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Week 8 Running Back Depth Charts for Fantasy Football


The NFL action in Week 7 was lacking something. What could it have been?... Oh! Three of the best five teams in the NFL didn't play. There were plenty of meaningless games, head-scratching blowouts, and devastating injuries in Week 7, leading to a ton of garbage time yardage and backups getting the chance to shine. Four or five games should have been played in London this week.

Things got much more solid in the AFC West, while we all realized that the leagues best RBs are concentrated in the NFC South. Nothing exciting happened in the NFC North and we learned some new and exciting things about the NFC East. Let's take a look at the action from Week 7 in retrospect.

 

AFC EAST: Fantasy Football Running Backs (RB)

Baller Stability Rating Team
Name
Primary
Running Back
Backup or
Handcuff
Longshot
Candidate(s)
Waiver     Wire Watch
Questionable Patriots LeGarrette Blount Dion Lewis* James WhiteBrandon Bolden  N/A
Solid Jets Chris Ivory Zac Stacy Bilal Powell  N/A
Solid Bills LeSean McCoy Karlos Williams* Daniel Herron, Boobie Dixon  N/A
Solid Dolphins Lamar Miller Damien WilliamsJonas Gray Jay Ajayi  N/A

 

Dion Lewis (abdomen) did not suit up Week 7, which apparently left a gaping hole in the Patriots backfield. No running back carried the ball more than three times against the Jets on Sunday afternoon. It was truly a testament to Tom Brady and the New England passing game that the passing game succeeded even without the threat of a rushing attempt. James White was the default leader of the Patriots backfield with two attempts for four yards, while LeGarrette Blount failed to break into positive yardage on three tries. White added three receptions for 26 yards. Usually, the difficult task is figuring out which Pats RB will carry the rock on any given Sunday. In the absence of Lewis, Blount seemed poised for a big afternoon. Lewis is probable to return for a Week 8 matchup with the Dolphins.

Chris Ivory could not find much success on the ground in New England, gaining just 41 yards on 17 attempts. He salvaged the fantasy performance with 2 catches for 12 yards and a touchdown. Zac Stacy saw some opportunities as well, but posted a similarly disappointing 7-19-0 line. The Jets will face another tall task next week as they travel to Oakland and face the Raiders third-ranked rushing defense. Still, Ivory is locked in as a starter and is a must-play regardless of the matchup.

LeSean McCoy was consistent in the 9am London YahooBowl as he racked up 104 yards on 20 touches. McCoy was also active in the fumble game. He lost a fumble of his own, but later recovered a fumble by Jaguars linebacker Paul Posluszny. Also, it's worth noting that McCoy's 71 snaps led the league Week 7, a sign that Boom Herron and Boobie Dixon will not be a factor. Karlos Williams (concussion) did not even travel to London with the team. He still has yet to practice, so his status remains unclear until more information emerges. Herron had two carries for nine yards and a three yard reception. As long as Williams stays sidelined, McCoy is a full-go and will likely continue to be after his handcuff returns. The Bills will have a Week 8 BYE.

Wow, what a day for the Dolphins. For the record, I totally saw this coming. The Dolphins looked invigorated under the new coaching staff last week against Tennessee and the Texans just might be the worst team in the league on both sides of the ball. I did not see Lamar Miller accounting for 236 yards from scrimmage with two scores, good for the best RB fantasy performance of Week 7. Even Jonas Gray saw a piece of the action, as he tacked on 58 yards on 13 touches. Damien Williams added another 29 yards on six touches. Miami has a tough matchup next week against New England and a defensive squad that shut down Chris Ivory this week. Only a moron would bench Miller after a day like Sunday.

