Week 5 fantasy football player analysis: running backs

by Tim Heaney and Cory J. Bonini on October 2, 2008 @ 10:17:49 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 4 of the 2008 season, unless otherwise noted. Statistics appearing in each table are per-game averages.

Fantasy value: No. 1 running backs

Michael Turner, Atlanta Falcons at Green Bay Packers

G
Pls
RZ Pls
IN5
Run Yds
Run TD
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TD
4
20.50
3.50
1.00
105.5
1.25
0.75
2.8
0.00
Vs. running back position
G
Pls
RZ Pls
Att
Run Yds
Run TD
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TD
4
--
--
26.2
139.0
1.00
4.25
26.8
0.00
  • Turner registered just 56 yards on the ground last week and lost a yard on a reception against the Carolina Panthers.
  • The first-year Falcon has abused weak rushing defenses (330 total yards versus the Detroit Lions and Kansas City Chiefs), but he also struggled against the stout Tampa Bay Buccaneers defense with just 42 rushing yards.
  • The Packers were taken to task by the Buccaneers' two-back setup last week for 174 rushing yards to the position, and the loss of defensive end Cullen Jenkins (chest) significantly weakens their front four.
  • Green Bay offers a strong-play matchup for Turner.

Marion Barber III, Dallas Cowboys vs. Cincinnati Bengals

G
Pls
RZ Pls
IN5
Run Yds
Run TD
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TD
4
21.50
5.00
1.50
77.8
1.00
3.00
24.5
0.25
Vs. running back position
G
Pls
RZ Pls
Att
Run Yds
Run TD
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TD
4
--
--
35.2
141.8
0.75
4.50
36.5
0.00
  • Barber had his worst fantasy performance of 2008 in Week 4 as the Washington Redskins stifled him for 26 yards on eight carries.
  • An opposing running back has found the end zone against the Bengals in each game this year; being the goal line and short-yardage back, Barber stands to keep that streak going.
  • Barber is a strong play this week.

Matt Forte, Chicago Bears at Detroit Lions

G
Pls
RZ Pls
IN5
Run Yds
Run TD
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TD
4
28.50
2.00
0.25
86.8
0.25
4.50
36.8
0.25
Vs. running back position
G
Pls
RZ Pls
Att
Run Yds
Run TD
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TD
3
--
--
29.3
181.3
1.67
4.33
27.7
0.00
  • The Philadelphia Eagles held Forte to 43 yards on 19 carries last week, though he added five catches for 42 yards.
  • He has become a significant receiving option of late, averaging six catches, 54 yards and 0.50 touchdowns per game the last two weeks.
  • Forte is a strong play this week against a porous Lions D.

Steve Slaton, Houston Texans vs. Indianapolis Colts

G
Pls
RZ Pls
IN5
Run Yds
Run TD
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TD
3
19.00
5.00
1.00
64.0
0.33
5.00
32.3
0.33
Vs. running back position
G
Pls
RZ Pls
Att
Run Yds
Run TD
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TD
3
--
--
38.7
193.0
1.00
6.00
43.0
0.00
  • Slaton made up for a slow day on the ground (33 yards rushing) by catching eight passes for 83 yards and a score in Week 4. He has scored in back-to-back weeks while establishing himself as the starter.
  • The Colts have allowed opposing backs to thrive against them this season, meaning Slaton should be atop the game plan for the Texans.
  • Slaton is a strong play this week.

Frank Gore, San Francisco 49ers vs. New England Patriots

G
Pls
RZ Pls
IN5
Run Yds
Run TD
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TD
4
23.50
4.50
1.75
92.2
0.75
3.75
39.0
0.00
Vs. running back position
G
Pls
RZ Pls
Att
Run Yds
Run TD
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TD
3
--
--
27.3
138.7
1.33
5.00
28.3
0.00
  • Gore is still heavily involved in offensive coordinator Mike Martz's system, averaging 25.3 utilizations per game since Week 2.
  • The Pats surrendered their first 100-yard rushing performance of the season in Week 3 to Miami Dolphins halfback Ronnie Brown, who had a field day with five touchdowns, including one passing.
  • The versatile Gore should cause problems for the Pats with a strong-play matchup this week.

Adrian Peterson, Minnesota Vikings at New Orleans Saints

G
Pls
RZ Pls
IN5
Run Yds
Run TD
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TD
4
24.50
2.75
0.75
105.0
0.75
2.25
13.0
0.00
Vs. running back position
G
Pls
RZ Pls
Att
Run Yds
Run TD
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TD
4
--
--
21.2
112.2
0.75
4.25
29.5
0.00
  • After being listed as questionable with a hamstring injury, AD scored two touchdowns along with 80 yards on the ground against a stout Tennessee Titans defense in Week 4. However, one of those scores came late in the game during a Vikings comeback attempt.
  • New Orleans' numbers against opposing backs don't look too bad on paper, but that has more to do with the weakness of their secondary than the strength of their run defense - they're allowing 5.3 yards per carry this year, only two clubs have allowed a higher average.

