Week 1 fantasy football player analysis: running backs

by Tim Heaney and Nicholas Minnix on September 3, 2008 @ 20:20:25 PDT

 


We introduce our positional player analysis for the 2008 season. In past years, KFFL always evaluated each game matchup to explore the value of players to make your life easier. This year, we are launching a new format that we feel will be easier for fantasy owners. Instead of having to view many different team report articles, you can come to a one-stop shop for your positional questions.

Editor's note: All statistics in this article are from Week 1 to Week 17 of the 2007 season, unless otherwise noted. Statistics appearing in each table are per-game averages.

Fantasy value: No. 1 running backs

Joseph Addai, Indianapolis Colts vs. Chicago Bears

G
Pls
RZ Pls
IN5
Run Yds
Run TD
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TD
15
20.73
4.33
1.27
71.5
0.80
2.73
24.3
0.20
  • The possible absence of Chicago Bears defensive tackle Tommie Harris (knee) could open up the interior for Addai, but the loss of center Jeff Saturday (knee) for at least the next six weeks might negate that.
  • With quarterback Peyton Manning (knee) seeing his first action of the year, the Colts may be inclined to run more than usual.
  • The Bears allowed 116 yards, 1.06 touchdowns and 5.50 receptions to opposing running backs last year.

Brian Westbrook, Philadelphia Eagles vs. St. Louis Rams

G
Pls
RZ Pls
IN5
Run Yds
Run TD
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TD
15
26.67
4.07
0.73
88.9
0.47
6.00
51.4
0.33
  • Westbrook is coming off a career season in which he amassed 2,104 yards from scrimmage, 12 touchdowns and 90 receptions.
  • Westbrook should once again assume his role as one of quarterback Donovan McNabb's top targets in the passing game.
  • The Rams allowed 109.4 ground yards, 4.06 receptions and 0.94 total touchdowns to running backs last year.

LaDainian Tomlinson, San Diego Chargers vs. Carolina Panthers

G
Pls
RZ Pls
IN5
Run Yds
Run TD
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TD
16
25.19
4.19
1.19
92.1
0.94
3.75
29.7
0.19
  • Tomlinson didn't have a utilization in the preseason but is on track for the season opener after recovering from a sprained medial collateral ligament sustained in last year's playoffs.
  • Offensive line woes could limit LT's effectiveness, but the Chargers' passing game should help keep the defense honest.
  • Carolina allowed 98.4 yards with 0.62 touchdowns on the ground to opposing backs last year; they also permitted 4.69 receptions per game from the position.

Clinton Portis, Washington Redskins at New York Giants

G
Pls
RZ Pls
IN5
Run Yds
Run TD
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TD
16
24.12
3.81
1.12
78.9
0.69
2.94
24.3
0.00
  • Portis lit up the New York Giants last year for 39 carries, 186 yards and two touchdowns; he also caught six passes against the G-Men.
  • The Redskins are transitioning into a West Coast offense, meaning they could rely heavily on Portis in the early part of the season as quarterback Jason Campbell builds confidence within the system.
  • The Giants allowed just 89.8 ground yards and only 0.69 rushing touchdowns per game but let up five receptions, on average, against the position last year.

Adrian Peterson, Minnesota Vikings at Green Bay Packers

G
Pls
RZ Pls
IN5
Run Yds
Run TD
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TD
14
19.00
1.29
0.21
95.8
0.86
1.36
19.1
0.07
  • AD is coming off an outstanding rookie season and remains the centerpiece of the Vikes' offense.
  • Peterson rushed for 157 yards and caught four passes in two games against the Pack last year but failed to reach the end zone.
  • Minnesota added deep threat wideout Bernard Berrian (toe) to help the passing game balance out the offense, but the suspension of left tackle Bryant McKinnie takes away an important line cog for the first four games of the season.
  • The Packers allowed just 0.43 total touchdowns per game to the position last year; they gave up 98.8 rushing yards per contest against the position, though.

