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October 8, 2009

Fantasy Football Running Back Start/Sit Rankings (Week 5)


Here they are—Running Back Rankings for Week 5 to help you decide who to start and who to sit on your fantasy football team.*

* Updated RB rankings with comments will be posted on Friday. Any additional updates that are necessary will be posted no later than Saturday in the final week 5 rankings.

1. Adrian Peterson (MIN) – He has been off pace the last couple of weeks, but nothing screams “slumpbuster” louder than a match up against the Rams. The Vikings will likely lean heavily on the ground game this week and we fully expect Peterson to run wild on St. Louis. He will return to elite form in week 5.

2. Maurice Jones-Drew (JAC) – Through no fault of his own, MJD only rushed for 14 yards on 6 carries in week 4, but he still managed to salvage his day to some degree by scoring a TD and adding 3 receptions for 26 yards. The good news is that he is well rested heading into a favorable week 5 match up against the Seahawks. Seattle ranks just 21st in the NFL against the run and are allowing opposing RB’s 5.1 yards per carry. Jones-Drew should rebound nicely.

3. Chris Johnson (TEN) – Johnson’s fantasy numbers have tailed off a bit the last couple of weeks, but he is still averaging a hefty 6.2 yards per carry and we like his chances to get things going again in week 5 against a mediocre, if not bad, Colts run defense. Johnson totaled 96 yards and a TD against Indy in his only game against them in 2008. Even if the Colts take a big lead, we still expect Johnson to maintain a significant role throughout.

4. Brandon Jacobs (NYG) – With Eli Manning battling a foot injury, we should see Jacobs pound the rock early and often against Oakland’s 26th ranked run defense. Not only do we like his chances to find the end zone in week 5, we also think he will get his first 100 yard game of the season. The odds are definitely in his favor.

5. Rashard Mendenhall (PIT) – Following a monster breakout performance in week 4, Mendenhall is slated to make his second straight start in relief of the injured Willie Parker. Even better, he will get to make that start against a porous Lions run defense in week 5. We doubt he will be able to match his lofty week 4 totals even against Detroit, but Mendenhall will be great nonetheless.

6. Marion Barber (DAL) – He wasn’t amazing in week 4, but he did manage to find the end zone and we weren’t expecting a big performance under the circumstances anyway. Fortunately those circumstances have improved for week 5. He is healthier and a match up against a generous Chiefs run defense bodes well. He will continue to share carries with Tashard Choice, but there should be plenty of touches to go around against Kansas City’s 23rd ranked run D. Check injury report: thigh (probable)

7. DeAngelo Williams (CAR) – He does have 2 TD’s in 3 games, but otherwise, his numbers are mediocre. While not encouraging, Williams can not shoulder all of the blame for his shortcomings as the Panthers have had to prematurely abandon the running game playing from behind in each of their first 3 contests. Fortunately, Carolina will be playing an equally bad Washington team in week 5, so he should get more touches to improve on his yardage total. The Skins are giving up 128 rushing yards per game ranking them just 22nd in the NFL, but they have allowed only 1 rushing TD in 4 games. That said, we are optimistic that Williams will take care of business in week 5.

8. Brian Westbrook (PHI) – He’s back and while he will be in a RB rotation with LeSean McCoy this week, Westbrook should get the bulk of the carries and we really like the match up against Tampa Bay. Barring any setbacks, Westbrook should be able to get on track against a very poor Buccaneer defense. Check injury report: ankle (probable)

9. Glen Coffee (SF) – We were expecting a little more from Coffee against the Rams, but he did manage total over 100 yards, which is solid for his first start. He should fare even better in week 5 against the Falcons 25th ranked run defense at home. Coffee will be one of just a handful of backs that will receive the full compliment of his teams carries this week and that always bodes well in a run based offense playing against a poor defense.

