, Tomlinson should be more than up for the challenge. He is a no brainer.
4. Ryan Grant (GB) – It’s official, Grant is a fantasy stud. He ran all over a very stingy Cowboys run defense last week and found pay dirt twice. The amazing thing is that Grant is putting up big numbers despite a fairly low number of carries. He should get plenty of carries this week against a pathetic Raiders run defense, and he will likely have a monster game. This is by far his best match up to date. Start him with confidence.
5. Steven Jackson (STL) – Since returning from injury, Jackson has put up very solid numbers each week. He is showing game breaking ability, and has 4 TD’s in the 5 games since his come back. He will face the Bengals 23rd ranked run defense in week 14, and while Cincy has shown drastic improvement against the run in recent weeks; they are no match for Jackson.
6. Earnest Graham (TB) – In his last 4 games, Graham is averaging over 100 yards rushing and a TD. He has found pay dirt in all 4 games. He will get his best match up of the season this week when he faces a struggling Houston run defense that ranks 25th. Graham should have a field day, and he should be in your starting line up.
7. Willis McGahee (BAL) – He looked like a man possessed last week as he ran all over a tough Patriots defense. McGahee has now scored a TD in each of his last 7 games, and seems to get stronger every week. He is a must start against the Colts 18th ranked run defense in week 14.
8. Jamal Lewis (CLE) – He is never a lock for a ton of yards, but with 7TD’s in his last 5 games, you would be foolish to deny him a week 14 start. He should have little trouble continuing his solid play against the Jets 29th ranked run defense.
9. Maurice Jones-Drew (JAC) – He has not been lighting it up in yardage department lately, but he has found the end zone in 4 straight games now. There is a good chance he could do it again this week against a mediocre Panthers run defense.
10. Edgerrin James (ARI) – In a week 2 meeting with Seattle, James rushed for 128 yards and a TD. In his last 5 against the Seahawks, he has rushed for 567 yards and 5 TD’s. History has shown that this is a match up clearly in James favor.
11. Joseph Addai (IND) – He has not exactly been on fire lately, and a match up against Baltimore this week does not bode well for him. Addai has big game ability any week, but it is difficult to expect a great deal against the Ravens. Your best hope is that he gets some goal line carries, which is highly probable.
12. Marion Barber (DAL) – While Barber is starting to get things going again, the once feared Lions run defense is on the steep decline. Barber should be able to do some damage against a struggling Detroit defense.
13. Reggie Bush (NO) – Despite his recent struggles in the running game, Bush remains a dangerous fantasy weapon. He has never really fared well against Atlanta running the ball, but he has also never faced a Falcons defense this bad. He should bounce back, but it is more likely to happen in the passing game rather than on the ground. (UPDATE: It has been reported that Bush may have a torn knee ligament and could miss the rest of the season)
14. Rudi Johnson (CIN) – He is starting to show signs of life, after an otherwise miserable ’07 campaign. Johnson has scored in his last 2 games, and more impressively, he did it against Tennessee and Pittsburgh, two of the NFL’s stingiest run defenses. This week should be much easier for Johnson as he faces a struggling St. Louis run defense. He may finally be worth starting again.
15. Travis Henry (DEN) – Henry had a nice return to action last week finding the end zone not once, but twice. This week he will face a 21st ranked Kansas City run defense that has seen a recent rash of key injuries. If Henry gets a full compliment of carries, he should have another big week.
16. Justin Fargas (OAK) – In his last 2 games Fargas has been off the charts rushing for 285 yards and 2 TD’s. You can probably expect Fargas to return from the clouds this week against a tough Packers run defense, but he should still be very solid, and worth the start.
17. Willie Parker (PIT) – He has been very average in recent weeks, and he rarely finds the end zone, but Parker has the talent and speed to break loose any week. A week 14 match up against the Patriots is not exactly favorable, but Willis McGahee was able to chew them up last week. If the same New England run defense shows up again this week, Parker will shred them as well, but that is not highly probable.
18. Marshawn Lynch (BUF) – There are still a lot of question marks surrounding Lynch’s return this week. His participation in practice on both Wednesday and Thursday tells us that Lynch will probably play, but the big question is how much. If he is even 80% and gets the bulk of the carries, Lynch should run all over Miami, who has the misfortune of claiming the NFL’s worst run defense. There is a risk in starting him with so many unanswered questions, but if everything goes his way, he should be golden. Be sure to check on his status leading up to Sunday’s game. (Check injury report: ankle)
19. Shaun Alexander (SEA) – Maybe the extended injury break did Alexander some good? He didn’t put up stud numbers last week, but he did look better than he had before the injury. This week he will face Arizona, a team he has had great success against throughout his career. Unfortunately, he is not the same elite RB that posted lofty stats against the Cards in the past. In week 2 against them he put up 70 yards and a TD. A similar effort this week is possible.
20. Thomas Jones (NYJ) – He finally found the end zone! Of course, it only took him 13 weeks and he did it against the NFL’s worst run defense, but the bottom line is he got the monkey off of his back. He has another promising match up this week against Cleveland’s 28th ranked run defense, so a repeat is not out of the question.
21. Kolby Smith (KC) – He has been fairly impressive in his first 2 career starts, and before Wednesday, Smith looked to be a great start for week 14, but things have a way of turning upside down in a hurry in the NFL. It appeared it was going to be easy sailing this week against Denver’s 31st ranked run defense, but that was before news broke that KC will likely be without both starting offensive tackles this week. He is still capable, but without the big boys up front leading the way, what looked to be a cake walk, will now be a challenge.