Marion Barber III, Dallas Cowboys at Cleveland Browns

G
Pls
RZ Pls
IN5
Run Yds
Run TD
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TD
16
16.00
3.62
0.94
60.9
0.62
2.75
17.6
0.12
  • Barber is now the starting back in Dallas after the departure of Julius Jones (Seattle Seahawks).
  • "The Barberian" scored four touchdowns in his first three games last year.
  • The Cleveland Browns allowed 114.9 rushing yards but just 0.31 total touchdowns per game to running backs last year; they allowed 4.12 receptions per contest to backs, though.

Marshawn Lynch, Buffalo Bills vs. Seattle Seahawks

G
Pls
RZ Pls
IN5
Run Yds
Run TD
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TD
13
23.62
3.69
0.69
85.8
0.54
1.38
14.2
0.00
  • Lynch rushed for 1,115 yards in his 2007 rookie season and is the focus of the Bills offense.
  • He might be hindered by the absence of holdout offensive tackle Jason Peters, who emerged as an anchor last year.
  • The Seattle Seahawks gave up just 96.1 rushing yards to backs last season but allowed 0.94 total touchdowns and 5.06 catches per game to them.

Steven Jackson, St. Louis Rams at Philadelphia Eagles

G
Pls
RZ Pls
IN5
Run Yds
Run TD
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TD
12
24.33
2.58
0.75
83.5
0.42
3.17
22.6
0.08
  • Jackson ended a holdout by signing an extension during training camp but received just two utilizations in the preseason; he ran for 1,002 yards in '07 despite missing four games last year due to a partially torn groin.
  • Left tackle Orlando Pace (shoulder) was banged up in the preseason but should be ready to go for Week 1.
  • The Eagles were tough on opposing backs last year, allowing just 86.9 yards and 0.62 touchdowns on the ground (with an additional 4.00 for 32.1 and no scores through the air).

Edgerrin James, Arizona Cardinals at San Francisco 49ers

G
Pls
RZ Pls
IN5
Run Yds
Run TD
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TD
16
22.75
3.75
0.69
76.4
0.44
1.50
12.8
0.00
  • With 324 carries last year, James fell one short of tying for the league lead.
  • The 30-year-old torched the 49ers last year with 170 yards and a touchdown on 43 carries in two contests against them.
  • The Niners allowed 108.7 ground yards and 40.4 receiving yards per game to running backs last year. They gave up 0.56 rushing touchdowns and no receiving scores to the position.

Frank Gore, San Francisco 49ers vs. Arizona Cardinals

G
Pls
RZ Pls
IN5
Run Yds
Run TD
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TD
15
22.00
1.93
0.40
73.5
0.33
3.53
29.1
0.07
  • Gore enters his first year in offensive coordinator Mike Martz's system, which should frequently feature Gore in the passing game.
  • Gore unleashed in two games against the Cards last year with 171 rushing yards, 12 receptions, 119 receiving yards and three touchdowns.
  • Despite Gore's success, the Cards allowed just 86.5 rushing yards, on average, but let up 6.31 receptions per game against running backs last year. They gave up 0.75 touchdowns on the ground and 0.06 per game through the air.

Larry Johnson, Kansas City Chiefs at New England Patriots

G
Pls
RZ Pls
IN5
Run Yds
Run TD
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TD
8
25.12
3.25
0.88
69.9
0.38
3.75
23.2
0.12
  • Johnson appears to be healthy after missing the last seven games in '07 with a cracked bone in his right foot; he ran for 115 yards with a touchdown on 35 attempts in the preseason.
  • The Patriots allowed per-game averages of 89.1 rushing yards and five receptions but just 0.56 total touchdowns to opposing backs last season, putting them in the top third among rushing defenses.

Fantasy value: No. 1 or No. 2 running backs

Michael Turner, Atlanta Falcons vs. Detroit Lions

G
Pls
RZ Pls
IN5
Run Yds
Run TD
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TD
16
4.88
0.38
0.06
19.8
0.06
0.25
1.0
0.00
  • "The Burner" enters his first year as a starting back after backing up LaDainian Tomlinson his entire career; he rushed for 169 yards on 18 carries in the preseason.
  • Turner could be relied on heavily to start the season as rookie quarterback Matt Ryan learns the system.
  • The Lions are a great matchup for Turner this week; they allowed 112.2 rushing yards, 1.12 rushing touchdowns, 8.06 receptions and 69.4 receiving yards per game to running backs last year.

