Week 9 is almost here, and it’s time to start setting lineups and making sure you’re ready to win your fantasy matchup.
Every week, FanSided will bring you rankings compiled by our duo of fantasy experts. This week, the list was derived from averaging rankings from myself and Zachary Thompson.
Let’s take a look at the running backs and how they rank for Week 9. (Unless otherwise noted, statistics obtained from ESPN Fantasy Football.)
1. Jamaal Charles, Kansas City Chiefs
If you have Charles, he’s starting at running back for you. It’s really as simple as that. But what’s good about this week against the Buffalo Bills?
Buffalo are among the 8 worst defenses in the NFL in rushing yards allowed per game and points allowed per game. That will mean plenty of space for Charles to do what he does best, and take pressure off of Alex Smith.
2. LeSean McCoy, Philadelphia Eagles
With uncertainty at the quarterback position, the Philadelphia Eagles have to rely on LeSean McCoy and the running game more than usual. Nick Foles and Matt Barkley are both capable passers, but McCoy is the best player on that offense and is the key to their success.
Oakland’s defense is a tough test of McCoy, but not tough enough to move him down our rankings.
3. Adrian Peterson, Minnesota Vikings
Yet another star running back with quarterback issues at the top of the rankings.
And while Dallas, Peterson’s opponent this week, doesn’t have a strong defense against the run (it’s just below league average in Football Outsider’s DVOA rankings), Peterson’s offense is the main concern. Can any of the Minnesota quarterbacks lead a respectable offense which allows the 2012 MVP to find room to run?
He’ll do well enough, but there is enough doubt to move him to third in the rankings.
4. Marshawn Lynch, Seattle Seahawks
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have only allowed one rushing touchdown to running backs so far in 2013. Luckily for Marshawn Lynch and the Seahawks, that was last week against the Carolina Panthers.
The Buccaneers are in a downward spiral, so look for Lynch and the Seahawks to dominate on their home turf in the Pacific Northwest.
5. Matt Forte, Chicago Bears
With a lack of exciting options at the top of the heap this week, Forte files in just below the four guys he’s supposed to trail.
When there are no obvious matchups to exploit, stick with preseason rankings and common sense. This week, that means Forte is a top-5 play despite a decently tough task against the rival Packers.
6. Eddie Lacy, Green Bay Packers
Speaking of the rival Packers, Eddie Lacy has climbed up to number six this week, as he faces a depleted Chicago defense which has allowed over 250 yards and five touchdowns to running backs in the last two games.
Lacy has earned his spot as a top fantasy running back this season, and may still have better days ahead as the weather gets colder in the NFC North.
7. Alfred Morris, Washington Redskins
It’s easy to think that Alfred Morris has been a huge disappointment, considering what he did in 2012 and the relative anonymity he’s playing in this season. But he’s carried the ball 12-19 times per game, and has gained 70 yards or a touchdown in every single week of this season.
He’s been consistent, but not spectacular, and with bye weeks and injuries taking away options, Morris is a smart and safe play this week.
8. Le’Veon Bell, Pittsburgh Steelers
The Patriots have allowed double-digit point totals to running backs in every game so far this season. There’s no reason to expect that Bell can’t do the same.
The Steelers should keep this game competitive, and Bell might be their best option on offense against the New England D.
9. DeMarco Murray, Dallas Cowboys
Murray is back in action for the Cowboys, and his first task is to take on the third-worst scoring defense in the NFL, the Minnesota Vikings.
There’s still a lack of consistency that should concern those who choose to play Murray this week, but if he’s going to have a good game in his return to the lineup, it will be against a team like Minnesota.
10. Ray Rice, Baltimore Ravens
Ray Rice versus a defense that ranks near the middle of the pack in rushing yards allowed would have sounded like a solid week just a year ago.
But Rice and the Ravens offense just aren’t the same there days. He’s still a do-it-all back who will see the field for plenty of snaps, but he’s not a fantasy superstar anymore, and barely makes our top-10.
11. Fred Jackson, Buffalo Bills
The matchup against Kansas City is brutal. But the Buffalo defense needs to get running backs involved to keep the pressure off of Thad Lewis, Matt Flynn, or whoever starts this weekend.
Jackson is the Bills running back to use until further notice, so roll with the veteran this week as a borderline RB 1/2.
12. Darren McFadden, Oakland Raiders
Maybe McFadden just needs to play against teams from Pennsylvania to get into the swing of things?
After a decent game against the Steelers last week, McFadden and the Raiders take on the Eagles in Week 9. He’s not consistent, but the matchup is good enough to consider him as an RB 2.
13. Danny Woodhead, San Diego Chargers
No team has allowed more fantasy points to opposing running backs than the Washington Redskins have this season. Danny Woodhead is the more versatile and reliable running back for San Diego, and the one who stands to gain the most from the poor Washington defense.
14. Gio Bernard, Cincinnati Bengals
Since the first week of the season, the Miami Dolphins have allowed at least one touchdown to running backs every week. They’re not the strongest defense Bernard will face this season.
So trust the shifty rookie to find his way around the Miami defense through the air or on the ground and find the end zone and earn his RB 2 ranking.
15. Zac Stacy, St. Louis Rams
Arian Foster, Houston Texans
Both of these running backs are easily top-15 choices in Week 9, but they’re both dealing with injuries that kept them off of Zachary’s list.
In my opinion, you should start and trust either one if they’re declared good to go on Sunday. Stacy has emerged as the leading back for the Rams, and Foster is an obvious choice as the soul of the Houston offense.
Topics: Adrian Peterson, Alfred Morris, Baltimore Ravens, Buffalo Bills, Chicago Bears, Dallas Cowboys, Darren McFadden, DeMarco Murray, Eddie Lacy, Fred Jackson, Green Bay Packers, Jamaal Charles, Kansas City Chiefs, Le'Veon Bell, Marshawn Lynch, Matt Forte, Minnesota Vikings, Oakland Raiders, Pittsburgh Steelers, Ray Rice, Seattle Seahawks, Washington Redskins