Reggie Bush, New Orleans Saints vs. Minnesota Vikings

G
Pls
RZ Pls
IN5
Run Yds
Run TD
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TD
4
23.50
1.75
0.00
45.8
0.25
7.75
63.8
0.50
Vs. running back position
G
Pls
RZ Pls
Att
Run Yds
Run TD
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TD
4
--
--
20.8
62.5
1.25
3.75
19.5
0.25
  • Bush was silenced by the San Francisco 49ers last week, gaining just 31 rushing yards and seven yards on five receptions. He saw 20 utilizations.
  • The Vikings run defense has actually allowed opposing backs to score while only limiting yardage. Luckily for Bush, his game leans toward receiving, meaning he should be able to attack Minnesota's defensive shortcomings more often.

Marshawn Lynch, Buffalo Bills at Arizona Cardinals

G
Pls
RZ Pls
IN5
Run Yds
Run TD
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TD
4
23.75
3.00
0.50
68.8
1.00
3.00
20.2
0.00
Vs. running back position
G
Pls
RZ Pls
Att
Run Yds
Run TD
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TD
4
--
--
22.8
81.5
0.75
5.00
42.0
0.00
  • Lynch has been utilized at least 23 times in three of his four contests this year; he had 23 last week despite backup halfback Fred Jackson seeing an increased workload.
  • However, he amassed just 81 total yards and failed to score a touchdown in a game for the first time this year against the St. Louis Rams.
  • The Bills are typically a run-first team, and quarterback Trent Edwards is more of a game manager that works off the running game.
  • Arizona was scorched through the air last week, but they continue to do a good job against the run. They haven't allowed a 100-yard running game against them this year, and no back has even reached 70 yards over the past three weeks.

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

Le'Ron McClain, Baltimore Ravens vs. Tennessee Titans

G
Pls
RZ Pls
IN5
Run Yds
Run TD
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TD
3
13.67
3.33
1.33
71.7
1.00
2.00
18.0
0.00
Vs. running back position
G
Pls
RZ Pls
Att
Run Yds
Run TD
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TD
4
--
--
21.2
82.5
1.00
5.75
35.8
0.25
  • McClain continues to be the most consistent back for the Ravens, leading them with 63 yards and a score against the Pittsburgh Steelers last Monday night; he also had a season-high three receptions for 26 yards.
  • The run-first Ravens have Willis McGahee (ribs) in the mix, but his lingering injuries and suspect conditioning mean McClain should once again see plenty of work. Rookie Ray Rice is the No. 3 at this point.  
  • The Titans D has bent a little over the last two weeks against opposing backs, allowing the Houston Texans running back Steve Slaton 116 yards and a touchdown in Week 3 and the Minnesota Vikings tailback Adrian Peterson 90 yards and two touchdowns in Week 4.

Larry Johnson, Kansas City Chiefs at Carolina Panthers

G
Pls
RZ Pls
IN5
Run Yds
Run TD
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TD
4
23.00
5.75
1.75
103.8
0.75
1.50
3.0
0.00
Vs. running back position
G
Pls
RZ Pls
Att
Run Yds
Run TD
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TD
4
--
--
25.5
108.2
0.25
5.50
30.8
0.00
  • Johnson broke out with 198 yards and two touchdowns against an inept Denver Broncos run-stopping unit in Week 4 for his second-straight 100-yard performance; he has scored three touchdowns in his last two games.
  • LJ is still the focal point of the Chiefs offense, which has had three different quarterbacks at the helm this year.
  • The Panthers held Atlanta Falcons halfback Michael Turner to just 56 rushing yards last week after relinquishing only 77 to Minnesota Vikings tailback Adrian Peterson in Week 3.

LaDainian Tomlinson, San Diego Chargers at Miami Dolphins

G
Pls
RZ Pls
IN5
Run Yds
Run TD
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TD
4
22.50
4.50
0.75
74.0
1.00
2.50
14.5
0.00
Vs. running back position
G
Pls
RZ Pls
Att
Run Yds
Run TD
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TD
3
--
--
24.0
81.3
0.67
3.33
15.0
0.00
  • LT hit the end zone twice in Week 4 against the Oakland Raiders while producing his first 100-yard rushing game of the year. He averaged 5.3 yards per carry, a big increase from his cumulative 3.3 average in the first three games.
  • Tomlinson shouldn't be benched when healthy, but he has a weak-play setup against the 'Fins, who have not seen a 100-yard game from an opposing rusher since Week 1.

Clinton Portis, Washington Redskins at Philadelphia Eagles

G
Pls
RZ Pls
IN5
Run Yds
Run TD
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TD
4
23.00
4.25
0.50
92.2
0.75
1.50
9.0
0.00
Vs. running back position
G
Pls
RZ Pls
Att
Run Yds
Run TD
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TD
4
--
--
18.2
50.0
0.25
3.50
34.8
0.25
  • Portis registered his first 100-yard game of the year by gaining 121 on the ground against the Dallas Cowboys last week.
  • Against the Eagles last year, Portis averaged 103 rushing yards, 2.5 receptions, 13.5 receiving yards and 0.5 touchdowns per game in two contests.
  • Cowboys running back Marion Barber is the only back that has topped 43 yards on the ground against the Eagles this year.
  • Portis is a weak play against the Eagles, who have allowed the fewest rushing yards per game.