Selvin Young, Denver Broncos at Oakland Raiders

G
Pls
RZ Pls
IN5
Run Yds
Run TD
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TD
15
12.13
1.60
0.47
48.6
0.07
2.33
15.4
0.00
  • Young assumes the starting job after the release of Travis Henry; Young gained 729 yards on 140 carries last year but battled a knee injury for most of the year.
  • Head coach Mike Shanahan is known for alternating his running backs, so Andre Hall and Michael Pittman should also see their shares.
  • Oakland's strong secondary could force the Broncos to focus on running the ball this week.
  • The Raiders offer a friendly opportunity for Young; Oakland allowed a league-high 1.38 rushing touchdowns along with 135.1 rushing yards per game to the position last year.

Reggie Bush, New Orleans Saints vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

G
Pls
RZ Pls
IN5
Run Yds
Run TD
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TD
12
21.33
3.17
1.42
48.4
0.33
6.08
34.8
0.17
  • Bush is now part of a virtual committee that includes Deuce McAllister (knee), Pierre Thomas and, perhaps, even Aaron Stecker; Bush would be the primary focus because of his receiving ability.
  • The Bucs allowed 100.2 rushing yards, 5.50 receptions, 35.1 receiving yards and 0.81 total touchdowns per game against running backs last year.

Jamal Lewis, Cleveland Browns vs. Dallas Cowboys

G
Pls
RZ Pls
IN5
Run Yds
Run TD
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TD
15
22.47
3.67
1.47
86.9
0.60
2.00
16.5
0.13
  • Lewis (hamstring) is on track for Week 1, but his status could be determined by his ability to practice this week.
  • He's coming off back-to-back seasons with at least 1,100 rushing yards and exactly nine ground touchdowns; he attained 1,304 rushing yards in his contract year of '07.
  • The Cowboys allowed just 84.4 rushing yards and 0.81 touchdowns per game to opposing backs last year, but they surrendered 4.50 catches to them on average.

Maurice Jones-Drew, Jacksonville Jaguars at Tennessee Titans

G
Pls
RZ Pls
IN5
Run Yds
Run TD
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TD
15
14.73
4.07
1.07
51.2
0.60
2.67
27.1
0.00
  • Jones-Drew will continue to share carries with Fred Taylor, but the Jags are a run-heavy offense, meaning he will still see a fair fantasy share of work.
  • He conquered the Titans in two games last year with 133 rushing yards, six receptions, 56 receiving yards and a touchdown. 
  • The Titans weren't receptive to running backs on the whole, though, allowing just 113.6 total yards and 0.81 total touchdowns per game against the position.

Earnest Graham, Tampa Bay Buccaneers at New Orleans Saints

G
Pls
RZ Pls
IN5
Run Yds
Run TD
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TD
15
19.40
3.40
1.07
59.9
0.67
3.27
21.6
0.00
  • Graham emerged from the third string to rush for 10 touchdowns in 15 games last year, but he is expected to share touches with Warrick Dunn and Michael Bennett.
  • In his second game versus the Saints last year, Graham rushed for 106 yards on 22 carries and a touchdown; he also had seven receptions.
  • The Saints were not hurt much by running backs last year; they allowed just 0.44 total touchdowns and 88.6 rushing yards per game to the position. Everyone was too busy passing against their feeble secondary.

Brandon Jacobs, New York Giants vs. Washington Redskins

G
Pls
RZ Pls
IN5
Run Yds
Run TD
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TD
11
21.64
2.91
0.27
91.9
0.36
2.09
15.8
0.18
  • There will reportedly be a virtual timeshare between Jacobs, Derrick Ward and Ahmad Bradshaw.
  • Jacobs ran for 130 yards with three receptions in one game against the Redskins last season.
  • The Redskins were solid against the run last year, allowing just 75.2 yards and 0.43 total touchdowns per game to opposing backs.