 

AFC WEST: Fantasy Football Running Backs (RB)

Baller Stability Rating Team
Name
Primary
Running Back
Backup or
Handcuff
Longshot
Candidate(s)
Waiver     Wire Watch
Volatile Broncos C.J. Anderson Ronnie Hillman Juwan Thompson Ronnie Hillman
Solid Chiefs Charcandrick West Knile Davis Spencer Ware  N/A
Solid Raiders Latavius Murray Taiwan Jones Roy Helu Jr.  N/A
Questionable Chargers Danny Woodhead Melvin Gordon, Branden Oliver Donald Brown Branden Oliver

 

**BYE** The tides are beginning to turn in Denver's backfield. After another disappointing half of football from C.J. Anderson, the Broncos decided to roll with Ronnie Hillman in the second half of Denver's overtime win against Cleveland. Hillman showed up big when given the rock, rushing 20 times for 111 yards. This is now the second time in 2015 that Hillman has busted out a huge game and seemingly the 20th time Anderson has failed to produce. It now seems likely that Hillman will be taking over starting duties for the struggling Anderson, making Anderson the biggest bust of the year. He is borderline droppable in  most leagues if he fails to get carries in Denver's Week 8 matchup against the Packers.

The wait is over. Charcandrick West came up big against the Steelers on Sunday, posting a 22-110-1 line à la Jamaal Charles. The Chiefs declared a commitment to West as the starting back and delivered on that promise, as West was present for 56-of-64 snaps and touched the ball 24 times. Knile Davis wound up the third-string back, rushing just once for two yards on three snaps. Spencer Ware was the backup in this one, but only managed eight yards on two attempts. The Chiefs will give West the chance to succeed each week and the offensive line is designed to run block. He is an every week must start until he proves otherwise.

Latavius Murray further proved his consistency on Sunday in a dominant win over the Chargers, racking up 85 yards on 15 carries with a touchdown. The Raiders have proven themselves to be a respectable (potentially Wild Card-worthy) football team that can build up big leads early, meaning the running game will be active most weeks. This was a nice bounce back game for Murray, who hadn't rushed for more than 50 yards since Week 3. He will likely be a situational play moving forward, which does not bode well for a Week 8 matchup against a stout Jets run defense. Taiwan Jones was explosive from the backfield on his three carries, gaining 35 yards in the process. Roy Helu, on the other hand, managed only three yards on four carries.

Melvin Gordon is officially the least proactive half back on the Chargers roster. Though he was only present for 15 snaps, the coaching staff gave him plenty of chances as he ran the ball seven times for 29 yards. Because Gordon does not catch passes from the backfield, he has virtually no chance of success in the Chargers system. On the contrary, Danny Woodhead caught 11-of-12 passes for 75 yards and gained over 100 yards from scrimmage on the day, grabbing two scores to boot. Woodhead was a top-5 fantasy RB for Week 7 and is in the top-6 RBs for the season. He is clearly the back to own in San Diego. Branden Oliver has begun to take over Gordon's role, as his 33 snaps more than doubled those of the rookie. Oliver tacked on 74 yards on 15 touches and was active in both the ground and air attacks. He is worth a look on the waiver wire in deeper leagues as Gordon continues to be phased out.

 

AFC NORTH: Fantasy Football Running Backs (RB)

Baller Stability Rating Team
Name
Primary
Running Back
Backup or
Handcuff
Longshot
Candidate(s)
Waiver     Wire Watch
Solid Ravens Justin Forsett Javorius Allen Lorenzo Taliaferro  N/A
Solid Steelers Le'Veon Bell DeAngelo Williams Dri Archer  N/A
Volatile Bengals Jeremy Hill Giovani Bernard Rex Burkhead  N/A
Questionable Browns Duke Johnson Isaiah Crowell, Robert Turbin Shaun Draughn Duke Johnson

 

Justin Forsett just barely managed to eclipse 100 yards from scrimmage against the 49ers, marking the third consecutive week he's accomplished the feat. Though the Ravens are a shell of their form from previous seasons, Forsett has not missed a beat since Wee 3 and looks to be the only reliable player left on the offense, save for a healthy Steve Smith Sr. Javorius Allen recorded a modest 13 yards on four carries as the change-of-pace back. Forsett is an every week RB1 play.