Julius Jones, Seattle Seahawks at New York Giants

G
Pls
RZ Pls
IN5
Run Yds
Run TD
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TD
3
24.67
2.67
0.33
104.0
0.67
2.00
11.7
0.00
Vs. running back position
G
Pls
RZ Pls
Att
Run Yds
Run TD
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TD
3
--
--
20.3
73.3
0.33
3.67
21.7
0.00
  • A 140-yard performance in Week 3 gave Jones back-to-back 100-yard outputs. His 57 utilizations in those games encompassed 36.8 percent of the team's total offense.
  • The return of wide receivers Deion Branch (knee) and Bobby Engram (shoulder) should also bring back the Seahawks' aggressive passing game, meaning Jones may not be relied on as much. Backup tailback Maurice Morris (knee) could return but would not cut too much into Jones' workload.
  • While a member of the Dallas Cowboys, Jones ran for 114 yards in two meetings with the Giants last year, including a season-high 66 yards in Week 1.
  • Jones is a weak play against a run-deterrent Giants D.

Chris Johnson, Tennessee Titans at Baltimore Ravens

G
Pls
RZ Pls
IN5
Run Yds
Run TD
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TD
4
20.75
3.50
0.50
84.2
0.50
2.50
16.2
0.25
Vs. running back position
G
Pls
RZ Pls
Att
Run Yds
Run TD
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TD
3
--
--
19.7
59.7
0.00
4.67
37.0
0.33
  • The rookie has been utilized at least 19 times in each game this year while reducing burly halfback LenDale White to short-yardage and goal line duty.
  • Baltimore ranks second in the NFL in fewest rushing yards allowed per game, but Johnson has proven capable of gaining yardage versus strong run defenses, rushing for 61 yards and two scores against the Minnesota Vikings last Sunday.
  • If he's stopped at the line most of the day, Johnson should still be able to contribute through the air as the Ravens have allowed running backs to catch the ball often.

Fantasy value: No. 2 running backs

Earnest Graham, Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Denver Broncos

G
Pls
RZ Pls
IN5
Run Yds
Run TD
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TD
4
16.00
3.25
0.75
83.5
0.50
1.25
10.5
0.00
Vs. running back position
G
Pls
RZ Pls
Att
Run Yds
Run TD
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TD
4
--
--
25.2
131.2
1.25
9.25
76.5
0.50
  • Graham was held in check for most of the day by the Green Bay Packers in Week 4, but he broke a 47-yard run late in the game to finish with 111 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries.
  • The typically run-first Bucs continue to mix veteran tailback Warrick Dunn into the playbook; he received nearly the same amount of touches (18) as Graham (21) in the last contest.
  • The Broncos were torched by Kansas City Chiefs running back Larry Johnson last week and present a strong-play matchup for Graham, who is a capable receiver out of the backfield. The Broncos have allowed a league-high 9.25 receptions per game to the position.

Jonathan Stewart, Carolina Panthers vs. Kansas City Chiefs

G
Pls
RZ Pls
IN5
Run Yds
Run TD
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TD
4
11.25
1.25
0.75
49.2
1.00
0.00
0.0
0.00
Vs. running back position
G
Pls
RZ Pls
Att
Run Yds
Run TD
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TD
4
--
--
30.8
172.0
1.50
2.75
32.2
0.00
  • Despite receiving fewer touches than starter DeAngelo Williams, J-Stew has scored four touchdowns in his last three games. He saw 14 utilizations in Week 4 after receiving just seven the week before.
  • The rookie might have some offensive line woes to deal with as tackles Jordan Gross (concussion) and Jeff Otah (ankle) are both uncertain for Week 5, though Otah is the more likely to play.
  • Stewart is a strong play against the Chiefs this week, especially if his line is intact.

Joseph Addai, Indianapolis Colts at Houston Texans

G
Pls
RZ Pls
IN5
Run Yds
Run TD
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TD
3
16.67
3.00
1.33
47.3
1.00
1.33
8.7
0.00
Vs. running back position
G
Pls
RZ Pls
Att
Run Yds
Run TD
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TD
3
--
--
28.7
129.3
2.00
3.33
27.0
0.00
  • Addai scored three touchdowns in the two games prior to his Week 4 bye but is slacking in the yardage and reception departments. 
  • Addai has a productive history against the Texans since 2006, averaging 70 rushing yards, 0.75 rushing scores, 2.5 receptions, 13.5 receiving yards and 0.25 touchdown catches per contest in four games.
  • The Louisiana State University alum is a strong play this week as Houston ranks 24th in total offensive yards allowed to the position per game.

Brandon Jacobs, New York Giants vs. Seattle Seahawks

G
Pls
RZ Pls
IN5
Run Yds
Run TD
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TD
3
18.67
1.67
0.67
81.3
0.33
0.67
3.3
0.00
Vs. running back position
G
Pls
RZ Pls
Att
Run Yds
Run TD
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TD
3
--
--
23.7
77.7
0.67
5.00
46.0
0.00
  • Jacobs ran for a season-low 35 yards and a touchdown on 14 carries against the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 3.
  • Fellow back Derrick Ward received 13 utilizations to Jacobs' 15 in that game as the Giants continue to utilize a multiback system.
  • Jacobs is averaging a stout 4.9 yards per carry this year, but his touches have dropped each week.