22. Fred Taylor (JAC) – He is starting to hit his stride with back to back 100 yards efforts and 2 TD’s in his last 4 games. He could be a decent option against a shaky Carolina run defense.
23. Ron Dayne (HOU) – He is not a great starting option, but he has put together some decent efforts in recent weeks. This week’s match up against Tampa Bay should not prove to be too challenging, but a slightly sprained ankle could limit him a bit. There is also an outside chance that Ahman Green could return this week, so keep close tabs on that situation before putting Dayne on your starting roster. (Check injury report: ankle)
24. Chester Taylor (MIN) – Even though Taylor has been delegated to mop up duty once again, he is still proving to be fairly valuable. He should get enough carries to do some damage against a weak 49ers run defense. The only risk lays in the unknown extent of his week 14 workload.
25. Brandon Jacobs (NYG) – Even if Jacobs is cleared to play this week, do not expect a big effort from him. He is still battling a hamstring injury, and will face the Eagles 9th ranked run defense. It is also highly probable that Jacobs will give up a lot of carries to Reuben Droughns even if he does start the game. (Check injury report: hamstring)
26. Frank Gore (SF) – Gore looked to be on track after a superb week 12 performance, but fell back into mediocrity last week. The biggest issue facing Gore this season has been that the 49ers have been outscored early and had to turn to a struggling passing game, in turn leaving him void of opportunities. This week he will face the Vikings and their NFL best run defense, so do not expect much from Gore this week, especially on the ground. He may be a factor in the passing game. (Check injury report: ankle)
27. Reuben Droughns (NYG) – Even if Brandon Jacobs is able to go this week, Droughns should still play a key role in the Giants running game. He should get a fair share of the workload, and is almost guaranteed the goal line carries. Despite a difficult match up against the Eagles, Droughns value would go up considerably if Jacobs can not start. He has 3 TD’s in his last 4 games.
28. LenDale White (TEN) – As we expected, White was able to get back into the good graces of fantasy owners. Unfortunately, he badly hurt his finger in the process. He will likely start in spite of the injury, but the match up is not great, and he will likely give up a lot of carries to Chris Brown. (Check injury report: finger)
29. Laurence Maroney (NE) – If Maroney can get a couple of goal line carries and step up in the passing game again, he could have some value. Otherwise, he does not get enough carries and the match up against Pittsburgh is not a good one for him. If you are trying to make a playoff run, he is not the best guy to have starting at RB this week.
30. De Shaun Foster (CAR) – He was able to find the end zone last week, but otherwise, Foster was pretty bland as he has been most of the season. He is once again splitting carries with DeAngelo Williams, and a tough match up against Jacksonville’s 8th ranked run defense does not bode well for him in week 14. (Check injury report: head)
31. Jesse Chatman (MIA) – In week 10 Jesse Chatman put up an impressive 149 total yards on the Buffalo Bills. Chatman will be looking at the same match up in week 14, only this time around; he may be looking at it from the sidelines. He is very questionable to play this week, and even if he does, Chatman will likely give up a lot of carries to Lorenzo Booker and Samkon Gado. If he was at full speed, he would make for a great start, but that is not the case. Keep close tabs on his status if you are planning on using him. (Check injury report: ankle)
32. Jerious Norwood (ATL) – He should be in line for his second straight start this week, and Norwood has big game potential. The biggest drawback for him this week is that he will still probably split carries with Warrick Dunn. Norwood will face a pretty good Saints run defense, but with a 6.4 yards per carry average, he could prove to be valuable in week 14.
33. Chris Brown (TEN) – In week 13, Brown rushed for 46 yards and a TD on 12 carries. With Len Dale White battling a finger injury, Brown should be heavily involved in the running game again this week. The match up against the Chargers is not ideal, but Brown has shown bursts of greatness throughout the season, and could be worth a look if you are in panic mode looking for a RB.
34. Fred Jackson (BUF) – If Marshawn Lynch is forced to miss his 4th straight game, Jackson could be in line for a big game. Jackson was very impressive last week putting up 151 total yards against Washington. The prospects that Lynch will return look fairly optimistic at this point, but even if Lynch does start, Jackson should still get a fair share of carries. The match up against Miami’s 32nd ranked (last in the NFL) defense is about as sweet as you can get so if Jackson is named the starter before Sunday; get him in your line up fast. If not, he may still be worth a shot if you are desperate.
35. Kevin Jones (DET) – Jones has shown that he has the tools to be a solid fantasy back, but without the chance to prove it, he is basically worthless. He only received 3 carries last week as Detroit had to turn to the pass after getting down big early. That will likely be the scenario again this week against Dallas, so Jones has little value. He is an extremely risky start at best.
* Other potential RB options for week 14 include (in ranked order):
Aaron Stecker (NO) - Update: He may be starting for the Saints for the rest of the season if reports are true that Reggie Bush has a torn knee ligament. Stecker may be worth picking up and starting this week.
Julius Jones (DAL), Selvin Young (DEN), Maurice Morris (SEA), Lorenzo Booker (MIA), DeAngelo Williams (CAR), Leon Washington (NYJ), Kevin Faulk (NE), Warrick Dunn (ATL), Kenny Watson (CIN), Samkon Gado (MIA), Najeh Davenport (PIT), Ahman Green (HOU), Correll Buckhalter (PHI), and Marcel Shipp (ARI)