The only thing atypical about Le'Veon Bell's day against the Chiefs was the lack of a score. The every-week star RB rushed for 121 yards on 17 carries (good for 7.1 YPC) and caught four-of-four targets for an additional 16 yards. Since returning from a two-game suspension, Bell has averaged over 100 yards per game running and (aside from Devonta Freeman) has been the highest-scoring fantasy RB over the past four weeks. DeAngelo Williams touched the ball five times for 18 yards and stands no chance of stealing carries from the incumbent starter.

**BYE** Just when everything seemed to be in order in  Cincinnati, the team decides to flip the script in the backfield once again. Jeremy Hill out-snapped Giovani Bernard 36-to-26, but was still largely ineffective on the ground, posting a 16-56-0 line. He saved his afternoon with a 13 yard touchdown, but was bested by a more efficient Bernard, who averaged 6.3 YPC. There's no telling who will be a favored back in each contest the Bengals play; however, Bernard has been the more productive of the two as of late. Either back could break out for 100 yards and two scores on any given day. Unfortunately, it's just as likely that they put up two fantasy points.

None of the three backs in the Browns backfield could get it going on the ground on Sunday; however, Duke Johnson was a factor in the passing game as he hauled in seven-of-seven targets for 73 yards, bringing his total to 90 yards from scrimmage on the day. Ever since the arrival of Robert Turbin, Isaiah Crowell's workload has been limited while Johnson has profited. In all fairness, 90 yards against the Rams tough defense is an accomplishment. Turbin and Crowell split 15 touches with just 47 yards between them, rendering them both irrelevant for fantasy purposes. The Duke is the only RB worth rostering moving forward. The Browns have another difficult matchup next week when the Cardinals come to town.

 

AFC SOUTH: Fantasy Football Running Backs (RB)

Baller Stability Rating Team
Name
Primary
Running Back
Backup or
Handcuff
Longshot
Candidates
Waiver     Wire Watch
Solid Colts Frank Gore Ahmad Bradshaw Josh Robinson  N/A
Volatile Texans Alfred Blue Chris Polk Jonathan Grimes Alfred Blue, Chris Polk
Questionable Titans Antonio AndrewsDexter McCluster Bishop Sankey Terrance West, David Cobb Dexter McCluster
Solid Jaguars T.J. Yeldon Toby Gerhart Denard Robinson  N/A

 

Watch out, Ahmad Bradshaw is back in Indianapolis. He nearly out-snapped Frank Gore on Sunday against the Saints, finishing with a 30-to-32 split. Don't get too excited - he was used mainly in pass blocking situations. Frank Gore out-touched Bradshaw 14-to-2 and remains the clear favorite in the Colts backfield. Gore managed a hard-fought 75 yards, but was mainly utilized early as the Colts fell into a deep hole. Though Gore remains a locked-in starter, his upside is pretty low in the scheme of the Colts offense. It will be a tough decision to start the veteran in an impossible matchup in Carolina next Monday night.

Arian Foster is back. Here we go again. Arian Foster was enjoying some monster numbers in garbage time before tearing his Achilles on a non-contact play and effectively ending his season. Thanks for a great two weeks, Foster. Now, we're back to the unambiguously terrible duo of Alfred Blue and Chris Polk in the Texans backfield. There's really no telling who is worth an add between the two, or if neither is worth owning at all. In the absence of Foster, the two alternating games in which one or the other led in snaps and carries. In the weeks that Foster was the starter, Polk served as the primary backup, mainly because Blue was suffering from a toe injury. If I were a Foster-owner, which I unfortunately am, I would opt to pick up Orleans Darkwa before I touch either of the guys in this backfield. Actually, everyone on this offense (aside from DeAndre Hopkins, of course) is officially untouchable.

The Titans reverted to the ground attack back/passing down back system that we've all been waiting for. Dexter McCluster dominated snaps from the backfield, playing 39-of-58 plays, but carried the ball only five times for 20 yards. Of the three backs in the Tennessee backfield, McCluster was the only one who caught a pass - and he caught six of them for 48 yards. His 68 yards led the group. However, Antonio Andrews (who was only present for 17 snaps) carried the ball a team-high ten times for 57 yards. Bishop Sankey is all but lost, touching the ball zero times in his two snaps. A dropped pass didn't help his case. So Andrews is the ground guy and McCluster is the air guy. Good. Great. They're still both essentially useless.