Chris Perry, Cincinnati Bengals at Dallas Cowboys

G
Pls
RZ Pls
IN5
Run Yds
Run TD
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TD
4
21.25
1.75
0.25
50.8
0.50
2.50
7.8
0.00
Vs. running back position
G
Pls
RZ Pls
Att
Run Yds
Run TD
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TD
4
--
--
20.0
88.0
0.50
3.50
28.0
0.25
  • Perry mustered a season-low 28 rushing yards but caught a season-high five passes against the Cleveland Browns in Week 4.
  • The Cowboys gave up their first 100-yard performance of the season last week against Washington Redskins tailback Clinton Portis.
  • The Bengals offense has been dormant for three of their four games this season, but Perry has been a constant in the game plan. He was the only back used last week and had 23 of the 28 backfield utilizations in Week 3.
  • The signing of running back Cedric Benson shouldn't take many carries away from him, at least not initially.

Edgerrin James, Arizona Cardinals vs. Buffalo Bills

G
Pls
RZ Pls
IN5
Run Yds
Run TD
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TD
4
20.25
4.50
0.50
69.2
0.50
2.00
13.0
0.00
Vs. running back position
G
Pls
RZ Pls
Att
Run Yds
Run TD
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TD
4
--
--
24.2
91.2
0.50
4.50
43.2
0.00
  • With the team digging itself a huge first-half hole, James ran for just 29 yards but hit the end zone twice against the New York Jets in Week 4. He also caught a season-high five passes for 37 yards.
  • The Bills gave up their first 100-yard performance of the season last week against St. Louis Rams halfback Steven Jackson.
  • Both of James' touchdown runs came within four yards - a situation usually reserved for rookie running back Tim Hightower, who also had a one-yard score in that game. It would be risky to bank on James for goal line touches in the future, but he's still clearly the No. 1 back.

Ronnie Brown, Miami Dolphins vs. San Diego Chargers

G
Pls
RZ Pls
IN5
Run Yds
Run TD
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TD
3
14.67
4.33
2.33
53.7
1.67
2.00
18.7
0.00
Vs. running back position
G
Pls
RZ Pls
Att
Run Yds
Run TD
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TD
4
--
--
20.8
96.2
0.25
4.25
38.5
0.00
  • The last time we saw Brown, he accounted for five touchdowns (four rushing, one passing) against the New England Patriots in Week 3 while putting up his first 100-yard game this year.
  • Brown is still in a near-split with halfback Ricky Williams, who received 18 utilizations to Brown's 19 in that contest. The Dolphins remain a run-first squad.
  • Brown is a weak play against the Chargers, who add linebacker Stephen Cooper to a defense that was already more susceptible to the pass than the ground game.

Maurice Jones-Drew, Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Pittsburgh Steelers

G
Pls
RZ Pls
IN5
Run Yds
Run TD
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TD
4
9.50
1.50
0.75
42.2
0.50
3.25
34.5
0.00
Vs. running back position
G
Pls
RZ Pls
Att
Run Yds
Run TD
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TD
4
--
--
22.2
71.0
0.25
7.50
45.8
0.25
  • Outside of a strong Week 3 showing (166 total yards, one touchdown) it has been a disappointing year for Jones-Drew (ankle), who had only nine touches last Sunday, accounting for 49 yards.
  • Jones-Drew faced Pittsburgh twice in 2007, once in the regular season and again in the playoffs. He averaged 85.5 total yards and one touchdown per game during those two encounters.
  • He has been banged up but should play in Week 5. Center Brad Meester (biceps) is likely to miss another week, but guard Chris Naeole (knee) could return to action.
  • Only the Denver Broncos have yielded more receptions per game to the position, which is an area Jones-Drew is capable of exploiting.

LenDale White, Tennessee Titans at Baltimore Ravens

G
Pls
RZ Pls
IN5
Run Yds
Run TD
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TD
4
15.25
3.75
2.25
40.2
1.25
0.00
0.0
0.00
Vs. running back position
G
Pls
RZ Pls
Att
Run Yds
Run TD
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TD
3
--
--
19.7
59.7
0.00
4.67
37.0
0.33
  • White (shoulder) did not practice Wednesday, Oct. 1, and his status is uncertain for Week 5.
  • Despite being surpassed in touches by dynamic rookie halfback Chris Johnson, White has five touchdowns on the year, scoring in every game this season; his goal line work makes him a useful fantasy option.
  • The Ravens have allowed the second-fewest rushing yards per game to the position this year.

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

DeAngelo Williams, Carolina Panthers vs. Kansas City Chiefs

G
Pls
RZ Pls
IN5
Run Yds
Run TD
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TD
4
15.50
0.50
0.00
50.2
0.00
1.50
6.0
0.00
Vs. running back position
G
Pls
RZ Pls
Att
Run Yds
Run TD
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TD
4
--
--
30.8
172.0
1.50
2.75
32.2
0.00
  • Williams has received more carries than bruising rookie halfback Jonathan Stewart but has failed to reach the end zone.
  • He might have some offensive line woes to deal with as tackles Jordan Gross (concussion) and Jeff Otah (ankle) are banged up with Gross unlikely to play in Week 5.
  • Williams is a strong play against the Chiefs this week, who before last week were allowing 196.3 rushing yards per game to enemy backs.