10. Clinton Portis (WAS) – He’s still playing below par, but Portis is getting there and it is comforting to see his name off of the injury report for a change. Even better, the good match ups keep coming as Portis will face Carolina in week 5. The Panthers rank dead last in the NFL in run defense giving up a whopping 183 ground yards per game to opposing running backs. It doesn’t get much better than that after an encouraging week 4.

11. Jerome Harrison (CLE) – There is a decent chance that Jamal Lewis will return this week in which case Harrison’s fantasy value would be diminished to some degree. That said, we seriously doubt Lewis will retain his former feature role considering the huge lift Harrison has given the Browns offense in Lewis’ absence, but you never know and there is some risk here. At the very least, Harrison should see a substantial workload against a really bad Buffalo run defense. The Bills are giving up over 150 ground yards per game and have allowed 7 rushing TD’s in 4 games. Even in a time share situation, Harrison is serviceable as a RB2 this week, but we like him much better if Lewis is out of the picture.

12. Marshawn Lynch (BUF) – While he did manage 5 receptions for 43 yards in his first game back from suspension, Lynch might as well have stayed on the bench during running downs. That said, the match up was difficult and he had not played in a live game of any consequence in months. Now that he’s been able knock the rust off, we expect to see a big increase in both touches and production this week. Lynch will still share carries with Fred Jackson, but there should be more than enough to go around against a Cleveland run defense that ranks 31st in the NFL in yards allowed and dead last in rushing TD’s allowed (8).

13. Michael Turner (ATL) – He is always a candidate to find the end zone and he is talented enough to produce against quality opposition, but Turner may have his hands full on the road against the Niners in week 5. San Francisco currently ranks 4th in the NFL in run defense giving up just under 74 ground yards per game. In addition, the 49ers are one of just 2 teams left in the NFL to not allow a single rushing TD through 4 games. This is not a safe match up, but Turner is far too valuable to sit against anyone.

14. Tim Hightower (ARI) – Despite the fact that he plays in a pass happy offense, we really like his chances for success in week 5. Sure, the Cardinals are going to continue to throw more often than not, but they will likely put a little more emphasis on the running game this week under the circumstances. Hightower will face a Houston run defense that is giving up an average of 165 ground yards per game. The Texans have also given up 8 rushing TD’s in just 4 games, tying them with Cleveland for most rushing TD’s allowed in the NFL.

15. Steve Slaton (HOU) – As expected, Slaton finally lived up to his pre-draft fantasy potential scoring twice in week 4. Unfortunately, his yardage totals were still a bit on the disappointing side considering the opponent. Regardless, it was nice to see him finally get into the end zone. Hopefully he can carry some of that momentum into a week 5 match up against Arizona, but we do have our doubts. Arizona ranks 6th in the NFL in run defense giving up less than 80 ground yards per game and have allowed just 1 rushing TD in 3 games. Slaton will have his work cut out for him.

16. Knowshon Moreno (DEN) – He has managed to find the end zone in each of his last 2 games now and with Correll Buckhalter injured, Moreno is in line for his most significant workload to date. The bad news is that this will also be in for his most difficult match up to date. We still like his chances because of his versatility, but Moreno could have his hands full against a fairly stout New England run defense.

17. Willis McGahee (BAL) – He managed to salvage an otherwise forgettable week 4 by once again finding pay dirt. We aren’t sure how he keeps doing it, but as long as he continues to score TD’s, he’s worth starting. You should keep in mind, however, that sooner or later his luck will run out and his numbers are not very good without the scores. That said, he has a decent chance to continue the trend in week 5 against a good, but not great, Bengals run defense. A match up against Cincy should prove more rewarding than his week 4 match up against New England, at least in terms of yardage.

18. Fred Jackson (BUF) – While Marshawn Lynch is likely to grab a few more touches than him this week, there should be more than enough to go around against a Cleveland run defense that ranks 31st in the NFL in yards allowed and dead last in rushing TD’s allowed (8). Jackson qualifies as a solid RB2 play this week even in a time share situation.