T.J. Yeldon bounced back from a groin injury and starred in a 9am London thriller on Sunday morning. The 20-115-1 line (with a nine-yard reception) was his best yardage total of the year and his 60 snaps were top-five in the league for Week 7. For some confusing reason that makes sense to Gus Bradley and Gus Bradley only, Toby Gerhart received a handful of crucial goal line carries and (shockingly) came up short. Gerhart finished the day with six carries for eight yards. Yeldon and the Jags will have their hands full when they travel to the Meadowlands for a battle with the Jets in Week 9. The Jaguars will have a Week 8 BYE.

 

NFC EAST: Fantasy Football Running Backs (RB)

Baller Stability Rating Team
Name
Primary
Running Back
Backup or
Handcuff
Longshot
Candidates
 Waiver      Wire Watch
Volatile Giants Rashad Jennings Andre WilliamsShane Vereen Orleans Darkwa Orleans Darkwa
Questionable Eagles DeMarco Murray Ryan MathewsDarren Sproles Kenjon Barner  N/A
Solid Cowboys Darren McFadden Joesph Randle* Christine Michael  N/A
Volatile Washington Matt Jones Chris Thompson*, Alfred Morris  Darrel Young Chris Thompson

 

The dark horse has arrived. After weeks of inefficient play from the backfield, Tom Coughlin opted to give forth-string RB Orleans Darkwa a shot at the action - and he delivered. Darkwa averaged 6.0 YPC en route to a 8-48-1 afternoon, singlehandedly leading the Giants to a touchdown drive in the second quarter. Before we get ahead of ourselves, this does not make Darkwa the de facto starter in New York. Rather, it just means he will likely be given more chances in the future and be added to the mix with Shane Vereen and Rashad Jennings. Andre Williams may be the odd one out here, as he has been ineffective all season long. Unless Darkwa can continue to distinguish himself, he will simply be another part of the committee, as per the New York Daily News. The best hope here is that the Giants will limit their attack to Darkwa on the ground and Vereen in the passing game. The Giants match up favorably with the Saints next week.

Let's take a look at the numbers against Carolina on Sunday night: DeMarco Murray - 39 snaps, 18 attempts, 65 yards, 3.6 YPC, no touchdowns, $40 million. Ryan Mathews - 17 snaps, 6 attempts, 97 yards, 16.2 YPC, one touchdown, $11 million. It's almost like the Eagles are trying to limit Mathews from playing well to save face for the front office. It becomes clearer each week that Mathews is the better back in Philadelphia, or at least the better fit for Chip kelly's system. But the Eagles will never allow him to take over Murray's place on the depth chart due to the massive contract given to Murray in the offseason. Imagine what the Eagles could have done with that money if they had just signed Mathews and moved on to address other issues! By the way, Mathews added three catches for 24 yards, while Murray reeled in two-of-four targets for five yards. Of course, both backs are worth owning. But it's undeniable that the backup is more valuable regardless of how many carries the coaching staff gives him. The Eagles will have a Week 8 BYE.

Darren McFadden exploded on Sunday as he completely took over the reigns in the Cowboys backfield against the Giants tough run defense. McFadden touched the ball a league-high 31 times, racked up 162 yards and scored a touchdown, putting all Christine Michael rumors to rest once and for all. With Joseph Randle (oblique) struggling to stay healthy, carries belong to McFadden alone, especially if he continues this level of play. This is sad news for Randle and his fantasy owners, as he was one of the top RBs through the first five weeks of the season. If Randle misses time, which he is believed to do, McFadden will be in for another big day, though a matchup against the Seahawks is looming.

With Chris Thompson (back) sidelined for Week 7, Matt Jones led Washington's backfield with 48 snaps, nine carries and an abysmal 29 yards on Sunday. The DC Grudens never had a chance to get the run game going against the Buccaneers as they were fighting for their lives for most of the game. Alfred Morris played the backup role, tacking on a meager five yards on six carries. This backfield has been deplorable for many weeks now. When healthy, Thompson is the only worthwhile option due to his proficiency in the passing game. The Redskins will have a Week 8 BYE.

