Fantasy Football Running Back Start/Sit Rankings (Week 7)

*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 7 rankings.

1. DeAngelo Williams (CAR) – Following a lackluster start to his ’09 fantasy campaign, Williams finally busted loose with a monster week 6 effort against Tampa Bay. He should easily keep the momentum rolling into an extremely favorable week 7 match up against a beat up Buffalo Bills defense. Buffalo currently ranks dead last in the NFL in run defense giving up an average of 182 rushing yards per game. Williams should absolutely throttle this defense.

2. Thomas Jones (NYJ) – Following last week’s huge performance, Jones has now scored at least 1 TD in each of his last 3 contests. He now has 6 TD’s on the season and a week 7 match up against Oakland is favorable to add to that total. The Raiders have allowed 7 TD’s on the ground in 6 games and currently rank 28th in the NFL against the run giving up an average of 145 rushing yards per game. Jones should easily manhandle this defense en route to yet another stellar fantasy effort.

3. Adrian Peterson (MIN) – He was unable to find pay dirt in week 6, but Peterson more than made up for it by totaling 166 yards in spite of a difficult match up against Baltimore. He will face yet another tough match up in week 7 when he heads to Pittsburgh to take on the Steelers 2nd ranked run defense. Yards and TD’s will not be easy to come by against this defense, but if anyone can get the job done, it is Peterson. It is worth noting that the Steelers will be without one of their best run stoppers in DE Aaron Smith. Keep Peterson locked in your fantasy line up and throw away the key. Check injury report: ankle (probable)

4. Frank Gore (SF) – Prior to getting injured in week 3, Gore had totaled 294 yards and 4 TD’s in just 2 games. He returns in week 7 with a match up that is favorable for him to pick up where he left off. Gore will face a Houston run defense that has allowed 10 rushing TD’s in 6 games (most in the NFL). They are also fairly generous in the yardage department giving up 125 ground yards per game. It is worth noting that the Texans have shown improvement over the last couple of weeks against the run, but they are still vulnerable and Gore matches up well against them. Gore should knock the rust off early en route to a very solid week 7 fantasy effort. Check injury report: ankle (probable)

5. Ryan Grant (GB) – While Grant has not been able to find the end zone since week 2, he has been consistently solid otherwise and the odds are heavily in his favor to end his TD drought in week 7 against Cleveland. The Browns have already allowed 9 rushing TD’s in just 6 games. In addition, they are extremely generous in terms of rushing yards allowed giving up 165 per game. It is also worth noting that the Browns will be without their best run stopper LB D’Qwell Jackson who was lost for the season with a shoulder injury and several key Browns defenders are either injured or sick with the flu. It is quite possible that Grant could be in for his best fantasy effort of the season against a battered Cleveland defense that was pretty bad to begin with.

6. Michael Turner (ATL) – He continues to struggle a bit in the yardage department, but Turner has now found pay dirt in each of his last 4 contests totaling 6 TD’s on the season. He will have his work cut out for him to continue his TD streak in week 7 against a Cowboys defense that has allowed just 2 rushing TD’s in 5 games. That said, Turner is the best RB that Dallas has faced this season and we like his chances. The Cowboys have also been leaky at times this year in terms of rushing yards. They currently rank mid pack in the NFL in that department giving up 106 ground yards per game. Turner is a must start fantasy option as usual. Check injury report: chest (probable)

7. Ronnie Brown (MIA) – In 5 games this season, Brown has already posted 3 multiple TD games and remains one of the hottest fantasy backs in the league. That said, Brown will be in for his toughest test to date in week 7 against a New Orleans run defense that ranks 5th in the NFL. Brown could have a tough row to hoe against this defense, but he is coming in fresh off of a bye week and the Saints have yet to face anything quite as formidable as the Dolphins high powered “wildcat” attack. Despite the difficult match up we like Brown’s chances to maintain the hot hand.

8. Cedric Benson (CIN) – While he did manage to find the end zone for the 4th time in week 6, we were expecting more from Benson. For whatever reason, this guy seems to struggle with easy match ups and thrive against high powered defenses. Fortunately, he will face a fairly high powered run defense in week 7. The Bears currently rank 6th in the NFL against the run giving up just 88 rushing yards per game on average. They have, however, allowed 5 rushing TD’s in 5 games which bodes well for Benson’s TD aspirations. In the bizarre world in which Benson plays his best football against great defenses, you have to like his chances in this one. He will also be playing with a chip on his shoulder against the same Chicago team that released him 2 years ago.

