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September 10, 2008

Fantasy Football Week 6 Running Back Rankings


1. Clinton Portis (WAS) – We were impressed when Portis rushed for 121 yards against Dallas in week 4, but when he torched the Eagles top ranked defense for 145 rushing yards and a TD last week, we were blown away. Portis is on a roll and he might just be the best fantasy RB in all of football right now. On top of that, fortunate fantasy owners should be all smiles with a week 6 match up against St. Louis looming. In 4 games, the Rams have allowed an average of 166 yards rushing per game and have also given up 7 TD’s on the ground. Portis should run wild on this defense and he is a no brainer for your starting fantasy line up.

2. Adrian Peterson (MIN) – Despite a surprisingly poor 32 yard rushing performance against what is thought to be a soft New Orleans run defense, Peterson remains a must start for week 6. A match up against Detroit’s 30th ranked run defense holds promise galore. While the Lions will likely stack the box against Peterson as the Saints did so successfully in week 5, their defense is so bad that they could put twenty guys in the box, and still have trouble slowing Peterson down. The Lions are giving up an average of 180 rushing yards per game and have allowed 7 rushing TD’s in just 4 games. In addition, Peterson rushed for 116 yards and 2 TD’s in his last game against them. We would be shocked if Peterson does not rebound in a big way with this match up.

3. Brandon Jacobs (NYG) – He continues to receive limited touches, but it hasn’t really slowed his production. Jacobs now has 3 rushing TD’s in his last 2 games and he torched the Seahawks for 136 rushing yards on just 15 carries in week 5. A week 6 match up against Cleveland should provide fantasy owners with yet another big fantasy day. The Browns have allowed 504 yards and 6 TD’s on the ground in just 4 games so far this season. Hopefully, Jacobs will get enough carries to make a big splash again this week, but as he has already proven, he may not need many to do significant damage.

4. Matt Forte (CHI) – He is struggling to gain yardage on the ground, but he continues to prove worthy as a duel threat in the passing game. Forte is looking at a favorable week 6 match up against the Falcons. The 21st ranked Atlanta run defense is giving up an average of 126 rushing yards and 1 rushing TD per game. He should also benefit from Kyle Orton’s recent success as defenses will be less prone to stack the box against him in fear of getting burnt by the Bears improved passing attack. Forte will receive plenty of touches and he should benefit your week 6 fantasy roster in a big way with this match up.

5. Ronnie Brown (MIA) – We are dumb founded that Brown continues to excel in the gimmicky wildcat offense, but for whatever reason, it has proven effective in two consecutive games. You would think an NFL defensive coordinator and NFL talent could find a way to stop an offense used primarily in high school and college, but no one seems to have an answer for it. Maybe the Dolphins should consider bringing the wing T and wish bone to the NFL as well. Everyone has said that they wouldn’t work against the speed and talent of the NFL for years, but now we aren’t so sure. Brown is playing as well as anyone with the current scheme, and we see no reason for that to come to a halt in week 6 against a soft Texans run defense. Houston has allowed a per game average of 140 yards and 2 TD’s on the ground so far this season. Brown remains worthy of a fantasy starting spot until defenses can come up with an answer, which is unlikely in week 6, and maybe not for the rest of the season.

6. Marion Barber (DAL) – As we expected, Barber was utilized early and often in a promising week 5 match up against a weak Bengals run defense. Unfortunately, the production did not match the promise and fellow RB Felix Jones proved to be much more effective with only 9 carries. While we expect Barber to remain the feature back for the Cowboys, don’t be surprised if Jones steals more carries moving forward. That said, Barber should get back to scoring TD’s in week 6, but they probably won’t come easy against Arizona’s 11th ranked run defense. Barber has the potential and this is the time to start living up to it again. Needless to say, we like his chances.

7. Reggie Bush (NO) – We didn’t expect much from him on the ground in week 5 and he delivered. We did expect a solid receiving game and he delivered. What we didn’t anticipate was the 2 TD’s he delivered in the return game. Bush has a chance to be effective in all facets of the game against the Raiders in week 6. The Oakland run defense has allowed 7 rushing TD’s and their pass defense has allowed 5 TD’s through the air in 4 games this season. Bush will primarily be useful in points per reception leagues and /or leagues that account for return yardage, but he should prove useful for any format in week 6.

