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1. Brian Westbrook (PHI) –If his monster effort in week 8 is any indication, we would say that Westbrook is pretty close to full strength health wise. He is expected to come up big again in week 9 against a struggling Seattle defense that ranks near the bottom of the NFL in both run and pass defense. Westbrook is an obvious must start. Check injury report: ankle, ribs
2. Adrian Peterson (MIN) – He appears to be back on track and Peterson should dominate a Houston run defense that ranks 21st in the NFL. The Texans give up an average of 120 rushing yards per game and they have allowed a whopping 11 TD’s on the ground in just 7 games. Peterson is a no br
ainer for your fantasy roster in week 9.
3. Matt Forte (CHI) – While the Lions were able to limit Forte to 61 total yards by stacking the box against him back in week 5, he still managed to find the end zone 2 times in that game. Now that the Bears passing attack is clicking, we expect Detroit’s focus on defense to be a little more balanced which should produce better rushing numbers for Forte this time around. The Lions have one of the worst run defenses in the NFL allowing 163 yards per game with a rank of 31st. As a side note, Forte is currently on a 3 game TD streak. Get him in your fantasy line up pronto!
4. Earnest Graham (TB) – With Warrick Dunn missing practice again on Thursday, it appears that Graham will likely see a heavy workload on Sunday. Graham hasn’t been lighting it up lately in terms of yardage, but that should change in week 9 with a very promising match up against Kansas City. The Chiefs have the worst run defense in the NFL by far allowing a ridiculous 197 ground yards per game. They have also given up a league worst 14 rushing TD’s in just 7 games. Graham should dominate in week 9 and he should be on your fantasy roster.
5. Michael Turner (ATL) – At this point, it is obvious that Turner is only as good as his match up will allow him to be. Fortunately, week 9 provides fantasy owners with an excellent match up against a very porous Oakland run defense. The Raiders have allowed 11 rushing TD’s in 7 games and give up 144 ground yards per game. Turner should be great again in week 9.
6. Ronnie Brown (MIA) – It is evident that the wildcat offense has lost its luster as opposing defenses finally seem to have an answer for it, but Brown’s week 9 opponent can’t even stop a conventional running attack. Brown should get back on track after a rough patch with or without the wildcat. The Broncos currently rank 30th in run defense giving up 155 yards per game. Denver has also allowed 9 rushing TD’s on the ground in 7 games and it would probably be more if their pass defense wasn’t equally as bad.
7. Chris Johnson (TEN) – The fact that LenDale White continues to receive the goal line carries for the Titans does limit Johnson’s fantasy value a bit, but Johnson hasn’t had much trouble getting into the end zone himself lately with 4 rushing TD’s in his last 4 contests. He should continue to produce on a high level with yet another favorable match up in week 9. Green Bay ranks just 25th in run defense allowing 142 rushing yards per game, and they have yet to face a backfield as formidable as Tennessee’s. In addition, the Packers have allowed 6 run plays of over 20 yards this season which bodes well for the speedy rookie with his big play ability.
8. Brandon Jacobs (NYG) – After scoring 6 TD’s in his last 4 games, Jacobs TD streak came to halt in week 8 against Pittsburgh’s 3rd ranked run defense. Week 9 should prove to be less challenging against the Cowboys, but not by much. Dallas currently ranks 11th against the run allowing 95 yards per game. They have also been stingy this season in goal line situations allowing just 6 rushing TD’s in 8 games. The promising news is that Steven Jackson, who is similar in running style, ran all over this defense in week 7 accounting for 3 of the 6 rushing TD’s the Cowboys have allowed this season. It won’t be easy, but we like Jacob’s chances to rebound nicely this week.
9. Marion Barber (DAL) – There is no question that Barber will have his hands full in week 9 against the Giants 7th ranked run defense, but he should get a ton of touches, and so long as that is the case; Barber has the talent to be productive in any match up. He should also prove useful in the Cowboys passing attack.