9. Brian Westbrook (PHI) – Despite receiving just 6 carries in a week 6 loss to Oakland, Westbrook appeared to be in vintage form as he averaged a hefty 8.3 yards per carry and added 91 yards on 9 receptions. While it was great to see Westbrook play at an elite level, he is going to need more than 6 carries a game to be effective. That said, Eagles coach Andy Reid was heavily criticized for abandoning the running game early in the embarrassing loss and we fully expect to see Westbrook’s workload increase significantly in week 7 against the Redskins. Washington’s up and down run defense currently ranks a mediocre 22nd in the NFL, but they have only allowed 2 rushing TD’s in 6 games. Westbrook has a solid track record against this defense, especially in the passing game and we expect a solid performance from him in week 7. Check injury report: ankle (probable)

10. Joseph Addai (IND) – With a season high 63 rushing yards, it is safe to say that Addai is not on pace to win any rushing titles this season, but his ability to find the end zone and an increased role in the passing game have led to a solid fantasy campaign to this point. Addai should be in for his most successful match up to date against the Rams 26th ranked run defense. St. Louis has already allowed 9 rushing TD’s in 6 games and give up an average of 133 rushing yards per game. As usual, Addai will share carries with Donald Brown, but there should be plenty to go around for both backs against a generous Rams defense. Addai should be particularly valuable in PPR fantasy formats in week 7.

11. LaDainian Tomlinson (SD) – It was not vintage L.T. in week 6, but considering the quality of opposition, he fared extremely well in his 100 yard performance against Denver. At the very least, Tomlinson looked the best that he has in quite some time, which is reason for optimism heading into a promising week 7 match up against Kansas City. The Chiefs currently rank a meager 25th in the NFL in run defense and they are giving up 1 rushing TD per game on average which bodes well for L.T.’s scoring aspirations. Tomlinson did miss practice on Thursday with the flu, but he should be fine come Sunday and we really like his chances against this defense. Check injury report: flu (probable)

12. Steven Jackson (STL) – Six weeks have already passed and still no TD for Jackson. Unfortunately, that is the steep price fantasy owners have to pay with Jackson playing in an inept offense incapable of getting him near the goal line. The good news is that Jackson continues to supplement his lack of scoring chances by putting up solid yardage totals week in and week out. He is averaging a respectable 112 total yards per game and doing so at a fairly consistent clip. In week 7 he will face an improving, but vulnerable Colts run defense that ranks 14th in the NFL. Indianapolis will likely stack the box against him as most teams do, but we are still optimistic that Jackson gets his yards. Who knows? He could accidentally find the end zone this week. He is certainly overdue in that respect.

13. Jonathan Stewart (CAR) – He is coming off of a 110 yard rushing effort in week 6 and has scored a TD in each of his last 2 games. In spite of his back up role to DeAngelo Williams, Stewart continues to receive a healthy dose of carries each week and he has been fairly productive. That said, we are optimistic that week 7 could be Stewart’s best fantasy outing so far this season. He will face a beat up Buffalo Bills run defense that currently ranks dead last in the NFL. The Bills have been massacred by opposing backs in recent weeks and in no scenario can we see them limiting the powerful duo of Williams and Stewart. There should be plenty to go around for both backs and this is the ideal match up to use Stewart as a bye week replacement, RB2 or flex option. Check injury report: achilles’(probable)

14. Marion Barber (DAL) – The thigh injury that had limited Barber in the last 2 games is supposedly no longer an issue following the bye week, but the newest report has him dealing with a broken thumb. Luckily, the fractured thumb is on his non ball carrying hand and should not limit him much running the football, but it could be an issue in the passing game, although reports from practice are that Barber is catching the ball without any difficulty. Promising news indeed heading into a week 7 match up against Atlanta. While the Falcons have shown improvement against the run in recent weeks, they are still a bit shaky in that respect ranking a sub par 23rd in the NFL. Barber will continue to share carries with Tashard Choice and Felix Jones limiting him a bit, but Barber should be the featured back for the most part and receive the all important goal line carries. He should be solid against this defense. Check injury report: thumb (probable)

15. Steve Slaton (HOU) – Averaging just over 45 rushing yards per game so far this season, it is clear that Slaton is not going to provide much fantasy value in the ground yardage department most weeks. The silver lining is that Slaton has been able to supplement his lack of rushing yards by displaying his versatility in the passing game. Slaton’s increased role in the passing game has led to 161 receiving yards on 12 receptions in the last 2 weeks and he has a receiving TD in 2 out of his last 3 games. We expect Slaton to continue in that role in week 7 against the 49ers. For the most part, San Francisco has been stout against opposing running attacks this season, but they have allowed 4 rushing TD’s in their last 2 games and there should be opportunities available in the passing game against this defense. This is not the safest match up for Slaton, but we think he does just enough to qualify as a decent RB2 for week 7.

