Posted by Scott Pashley in Buffalo Bills, Chicago Bears, Cincinnati Bengals, Cleveland Browns, Indianapolis Colts, New England Patriots, New Orleans Saints, New York Jets, Pittsburgh Steelers, SPIN News & Views, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Weekly Ranking Upgrades,Downgrades, Sleepers No Comments »
In this article we assume that you are starting your RB1s regardless of the matchup.
Each week we will analyze the defenses and provide our take on which RBs you should start and which should be benched based on matchups with stout run defenses, stubbed toes, potential weather problems, conduct code violations etc.
Holy BYE week issues! Check out these big names that will be relaxing on Sunday. Lesean McCoy will be home wondering why Andy Reid doesn’t use them. Michael Turner may be shopping for chairs large enough to contain his giant caboose. Reggie Bush will be polishing his real Heisman trophy wondering if they will ever catch on to the fact that he returned a fake one made out of chocolate. Ryan Mathews will be trying not to get injured during the off week and I have nothing witty to say about Willis McGahee and Jamaal Charles.
As always, injuries will surely play a role in your lineup decisions and our interactive injury chart/fantasy advice feature will keep you up to date. The Injury Report will be released on Friday afternoon and updated up until the 1pm Sunday kickoffs.
Running Back Upgrades
This is going to a little different from what our readers normally get. We have always just listed specific players in this article but this week there are some committee backfields that face the bottom of the barrel run defenses. We like more that one of the members of the following backfields…
Bills Backfield (vs. Titans) - Fred Jackson and CJ Spiller have proven they can cohabite in the Bills backfield and both post good fantasy football numbers. Last week against the Cardinals defense Spiller’s stat line was 12/88/1 rushing and 4/22 receiving. Jackson caught passes for 30 yards and was 16/53/1 rushing. Yes indeed, you can start both of these rushers against the Titans defense giving up 24.4 fantasy points per week to running backs. It’s a safe bet that this dynamic duo beat that number this week.
Patriots Backfield (vs. Jets) – This defines committee backfield. There are more than two rushers who factor into the Patriots ground game. The most productive is of course Stevan Ridley. He had a down week last week but this is a fantastic chance to rebound with a big week. The Jets are among the worst in the league against the run and running backs are gashing them to the tune of over 23 fantasy points per week. Looking at the FantasyFootballCrystalBall.com expert aggregate rankings Ridley is ranked at #8 overall and Danny Woodhead is ranked at#31. Brandon Bolden did not practice on Friday and his status is currently questionable, but we think it’s more like doubtful in reality, (see the Interactive Injury Report with Fantasy Advice), Woodhead is a good Flex play – especially in PPR leagues. Shane Vereen is ranked at #57 and is nothing more than a total desperation play.
Matt Forte (vs. Lions) – The players written about in our QB-RB-WR-TE Upgrade, Downgrade,Sleeper articles are often there based on positive or negative matchups. This one is in spite of the matchup. The Lions are playing tough against the run. They are giving up a respectable 96.4 yards per game on the ground and have allowed just one rusher to reach the endzone this year. Most recently they held Michael Vick and Lesean McCoy in check (they should send Andy Reid a nice thank you gift for refusing to use his best player, McCoy).
This week, however, we really like Matt Forte. He’s coming off a BYE and should be will be more healthy and stronger than he has been since he went down with a sprained ankle in week 2. Last year in two contests against the Lions Forte totaled 180 yards, 1 TD, and 38 yards rushing. He’s returned to the top 10 in the Fantasy Football Crystal Ball rankings. He’s ranked at #9 for week 7 and that seems just about right.
Buccaneers Backfield (vs. Saints) – LaGarrette Blount is taking a larger role and he hasn’t sucker punched anyone in months! Good job. Doug Martin may be a bit disappointing but this is a week where he can shine. The Saints defense is atrocious. They are worst in the league against a run and opposing running backs are having a field day against them with over 30 fantasy points per game. Both Martin #11 and Blount #28 on FantasyFootballCrystalBall.com expert aggregate rankings should do well enough to justify starts. Martin is a must start and Blount is a great Flex option.
Running Back Downgrades
Shonn Greene (vs. Patriots) –The Patriots aren’t going to roll over for Greene the way the Colts did. Sure, there is reason to be excited as a Shonn Greene owner. It’s nice to know that you don’t have to hold the proverbial mirror under his nose to see if he is breathing any longer. This week will be quite a bit tougher. The Patriots are allowing just 82 yards per game on the ground and 13.1 fantasy points per game to running backs. Most recently they have held talented rushers in Seattle and Denver in check and we expect they will do the same to the less talented Shonn Greene.
BenJarvus Green-Ellis (vs. Steelers) – BJGE is still a starter-worthy player in week 7 but the 10th ranked run D of the Steelers should prove tough to rack up fantasy points against. This obviously goes for Cedric Peerman as well who should be squarely on your bench. Green-Ellis is a low end RB2 according to Fantasy Football Crystal Ball at #22. The Steelers aren’t a dominant defense any longer so there is still a chance he has a big week but we are just recommending you temper your enthusiasm. Hope for the best but expect the worst.
Saints Backfield (vs. Buccaneers) – Surprise, surprise, that moron Aqib Talib went a got himself suspended again. What a jackass. Now the already suspect Tampa secondary is weaker and Drew Brees has to be licking his chops at the prospect of throwing against them. 400+ yards isn’t unrealistic for Brees in week 7. If Jimmy Graham can go it’s going to be a long day for Bucs fans.
On top of a tasty passing matchup the Buccaneers present a much tougher challenge against the run. The Buccaneers defense is 4th in the league vs. the run. Opposing rushers are managing just 75 yards and 13.1 fantasy points per game. Darren Sproles will be safe because he’s a PPR machine either way but the rest of the crew should be knocked down a couple notches.
Running Back Sleepers
Jonathan Dwyer (vs. Bengals) – We covered this in more detail in this post earlier. This is about opportunity and with Mendenhall and Isaac Redman already ruled out Dwyer has a golden opportunity against a defense giving up over 20 fantasy points to opposing rushers. He may come off the field on passing downs but considering how tough the Bengals play the pass the Steelers may try hard to establish the run early and often.
Vick Ballard (vs. Browns) – This will be Ballard’s second consecutive start with Donald Brown ruled out for week 7. Ballard did not make the most of his first starting opportunity last week. He managed just 25 yards on 8 carries with 2 receptions. In this article last week Ballard was in this very section. Roy Anselmo wrote that it was a golden opportunity facing the then 6th worst defense against the run. Ballard let Roy down and failed to take advantage of the Jets. So, you may have to take this second consecutive endorsement of Ballard as a sleeper with a grain of salt.
The Browns aren’t much better than the Jets. They are 13th worst in the league in fantasy points per game surrendered to rushers (20.1). We say roll the dice again. Roy also pointed out that the Colts coaching staff is high on Ballard and there are indications that one poor start hasn’t changed that opinion.