10. Clinton Portis (WAS) – Unfortunately, the stud RB has a couple of things going against him this week. For starters, he is now nursing an ankle injury that has kept him from practicing on Wednesday and Thursday. Secondly, Portis has a horrible match up against the NFL’s 3rd ranked run defense. The Steelers only allow 72 rushing yards per game and have given up just 3 rushing TD’s all season. The promising news is that Portis will have an extra day to heal up with the game being played on Monday night and he typically plays through injuries and plays well. In addition, Portis has been a monster lately averaging 139 rushing yards over his last 5 games while exceeding 120 rushing yards in all 5 of those contests. He is too hot to sit against any opponent when fully healthy, but that appears to be an uncertainty as of right now. Check injury report: ankle
11. Maurice Jones-Drew (JAX) – He is arguably the most frustrating fantasy option out there this season. We all know what he is capable of doing, and he has done just that on two separate occasions this season, but he is definitely proving to be hit or miss (more miss). Our best advice is to play the match ups. Jones-Drew’s two biggest games this season (his only 2) both came against soft run defenses in Denver and Indianapolis. While playing the match ups is not fail safe as Jones-Drew proved with a poor week 8 performance against a fairly porous Browns run defense, it is probably your only option at this point, and you never know when he is going to break out. Fortunately, week 9 provides another cushy match up against the Bengals 28th ranked run defense. Jones-Drew should bounce back this week, and he is probably your best bet depending on your other options at RB.
12. Steven Jackson (STL) – Before missing week 8 with a thigh injury, Jackson was one of the hottest things going in fantasy football. In his last 3 games, he has 4 TD’s and is averaging 153 total yards per game. Jackson will face a fairly solid Arizona run defense that gives up less than 100 rushing yards per game and has only allowed 5 rushing TD’s on the season. Despite the questionable match up, Jackson is a must start fantasy option for week 9 if healthy. He was optimistic after Thursday’s practice about his chances to play, but Rams coach Jim Haslett calls it a 50-50 proposition. Monitor his status closely and weigh your options appropriately. Jackson would be ranked higher if fully healthy, but he will likely be limited if he does play and risks further injury. UPDATE: Jackson is active and expected to play in week 9 against Arizona. He may be limited and is a risky fantasy play as an early exit is very possible.Check injury report: thigh
13. Willis McGahee (BAL) – He is battling nagging knee and ankle problems, but we expect McGahee to see a full compliment of carries on Sunday. While the Browns will likely stack the box against him with the Ravens weak passing game, McGahee should still manage to put up solid numbers against this defense. Cleveland gives up 142 rushing yards per game on average and they have allowed 8 rushing TD’s in 7 games this season. McGahee totaled 75 yards and a score in limited action against Cleveland in week 2. In addition, he exceeded 100 rushing yards in both games against them last season also adding a TD. McGahee will need help from the passing game to get things rolling, but he should be solid for week 9. UPDATE: McGahee is active for week 9, but the Ravens intend to go back to the 3 headed monster platoon system that they used earlier this season (probably just until McGahee is back to 100%).Check injury report: ankle
14. Marshawn Lynch (BUF) – We aren’t real high on Lynch for week 9 for two reasons. One, he has yet to rush for more than 83 yards in a game all season and two, the Jets 4th ranked run defense is by far the best unit he has faced this year. That said, Lynch is also a very talented fantasy RB and his 6 TD’s so far this season speak highly of his ability to find the end zone. The Jets do not give up many ground yards, but they are allowing 1 rushing TD per game which bodes well. Don’t expect a big time game from him this week, but Lynch is a candidate to find the end zone with this match up.
15. LenDale White (TEN) – He has been a TD machine recently with 5 rushing TD’s in his last 2 games and he leads the NFL with 10 rushing TD’s on the season. White is always a strong candidate to find the end zone, and week 9 is no exception against a porous Packers run defense, but there is risk involved with starting him. If for some reason White does not find pay dirt, he doesn’t typically offer much in the yardage department. That said, he is on a roll and probably worth the risk. As long as the smell of hot dogs and pizza radiates from the end zone concession stands at LP Field, White will probably find his way there.
16. Joseph Addai (IND) – He is not listed on the Colts injury report and he has practiced in full so far everyday this week. Addai is expected to start in week 9 and will likely play with little to no limitation based on early indications. He has struggled so far this season in terms of yardage, but he was starting to find his way into the end zone, scoring 4 TD’s over 3 consecutive games, before injuring his hamstring in week 6. While Addai might be a bit rusty and a slight injury risk, we still like his chances for decent production against a shaky Patriots run defense. New England ranks just 20th against the run, but they have been solid inside the red zone, only giving up 4 rushing TD’s on the season. As a side note, Addai has a very rich history against the Patriots.