8. Julius Jones (SEA) – He wasn’t spectacular last week, but under the circumstances against a tough Giants run defense, his performance was understandably sufficient. A week 6 match up against Green Bay should prove much easier. He will need more assistance from the Seattle passing game to make the most of the match up, but that is possible with the Packers secondary plagued by injury. Jones should be used early and often, and Green Bay’s 27th ranked run defense has been as bad as anyone recently. The Packers have now allowed 3 consecutive RB’s to rush for well over 100 yards and at least 1 TD against them. Jones may seem risky, but he is solid, and the match up is excellent. He has monster sleeper potential this week, and we don’t think you will regret having him in your starting line up.

9. LaDainian Tomlinson (SD) – After 4 TD’s in 2 games, we thought that Tomlinson may have turned the corner on his injured toe, but week 5’s numbers proved contrary to that assessment. Tomlinson looked sluggish at best and the Miami run defense was rock solid against him. Yards should be easier to come by in week 6 against the Patriots, but Tomlinson’s toe injury is definitely cause for concern. While an early season trade could prove wise, you will probably be better served riding it out as your return value will likely be weak at this time. We would take a banged up Tomlinson over many RB’s in the NFL and he still gives you a decent shot at solid fantasy numbers any week, including week 6. So unless you have better RB options, Tomlinson should remain in your fantasy line up. Check injury report: toe

10. Frank Gore (SF) – There are a couple of ways in which you can look at Gore for week 6, but ultimately he remains a must start unless you are just loaded at RB. On the one hand, Gore was barely able to salvage an otherwise mediocre day last week by scoring on a TD pass from J.T. O’Sullivan. In addition, he will be facing Philadelphia’s 8th ranked run defense. On the other hand, Gore is every bit as talented as Clinton Portis and Portis torched the Eagles defense last week. The match up certainly doesn’t bode well, but Gore is plenty capable and worth any risk the match up provides.

11. Steven Jackson (STL) – If you are skeptical and/or concerned about starting Jackson this week against the Redskins, it is not without justification. The Redskins rank 9th in the NFL against the run and have only allowed 3 rushing TD’s in 5 games. Also, it isn’t like he is getting much help from the rest of this team. Despite the gloomy forecast, we still believe Jackson is worthy of a week 6 start. Jackson is coming off of his best game of the season rushing for 124 yards and a TD against a Buffalo run defense that was ranked even higher than Washington’s at the time. In addition, Jackson has been productive as a receiver out of the back field, even in games where he wasn’t getting it done on the ground. There is no question that he is risky with this match up, but there is a silver lining, and you probably have little choice in the matter.

12. Steve Slaton (HOU) – He has been one of the more pleasant surprises in fantasy football so far this season. Slaton has now managed to find pay dirt 4 times in his last 3 games. He has also proven effective both on the ground and as a receiver out of the back field. While you have to stick with him while he is hot, week 6 will present a serious challenge for him. He will face the Dolphins once laughable run defense, but they aren’t so funny of late. The Miami run defense ranks 7th in the NFL, has only allowed 2 rushing TD’s this season, and they are looking better every week. On top of that, Ahman Green is back from injury and will likely steal more carries than he deserves from Slaton, as he did in week 5. Slaton has already proven his legitimacy, but this match up will put it to the test.

13. Maurice Jones-Drew (JAX) – While Jones-Drew continues to underachieve on the ground this season, he may be your best bet in a tough week with regard to starting fantasy RB’s. Jones-Drew has managed to find the end zone 3 times this season, and he was awesome against the Colts in week 3, but that is little comfort in an otherwise forgettable season. That said, we like his chances in a week 6 meeting with Denver. The Broncos give up an average of 134 yards rushing per game and they have been horrible against the pass, an area that Jones-Drew is known to excel in. We realize that he hasn’t given fantasy owners much to be confident about this season, but he is too talented to bench with this match up.

14. Michael Turner (ATL) – He came up big again in week 5 and maintains his status as the NFL’s leading rusher, but as we have stated before, Turner is a match up back and week 6’s match up against Chicago is questionable at best. The Bears are only allowing around 74 yards per game on the ground which places them as the NFL’s 4th best in that category. They have also been stingy near the goal line allowing only 4 rushing TD’s in 5 games. Turner is talented enough to overcome the match up, but he has had difficulties doing so against similarly tough defenses to this point. Regardless, your fantasy roster would have to be stacked at RB to bench the NFL’s top rusher this week or any week.