16. Marshawn Lynch (BUF) – While Lynch has yet to get on track in a big way since his return from suspension, his chances for success in week 7 are actually pretty good. By no means do we expect some monster breakout performance from him, especially with the way this offense has sputtered most of the season, but Lynch should be fairly productive against a leaky Carolina run defense. The Panthers currently rank just 29th in the NFL in run defense giving up an average of 150 rushing yards per game. They have also allowed 5 rushing TD’s in 5 games. With Ryan Fitzpatrick expected to get the nod at QB for Buffalo this week in place of the concussed Trent Edwards against a very good Panthers pass defense, we expect the Bills to lean heavily on Lynch and the ground attack which bodes well. Surely, the Bills will look to exploit Carolina’s deficiencies against the run, especially with their struggles in the passing game. He will continue to share carries with Fred Jackson, but Lynch should get the bulk of the load. He is a decent RB2 or flex play for week 7.

17. Laurence Maroney (NE) – While it is never easy to trust any Patriots RB as a fantasy option, the prospects for success are actually pretty good for Maroney in week 7. Sammy Morris and Fred Taylor are both out with injury which will open the door for Maroney to get the start against Tampa Bay in week 7 across the pond in London. Maroney will likely share carries with Kevin Faulk and BenJarvus Green-Ellis, but he should be the featured back in this very favorable match up. The Bucs currently rank 31st in the NFL in run defense giving up an average of 172 rushing yards per game and they are coming off of a game in which they allowed not one, but two RB’s to go over 100 yards rushing and score a TD. Maroney isn’t completely fail safe as a fantasy option considering Bill Belichick’s extensive history of coming up with new ways to dash the hopes of fantasy owners with regard to RB's, but under the circumstances, Maroney is well worth the risk this week as a RB2 with plenty of potential. Use him while you can because it is not likely to last.

18. Matt Forte (CHI) – Just as it appeared Forte was on the verge of turning the corner on a disappointing season, he regresses with his worst fantasy performance of the season in a relatively easy week 6 match up against Atlanta. In all fairness, Forte’s struggles are not completely of his own doing. Chicago’s revamped offensive line is not at all effective in their run blocking schemes and the Bears seem to have adopted a pass happy philosophy with Jay Cutler under center. We aren’t saying that Forte is not capable of turning things around still yet, as the season is still relatively young, but the prospects of him doing so grow gloomier by the week. Consider him a middle of the road RB2 at best for week 7 against a Bengals run defense that has been fairly solid to this point. The silver lining is that Cincinnati has suffered a rash of injuries to their defensive front in the last 2 weeks, so there is cause for optimism as they should be much more vulnerable against the run this week.

19. Clinton Portis (WAS) – Despite having to play in one of the worst offenses in the NFL in addition to playing through a laundry list of leg and foot injuries, Portis has managed to fare pretty well for himself ranking 7th in the NFL in rushing yards (447). While there isn’t much that can be done about Portis’ ever growing list of injuries, we are hopeful that a transition in play calling duties from Jim Zorn to Sherman Lewis will ignite a positive spark in the Redskins offense. This may be wishful thinking at best, but it is possible with Lewis’ track record of success. As for week 7, Portis will face the Philadelphia Eagles. The Eagles do have one of the scarier run defenses in the NFL, but Portis has an excellent history against them and Philadelphia appeared very vulnerable last week against a pretty bad Raiders rushing attack. We are a bit skeptical about this match up considering Portis’ ever growing list of injuries, but he should qualify as a decent RB2 play for week 7 if he is given the green light to play. You should, however, monitor his status closely just to be on the safe side. Check injury report: ankle (questionable)

20. Rashard Mendenhall (PIT) – He has now solidified himself as the Steelers feature back and in doing so, he has been quite productive. In fact, he has now scored at least 1 TD in each of the last 3 weeks since taking over the starting duties. That said, we aren’t blown away by his potential for week 7 against Minnesota and here is why. For starters, Mendenhall will be facing a stout Vikings run defense that has only given up 2 rushing TD’s in 6 games and allows less than 95 rushing yards per game. In addition, Pittsburgh has somehow developed into a pass first offense, a tactic we think they will continue to employ in week 7 against a very shaky Minnesota pass defense. While not a glaring issue, Mendenhall will also continue to give up some touches to Willie Parker. We aren’t saying that Mendenhall is not a worthy starting option for fantasy rosters this week, but under the circumstances, you need to lower expectations a bit. He should make for a serviceable RB2. Check injury report: knee (probable)