17. Justin Fargas (OAK) – He hasn’t been very productive as of late, but he really wasn’t expected to be with 3 brutal match ups in a row. Fargas should have a much easier row to hoe in week 9 against a porous Falcons run defense. Atlanta is giving up 129 rushing yards per game this season and they have also allowed 9 rushing TD’s through 7 games. Fargas should finally be able to find some running lanes with this match up and he is always dangerous. Also, he should be in for additional carries with Darren McFadden expected to miss week 9. McFadden is reportedly suffering from turf toe on both feet now which makes him highly unlikely to suit up.
18. Steve Slaton (HOU) – He has been able to put up some very solid fantasy numbers to this point, but he hasn’t had to face a formidable run defense in several weeks. That is exactly what he will see in week 9 when Slaton will match up against the Vikings 2nd ranked run defense. Minnesota is only allowing 71 rushing yards per game and they are coming in fresh off of a bye week. While this match up is very dangerous, there is a silver lining. The Vikings can be vulnerable against the run in the red zone, as they have allowed 7 ground TD’s in 7 games. Slaton has the talent and ability to be successful, but this defense is relentless against the run, so keep your expectations realistic.
19. Ryan Grant (GB) – We do expect bigger and better things from Grant in the second half of the season, but a big week 9 performance against the Titans is probably a long shot. The Titans have shown a little vulnerability against the run in recent weeks, but they are still a pretty dominant group, and with the exception of week 7, Grant hasn’t exactly torched anyone. Despite the unfavorable match up, Grant does have a few things in his favor. He is coming off of his best game of the season, fresh off of a bye week, and the Titans are coming off of a short week of practice after playing on Monday night. He is risky, but capable for week 9.
20. Willie Parker (PIT) – He is expected to play on Monday night, but you should remain cautious with his fragile knee. Parker probably could have picked a better week to return as well. He will likely have his hands full against Washington’s top 5 run defense. The Redskins have been one of the best teams in the NFL this season against the run only allowing 83 yards per game and they have given up just 4 rushing TD’s in 8 games. When healthy, Parker is capable of putting up big ground yards on even the best defense, but we aren’t certain that he will be 100% for this match up, and he risks further injury. You might want to take a wait and see approach with Parker for week 9 unless your options are limited at RB. Check injury report: knee
21. Jamal Lewis (CLE) – A week 9 match up against the Ravens top ranked run defense is not exactly favorable, but Lewis typically fares well against his former team totaling 186 yards and 2 TD’s against them in 2 games last season. That wasn’t so much the case when he faced them earlier this season in week 4, but the Cleveland offense has shown vast improvement since week 4. Now that the Browns passing game is clicking to some extent, Lewis should have more opportunities this time around. Despite the fact that the Ravens are a monster on defense, you could do much worse than Lewis.
22. Thomas Jones (NYJ) – Jones has been very productive lately, but the cup cake match ups over the last 3 weeks didn’t hurt. He will probably have to return to reality this week against a fairly solid Bills run defense. Buffalo is vulnerable to TD’s on the ground allowing 8 in 7 games this season, but they are pretty stingy in the yardage department which isn’t a strong suit for Jones anyway. Also, the Jets will probably return to a pass heavy attack this week, which further limits Jones’ fantasy value. Even against a horrible Chiefs run defense last week, he only had 14 carries. He hasn’t a decent shot at finding pay dirt, otherwise he doesn’t have much to offer this week.
23. Michael Pittman (DEN) – He has proven to be a solid fantasy back since taking over a feature role in the Broncos backfield. That said, week 9 is not especially promising. Pittman is battling a rib injury and he will face a pretty good Miami run defense. In addition, Selvin Young is expected to be back this week, so it is anyone’s guess as to how Denver will divvy up the carries. Pittman is capable, but there are too many question marks to consider him as a solid starting option this week. Check injury report: ribs
24. Kevin Faulk (NE) – With all of the injuries and comers and goers in the Patriots back field recently, Faulk is the only reliable staple they have. He isn’t going to get a full compliment of carries, but he typically does not need many to be productive. He should do well against a shaky Colts run defense in week 9. Faulk is especially useful in PPR leagues as his strong suit is as a receiver out of the backfield. He is a quality bye week replacement for week 9.
25. Tim Hightower (ARI) – He is expected to have a more prominent role in the Cardinals offense moving forward and may even replace Edgerrin James as the feature back in the near future. Hightower also has a promising week 9 match up against the Rams 29th ranked run defense. St. Louis has given up 11 rushing TD’s in 7 games, so it is a fairly safe bet to count on him finding the end zone as usual. Keep in mind that Hightower is still the back up for the time being and that he plays in a pass heavy offense which limits his potential, but he is not a bad play for week 9 as a bye week fill in, and he has a lot of upside for the future.
