November 19, 2009
Ranks Preview by Andrew Thell
You never think it’s going to happen this late in the season, but once again the running back landscape dramatically shifted in Week 10. Brian Westbrook may be done for the season, allowing LeSean McCoy owners to finally cash in on their prized sleeper pick. McCoy should be started in nearly all leagues against a Bears defense allowing 118+ yards per game on the ground and looking soft in all regards.
The heavy workload caught up to Cedric Benson and the Bengals at last, making Bernard Scott a viable flex option at Oakland. His dancing running style leaves a lot to be desired, but Scott has a real chance to bust off a couple of long gainers once he breaks through the line.
Justin Forsett exploded for 149 total yards and a touchdown on 17 carries and 5 receptions and will start against the Vikings this week. Forsett is actually a decent play this week, too, with Julius Jones and his bruised lung out of the picture. The Vikes rush defense isn’t nearly as intimidating as it was the last three seasons and Forsett showed good burst to go along with some nice toughness.
Michael Turner went down with a dreaded high-ankle sprain and figures to miss a few weeks, making Jason Snelling the top waiver-wire pickup of the week. Snelling only churned out 61 yards on his subsequent 18 carries after the injury, good for a paltry 3.4 YPC, but he looked good doing it. He had a little burst, he ran hard and he showed good hands. Jerious Norwood isn’t ready to contribute much, so Snelling will continue to produce some useful fantasy value as long as Turner is out.
We hope you bought in on Chris Wells when you had the chance; do so now if it’s not too late. He’s clearly the superior rusher in the Cardinals backfield. He shows great burst and physicality on his carries, something the Cards could sorely use. The last four weeks he’s gotten 8 carries for 47 yards (5.9 YPC), 13 for 72 (5.5 YPC) and 16 for 85 with 2 TDs (5.3 YPC). The party continues this week in St. Louis where he should absolutely abuse the miserable Rams defense after the Arizona passing game gets them up early. There are some neutral matchups after that, but it doesn’t get any better than Beanie’s @ DET and vs. STL docket in the fantasy postseason. We fully expect him to be getting 15-20 touches a game at that point. He’s an ideal flex with an outside shot at RB1 upside.
Ricky Williams owners have been getting more than they bargained for all season, and now the 32-year-old has the potential to become the bargain of the draft. Word is Ronnie Brown will miss the rest of the season, but that won’t stop the Chad Henne-led Miami Dolphins from running the football all day with their ball-control offense. Ricky is poised to get 20+ touches a week from here on out and will assume Wildcat duties. He’ll draw a fine matchup against Carolina this week before drawing @ BUF, vs. NE, @ JAC, @ TEN and vs. HOU matchups the rest of the way. If he stays healthy Ricky is going to win a lot of imaginary trophies this year.
1. Chris Johnson, Tennessee Titans @ HOU
2. Maurice Jones-Drew, Jacksonville Jaguars vs. BUF
3. Ray Rice, Baltimore Ravens vs. IND
4. Adrian Peterson, Minnesota Vikings vs. SEA
5. Frank Gore, San Francisco 49ers @ GB
6. Ricky Williams, Miami Dolphins @ CAR
7. Steven Jackson, St. Louis Rams vs. ARZ
8. Rashard Mendenhall, Pittsburgh Steelers @ KC
9. DeAngelo Williams, Carolina Panthers vs. MIA (Check Status)
10. Pierre Thomas, New Orleans Saints @ TB
11. Matt Forte, Chicago Bears vs. PHI
12. Cedric Benson, Cincinnati Bengals @ OAK (Check Status)
13. Kevin Smith, Detroit Lions vs. CLE (If not this week, then when?)
14. Marion Barber, Dallas Cowboys vs. WAS
15. LeSean McCoy, Philadelphia Eagles @ CHI
Running back rankings 16 through 36, after the jump…