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September 17, 2008

Fantasy Football Week 7 Running Back Rankings

1. Clinton Portis (WAS) – Portis continued his recent barrage on opposing run defenses with his third consecutive 100 plus yard rushing effort in week 6. In his last 3 games, Portis has rushed for 395 yards and 3 TD’s. He now leads the NFL with 643 rushing yards on the season and ranks 2nd in the NFL with 6 TD’s on the ground. He is currently the best fantasy RB on the planet and a week 7 match up against Cleveland should aid in maintaining that status. The Browns rank 25th in the NFL against the run allowing 137 rushing yards per game. They have also allowed 7 TD’s on the ground this season. Portis is expected to start, but there is some concern over a hip injury, so monitor his status closely. If all indications point to him playing, Portis remains an elite must start. Check injury report: hip

2. Marion Barber (DAL) – He struggled to gain yards on the ground for the third straight week now, but Barber’s contribution to the Cowboys passing game in week 6 was huge to say the least. In week 7, he will match up against a St. Louis defense that struggles against both the run and opposing passing attacks. The Rams run defense is allowing 169 yards per game and they have given up 9 rushing TD’s in just 5 games. With Tony Romo and Felix Jones both out this week, you can bank on Dallas relying heavily on Barber. He should put up monster fantasy numbers under the circumstances with an extremely favorable match up.

3. Frank Gore (SF) – Despite a difficult week 6 match up against the Eagles, Gore came through with a strong fantasy performance totaling 117 yards and a TD. He will have a tough row to hoe again in week 7 when he faces a solid Giants run defense that currently ranks 12th in the NFL in ground yards allowed. While the match up is not ideal, you should feel safe knowing that Gore has 100 plus total yards and a TD in 3 of his 6 starts, and has totaled 100 plus yards or a TD in all 6 games this season.

4. Brandon Jacobs (NYG) – He didn’t put up huge numbers in week 6 as the Giants were forced to abandon the run game playing from behind against Cleveland, but he did find the end zone for the 4th time in 3 weeks. Jacobs should see more time on the field in a week 6 match up against San Francisco. The 49ers currently rank just 22nd against the run allowing 124 yards per game. He will likely give up some carries to Derrick Ward as usual, but Jacobs is a pretty safe bet to have another strong fantasy effort in week 7.

5. Dominic Rhodes (IND) – With Joseph Addai expected to miss 2 – 4 weeks with a partially torn hamstring, Rhodes was the waiver wire pick up of the week, and with good reason. Rhodes wasn’t spectacular in general subbing for the injured Addai last week, but when you consider that he rushed for 73 yards and a TD against the NFL’s top run defense, it was extremely impressive. He should have a much easier go of it in week 7 against the Packers. The Green Bay run defense has been horrible of late and currently ranks 27th in the NFL allowing 153 ground yards per game. We really like Rhodes chances for a big game, especially with the Colts passing game starting to click.

6. Chris Johnson (TEN) – We should finally get our chance to see just how spectacular the rookie speedster can actually be in week 7. Johnson has been slowed in recent weeks with difficult match ups, but a week 7 meeting with Kansas City should yield drastically different results. The Chiefs currently claim the worst run defense in the NFL allowing 182 yards per game and 8 rushing TD’s in 5 games. If DeAngelo Williams can throttle this defense, we can’t imagine what Johnson is capable of doing to them. He is a must start fantasy option.

7. LaDainian Tomlinson (SD) – He claims his toe is getting better every week, and while we would love to believe him, the numbers aren’t exactly reflecting that statement. He did have 118 total yards last week against New England which was an improvement over week 5, but he was held out of the end zone for the second straight game now, and he still looks slower than usual. While we still have our doubts about Tomlinson’s claim that he is close to returning to form, we do suggest that you continue to start him in week 7. The match up is decent against a slipping Buffalo run defense that has given up 7 rushing TD’s in 5 games and allows 114 yards per game on the ground. In addition, the Bills will likely be without one of their best run stoppers in DE Aaron Schobel. Keep hope alive! Check injury report: toe

8. Adrian Peterson (MIN) – Peterson did rush for 100 yards against Detroit, but that was a far cry from expectations, as he also fumbled for the third time in two games, and failed to score a TD for the second straight game. The only thing we can figure is that Peterson may still have issues from a hamstring injury he suffered in week 2. He is still a capable fantasy back, but his numbers are still below par, especially when you consider his match ups in the last 2 games. We expect him to get things headed in the right direction soon, but it will be difficult with a week 7 match up in Chicago. The Bears rank 5th in the NFL against the run allowing only 74 yards per game. In addition, Chicago has only allowed 4 rushing TD’s in 6 games. There is some promising news as Peterson was spectacular in 2 games against the Bears last season totaling 328 yards and 5 TD’s against them. While history is on his side against Chicago, keep in mind that both Peterson and the Bears defense are the complete opposite right now from where they each were at this time last season.