Fantasy value: No. 2 running backs

Kevin Smith, Detroit Lions at Atlanta Falcons

G
Pls
RZ Pls
IN5
Run Yds
Run TD
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TD
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
  • The rookie from Central Florida is the starter in Detroit; he ran for 2,567 yards in his final year in college, falling 61 yards short of the NCAA single-season record.
  • The team signed Rudi Johnson, but he likely won't see much time in Week 1 since he has to pick up the offense; Smith should be heavily used at least in the first few weeks.
  • New offensive coordinator Jim Colletto wants to focus on the run more often.
  • The Falcons could put out the welcome mat; they allowed 119.1 rushing yards and one total touchdown per game to the position last year.

Thomas Jones, New York Jets at Miami Dolphins

G
Pls
RZ Pls
IN5
Run Yds
Run TD
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TD
16
21.56
3.12
0.94
69.9
0.06
1.75
13.6
0.06
  • Jones scored one of his two touchdowns against the Dolphins last while running off 185 ground yards in two contests against them last year.
  • The Jets added guard Alan Faneca to improve the o-line, and the addition of quarterback Brett Favre now forces the defense to focus on the passing game.
  • The Dolphins were friendly to running backs last year, allowing a league-high 137.2 rushing yards and 0.75 scores on the ground per game to the position.

Willie Parker, Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Houston Texans

G
Pls
RZ Pls
IN5
Run Yds
Run TD
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TD
15
23.53
3.80
0.47
87.7
0.13
1.53
10.9
0.00
  • Parker looks ready to go after breaking his leg in Week 15 last year; he scored just two touchdowns in '07.
  • He has carried the ball at least 321 times the last two seasons, but he might not reach that this year because of the presence of rookie back Rashard Mendenhall.
  • The Texans surrendered 101.8 rushing yards, 0.94 touchdowns and 5.75 receptions per game to the position last season.

Ricky Williams, Miami Dolphins vs. New York Jets

G
Pls
RZ Pls
IN5
Run Yds
Run TD
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TD
1
6.00
0.00
0.00
15.0
0.00
0.00
0.0
0.00
  • The 31-year-old beat out Ronnie Brown (knee, thumb) for the top spot on the depth chart and has rushed for 123 yards on 29 carries this preseason.
  • Head coach Tony Sparano looks to be focusing on a run-first offense, and the arrival of quarterback Chad Pennington should help keep defenses honest.
  • Running backs enjoy facing the Jets; "Gang Green" allowed 126.8 yards and 1.07 total touchdowns per game to opposing backs in '07. 

Julius Jones, Seattle Seahawks at Buffalo Bills

G
Pls
RZ Pls
IN5
Run Yds
Run TD
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TD
16
12.00
1.81
0.12
36.5
0.12
1.44
12.7
0.00
  • Seattle's new addition will be splitting carries with Maurice Morris to start the season.
  • Jones rushed for just 588 yards on 164 carries last season with the Dallas Cowboys.
  • The Bills defense has upgraded several areas this year, but they allowed 116.7 rushing yards and 0.94 total touchdowns per game against running backs in '07.

Fred Taylor, Jacksonville Jaguars at Tennessee Titans

G
Pls
RZ Pls
IN5
Run Yds
Run TD
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TD
15
15.80
1.60
0.13
80.1
0.33
0.60
3.9
0.00
  • Taylor is coming off a 1,202-yard campaign but is still the second banana to Maurice Jones-Drew.
  • Taylor rushed for 61 yards and a touchdown in two games against the Titans last year.
  • The Titans weren't receptive to running backs last year, allowing just 113.6 total yards and 0.81 total touchdowns per game against the position.

Ryan Grant, Green Bay Packers vs. Minnesota Vikings

G
Pls
RZ Pls
IN5
Run Yds
Run TD
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TD
15
15.00
2.33
0.73
63.7
0.53
2.00
9.8
0.00
  • Grant heads into his first season with the Packers as the opening day starter; he came out of nowhere last year with 956 rushing yards on 188 carries.
  • In his second matchup with Minnesota last year, Grant compiled 119 rushing yards with a touchdown along with five receptions.
  • The Vikes' run defense was arguably the league's best last year, allowing just 67.8 ground yards along with just 0.5 total touchdowns per game to the position.