 

NFC WEST: Fantasy Football Running Backs (RB)

Baller Stability Rating Team
Name
Primary
Running Back
Backup or
Handcuff
Longshot
Candidates
Waiver Wire Watch
Solid 49ers Carlos Hyde Reggie Bush Jarryd Hayne, Mike Davis  N/A
Solid Seahawks Marshawn Lynch Thomas Rawls Fred Jackson  N/A
Solid Cardinals Chris Johnson David JohnsonAndre Ellington Stepfan Taylor Andre Ellington
Solid Rams Todd Gurley Tre Mason* Benny Cunningham  N/A

 

Reggie Bush (calf) saw his first meaningful touches of the season on Thursday night against Seattle, gaining 34 yards on seven touches. Now the Bush is healthy, he will act as the change-of-pace back behind Carlos Hyde. Unfortunately, the 49ers will likely be playing from behind so often, there's little to no chance Bush will garner double-digit touches on any given day. Carlos Hyde played poorly in this one, as did the rest of the team. Hyde only accrued 40 yards on 11 touches, fumbling in the process. Things won't get any easier against a tenacious Rams defense next week.

Marshawn Lynch went full Beast Mode against the 49ers on Thursday night, posting an aggressive 27-122-1 line, dragging piles like a champ in the process. He looked fully healthy and should be ready to roll moving forward. Thomas Rawls added 41 yards on eight touches while Fred Jackson tacked on another 35 yards on five touches. The undrafted rookie and the oldest active RB in the league - what a combo! All that matters is the Beast Mode is back atop the league and likely won't waver again, barring further injury.

The speculation has ended - Chris Johnson is the lead back in Arizona and looks like the CJ2k of old. The veteran half back tore the Ravens defense apart with a 18-122-1 performance. The crazy thing is that he was only on the field for 27 snaps and made an impact in nearly all of them. Andre Ellington and David Johnson got 18 snaps a-piece. Ellington made the most of his snaps, as he piled on 49 yards on eight touches, while D. Johnson managed just 24 yards on five touches. The Cardinals have a plethora of weapons in the backfield and they know how to use them. Chris Johnson was a top-10 back in Week 7 and will likely continue to dominate as Arizona rolls through the competition.

Todd Gurley did Todd Gurley things on Sunday, amassing 163 yards on 23 touches along with his first two touchdowns of his young career against the Browns. Over the past four weeks, Gurley is the fourth-leading fantasy RB in the league - the wild part about that statement is that the Rams were on Week 6 BYE. The rookie might just be the best running back in the league. Actually, he just is. Gurley is locked in as a solid RB1 for the rest of 2015. Tre Mason (ankle) was sidelined, while Benny Cunningham added 11 yards on four carries.

 

NFC NORTH: Fantasy Football Running Backs (RB)

Baller Stability Rating Team
Name
Primary
Running Back
Backup or
Handcuff
Longshot
Candidates
Waiver Wire Watch
Questionable Packers Eddie Lacy James Starks Alonzo Harris James Starks
Questionable Lions Ameer Abdullah Theo Riddick, Zach Zenner Joique Bell Theo Riddick
Solid Bears Matt Forte Jacquizz Rodgers Jeremy Langford  N/A
Solid Vikings Adrian Peterson Matt Asiata Jerick McKinnon  N/A

 

**BYE** Eddie Lacy was one of the biggest disappointments of the week, as he only turned in three yards on four carries. It is worth noting that he still accounted for 17 yards on two receptions, but a pathetic performance nonetheless. the Packers have asserted that their main BYE week priority is making sure Lacy is healthy and productive in the second half of the season. On the contrary, James Starks was a dynamo on Sunday, posting a 10-112-1 line with a five-yard touchdown reception to boot. Starks is a must-add in all fantasy formats until Lacy can prove he is healthy and has his head in the game. The Packers will have a Week 7 BYE.