21. Tim Hightower (ARI) – He can be a tough guy to gauge most weeks due to the fact that you can never be completely sure how and how much the Cardinals are going to use him. That said, we do know he will be used in goal line situations and he has been huge at times in the passing game. Despite a level of uncertainty, Hightower could be useful this week against a beat up Giants defense that took a shellacking in week 6. Surprisingly, the Giants now rank a mediocre 18th in the NFL against the run and they have allowed 8 rushing TD’s in 6 games (3rd most in the league). Hightower isn’t the safest play, but he has been fairly consistent to this point and this match up is not quite as scary as you might think. As a side note, there is a slight chance that Hightower could be in for additional touches with Beanie Wells limited by a hip injury.

22. Donald Brown (IND) – He appears to have fallen a bit behind Joseph Addai in recent weeks, but Brown should get a fair share of touches in a very promising week 7 match up against St. Louis. The Rams rank a poor 26th in the NFL in run defense giving up an average of 133 rushing yards per game. In addition, they have allowed 6 rushing TD’s in the last 2 weeks and 9 rushing TD’s total in 6 games. This game could get out of hand early in which case Brown could see plenty of action against this weak defense. Brown can be used as a RB2 or flex option this week and makes for an excellent bye week fill in with this match up.

23. Pierre Thomas (NO) – He is one of the better RB’s in the NFL, but so long as Mike Bell is healthy, Thomas fantasy value may suffer. If week 6 was any indication, the Saints appear to prefer Bell as their goal line back. There is always a chance that this was a trial deal or that the 2 backs could rotate goal line duties from week to week until someone emerges as the best option, but as it stands now, week 6 was not a good omen for Thomas future near the goal line. He should continue to get the bulk of the regular touches and is capable of breaking one to the house anyway. That said, big games are going to be tough to come by having to share with Bell and Reggie Bush. It will be especially tough in week 7 when Thomas will face a very stingy Miami run defense on the road. Consider Thomas a low end RB2 this week under the circumstances.

24. Ahmad Bradshaw (NYG) – While Bradshaw continues to find success even as a back up, we are not particularly optimistic about his chances in week 7 against the Cardinals top ranked run defense. Through 5 games, Arizona has only allowed 2 rushing TD’s, and they are giving up just 59 rushing yards per game (allowing just 2.8 yards per carry). In other words, it is going to be tough sledding against this defense. Bradshaw is tremendously talented and he is always capable of busting a long run against anyone, but the odds of that happening are still fairly slim. He is a low end RB2 or flex play at best for week 7. Check injury report: foot (questionable)

25. Brandon Jacobs (NYG) – We were actually impressed with the way Jacobs played early on in week 6, but he was forced to leave the game prematurely with a stinger and by the time he was ready to return, the Giants had long since abandoned the running game trying to play catch up. For one reason or another, Jacobs can not seem to catch a break. We still believe there is solid fantasy value to be had from him down the stretch and he will be playing hard because he obviously has something to prove. Unfortunately, he will have a hard time getting on track in week 7 against Arizona. The Cardinals rank 1st in the NFL in run defense allowing just 59 rushing yards per game. They have also been extremely stingy near the goal line giving up just 2 rushing TD’s all season. Jacobs is no better than a RB2 with this match up and a slightly risky one at that.

26. Larry Johnson (KC)
27. Ricky Williams (MIA)
28. Tashard Choice (DAL)
29. Carnell “Cadillac” Williams (TB)
30. Leon Washington (NYJ)
31. Mike Bell (NO)
32. Fred Jackson (BUF)
33. Reggie Bush (NO)
34. Jamal Lewis (CLE)
35. Justin Fargas (OAK)
36. Darren Sproles (SD)
37. Willie Parker (PIT)
38. LeSean McCoy (PHI)
39. Kevin Faulk (NE)
40. Michael Bush (OAK)
41. Chester Taylor (MIN)
42. Derrick Ward (TB)
43. Chris “Beanie” Wells (ARI) – Check injury report: hip (questionable)
44. Jerome Harrison (CLE) – Check injury report: flu (questionable)
45. Felix Jones (DAL) – Check injury report: knee (probable)
46. Chris Brown (HOU)
47. Jamaal Charles (KC)
48. BenJarvus Green-Ellis (NE)
49. Heath Evans (NO)
50. Jason Snelling (ATL)
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