9. Reggie Bush (NO) – He still isn’t much of a RB in the classical sense, but he always seems to find a way to rack up fantasy points. Including his 2 punt return TD’s in week 5, Bush now has 4 TD’s in his last 2 games, and leads the NFL with 8 total on the season. As usual, Bush will be more useful as a pass catcher in week 7 against Carolina and the match up does not really bode well for ground yards anyway. He does have some swelling in his knee, so his status for Sunday may be in question, but he is a must start fantasy option if given clearance to play. Check injury report: knee

10. Marshawn Lynch (BUF) – He has been extremely disappointing in his last 2 games after starting the season strong with 4 TD’s in his first 3 contests. While Lynch has not for the most part lived up to his potential this season, a week 7 match up against San Diego is just favorable enough to break his 2 game slump. The Chargers have been steadily improving their run defense, but they are still giving 112 rushing yards per game. Lynch should also benefit from a bye last week. He should be in your week 7 fantasy line up, but keep your expectations realistic given his recent lack of success.

11. Steven Jackson (STL) – While he continues to suffer at the expense of a poor supporting cast, Jackson remains an elite fantasy RB that will get plenty of touches. In addition, the Rams showed definite improvement in week 6 under interim head coach Jim Haslett which should help Jackson’s production considerably if the trend continues. Jackson has yet another difficult match up for week 7. He will face a stingy Cowboy run defense that only gives up around 87 yards per game on the ground and has just 3 rushing TD’s against them in 6 games. Jackson will have his work cut out for him once again, but he should be productive with an increased role in the passing game this week.

12. Steve Slaton (HOU) – As we expected, the mixture of a difficult match up against Miami and a loss of carries to Ahman Green hurt Slaton’s week 6 production. While Green will continue to steal a few carries in week 7, the match up should provide a more favorable outcome. Slaton will face the Lions run defense this week. Detroit is giving up a whopping 171 rushing yards per game and has allowed 7 rushing TD’s in 5 games. Needless to say, we like Slaton’s chances to rebound with a solid week 7.

13. Thomas Jones (NYJ) – He finally showed up in week 6 finding the end zone 3 times. Jones should carry the momentum from week 6 over into yet another favorable match up in week 7. He will face a Raiders defense that ranks 19th against the run and has allowed 8 rushing TD’s in just 5 games. Jones is always a bit risky with the Jets leaning so heavily on their passing game, but this match up should provide him with ample opportunity to be productive.

14. Matt Forte (CHI) – He scores TD’s, he gets a ton of carries, and he’s great as a receiver out of the backfield. The only thing keeping Forte from being the perfect fantasy RB, and maybe the most crucial part, is that he simply doesn’t get rushing yards. A trend that looks to continue into week 7 against the Vikings 4th ranked run defense. The Vikings only allow 74 yards per game on the ground, and that has come against guys that can actually get more than 3 yards per carry on a regular basis. The good news is that Minnesota has also allowed 1 rushing TD per game this season, which is more to Forte’s taste anyway, considering that he has 3 scores in his last 2 games. As usual, don’t expect much from him in terms of rushing yards, but he should be productive in the passing game, and he is always a TD threat.

15. Ronnie Brown (MIA) – A week 7 match up against the Ravens top ranked run defense isn’t very promising, but Brown is still on a roll with his whacky Wildcat offense in full effect. Brown has a 4 game TD streak going with 8 TD’s total during that stretch. He will have a tough time running the wildcat on the Ravens speedy 3-4 defense, but hey, Dominic Rhodes hit pay dirt against them last week, so Brown has a shot. He seems to find a way to produce every week, so unless you have better options for week 7, ride the train until the wheels come off in spite of the poor match up.

16. Mewelde Moore (PIT) – Willie Parker was expected to return this week from a sprained knee injury, but he apparently tweaked the injury during practice this week stepping in a hole, which once again opens the door for Mewelde Moore. Moore was solid in his last fill in spot totaling 116 yards against Jacksonville. He should benefit greatly from a week 7 match up against the Bengals 28th ranked run defense. Cincinnati has allowed 157 rushing yards per game this season. Moore should do well against this defense.

17. Ryan Grant (GB) – Let’s face it, Grant has been a bust so far this season. When the QB is getting the goal line carries over the stud RB, something isn’t quite right. Grant has shown improvement over the last couple of games, but it hasn’t been much. Unfortunately, he is one of the few RB’s this week with a great match up, so unless you have better options, you may have to stick it out and hope for a break out game, which isn’t likely based on his numbers to date, but possible with this match up. He will play a Colts run defense that allows 161 rushing yards per game. If you start him, you might want to pray, even with the favorable match up.