26. Fred Taylor (JAX) – In spite of a promising week 9 match up against the Bengals 28th ranked run defense, Taylor is not a highly recommended fantasy option. You never know when he is going to break out, but based on his performances so far this season, there is not a safe match up for Taylor. If you can, keep him on the bench, if not, hope for the best because a solid effort is not out of the realm of possibilities. It’s just not likely.
27. Edgerrin James (ARI) – About the only thing he really has going for him heading into week 9 is a favorable match up against a weak Rams run defense. He is on the verge of losing his job to Tim Hightower and his workload is on the decline in the cardinals pass heavy offense. He could do some damage given the cup cake match up, but don’t expect much.
28. Ricky Williams (MIA) – In spite of 2 TD’s in the last 3 games, Williams remains a last resort for most fantasy rosters. That said, we do like him this week as a bye week fill in. He probably won’t see an extraordinary number of touches in week 9, but he may not need many to do damage against a horrible Broncos run defense.
29. Cedric Benson (CIN) – He probably isn’t worth starting in week 9 against Jacksonville. The Jaguars have not been great against the run this season, but Benson has yet to top 52 yards in a game all season, and he has 0 TD’s. He is a long shot to do any real damage this week or any other.
30. Kolby Smith (KC) – He is now the feature RB for the Chiefs as the only healthy or non suspended option they have left on the roster. That said, his fantasy value remains extremely limited for week 9 against a stout Tampa Bay run defense. The Bucs only give up 88 rushing yards per game and they are the only team in the NFL that has yet to allow a TD on the ground this season. Smith was great filling in for Larry Johnson last season, but that was last season, and he has yet to top 20 rushing yards in 2 starts in ‘08. Smith should have better numbers this week with the increased workload, but don’t expect much.
31. BenJarvis Green-Ellis (NE) – We like what he brings to the table, especially against a weak Colts run defense, but there is a chance that he may never even see the field in week 9 if LaMont Jordan is healthy enough to play. Even if Green–Ellis gets the start, use him only as a bye week fill in, as Kevin Faulk will probably see the majority of playing time in the Patriots backfield.
32. Mewelde Moore (PIT) – He should continue to see the field in week 9 even with the return of Willie Parker. The problem is, you can never be sure how much we will actually play. If Parker suffers a setback with his knee, it could be a lot, but more than likely, you should expect just a handful of carries. Moore is not a safe fantasy option for week 9 and the match up against Washington is not very good even if Moore was to get all of the carries.
33. Kevin Smith (DET) – He probably won’t see the field much playing behind Rudi Johnson, but he is still the better fantasy option of the two. While the match up against Chicago is less than favorable, Smith did find the end zone the last time the Lions faced the Bears in week 5.
34. Julius Jones (SEA) – His fantasy stock continues to plummet, and a week 9 match up against a tough Philadelphia run defense probably isn’t going to help matters.
35. Chester Taylor (MIN) – He will only be used sparingly in week 9, but the match up against Houston is favorable, and Taylor is always a TD threat.
36. Derrick Ward (NYG) – In spite of his limited game use, Ward has posted modest fantasy totals this season. Don’t expect much in week 9 against a solid Cowboys run defense.
37. Leon Washington (NYJ) – In our opinion, he is the best RB on the Jets roster. It’s just too bad the Jets coaching staff doesn’t feel the same way. He should see an increased role given his recent success, but the match up isn’t great against the Bills, and that role will still be minimal.
38. Dominic Rhodes (IND) – With Joseph Addai back from injury, Rhodes will likely see only a handful of carries against New England. There is a chance that Addai suffers a set back with his hamstring in which case Rhodes would again take over, but that is wishful thinking if you are still depending on Rhodes (and you shouldn’t be). Just be thankful that it was good while it lasted. It might not be a bad idea to hang onto him for another week to see what happens if you can afford to do so. Check injury report: ankle
39. Rudi Johnson (DET) – He will start in week 9, but that is about all that he has going for him against a stout Bears run defense.
40. Maurice Morris (SEA) – He is starting to see a more prominent role in the Seahawks running game again, but that isn’t worth much against a formidable Eagles run defense in week 9.