Fantasy value: No. 2 or No. 3 running backs

Matt Forte, Chicago Bears at Indianapolis Colts

G
Pls
RZ Pls
IN5
Run Yds
Run TD
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TD
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
  • The rookie from Tulane is the starter in Chi-Town; the ascension of Kyle Orton to starting quarterback signals that the team wants to win with the run, meaning Forte should be a focus of the offense.
  • The Colts weren't friendly against running backs last year as they allowed 93.9 yards, 0.62 total touchdowns and 27 receptions.

Chris Perry, Cincinnati Bengals at Baltimore Ravens

G
Pls
RZ Pls
IN5
Run Yds
Run TD
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TD
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
  • Perry, who missed all of last season with injuries, inherits the starting job with the departure of Rudi Johnson (Detroit Lions) and should see the majority of work; Kenny Watson is the change-of-pace back.
  • Perry has just 73 career carries as his career has been marred by injuries, but he has impressed the coaching staff in the preseason.
  • The Ravens had a staunch run defense last year as they gave up just 76.8 ground yards and 0.62 total touchdowns per game to the position.

Maurice Morris, Seattle Seahawks at Buffalo Bills

G
Pls
RZ Pls
IN5
Run Yds
Run TD
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TD
14
12.29
1.86
0.14
44.9
0.29
1.64
15.2
0.07
  • Morris is splitting touches with Julius Jones but has the potential to earn the lion's share; he's a better receiver than Jones.
  • With the Seahawks wideout corps banged up, look for the Seahawks to emphasize the run more until they're back at full strength.
  • The Bills defense has upgraded several areas this year, but they allowed 116.7 rushing yards and 0.94 total touchdowns per game against running backs in '07.

Laurence Maroney, New England Patriots vs. Kansas City Chiefs

G
Pls
RZ Pls
IN5
Run Yds
Run TD
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TD
13
14.85
2.31
0.77
64.2
0.46
0.31
8.9
0.00
  • Maroney is reportedly stuck in a committee that includes Sammy Morris and LaMont Jordan; Kevin Faulk is serving a one-game suspension.
  • With the health of Tom Brady (foot) an issue in New England, the Patriots could focus on running the ball more in the first few weeks of the season.
  • The Chiefs allowed 120.9 ground yards and 0.75 total touchdowns per game to running backs last year.

Darren McFadden, Oakland Raiders vs. Denver Broncos

G
Pls
RZ Pls
IN5
Run Yds
Run TD
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TD
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
  • The exciting rookie will split touches with starter Justin Fargas as the season begins.
  • He ran for 182 yards on 34 carries in the preseason while also catching four passes.
  • The spotty Broncos run defense surrendered 124.4 ground yards per game to opposing running backs last year, but they held them to just 3.88 receptions per game - a trend that could limit McFadden's production

DeAngelo Williams, Carolina Panthers at San Diego Chargers

G
Pls
RZ Pls
IN5
Run Yds
Run TD
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TD
16
11.38
1.62
0.12
44.8
0.25
1.44
10.9
0.06
  • Williams is expected to start Week 1 but split carries with rookie Jonathan Stewart.
  • Even with Williams having to share duty, the Panthers are aiming to return to their power-running mentality, so Williams will see his share.
  • Williams had a great preseason, rushing for 188 yards and three touchdowns on 26 carries.
  • The Bolts allowed 102.4 rushing yards, 4.38 receptions and 0.81 total touchdowns per game to the position last year.