18. Michael Pittman (DEN) – For the first time in recent memory the Broncos actually had a feature RB, and the results were great as Pittman rushed for over 100 yards in week 6. He may have solidified a feature role for the rest of the season with that performance, but with Mike Shanahan coaching and Selvin Young on the mend, don’t count on it. There is a chance that Young could be back as soon as this week, but Pittman should still carry most of the load even if Young is healthy enough to play in week 7. Pittman has a decent shot at another solid performance with a week 7 match up against the Patriots on Monday night. New England ranks just 21st in the NFL against the run.

19. Jamal Lewis (CLE) – He isn’t putting up monster numbers, but Lewis seems to be running with a burst that we haven’t seen since last season, and he has a 2 game TD streak to show for it. It will be tough sledding for him in a week 7 match up against Washington. The Redskins rank 6th in the NFL against the run and have only allowed 3 rushing TD’s in 6 games. That said, we still like Lewis’ chances for a decent game with the extra effort he has been displaying and the Browns passing game getting back on track to help take the heat off of him.

20. LenDale White (TEN) – He may no longer be the feature back in Tennessee, but White should still play a significant role in the Titans run game, and maintains his role as goal line back which should come in handy for week 7 against Kansas City. The Chiefs currently claim the worst run defense in the NFL allowing a ridiculous 182 ground yards per game. They have also allowed 8 rushing TD’s in just 5 games. White may not see the field as much as Chris Johnson this week, but there should be more than enough to go around for everyone with this match up.

21. Earnest Graham (TB) – He only had 5 carries last week as Graham was a last minute switch to FB to play in place of the Bucs regular starter at that position, Bryon Storer, who was injured. Luckily Graham was able to find the end zone and also made some plays in the passing game, otherwise, the move to FB would have killed his fantasy numbers for week 6. Graham is expected to be back at his natural HB position this week, but there is a chance he may play some FB as well, considering the excellent job he did blocking in week 6. Regardless, Graham is a risky fantasy start anyway with Warrick Dunn stealing so many carries. If Graham gets ample touches in week 7, he should have a productive day against a Seattle run defense that allows 126 yards and a TD per game. In addition, with last week’s TD, Graham now has at least 1 TD in 7 straight home games. The Bucs will be at home again in week 7.

22. Sammy Morris (NE) – With Laurence Maroney and LaMont Jordan both expected to miss Monday night’s contest against Denver, Morris will have his second start in a row. He wasn’t stellar in that role last week, but salvaged a poor rushing day by scoring a TD and excelling in the passing game. Morris will probably share some of the load with Kevin Faulk in week 7, but the match up is promising against Denver’s 26th ranked run defense. The Broncos are giving up 138 rushing yards per game and have allowed 7 TD’s on the ground this season. Morris has decent fantasy value for week 7 if he gets enough carries, and he should.

23. Warrick Dunn (TB) – With Earnest Graham expected to move back to tail back this week after a 1 week stint playing FB, Dunn probably won’t see the carries he saw in week 6. That said, he should still see a pretty hefty share of the load as he has most of the season. Dunn has shown more and more promise as the season has progressed and has established himself as a legitimate fantasy RB once again. He is a worthy RB2 or flex play for week 7 against a soft Seahawks run defense.

24. Jonathan Stewart (CAR) – He was a bust in week 6 carrying the ball only 6 times for 12 yards as the Panthers had to abandon the run game to try and play catch up. While he should be better in week 7, Stewart is still a fantasy risk. He will face a Saints run defense that has been stellar in their last 2 games, shutting down the likes of Adrian Peterson, Justin Fargas, and Darren McFadden. Stewart still has fantasy value as a goal line back, but limit your expectations with this match up. Check injury report: illness

25. DeAngelo Williams (CAR) – As we expected, Williams followed up his monster week 5 performance with a real terd in week 6. It wasn’t entirely his fault as the Panthers were forced to abandon the running game early on. He will face the Saints in week 7. New Orleans is mid pack in the NFL against the run for the season, but they have been in shut down mode for the last 2 weeks. Williams should easily surpass week 6’s poor numbers, but don’t expect much.

26. Justin Fargas (OAK) – While we expect Fargas to rebound slightly from a poor week 6 showing, you probably can’t expect a great deal from him against the Jets. New York has been great against the run this season allowing only 69 yards per game. They have been vulnerable near the goal line allowing 7 rushing TD’s in 5 games, but goal line carries aren’t exactly Fargas’ strong suit. He is only useable as a RB2 or flex play.

