In this article we assume that you are starting your RB1s regardless of the matchup. We won’t be mentioning Dougie Martin in this articles for the forseeable future as his 2 week fantasy explosion has resulted in a graduation to borderline RB1 status.
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.
Mo BYE weeks Mo lineup issues but as a few more high-profile RBs will be MIA in week 10 as Green Bay, Washington, Arizona, and Cleveland will be relaxing on Sunday. The Packer and Arizona backfields have become a virtual wasteland for fantasy purposes except when the matchup is right. Cedric Benson and Beanie Wells could still return late in the season and might be worth holding if you have roster space available. Rookie of the year candidates Trent Richardson and Alfred Morris have emerged as matchup proof fantasy starters and their owners might be forced to consider some of our week 10 sleepers in order to fill out their lineups.
RUN DMC suffered his annual injury in week 9 as a high ankle sprain is expected to keep him and backup Mike Goodson in street clothes. Marcel Reece and Taiwan Jones with carry the load against an injury riddled Raven defense in week 10. The Cowboys’ Demarco Murray is likely to miss his 4th straight game with a foot injury, which should keep Felix Jones somewhat fantasy relevant for the week 10 matchup with Philadelphia.
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:
Stevan Ridley (vs. Buffalo) – This matchup jump off the page as favorable as the Bills defense ranks 31st against the run (170 YPG) and Buffalo has allowed a league high 14 TDs on the ground. The 2nd year RB from LSU currently ranks 4th in the NFL in rushing yards and is averaging 4.77 YPC. Ridley is on pace of 300 carries, 1,432 yards and 10 touchdowns and is proving to be one of the better later round bargains. In the week 4 win over the Bills, Ridley amassed 22 carries for 106 yards and scored 2 touchdowns (his own multiple TD game of the season). The only knock on Ridley his is lack of receptions (just 6) but in a game the Pats figure to be salting away in the 2nd half – Ridley should finish with top 10 fantasy numbers in week 10.
Pierre Thomas (vs Atlanta) – Frenchy played just 21 of 56 snaps in the week 9 win over Philly but the shootout potential of the week 10 matchup with the high-flying Falcons should result in more snaps for Thomas as the Saints could be forced to pass early and often. The 27-year-old RB has week 10 upside with Darren Sproles ruled OUT (continues to recover from surgery on his fractured hand). Thomas is averaging an impressive 4.7 YPC and he is a factor in the screen game (10 yards per catch). Atlanta’s run defense ranks 24th against the run (128 YPG) and they are yielding the 11th most fantasy PPG to opposing RBs (21 FPG). Thomas has only cracked double-digit carries once this season but he should be enough of a factor in this high scoring affair to warrant solid Flex appeal.
Willis McGahee (@ Carolina) – The 31-year-old RB is averaging an impressive 78 YPG with 4 touchdowns over the first half of the season. He was held in check in week 9 against an underrated Bengal front 4 but should find much easier sledding this week against a Carolina defense allowing the 11th most fantasy PPG to opposing RBs (21 FPG). McGahee ranks 11th overall in fantasy scoring for RBs and he should continue to flirt with RB1 production in the favorable week 10 matchup.
Running Back Downgrades:
The trip to Foxboro figures to leave fantasy owners blowing in the wind as the Patriots defense ranks 7th against the run (89 YPG) and have yielded just 3 rushing TDs. In the week 4 matchup with New England, Jackson had 13 carries for 29 yards but saved his fantasy day with 3 catches for 50 yards. F-Jax has topped 50 yards just twice this season and we expect CJ Spiller and his superior receiving skills will be forced into action as the Bills will likely be playing from behind most of the afternoon.
Jonathan Stewart (vs Denver) – In week 10, the Panthers host a Denver defense allowing the 8th lowest fantasy PPG to opposing RBs. The Broncos are allowing 104 YPG and have yielded just 5 rushing TDs. Despite claims that J-Stew was going to be the workhorse going forward, he played just 55% of the snaps in week 9 as Deangelo Williams and Cam Newton scored the rushing TDs in the win over Washington. Stewart has yet to top 51 YPG this season , has just 12 catches and only 1 TD on the season. The Carolina O-line has struggled to open holes and Stewart is a lower end flex play in a difficult week 10 matchup against OLB Von Miller and the Broncos.
Shonn Greene (@ Seattle) – Despite being well rested coming off the week 9 Bye, Shonn Greene’s mediocre at best running skills are likely to be neutralized against a Seattle defense allowing the 4th fewest fantasy PPG to rushers. Greene has feasted on the weak amassing his only two productive games against Indy and Buffalo (4 of his 5 TDs). He’s averaging a pedestrian 3.7 YPC and is a non-factoring in the passing game (just 11 catches for 91 yards on the season).
Running Back Sleepers:
Jacquizz Rodgers (vs New Orleans) – The undefeated Falcons have smartly become a more pass happy offense leaving Michael the Churner Turner as somewhat of an after thought. Turner has cracked 100 yards just once this season but remains a solid RB2 in this favorable matchup. Jacquizz Rodgers rushed eight times for 60 yards and caught five passes for 20 yards in the week 8 over Philly and he hauled in 4 catches for 53 yards in week 9. Rodgers is averaging just 8 touches per game but this week he figures to be a greater factor in a game with shootout potential. New Orleans run defense ranks last in YPG (177) and they allow the 2nd most fantasy PPG to RBs (26 FPG). Rodgers is well worth considering as a Flex play in PPR leagues.
Reece’s real advantage is in the receiving game where he has posted 26 catches for 272 yards (34 YPG) over the first 8 games of the season. With Mcfadden and Goodson likely out with high ankle sprains, Reece’s pass receiving skills will be needed as the Raiders figure to employ a pass happy approach. Baltimore’s injury riddled defense is allowing 22 PPG and ranks 22nd against the pass and 28th against the run. Oakland should be able to move the ball and Reece should produce serviceable fantasy numbers especially in PPR leagues.
Kendall Hunter (vs St Louis) – Hunter matched a season high 11 touches in the week 8 win over Arizona and has produced at a high level (averaging 5.0 YPC) in relief of veteran Frank Gore. The Rams defense has improved from last season under Jeff Fisher and ranks 13th against the run (106 YPG). St Louis has allowed 8 rushing TDs and allow the 12th most fantasy PPG to running backs. As the 49ers look to keep Gore healthy down the stretch, Hunter could see an uptick in 2nd half carries giving him a chance to surprise in week 10.