Same old sad story from the Lions backfield on Sunday against the Lions. For the sixth consecutive week, Theo Riddick led the committee in yards from scrimmage with 48 yards on six touches. Ameer Abdullah continued to disappoint (though finishing with his best YPC on the season) with 43 yards on eight carries. No one is really worth owning here, save for Riddick in PPR formats. Joique Bell returned to action in this one, tacking on 21 yards on three carries.

**BYE** It was a modest 89-yard, one touchdown day for Matt Forte, who did most of his damage on the ground against the Lions on Sunday. It was the first time since Week 3 that Forte has failed to top 100 yards from scrimmage. Of course, the performance was still impressive and Forte continues to be the most consistent RB1 in fantasy. Jeremy Lanford added 27 yards on six touches in the backup role. The Bears will have a Week 7 BYE.

Adrian Peterson accounted for 110 yards on 22 touches against the Lions on Sunday in a nice bounceback performance. After outting up just 57 total yards in Week 6, Peterson returned to his 100+ yard ways in a fairly lenient matchup. Actually, Peterson was held in check most of the day due to a poor performance from the Vikings O-line, but busted out a 75-yard run to save his day. Jerrick McKinnon received nine carries for 36 yards. Peterson is lined up for a big day in Chicago next week.

 

NFC SOUTH: Fantasy Football Running Backs (RB)

Baller Stability Rating Team
Name
Primary
Running Back
Backup or
Handcuff
Longshot
Candidates
Waiver Wire Watch
Solid Saints Mark Ingram Khiry Robinson C.J. Spiller Khiry Robinson
Solid Falcons Devonta Freeman Tevin Coleman Terron Ward  N/A
Solid Panthers Jonathan Stewart Cameron Artis-Payne Fozzy Whittaker  N/A
Solid Buccaneers Doug Martin Charles Sims Mike James, Bobby Rainey Charles Sims

 

Mark Ingram was a monster on Sunday against the Colts, going 14-143-1 (good for 10.2 YPC) with two catches for five yards. Ingram has been one of the most consistently prolific backs in the league this year, making him the second-leading scoring back in 2015 fantasy. The big surprise here was Khiry Robinson, who shocked the Colts and fantasy owners with a 14-28-2 day. Obviously, there's a bit of luck here. Consider the yardage difference between Ingram and Robinson on their 14 respective carries. Don't rush to spend a waiver wire claim on Robinson. However, if he's hanging around the wire late in the week, he couldn't hurt any roster too much.

Even though the Falcons offense sputtered against the Titans on Sunday, Devonta Freeman got his yards in, going 130 of them on 27 touches. The man cannot be stopped. That's probably why he leads all RBs in 2015 standard fantasy scoring. In fact, the three leading rushers of the year are all from the NFC South. Tevin Coleman added 14 yards on three carries. Look for Freeman to keep things rolling at home against the Buccaneers in Week 8.

Jonathan Stewart kept the ball rolling on Sunday night with his first 100-yard game of the season. In total, Stewart gained 125 yards on 24 carries. Over the past two weeks, Stewart is the sixth-best fantasy RB in the NFL and Riverboat Ron Rivera seems committed to a run-first approach. Here's the wild card - Stewart was not event the leading fantasy scorer in the Panthers backfield. Fullback Mike Tolbert made his four touches count, as he accounted for 18 yards and two goal line scores in the victory. Clearly, this does not make Tolbert worth adding, as he is more likely to put up zero points most weeks. But Stewart, along with the rest of the half backs in the division, is a top guy moving forward.

Doug Martin continued his unstoppable run on Sunday in a stunning loss to Washington, piling on 171 yards on 22 touches, good for the second-highest yardage total of the week. The Muscle Hamster has been hammering defenses all year, making him a top-three fantasy RB on the year. For the record, he is thoroughly opposed to his nickname, which is a shame because it is by far the best nickname in the league. The new moniker is Dougernaut, which is an acceptable replacement. Or we could just use both. Charles Sims also continued to be reasonably effective (and roster-worthy) from the backup role, adding 66 yards on 12 touches. Though Sims may never break out to his star potential in 2015, he is a good plug for tough bye weeks.

 

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