1. Maurice Jones-Drew (JAC) - As expected, MJD finally put it together with an outstanding week 4 performance against Indianapolis. We fully expect him to keep it rolling in week 5 against Buffalo. The Bills rank dead last in the NFL against the run giving up 174 rushing yards per game on average. They have also allowed an NFL worst 7 rushing TDs. Jones-Drew should have a field day. + Ankle: Probable
2. Arian Foster (HOU) - The NFL’s leading rusher proved in week 4 that he doesn’t even need a full 4 quarters to completely destroy an opposing defense. Fortunately, Foster will get a full 4 quarters if everything goes according to plan in week 5. In fact, the Texans will likely rely heavily on Foster with multiple injuries in the receiving corps that will limit the passing game. Foster is basically match up proof at this point, but in case you were wondering, the Giants rank just 22nd in the NFL against the run, so it is favorable.
3. Frank Gore (SF) - Gore’s versatility in the passing attack continues to pay dividends to fantasy owners on a weekly basis and we expect more of the same in week 5. As a bonus, Gore is facing an Eagles defense that has been surprisingly generous to opposing RBs on the ground as well. Philadelphia ranks just 27th in the NFL against the run and they have given up 4 rushing scores in 4 games.
4. Steven Jackson (STL) - In spite of his groin injury, Jackson still managed to roll up 124 total yards on the Seahawks in week 4. The good news is that Jackson’s groin should be in better shape for week 5 and the great news is that he is facing Detroit. The Lions have given up 5 rushing TDs in 4 games while allowing 135 rushing yards per game. Jackson is a must start with this promising match up. + Groin: Probable
5. Chris Johnson (TEN) - As weeks 2 and 4 might suggest, Johnson is not above having a bad day in 2010. That said, Johnson’s total body of work in his career including stellar week 1 and 3 performances are solid reminders that he is still the most dangerous back in the NFL. He will have a tough test against an outstanding and well rested Dallas defense on the road, but even with the difficult match up, benching Johnson is not an option as he still gives you an outstanding chance for success.
6. Adrian Peterson (MIN) - He is in for his biggest test of the season in week 5 against a very stingy Jets run defense that has allowed just 1 rushing TD and 74 rushing yards per game so far this season. While Peterson will certainly have his work cut out for him, he is still plenty capable of a very solid game against this defense and the addition of Randy Moss should help distract some of the attention away from him.
7. Michael Turner (ATL) - With the exception of week 3, Turner’s numbers have been very underwhelming so far this season. On top of that, he is facing the only defense in the NFL to play 4 games and not allow a single rushing TD. While it kind of seems like the deck is stacked against him, we would still take our chances with Michael Turner against Cleveland any day of the week.
8. Peyton Hillis (CLE) - One of the bigger surprises of the 2010 season, Hillis has a TD in every single game so far this season and since taking over the starting role in week 3, he has yet to run for less than 100 yards. In week 5, he will face a Falcons run defense that has allowed just 2 rushing TDs in 4 games and ranks 11th in the NFL in rushing yards allowed. It may seem like a fairly tough match up, but its far more promising than his previous 2 match ups were and those turned out just fine for fantasy owners. Ride the hot streak. + Thigh: Probable
9. Ryan Mathews (SD) - In spite of limited work due to his ankle injury, Mathews still managed solid numbers in week 4 and Coach Norv Turner has strongly suggested that Mathews will return to a feature role in week 5. Mike Tolbert will still vulture some carries, but Mathews should see the majority of touches. Regardless, there should be plenty to go around for everyone in week 5 against an atrociously bad Raiders run defense.
10. Ahmad Bradshaw (NYG) - He looks more and more dangerous by the week and that has been reflected in his fantasy output so far this season. Bradshaw is nursing a sore ankle and his match up against Houston’s 2nd ranked run defense isn’t as favorable as fantasy owners would like, but we still like his chances. After all, he torched what “was” the NFL’s top ranked run defense in week 4 and the Texans lofty ranking is a bit misleading to begin with as opposing teams have heavily favored the pass against Houston’s inept secondary. Houston has also allowed 4 rushing TDs in as many games which also bodes well. + Ankle: Questionable
11. Cedric Benson (CIN) - So far, he has looked more like the Cedric Benson that was released by the Bears than the dominant force he developed into as a Bengal last season and he is becoming increasingly difficult to trust as a fantasy option. That said, there are just some match ups that are too good to pass up and week 5 presents fantasy owners with one of those match ups. Tampa Bay currently ranks just 28th in the NFL against the run giving up 141 ground yards per game, so there really is no excuse for Benson not to run all over this defense at home.
12. DeAngelo Williams (CAR) - We’d still like to see Williams getting more touches, but his week 4 output was promising and should serve as a momentum boost for week 5. In week 5, Williams will face a Bears defense that gave up 191 rushing yards and 2 rushing TDs to Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs collectively just last week. Chicago is still very solid in rushing yards allowed for the season, but last week’s performance revealed some glaring chinks in the Bears armor for Williams to exploit. They have allowed 5 rushing scores in 4 games which also bodes well.