Ryan Grant, Green Bay Packers vs. Atlanta Falcons

G
Pls
RZ Pls
IN5
Run Yds
Run TD
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TD
4
14.50
2.25
0.75
46.5
0.00
0.50
-1.0
0.00
Vs. running back position
G
Pls
RZ Pls
Att
Run Yds
Run TD
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TD
4
--
--
27.0
125.5
1.25
4.25
26.8
0.00
  • Grant (hamstring) saw an increase in snaps in Week 4 and looks ready to resume a full workload in Week 5.
  • However, his 15 carries amounted to just 20 yards for a pathetic 1.3 average per tote against a sturdy Tampa Bay Buccaneers' run D.
  • He should receive plenty of chances in Week 5 with quarterback Aaron Rodgers (shoulder) hobbled. If Rodgers plays, the Packers could run more to keep him healthy. If he doesn't, look for Green Bay to run more to take pressure off of quarterback Matt Flynn. Either way, Grant should be in for a lot of work this Sunday.
  • He lines up as a strong play this week against a Falcons defense that hasn't contained an opposing running game since Week 1.

Warrick Dunn, Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Denver Broncos

G
Pls
RZ Pls
IN5
Run Yds
Run TD
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TD
4
14.50
2.75
0.25
49.2
0.25
2.50
20.5
0.00
Vs. running back position
G
Pls
RZ Pls
Att
Run Yds
Run TD
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TD
4
--
--
25.2
131.2
1.25
9.25
76.5
0.50
  • Dunn is comfortable within the Bucs' two-back system. He equaled halfback Earnest Graham's 22 utilizations in Week 4 on his way to a season-high 63 rushing yards, and he has been utilized just six fewer times this season. 
  • Denver's defense couldn't hold up against a one-dimensional Kansas City Chiefs attack so look for the Bucs to lean heavily on their ground game, particularly with quarterback Brian Griese tossing six interceptions in the past two weeks.
  • Dunn is a strong play in Week 5.

Sammy Morris, New England Patriots at San Francisco 49ers

G
Pls
RZ Pls
IN5
Run Yds
Run TD
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TD
3
12.00
3.00
0.67
26.7
0.67
2.67
13.7
0.00
Vs. running back position
G
Pls
RZ Pls
Att
Run Yds
Run TD
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TD
4
--
--
28.8
118.0
1.00
4.75
29.5
0.25
  • Before the team's bye, Morris carried just nine times for 27 yards against the Miami Dolphins in Week 3.
  • The Patriots employ multiple backs, including LaMont Jordan and Kevin Faulk. Laurence Maroney (shoulder) could return after missing Week 3, and that could impact Morris' workload. 
  • Morris is a strong play this week.

Jerious Norwood, Atlanta Falcons at Green Bay Packers

G
Pls
RZ Pls
IN5
Run Yds
Run TD
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TD
4
12.00
3.00
0.67
26.7
0.67
2.67
13.7
0.00
Vs. running back position
G
Pls
RZ Pls
Att
Run Yds
Run TD
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TD
4
--
--
26.2
139.0
1.00
4.25
26.8
0.00
  • Norwood made the most of his three carries by earning 51 yards in Week 4. He had four receptions but created just one yard out of them.
  • The Packers were taken to task by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' two-back setup last week for 174 rushing yards, and the Falcons like to use Norwood as a change of pace to starter Michael Turner.
  • Green Bay could be missing four defensive starters this week, and they offer a strong-play matchup for Norwood.

Deuce McAllister, New Orleans Saints vs. Minnesota Vikings

G
Pls
RZ Pls
IN5
Run Yds
Run TD
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TD
4
12.00
3.00
0.67
26.7
0.67
2.67
13.7
0.00
Vs. running back position
G
Pls
RZ Pls
Att
Run Yds
Run TD
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TD
4
--
--
20.8
62.5
1.25
3.75
19.5
0.25
  • McAllister returned with a bang last week, making his first significant contribution this year with 73 rushing yards and a touchdown.
  • His return should take significant fantasy value away from Pierre Thomas.
  • The Vikings have been containing yardage from opposing backs but have allowed them to score six times in four weeks; this favors McAllister because he should see most of the goal line touches.
  • McAllister should be acquired in all formats if available.

Tim Hightower, Arizona Cardinals vs. Buffalo Bills

G
Pls
RZ Pls
IN5
Run Yds
Run TD
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TD
4
10.50
3.25
1.25
18.2
0.75
2.00
21.0
0.00
Vs. running back position
G
Pls
RZ Pls
Att
Run Yds
Run TD
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TD
4
--
--
20.8
62.5
1.25
3.75
19.5
0.25
  • The rookie ran for 13 yards on six carries in Week 4, including a one-yard touchdown. He has scored in three of his four games this year but has averaged just 18.2 yards per contest.
  • Both of starter Edgerrin James' touchdown runs came within four yards - a situation usually reserved for Hightower.
  • Hightower should be acquired if you need running back depth.

Ricky Williams, Miami Dolphins vs. San Diego Chargers

G
Pls
RZ Pls
IN5
Run Yds
Run TD
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TD
3
10.50
3.25
1.25
18.2
0.75
2.00
21.0
0.00
Vs. running back position
G
Pls
RZ Pls
Att
Run Yds
Run TD
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TD
4
--
--
20.8
62.5
1.25
3.75
19.5
0.25
  • Lost in Ronnie Brown's five-touchdown Week 3 game was a solid effort from Williams: a season-high 98 yards on 16 carries to go along with two catches for 21 yards.
  • Williams is still in a near-split with Brown, who received 19 utilizations to Williams' 18 in that contest. The Dolphins remain a run-first squad.
  • He's a weak play against the Chargers, who have stifled opposing ground games this season.