Willis McGahee, Baltimore Ravens vs. Cincinnati Bengals

G
Pls
RZ Pls
IN5
Run Yds
Run TD
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TD
15
22.87
3.20
1.00
80.5
0.47
2.87
15.4
0.07
  • McGahee (knee) is expected to play in Week 1 after having arthroscopic surgery in the offseason and missing the preseason.
  • He could lose some value because rookie Ray Rice has been impressive in the preseason, and Rice could be given some carries in order to keep McGahee healthy.
  • McGahee combined for 137 yards, five receptions and a touchdown in two contests against the Bengals last year.
  • The Bengals averaged 111.9 yards allowed and 0.50 rushing touchdowns per game to running backs last season.

LenDale White, Tennessee Titans vs. Jacksonville Jaguars

G
Pls
RZ Pls
IN5
Run Yds
Run TD
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TD
16
20.94
3.50
0.94
69.2
0.44
1.25
7.1
0.00
  • Jacksonville limited opposing backs to 87.4 yards and 0.56 touchdowns rushing per game in 2007.
  • Backs caught 4.81 passes for 33.2 yards and 0.25 touchdowns per game, but rookie running back Chris Johnson is more likely to get those touches.
  • White is the lead back, but the lightning-fast Chris Johnson is expected to be more than just a change-of-pace option for Tennessee.
  • White ran for just 78 yards and no scores on 26 carries in two games against Jacksonville last year.

Ahman Green, Houston Texans at Pittsburgh Steelers

G
Pls
RZ Pls
IN5
Run Yds
Run TD
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TD
6
14.67
2.50
0.33
43.3
0.33
2.33
20.5
0.00
  • The Steelers allowed the fewest combined yards to running backs (93.4 per game) and gave up only 0.63 touchdowns per game to the position.
  • Green (knee) is expected to play but isn't 100 percent; he's expected to see roughly a third of the touches, sharing with Steve Slaton and Chris Taylor.

Fantasy value: No. 3 running backs

Jerious Norwood, Atlanta Falcons vs. Detroit Lions

G
Pls
RZ Pls
IN5
Run Yds
Run TD
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TD
15
9.40
1.00
0.00
41.0
0.07
1.87
18.5
0.00
  • The Lions allowed a league-worst 181.6 total yards and 1.43 total scores per game to backs last year.
  • Norwood is the backup and will serve as a change of pace to starter Michael Turner.
  • Norwood's explosiveness enables him to put up big numbers with few touches; he's a boom-or-bust play with a great matchup this week.

Ronnie Brown, Miami Dolphins vs. New York Jets

G
Pls
RZ Pls
IN5
Run Yds
Run TD
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TD
7
23.57
4.29
0.71
86.0
0.57
5.57
55.6
0.14
  • The Jets allowed backs to gain 126.8 yards per game (bottom five) on the ground; they also gave up 30.2 yards per game in the air, with more than one total touchdown per game.
  • Brown (knee), who tore his anterior cruciate ligament in October 2007, has relinquished his starting role to Ricky Williams and isn't likely to receive a large workload initially.

Sammy Morris, New England Patriots vs. Kansas City Chiefs

G
Pls
RZ Pls
IN5
Run Yds
Run TD
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TD
6
15.50
4.00
0.83
64.0
0.50
1.00
5.8
0.00
  • The Chiefs allowed 120.9 yards and 0.69 touchdowns rushing per game to running backs.
  • Morris is one of four backs in the mix in New England this week; running back Kevin Faulk is suspended.
  • Morris impressed the Pats in a part-time role last year; he's likely the best bet for between-the-tackles and tough-yardage situations.

Justin Fargas, Oakland Raiders vs. Denver Broncos

G
Pls
RZ Pls
IN5
Run Yds
Run TD
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TD
14
18.21
2.14
0.57
72.1
0.29
1.64
13.4
0.00
  • In terms of yardage, the Broncos were terrible against running backs: 151.5 total yards per game, along with 0.62 total scores.
  • Talented rookie Darren McFadden is considered the backup; he's expected to eat into Fargas' touches, although perhaps not as much at first.
  • In one 2007 start against Denver, Fargas ran for 146 yards and a touchdown on 33 carries.