13. Jahvid Best (DET) - He was obviously hampered by his toe injury in week 4, but Best should be closer to 100% in week 5 and the match up against the Rams at home has some very favorable aspects. St. Louis has been much improved on defense this season and they have only allowed 1 rushing TD in 4 games. The silver lining is that they are also giving up close to 120 rushing yards per game and only the Raiders have allowed more runs of 20 yards or more than the Rams. If fully healthy or close to it, Best can do some damage against this defense. + Toe: Probable
14. Thomas Jones (KC) - It is difficult to favor Jones over the more dangerous Jamaal Charles in week 5’s match up against the Colts, but Jones’ starting role, superior workload and goal line touches give him a slight edge in our opinion. Regardless, there should be plenty to go around for both backs to achieve success against a struggling Colts run defense.
15. Joseph Addai (IND) - We suspected that Addai would break his TD drought in week 4 and he even exceeded our expectations by finding pay dirt twice. The great thing about Addai is that he is capable of finding the end zone against anyone in any week thanks to the Colts high powered offense. The downside is that if he doesn’t get into the end zone, his production tends to be sub par. Addai will have a tough row to hoe in terms of yardage against a much improved Kansas City defense in week 5, but his TD potential is still fairly high, especially with Donald Brown likely out with a bad hamstring. + Knee: Probable
16. LaDainian Tomlinson (NYJ) - After the show he put on in Buffalo last week, it is safe to say that Tomlinson is once again extremely relevant in fantasy football circles. That said, facing a dysfunctional Bills defense is not quite the same as the challenge L.T. will face in week 5 against a stout Vikings defense. Never the less, Tomlinson is inching closer to regaining elite status and his versatile role in the Jets game plan makes him dangerous against any defense.
17. Ray Rice (BAL) - Rice’s knee is doing much better this week and he is expected to return to his feature role in week 5. The bad news is that he will face a Broncos run defense that shut down Chris Johnson in week 4 and has been very unkind to fantasy RBs in general so far this season. Rice is an elite talent and the Ravens have a much better passing game than the Titans to help open up running lanes, so there is optimism for Rice to finally breakout in week 5, but don’t bet the farm on it. + Knee: Probable
18. Jamaal Charles (KC) - While Charles is the much more dangerous and has the better upside of the 2 backs in Kansas City, it is difficult not to favor Thomas Jones at this point. Jones’ starting role, superior workload and goal line touches give him a slight edge in our opinion, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that he will outperform Charles in a given week. That includes week 5 against a struggling Colts run defense. There should be plenty to go around for both backs to achieve success and Charles only needs 1 big run to make for a solid fantasy day.
19. Michael Bush (OAK) - With Darren McFadden sidelined in week 5 with a hamstring injury, Bush will be the go to guy this week in the Raiders running game. The great thing about Bush is that he is almost as talented as McFadden and maybe more so in some areas, so there is virtually no drop off here. Bush will have a difficult test against a tough San Diego run defense, but a significant workload and Bush’s nose for the end zone qualify him for RB2 or flex status.
20. Mike Tolbert (SD) - He will likely return to more of a reserve role in week 5 with Ryan Mathews back to full strength, but that doesn’t mean Tolbert won’t see a fair share of touches and it won’t take much for him to put up solid numbers against the Raiders. Oakland is giving up 162 rushing yards per game this season to go along 5 rushing TDs allowed in 4 games. There should be enough to go around for both Mathews and Tolbert.
21. LeSean McCoy (PHI) - @ SF + Rib: Questionable
22. Ryan Torain (WAS) - vs. GB
23. Fred Jackson (BUF) - vs. JAC
24. Chris “Beanie” Wells (ARI) - vs. NO
25. Chris Ivory (NO) - @ ARI
26. Matt Forte (CHI) - @ CAR
27. Marion Barber (DAL) - vs. TEN
28. Tim Hightower (ARI) - vs. NO
29. Jonathan Stewart (CAR) - vs. CHI
30. C.J. Spiller (BUF) - vs. JAC
31. Shonn Greene (NYJ) - vs. MIN
32. Ladell Betts (NO) - @ ARI
33. Carnell “Cadillac” Williams (TB) - @ CIN
34. Felix Jones (DAL) - vs. TEN
35. Brandon Jacobs (NYG) - @ HOU
36. Brandon Jackson (GB) - @ WAS
37. Willis McGahee (BAL) - vs. DEN
38. Laurence Maroney (DEN) - @ BAL
39. Mike Bell (PHI) - @ SF move up 11 spots if McCoy is out
40. John Kuhn (GB) - @ WAS
41. LaGarrette Blount (TB) - @ CIN
42. Correll Buckhalter (DEN) - @ BAL
43. Jason Snelling (ATL) - @ CLE
44. Rashad Jennings (JAC) - @ BUF + Shoulder: Questionable
45. Kenneth Darby (STL) - @ DET
46. Darren Sproles (SD) - @ OAK
47. Jerome Harrison (CLE) - vs. ATL
48. Chester Taylor (CHI) - @ CAR
49. Derrick Ward (HOU) - vs. NYG + Ribs: Questionable
50. Javon Ringer (TEN) - @ DAL