15. Correll Buckhalter (PHI) – Now that Brian Westbrook has been held out of practice for the second straight day, Buckhalter’s chances of starting on Sunday appear more and more promising. Even if Westbrook plays, Buckhalter will likely see fairly significant action in relief of the beat up Westbrook. Monitor the situation closely as game time approaches, and if Buckhalter seems likely to start, he is worthy of a RB2 position on your fantasy roster with a potentially promising match up against San Francisco’s 23rd ranked run defense. UPDATE: Brian Westbrook has been ruled out for Sunday's game against San Francisco, feel free to use Buckhalter as a fairly solid RB2 with this match up.

16. Le’Ron McClain (BAL) – He doesn’t get enough carries to make a huge impact yardage wise most weeks, but McClain has been a TD machine of late. As the Ravens goal line back, he now has 4 TD’s in his last 3 contests, and despite the low carry total, McClain has still managed to eclipse 50 yards in those 3 games as well. He will face the Colts in week 6 who lay claim to the worst run defense in the NFL right now. McClain should have enough carries to make a solid impact with this match up and is worthy of a RB2 roster spot this week.

17. Joseph Addai (IND) – While a week 6 meeting with Baltimore’s top ranked rank defense looks bleak to say the least, there are some promising aspects for Addai with this match up. For one, Addai managed to find the end zone 3 times against them in a 2007 contest. He also had 49 receiving yards. On top of that, he has scored at least 1 TD in his last 3 games this season with 4 total. Now for the bad news, in that same contest against the Ravens in 2007, Addai only rushed for 32 yards and his highest rushing total so far this season is only 71 yards. To add insult to injury, the Ravens have the stingiest run defense in the NFL so far in 2008 allowing only 64 yards per game and not a single running back has so much as sniffed the end zone against them. Addai is talented enough to score on this defense, but the Ravens 2008 run defense is much improved from last season, so 3 TD’s is almost out of the question. As for rushing yards, you can probably forget it, but he could be valuable and effective as a receiver out of the back field. He is a very risky, but capable week 6 fantasy option.

18. Willis McGahee (BAL) – McGahee may seem risky in his current situation splitting carries with Le’Ron McClain and nursing a rib injury, but given the match up and the fact that he wasn’t half bad against a great Titan run defense last week on 22 carries; he is not a bad option. We are fairly sure of one thing, either McGahee, McClain, and possibly both of them will benefit greatly from a week 6 match up against the Colts. Indianapolis can’t stop anyone on the ground without Bob Sanders and they are giving up 188 yards on the ground per game. McClain may get the goal line carries, but McGahee should see the bigger workload and he could easily break one for a score against this defense. In a week where match ups are tough to come by for running backs, McGahee is worth a look as RB2 or flex play. Check injury report: knee

19. Ryan Grant (GB) – He looked better in week 5, but we were hoping to see more from Grant given the match up against Atlanta. Fortunately, he has yet another promising match up in week 6. He will face the Seattle Seahawks 24th ranked run defense. The Seahawks have been on the downhill slide against the run of late and they were torched in week 5 by Brandon Jacobs. Grant should have ample opportunity to improve on last week’s mediocre performance and he is well overdue to find the end zone. At this point, he is not very trustworthy as a fantasy back, but the match up is good enough to warrant using him in week 6.

20. Thomas Jones (NYJ) – The week 6 match up against Cincinnati’s 29th ranked run defense certainly bodes well, but Jones’ numbers of late are shaky at best. After a promising week 1, Jones has seen a decrease in both production and carries. The Jets love to throw the ball with Brett Favre and Jones seems to be a mere afterthought at times in this offense. If he gets enough carries, he should be productive against a Bengals defense that allows 171 rushing yards per game, but you can never be certain with Jones in any match up.

21. Earnest Graham (TB) – It is almost beyond comprehension that a guy that averages close to 6 yards every time he touches the ball, rarely touches the ball. Graham has elite fantasy RB potential, but there is only so much he can do with 10 carries. In the 2 games this season in which Graham has 15 carries or more, his per game average is 113 yards rushing and a TD. In the other 3 games with less than 15 carries, Graham averages 55 yards rushing and hasn’t hit pay dirt even once. It’s simple math Gruden, this guy will help you win if you use him. Graham will have his work cut out for him in week 6 regardless of his touch count. He will match up against a Carolina run defense that gives up less than 100 yards per game and has only allowed 1 rushing TD in 5 games. The good news is that Graham will be at home for this match up. He has scored at least 1 TD at home in 6 straight games going back to last season and he did find pay dirt in his only game against Carolina in ’07.