Jonathan Stewart, Carolina Panthers at San Diego Chargers

G
Pls
RZ Pls
IN5
Run Yds
Run TD
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TD
 0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
  • Stewart appears to be over his toe problem since he rushed for 100 yards and a score on 10 carries in Week 3 of the preseason.
  • At best, he's expected to split carries with preseason standout DeAngelo Williams, at least initially.
  • The Chargers were in the middle of the pack; they allowed 132 total yards and 0.81 total touchdowns per game to running backs.

Ray Rice, Baltimore Ravens vs. Cincinnati Bengals

G
Pls
RZ Pls
IN5
Run Yds
Run TD
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TD
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
  • The Bengals allowed 142.1 total yards but only 0.5 total scores per game to running backs last year.
  • Rice, a rookie, is the backup, but he was impressive in exhibition play; starter Willis McGahee (knee) should play but isn't 100 percent.
  • Rookie quarterback Joe Flacco may not be able to keep the heat off the Ravens' running game.

Fantasy value: Injury or flex running backs

Andre Hall, Denver Broncos at Oakland Raiders

G
Pls
RZ Pls
IN5
Run Yds
Run TD
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TD
10
4.60
0.80
0.30
21.6
0.20
0.20
6.9
0.00
  • Oakland allowed the most combined touchdowns (1.5 per game) and second most total yards (167.7 per game) to backs.
  • Hall is expected to serve as a complement - more of a between-the-tackles type, with goal line touches possible - to starter Selvin Young.

Leon Washington, New York Jets at Miami Dolphins

G
Pls
RZ Pls
IN5
Run Yds
Run TD
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TD
16
7.69
1.06
0.06
22.1
0.19
2.25
13.3
0.00
  • Miami gave up a mere 2.44 receptions for 23.8 yards and zero touchdowns per game through the air to backs; Washington is more of a pass catcher.
  • Offenses may not have felt the need to pass; the Dolphins allowed 137.2 yards, with 0.75 touchdowns, per game on the ground to the position.
  • Washington ran seven times for 18 yards in Game 1 against Miami; in Game 2, he rushed 10 times for 68 yards and two touchdowns, with two catches for 35 yards too.

Chester Taylor, Minnesota Vikings at Green Bay Packers

G
Pls
RZ Pls
IN5
Run Yds
Run TD
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TD
14
14.50
1.93
0.57
60.3
0.50
2.07
20.1
0.00
  • The Packers gave up the real estate (145.5 combined per game) but not the trips to the end zone (0.43 per game) to running backs.
  • Taylor is second-year stud Adrian Peterson's backup, but he could get close to double-digit touches in this run-first offense.
  • In two games against Green Bay, Taylor gained 147 total yards on 14 total touches.

Pierre Thomas, New Orleans Saints vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

G
Pls
RZ Pls
IN5
Run Yds
Run TD
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TD
12
6.08
0.83
0.17
20.9
0.08
1.58
12.7
0.08
  • The Bucs allowed 140.6 total yards and 0.81 total touchdowns per game to running backs, but 40.2 yards per game came through the air.
  • Thomas is more of a pound-it-out runner, and he's likely to be sharing such duties with Deuce McAllister (knees)
  • Don't forget the dynamic Reggie Bush, who is more likely to see targets in the passing game.

Deuce McAllister, New Orleans Saints vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

G
Pls
RZ Pls
IN5
Run Yds
Run TD
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TD
3
9.67
0.33
0.00
30.7
0.00
1.33
5.0
0.00
  • The Bucs allowed 140.6 total yards and one total touchdown per game to running backs, but 40.2 yards per game came through the air.
  • The Saints may take it easy on McAllister (knees) at first, until he's back to form, so he's likely to be sharing carries with Pierre Thomas
  • The dangerous Reggie Bush will often get his touches outside the tackles, and he's a very talented receiver.

Tim Hightower, Arizona Cardinals at San Francisco 49ers

G
Pls
RZ Pls
IN5
Run Yds
Run TD
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TD
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
  • The rookie from the University of Richmond was solid in the preseason (28 carries, 107 yards, three touchdowns).
  • Hightower was named the backup to Edgerrin James, and he could see goal line touches.
  • The Niners gave up only 0.56 total touchdowns to running backs, although they often parted like the Red Sea (149.1 total yards per game).