27. Julius Jones (SEA) – He was a big disappointment in week 6, but a late scratch by Matt Hasselbeck was a crucial reason for his downfall, allowing the Green Bay defense to focus heavily on stopping the running game, and forcing Hasselbeck’s mediocre replacement to throw the football. That will likely be the case once again in week 7, only this time the run defense is better. He will face a Tampa run defense that is only allowing 89 rushing yards per game and has not allowed a single rushing TD all season. On top of that Maurice Morris is back and will likely steal some carries from him. Jones is a risky week 7 play at best.

28. Willis McGahee (BAL) – He is a high risk medium reward fantasy option for week 7. While McGahee has shown promise at times this season, but he also seems to exit prematurely each week with a new injury. On top of that, a week 7 match up against the Dolphins is not exactly ideal. Miami currently ranks 8th in the NFL against the run allowing just 89 yards per game. In addition, McGahee will also lose carries to Le’Ron McClain and possibly even Ray Rice. If you have other options, McGahee should probably stay on your bench for week 7.

29. Deuce McAllister (NO) – You probably can’t expect a lot from McAllister in week 7, but a banged up Reggie Bush might force him into a heavier than usual workload. He will face a middle of the road Carolina run defense, but remains risky playing behind Bush in the Saints pass heavy offense.

30. Rudi Johnson (DET) – He doesn’t exactly have much going for him in Detroit with a poor supporting cast and having to share carries with Kevin Smith, but he may be a capable bye week filler for week 7. He should see at least 15 carries and he is facing one of the poorer run defenses in the NFL in Houston. The Texans have given up 10 rushing TD’s in just 5 games this season, so there is a decent chance that Johnson or Kevin Smith will find pay dirt in week 7. Even with the favorable match up, Johnson is still a long shot to do much damage.

31. Derrick Ward (NYG) – He has been tearing it up lately in a limited role playing behind Brandon Jacobs. He even managed to hit the magic 100 yard mark last week on just 10 carries. You probably can’t expect him to get more than 10 to 15 carries again this week at the most, but Ward has already proven that he can do serious damage with a light work load. He is averaging 7.4 yards per carry and a week 7 match up against the 49ers 22nd ranked run defense is favorable.

32. Le’Ron McClain (BAL) – Where did he go in week 6? We had high hopes for McClain last week, but he only managed 2 carries for negative yards, and was not seen again. For a guy that scored 4 TD’s in the previous 3 games, it was odd to see him exit early against such a poor run defense. While he has a chance to rebound in week 7 against Miami, it won’t be easy. The Dolphins rank 8th in the NFL against the run. After what happened last week, McClain would be a liability on your fantasy roster for week 7, but he is capable.

33. Darren McFadden (OAK) – After a full week of practice, McFadden’s toe injury appears to finally be on the mend. He has been horrible lately rushing for only 92 yards in his last 3 games combined. We expect to see more of him in week 7, but he will still be playing behind starter Justin Fargas, and a match up against the Jets top 3 run defense doesn’t bode well.

34. Kevin Faulk (NE) – Faulk won’t get the start in week 7, but he should see plenty of playing time with Laurence Maroney and LaMont Jordan both expected to miss Monday night’s game against Denver. Faulk has produced some decent fantasy numbers at times this season, especially in PPR leagues. While he isn’t likely to put up big numbers this week against a porous Broncos run defense in a back up role, he will almost certainly grab a few fantasy points for you.

35. Ahman Green (HOU) – He probably won’t see more than 10 carries this week, but a favorable match up against Detroit’s 31st ranked run defense is favorable. Green should produce enough to prove worthy as a bye week filler for week 7. Check injury report: foot

36. Kolby Smith (KC) – About all we can promise with Smith this week is that he will start the game. He should get the goal line carries as well, that is if the Chiefs can get that far against a tough Titans defense. He will probably have to share the load with rookie Jamaal Charles and the match up is poor, so Smith should only be used in an emergency situation.

37. Kevin Smith (DET) – He has a favorable match up against a porous Texans run defense, but Rudi Johnson will probably get most of the carries. Smith is capable, but he may not see the field enough to prove it. Check injury report: shoulder

38. Ricky Williams (MIA) – The only promising thing about Williams in a week 7 match up against the Ravens is that he should get at least 12 carries. He is not worth starting unless desperation is at an all time high.

39. Jamaal Charles (KC) – He has big play potential, but a week 7 match up against the Titans might prevent him from showing it. That, and the fact that he is in a back up role, and probably won’t get any goal line touches.

40. Chris Perry (CIN) – He has little fantasy value at this point, and is on the verge of losing his job to Cedric Benson or Kenny Watson. He should get a significant number of carries in week 7, but Pittsburgh will probably shut him down. Check injury report: shoulder

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