22. Michael Pittman (DEN) – With Selvin Young out this week with a groin injury, Pittman should get the start. While he will likely split carries with Andre Hall, we think Pittman could have a big fantasy impact against Jacksonville’s middle of the road run defense. Mike Shanahan has way of raining on fantasy owner’s parades with regard to RB’s, so there is some risk here, but Pittman could do some damage with a more prominent role. He will also continue in his role as Denver’s goal line back. He has solid fantasy sleeper potential for week 6.

23. Fred Taylor (JAX) – Other than a big week 3 performance against Indianapolis, Taylor hasn’t done much to warrant use on any fantasy roster, but a week 6 meeting with Denver does accommodate Taylor’s running style nicely or anyone’s for that matter. In 5 games, the Broncos 25th ranked run defense has allowed 670 yards and 5 TD’s on the ground. Taylor is risky based on his shaky play t so far, but he tends to get better as the season progresses, and this match up is promising.

24. Jamal Lewis (CLE) – While a week 6 match up against the Giants 6th ranked run defense does not bode well, he does have a couple of rare qualities in his favor. He is one of the few remaining feature backs that also receives goal line carries in an era of RB by committee. Lewis is not highly recommended this week with this match up, but he is coming off a solid effort in week 4, and he should get plenty of touches.

25. Justin Fargas (OAK) – He should return this week as the Raiders starting RB and while he will likely split carries with Darren McFadden, Fargas is actually the healthier of the two. A week 6 match up against New Orleans 16th ranked run defense is not especially promising; especially after watching the Saints shut down Adrian Peterson last Monday, but Fargas can be an explosive play maker and the Saints probably won’t key in on him like they did Peterson. He is a risky fantasy option at best this week, but we like his big play ability. Check injury report: groin

26. Jonathan Stewart (CAR) – Despite a mediocre 72 yard rushing performance last week, Stewart took a back seat to fellow RB DeAngelo Williams in week 5 who exploded for 3 TD’s. While a week 6 meeting with Tampa Bay does not hold much promise for either RB, we still believe Stewart is the better fantasy option. It will certainly be an up hill battle for Stewart to score his 5th TD against a Tampa run defense that has yet to allow a single TD on the ground all season, but he is certainly capable. You shouldn’t expect anything more than modest production this week from Stewart.

27. Darren McFadden (OAK) – While McFadden has potential galore, a turf toe injury has slowed him considerably in recent weeks. The Raiders week 5 bye should have benefited him somewhat, but McFadden remains limited in practice indicating that the toe is still an issue heading into week 6. The match up against New Orleans also looks iffy and the return of a fully healthy Justin Fargas should further limit his touches. McFadden is capable, but he has too many obstacles this week to be a serious threat. Check injury report: toe

28. Felix Jones (DAL) – For a guy that hasn’t even reached double digit carries in a single game this season, Jones is putting up some impressive numbers. While there is a chance that he will see more touches in week 6 against Arizona, it is not something you can count on, and you may not need him to carry the ball more than a handful of times to reap benefits. Arizona has been solid against the run, so the match up is not ideal and Jones is a risky fantasy option based on his workload, but he is worth a look if you’re in a pinch, especially in leagues that account for return yards.

29. DeAngelo Williams (CAR) – He shocked the fantasy world in week 5 with 148 total yards and 3 TD’s. While it was promising to say the least, you have to remember that
Williams had done little to nothing in 3 previous starts, and Kansas City isn’t exactly known for their shut down run defense. Williams will face Tampa’s 14th ranked run defense in week 6 and the Bucs have yet to allow a single TD on the ground all season. Williams had his best game of the ’07 season against Tampa in week 17, but his 121 yard, 2TD performance is a bit misleading as Williams was facing a playoff bound Tampa team comprised primarily of back ups. He should rack up a few yards this week with momentum on his side, but don’t expect a repeat of last week by any means.