Correll Buckhalter, Philadelphia Eagles vs. Washington Redskins

G
Pls
RZ Pls
IN5
Run Yds
Run TD
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TD
4
10.00
2.00
1.00
28.5
0.25
2.50
20.8
0.25
Vs. running back position
G
Pls
RZ Pls
Att
Run Yds
Run TD
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TD
4
--
--
19.8
85.8
0.25
5.50
49.0
0.00
  • If starting running back Brian Westbrook (ankle) is unable to go in Week 5, Buckhalter is expected to once again fill in.
  • In the last two weeks filling in for Westbrook, Buckhalter averaged 54.5 rushing yards, four receptions, 34 receiving yards and one total touchdown per contest.
  • He should be picked up by fantasy owners who need running back depth, but his value is dependent on Westbrook's health.

Selvin Young, Denver Broncos vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

G
Pls
RZ Pls
IN5
Run Yds
Run TD
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TD
4
10.25
2.00
0.50
57.0
0.25
0.50
3.8
0.00
Vs. running back position
G
Pls
RZ Pls
Att
Run Yds
Run TD
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TD
4
--
--
22.8
80.0
0.00
6.50
60.8
0.50
  • Young typically runs between the 20s as part of the Broncos' backfield trio. He earned 49 yards on 11 carries against the Kansas City Chiefs last Sunday but hasn't scored since Week 1.
  • His 12 utilizations last week topped the 11 combined from Andre Hall and Michael Pittman. It was the second straight week he led Denver backs in that category.
  • The Bucs don't take kindly to opposing backs, and Young hasn't done much in the passing game, which might help him against Tampa Bay.

Derrick Ward, New York Giants vs. Seattle Seahawks

G
Pls
RZ Pls
IN5
Run Yds
Run TD
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TD
3
11.33
2.33
0.00
59.0
0.00
2.00
18.3
0.00
Vs. running back position
G
Pls
RZ Pls
Att
Run Yds
Run TD
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TD
3
--
--
23.7
77.7
0.67
5.00
46.0
0.00
  • Ward enjoyed his best game of the season with 80 yards on nine carries and 26 yards on three catches in Week 3 against the Cincinnati Bengals.
  • Ward received 13 utilizations to starter Brandon Jacobs' 15 in that game as the Giants continue to utilize a multiback system.
  • The Seahawks have been tough on opposing backs, allowing just 3.3 yards per carry (tied for sixth-lowest in the NFL) this season.

Fred Jackson, Buffalo Bills at Arizona Cardinals

G
Pls
RZ Pls
IN5
Run Yds
Run TD
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TD
4
10.25
0.50
0.00
29.5
0.25
2.75
23.2
0.00
Vs. running back position
G
Pls
RZ Pls
Att
Run Yds
Run TD
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TD
4
--
--
22.8
81.5
0.75
5.00
42.0
0.00
  • Jackson broke off a 22-yard touchdown run in Week 4 and finished with 46 yards rushing. He is fitting into the Bills offense behind starter Marshawn Lynch.
  • The Bills are typically a run-first team, and quarterback Trent Edwards is more of a game manager that works off the running game.
  • If you're looking for running back depth in point-per-reception leagues, give Jackson a try.

Rudi Johnson, Detroit Lions vs. Chicago Bears

G
Pls
RZ Pls
IN5
Run Yds
Run TD
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TD
3
7.33
0.33
0.00
33.0
0.00
1.00
16.0
0.33
Vs. running back position
G
Pls
RZ Pls
Att
Run Yds
Run TD
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TD
4
--
--
19.5
71.0
0.75
4.75
34.2
0.00
  • Johnson has been named the starter over rookie tailback Kevin Smith but may still share a few carries.
  • Chicago has been stingy against the run, but that may be a little skewed by playing against an Indianapolis Colts team missing several key linemen and against a Philadelphia Eagles squad without tailback Brian Westbrook (ankle).
  • Still, the Bears pose a weak-play matchup for Johnson, but owners desperate for backfield depth should him pick up because of his increased role.

Fantasy value: No. 3 or flex running backs

Mewelde Moore, Pittsburgh Steelers at Jacksonville Jaguars

G
Pls
RZ Pls
IN5
Run Yds
Run TD
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TD
4
--
--
--
4.8
0.00
0.75
9.2
0.00
Vs. running back position
G
Pls
RZ Pls
Att
Run Yds
Run TD
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TD
4
--
--
22.8
91.5
1.00
5.50
56.0
0.50
  • With starting tailback Willie Parker (knee) out again this week and rookie replacement Rashard Mendenhall (shoulder) done for the year, Moore is expected to start this week. Moore will share touches with recently re-signed running backs Gary Russell and Najeh Davenport.
  • Moore has slightly better value in point-per-reception leagues, but the Steelers have not passed to the position much this year.
  • Moore has a strong-play matchup this week and should be acquired if available because of his favorable newfound situation.

Brandon Jackson, Green Bay Packers vs. Atlanta Falcons

G
Pls
RZ Pls
IN5
Run Yds
Run TD
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TD
4
7.75
0.75
0.00
23.2
0.25
1.75
14.2
0.00
Vs. running back position
G
Pls
RZ Pls
Att
Run Yds
Run TD
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TD
4
--
--
27.0
125.5
1.25
4.25
26.8
0.00
  • Quarterback Aaron Rodgers (shoulder) may not play this week, so the Packers should rely more on the run than they have been. Even if Rodgers plays, don't count on him slinging it all over the field.
  • Starting running back Ryan Grant (hamstring) has struggled mightily so far in 2008, and the Packers may need to work Jackson into the offense more until Grant gets on track.
  • Jackson's matchup offers a potential for greater than normal results.