19. Ahmad Bradshaw (NYG) – He continues to quietly chew up yards week after week and it is only a matter of time before he breaks one into the end zone. In fact, the chances of that happening in week 5 aren’t all that unfavorable. Bradshaw will be matched up against Oakland’s generous 26th ranked run defense. Check injury report: ankle (probable)

20. Steven Jackson (STL) – It truly is a credit to his talents that he is even able to gain 10 yards a week in this offense, yes, the Rams are that bad. Fortunately, Jackson is a stud and while yards and TD’s will be extremely difficult to come by in week 5, you can never count him out . Jackson will face a Minnesota run defense that currently ranks 9thin the NFL. The Vikings are one of just two teams in the NFL that have yet to allow a single rushing TD all season. Despite, the difficult match up, Jackson qualifies as RB2 for week 5.

21. Ray Rice (BAL) – He isn’t putting up monster numbers on a weekly basis, but he is capable of doing so, and Rice has been solidly consistent to this point. You should see more of the same from him against Cincinnati in week 5. While it isn’t the best of scenarios against a pretty good Bengals run defense, it isn’t quite as difficult on paper as his week 4 match up and Rice fared pretty well there totaling 152 yards against the Patriots.

22. Ronnie Brown (MIA) – As well as Brown has played to this point, we have our doubts about him in week 5. The Jets have one of the better run defenses in the NFL and Brown does not have a great track record against them to begin with. In 2 games, he rushed for a combined total of just 80 yards with 0 TD’s against the Jets in 2008 and the Jets defense is much improved over 2008. He is on a roll, but Brown only qualifies as a low end RB2 with this difficult match up.

23. Thomas Jones (NYJ) – He has a pretty good track record against Miami and Jones is always a candidate to find the end zone, but this match is fairly risky none the less. The Dolphins defense has held opposing RB’s to just 2.9 yards per carry in addition to allowing just 2 rushing TD’s in 4 games. Miami currently ranks 2nd in the NFL in run defense and they have faced some pretty good backs to this point. Jones will have to be at the top of his game to do much damage in week 5. Consider him a risky RB2 play.

24. Tashard Choice (DAL) – He should continue to receive a decent number of touches with Felix Jones still out and we really like the match up against a generous Kansas City run defense. Unfortunately, a healthier Marion Barber will likely get the bulk of the workload and Choice doesn’t have much potential to find the end zone.

25. Cedric Benson (CIN) – For whatever reason, the Bengals decided to ignore the running game until late in week 4’s match up against Cleveland which sorely hurt Benson’s numbers and should have cost them the game. While brighter days lie ahead, a Sunday match up against Baltimore’s top ranked run defense probably won’t be one of them. Benson has already proven that he can put up good numbers against great defenses as he did in week 3 versus Pittsburgh, but we are not overly optimistic that he will be able to put up a comparable stat line against the Ravens. Check injury report: hip (probable)

26. Joseph Addai (IND) - Check injury report: hand (questionable)
27. Julius Jones (SEA)
28. Kevin Smith (DET) – Check injury report: shoulder (probable)
29. LeSean McCoy (PHI)
30. Larry Johnson (KC)
31. Donald Brown (IND)
32. Jonathan Stewart (CAR) – Check injury report: achilles (questionable)
33. Mewelde Moore (PIT)
34. Carnell “Cadillac” Williams (TB)
35. Chris “Beanie” Wells (ARI)
36. Sammy Morris (NE)
37. Ricky Williams (MIA)
38. Leon Washington (NYJ)
39. Michael Bush (OAK)
40. Derrick Ward (TB) – Check injury report: knee (probable)
41. LenDale White (TEN)
42. Justin Fargas (OAK)
43. Chester Taylor (MIN)
44. LaMont Jordan (DEN)
45. Kevin Faulk (NE)
46. Laurence Maroney (NE)
47. Jamaal Charles (KC)
48. Jamal Lewis (CLE) – Check injury report: hamstring (questionable)
49. Ladell Betts (WAS)
50. Peyton Hillis (DEN)

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