30. Deuce McAllister (NO) – After a promising week 4 performance, McAllister was held to just 13 yards on 6 carries against a tough Minnesota run defense. He should see more carries this week and a match up against an Oakland run defense that has allowed 7 rushing TD’s in just 4 games certainly holds promise, but McAllister is still a long shot with Reggie Bush more likely to get the majority of the carries.

31. Edgerrin James (ARI) – He shocked the fantasy world again in week 5 by finding pay dirt for the second straight week and now has 3 TD’s in his last 2 games. Unfortunately, we don’t think this will be a long standing trend for James, and without the 3 TD’s, his yardage numbers would have yielded fantasy owners next to nothing. He will be hard pressed to make it into the end zone for a third consecutive game against Dallas in week 6, and frankly, we don’t see much potential for a big yardage game either. The Cowboys have a top 10 run defense and the Cardinals will probably go to the air early and often leaving James out of the mix. This might be a good week to sit him in spite of his two game TD streak.

32. Tim Hightower (ARI) – He isn’t going to get you many yards, especially against Dallas in week 6, but it’s hard to sit a guy coming off a 2 TD game with 5 TD’s to his credit in as many games. Hightower is always a TD threat, but has little to offer otherwise.

33. Ricky Williams (MIA) – Williams has fairly limited fantasy potential with Ronnie Brown’s recent success, but he should continue to see double digit carries in week 6, and a match up with Houston is his best to date. In just 4 games the Texans run defense has allowed 559 yards and 8 rushing TD’s. Williams has not had much success so far this season, but we like his chances for a modestly productive game with this match up.

34. Sammy Morris (NE) – He was the top rusher for New England in week 5 with 63 yards on 16 carries. The numbers weren’t spectacular and he remains a fantasy risk with the Patriots ever changing platoon of RB’s. A week 6 match up against San Diego is favorable, but you never know how much he will see the ball and it probably won’t be enough to merit a week 6 fantasy start.

35. Andre Hall (DEN) – With Selvin Young ruled out for week 6 with a groin injury, Hall should play a significant role in the Broncos running game against the Jaguars. He will likely back up Michael Pittman, but Hall should see his touches increase quite a bit even in a back up role, maybe even to the extent of an even split. Pittman will remain the goal line back against a shaky Jacksonville run defense, so Hall loses some fantasy value there, but Hall has home run potential, and could be worth a look if you are in desperate need of a fantasy RB for week 6. Check injury report: wrist

36. Chris Perry (CIN) – He continues to struggle and now that Cedric Benson is in the mix, Perry’s fantasy potential is very limited. He will be the starter in week 6 against the Jets, and while the Jets have been very stingy with yards on the ground this season, they have allowed 6 rushing TD’s in just 4 games. Perry probably isn’t worth starting this week unless you are desperate, but he does have TD potential if Benson doesn’t steal the goal line carries.

37. Derrick Ward (NYG) - Ward is averaging around 71 total yards per game, which isn’t bad when you consider how limited his role in the Giants running game is. He won’t get you a ton of fantasy points, but the match up against Cleveland’s 22nd ranked run defense should provide enough production to merit using him as a bye week fill in.

38. Darren Sproles (SD) – Sproles likely won’t receive many carries in a week 6 match up with New England, but he has game breaking potential with every carry. Realistically, Sproles has low end fantasy value at best, even with the nice match up, but if you are in a league that accounts for return yards, he should make for a decent bye week fill in or flex play.

39. Warrick Dunn (TB) – Dunn isn’t going to save your week if you are in desperate need of a week 6 fill in at RB, but he will likely grab a few points for you. Dunn continues to see an increased role in the Bucs running game and has performed respectively solid in the process. He has a difficult match up against Carolina, but we think he will manage to piece together a modest stat line.

40. Laurence Maroney (NE) – Maroney is a long shot at best for week 6. He is capable, but he has too much competition for playing time in a rotating platoon of Patriot RB's. Maroney is no longer reliable as a fantasy RB. Check injury report: shoulder

* Additional fantasy RB options for week 6 include:

Ahman Green (HOU)

Kevin Smith (DET)

Cedric Benson (CIN)

Leon Washington (NYJ)

Jerious Norwood (ATL)

Chester Taylor (MIN)

Rudi Johnson (DET)

Kevin Faulk (NE)

Brandon Jackson (GB)

Maurice Morris (SEA) – Check injury report: knee

Michael Bush (OAK)

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