Felix Jones, Dallas Cowboys vs. Cincinnati Bengals

G
Pls
RZ Pls
IN5
Run Yds
Run TD
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TD
4
4.50
0.50
0.00
37.0
0.50
0.25
0.8
0.00
Vs. running back position
G
Pls
RZ Pls
Att
Run Yds
Run TD
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TD
4
--
--
35.2
141.8
0.75
4.50
36.5
0.00
  • A home run threat each time he touches the ball, Jones is a hit-or-miss play each week. In Week 3, the former Arkansas Razorback rushed for 76 yards and a score. Just a week later, Jones didn't touch the ball on offense.
  • Against the Bengals' porous run defense, Jones is a worthwhile gamble in all formats.
  • The Bengals provide Jones a strong-play matchup.

Michael Pittman, Denver Broncos vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

G
Pls
RZ Pls
IN5
Run Yds
Run TD
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TD
4
6.75
3.00
2.50
20.2
1.00
0.75
13.2
0.00
Vs. running back position
G
Pls
RZ Pls
Att
Run Yds
Run TD
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TD
4
--
--
22.8
80.0
0.00
6.50
60.8
0.50
  • A goal line vulture in the first three games, Pittman didn't score in Week 4. His carries have decreased each of the past two weeks.
  • By virtue of scoring four times in three games, Pittman is a reasonable spot play in deep leagues against a tough Buccaneers defense.

Kevin Smith, Detroit Lions vs. Chicago Bears

G
Pls
RZ Pls
IN5
Run Yds
Run TD
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TD
3
12.67
0.67
0.67
34.0
0.33
2.67
17.7
0.00
Vs. running back position
G
Pls
RZ Pls
Att
Run Yds
Run TD
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TD
4
--
--
19.5
71.0
0.75
4.75
34.2
0.00
  • Smith lost his starting job to Rudi Johnson this week after being used only three times in Week 3, so it remains to be seen what his role will be in the immediate future.
  • The rookie carries a weak-play matchup against the Bears' fearsome front.

Darren Sproles, San Diego Chargers at Miami Dolphins

G
Pls
RZ Pls
IN5
Run Yds
Run TD
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TD
4
6.50
0.50
0.00
26.5
0.00
1.25
29.0
0.25
Vs. running back position
G
Pls
RZ Pls
Att
Run Yds
Run TD
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TD
3
--
--
24.0
81.3
0.67
3.33
15.0
0.00
  • Running back LaDainian Tomlinson (toe) still isn't quite right, so you can expect to see around six to eight touches for the diminutive one.
  • Sproles is coming off a six-carry, 12-yard performance against the Oakland Raiders after averaging 7.6 yards per carry in each of his past two games.
  • Miami presents a weak-play matchup for Sproles.

T.J. Duckett, Seattle Seahawks at New York Giants

G
Pls
RZ Pls
IN5
Run Yds
Run TD
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TD
3
7.33
3.33
1.33
27.3
1.00
0.00
0.0
0.00
Vs. running back position
G
Pls
RZ Pls
Att
Run Yds
Run TD
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TD
3
--
--
20.3
73.3
0.33
3.67
21.7
0.00
  • The bruising Duckett would see a slight reduction in his touches this week if tailback Maurice Morris (knee) indeed returns to the lineup, which appears to be unlikely at press time.
  • Duckett is a goal line back for desperate owners looking for a spot play.
  • He has a weak-play matchup against the Giants. 

Fantasy value: Flex or bench running backs

Kevin Jones, Chicago Bears at Detroit Lions

G
Pls
RZ Pls
IN5
Run Yds
Run TD
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TD
4
5.00
0.00
0.00
17.8
0.00
0.00
0.0
0.00
Vs. running back position
G
Pls
RZ Pls
Att
Run Yds
Run TD
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TD
3
--
--
29.3
181.3
1.67
4.33
27.7
0.00
  • After 13 carries in Week 1, Jones has a whopping seven carries in three games since. He is only playable if the Lions surrender a lead early, thus prompting Chicago to run out the clock in the second half.
  • Jones' matchup, however, is a strong one.

Kevin Faulk, New England Patriots at San Francisco 49ers

G
Pls
RZ Pls
IN5
Run Yds
Run TD
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TD
2
5.00
1.00
0.50
11.0
0.00
3.00
28.0
0.00
Vs. running back position
G
Pls
RZ Pls
Att
Run Yds
Run TD
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TD
4
--
--
28.8
118.0
1.00
4.75
29.5
0.25
  • Faulk's greatest value is in point-per-reception formats and statistically speaking has a strong-play matchup this week.
  • The returning Laurence Maroney (shoulder) will add to the already crowded backfield party that has maddened fantasy owners. Faulk was already a risky fantasy play while competing with Sammy Morris and LaMont Jordan.