Felix Jones, Dallas Cowboys at Cleveland Browns

G
Pls
RZ Pls
IN5
Run Yds
Run TD
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TD
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
  • Cleveland ranked in the bottom third in total yards allowed to backs (148.3 per game), although were tops in the league with only 0.31 total scores per game given up.
  • Wide receivers Miles Austin (knee) and Sam Hurd (ankle) are out, so Jones could see time as the slot receiver in Week 1.
  • Cleveland allowed 4.12 receptions for 33.4 yards per game; Jones is an explosive type who can do a lot with few touches, but he's a risk.

Kevin Jones, Chicago Bears at Indianapolis Colts

G
Pls
RZ Pls
IN5
Run Yds
Run TD
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TD
13
15.15
2.15
1.23
44.7
0.62
2.54
15.3
0.00
  • Matt Forte's primary backup is still only nine months removed from a torn anterior cruciate ligament, so expectations should be low early on.
  • The Colts held opposing backs to 120.9 total yards and 0.62 total touchdowns per game.

Warrick Dunn, Tampa Bay Buccaneers at New Orleans Saints

G
Pls
RZ Pls
IN5
Run Yds
Run TD
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TD
16
17.94
2.75
0.31
44.9
0.25
2.31
14.9
0.00
  • New Orleans was pretty stingy versus backs: 123.7 total yards and 0.44 total touchdowns per game.
  • Head coach Jon Gruden likes Dunn quite a bit, but Dunn will have to fight for touches with lead back Earnest Graham as well as Michael Bennett, who shined in the preseason.
  • In two 2007 games, Dunn (with the Atlanta Falcons) carried the ball 19 times for 31 yards against the Saints.

Kenny Watson, Cincinnati Bengals at Baltimore Ravens

G
Pls
RZ Pls
IN5
Run Yds
Run TD
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TD
16
15.44
2.75
0.69
47.7
0.44
3.25
23.3
0.00
  • Baltimore's defense may be on the decline, but they still held backs to 111.9 total yards (third) and 0.62 total touchdowns per game in '07.
  • With Rudi Johnson (Detroit Lions) gone, Watson will serve as the primary backup to injury-prone Chris Perry.
  • Watson saw action in Game 2 this preseason against the Ravens and rushed nine times for 24 yards; he also hauled in three passes for 25 yards.

Derrick Ward, New York Giants vs. Washington Redskins

G
Pls
RZ Pls
IN5
Run Yds
Run TD
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TD
8
20.75
3.12
0.25
75.2
0.38
3.25
22.4
0.12
  • Backs gained the second-fewest rushing yards (75.2 per game) and tied for the second-fewest total touchdowns (0.43 per game) against the 'Skins.
  • Ward is an able receiver; the Redskins allowed 5.81 catches for 49.3 yards per game to running backs - both marks placed them in the bottom five.
  • Ward may not get the ball much because he's part of a three-headed monster, with Brandon Jacobs, the lead, and Ahmad Bradshaw in the mix.

Steve Slaton, Houston Texans at Pittsburgh Steelers

G
Pls
RZ Pls
IN5
Run Yds
Run TD
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TD
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
  • Slaton averaged 4.1 yards per carry on 34 attempts in the preseason; he should fit Houston's zone-blocking scheme well.
  • Starter Ahman Green (groin) is expected to go in Week 1 but may only receive about one-third of the touches; Slaton and Chris Taylor are likely to split the difference.
  • It may be moot; the Steelers allowed the fewest combined yards to running backs (93.4 per game) and gave up only 0.63 touchdowns per game to the position.

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About Tim Heaney

Tim's work has been featured by USA Today/Sports Weekly, among numerous outlets, and recognized as a finalist in the Fantasy Sports Writers Association awards. The Boston University alum, who competes in LABR and Tout Wars, has won numerous industry leagues in both baseball and football.

During baseball and football season, he appears on Sirius XM Fantasy Sports Radio on Thursdays and Sundays, and every Wednesday on 1570 AM WNST in Baltimore.

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