Laurence Maroney, New England Patriots at San Francisco 49ers

G
Pls
RZ Pls
IN5
Run Yds
Run TD
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TD
2
9.00
0.50
0.50
33.5
0.00
0.00
0.0
0.00
Vs. running back position
G
Pls
RZ Pls
Att
Run Yds
Run TD
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TD
4
--
--
28.8
118.0
1.00
4.75
29.5
0.25
  • Coming off the Pats' bye, Maroney (shoulder) practiced Wednesday, Oct. 1, and is expected to play in Week 5 after missing Week 3.
  • In his last work in Week 2 against the New York Jets, he carried the ball eight times for just 16 yards.
  • He has a strong-play matchup this week, but Maroney will probably have to share touches with Sammy Morris, Kevin Faulk and LaMont Jordan.

Andre Hall, Denver Broncos vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

G
Pls
RZ Pls
IN5
Run Yds
Run TD
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TD
4
6.75
1.25
0.00
32.8
0.00
0.00
0.0
0.00
Vs. running back position
G
Pls
RZ Pls
Att
Run Yds
Run TD
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TD
4
--
--
22.8
80.0
0.00
6.50
60.8
0.50
  • Hall's attempts have decreased each passing week this year, resulting in a menial four-carry showing in Week 4.
  • Hall has no receptions through four games, which clearly limits his value almost exclusively to standard scoring formats.

Ahmad Bradshaw, New York Giants vs. Seattle Seahawks

G
Pls
RZ Pls
IN5
Run Yds
Run TD
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TD
3
3.00
1.00
0.00
18.0
0.33
0.67
7.7
0.33
Vs. running back position
G
Pls
RZ Pls
Att
Run Yds
Run TD
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TD
3
--
--
23.7
77.7
0.67
5.00
46.0
0.00
  • One-third of a this multi-headed serpent known as the Giants' backfield, Bradshaw found his way back into his corner of obscurity in Week 3 after the team made a concerted effort to give him more work in Week 2 following his opening week disappearing act of zero touches.
  • Which Bradshaw shows up this week? That's anyone's guess, really, but you can't count on him as anything more than a risky desperation play.

Fred Taylor, Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Pittsburgh Steelers

G
Pls
RZ Pls
IN5
Run Yds
Run TD
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TD
4
16.75
2.75
0.50
53.2
0.00
1.75
11.0
0.00
Vs. running back position
G
Pls
RZ Pls
Att
Run Yds
Run TD
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TD
4
--
--
22.2
71.0
0.25
7.50
45.8
0.25
  • Freddy T. simply isn't getting it done so far. He is averaging just 3.6 yards per carry after posting 5.0 or greater each of the past two seasons.
  • His per-game carry totals have been all over the place, featuring a season-high 26 attempts sandwiched between 14- and 10-carry games in his last three.
  • Taylor has averaged 23.5 carries for 119.5 yards per game in his last two outings against the Steelers, scoring once along the way.

LaMont Jordan, New England Patriots at San Francisco 49ers

G
Pls
RZ Pls
IN5
Run Yds
Run TD
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TD
3
6.33
1.33
0.00
30.0
0.00
0.00
0.0
0.00
Vs. running back position
G
Pls
RZ Pls
Att
Run Yds
Run TD
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TD
4
--
--
28.8
118.0
1.00
4.75
29.5
0.25
  • It is tough to figure what Jordan's role will be in Week 5, and running back Laurence Maroney (shoulder) is expected to return to action. Desperate owners should look to play him as a last resort.
  • Jordan's matchup warrants a strong-play designation.

Ray Rice, Baltimore Ravens vs. Tennessee Titans

G
Pls
RZ Pls
IN5
Run Yds
Run TD
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TD
3
10.33
1.00
0.00
28.3
0.00
1.00
6.3
0.00
Vs. running back position
G
Pls
RZ Pls
Att
Run Yds
Run TD
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TD
4
--
--
21.2
82.5
1.00
5.75
35.8
0.25
  • Rice has seen his rushing attempts dip from a season-high 22 in Week 1 to a lone carry in Week 4. Fantasy owners would really be rolling the dice by playing him, but he is a conceivable last-resort play.
  • Running back Willis McGahee (chest) was banged up in Week 4, once again, which means the team could opt for an extra helping of Rice this week.

Chester Taylor, Minnesota Vikings at New Orleans Saints

G
Pls
RZ Pls
IN5
Run Yds
Run TD
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TD
4
8.25
1.50
0.25
20.2
0.00
1.75
10.2
0.00
Vs. running back position
G
Pls
RZ Pls
Att
Run Yds
Run TD
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TD
4
--
--
21.2
112.2
0.75
4.25
29.5
0.00
  • Taylor (foot) is coming off a season-low workload of just one carry. He makes for a very risky start in any format.
  • Starting Taylor would make more sense in point-per-reception leagues, but not by a lot.

Pierre Thomas, New Orleans Saints vs. Minnesota Vikings

G
Pls
RZ Pls
IN5
Run Yds
Run TD
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TD
4
7.50
2.25
1.25
19.0
0.75
1.75
12.0
0.00
Vs. running back position
G
Pls
RZ Pls
Att
Run Yds
Run TD
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TD
4
--
--
20.8
62.5
1.25
3.75
19.5
0.25
  • The meaningful return of running back Deuce McAllister (knees) last week forces the talented Thomas to the backseat for the time being. He earned just one carry in Week 4 after six in each of the previous two games (three touchdowns in that time) and 10 in Week 1.
  • Thomas makes for a risky start in all formats this week.

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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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