BYE:  Denver, Jacksonville, San Francisco, St Louis, Tennessee, Washington

A lot of big name RBs are on BYE this week including Chris Johnson, Frank Gore, Steven Jackson and MJD. Many fantasy owners might have to turn to the free agent pool in order to field a full team in week 9. We did the homework for you as we have scoured the injury reports and analyzed the box scores to offer up some players that are destined for fantasy success but could be available on the fantasy waiver wire. Its worth noting that four offenses (Kansas City, NY Jets, Houston, and Tennessee) are averaging over 140 rushing yards per game. On the flip side four rushing attacks appear to be trudging through quicksand as they are averaging less than 90 rushing yards a game – these anemic ground games include Arizona, Seattle, Detroit, and Denver.

Now that we’ve hit the half way point of the season,  its worth analyzing the remaining NFL schedule to determine which teams face defenses that have been shredded by opposing RBs and which stout run defenses should be avoided if you have a legitimate alternative.

Top 5 most favorable rushing schedules: San Diego, Kansas City, Tennessee, Minnesota, and Dallas

Top 5 least favorable rushing schedules: Cincinnati, Buffalo, New England, Cleveland, and Baltimore.

VIEWS: recommends starting Mike Tolbert over Ryan Matthews as Tolbert is vulturing goal line carries and has scored in 5 straight games. points out that the injury depleted San Diego receiving corps has made dual threat RB Darren Sproles fanatasy relevant as he is averaging 70 yards over the past three games. believes that Washington’s Keiland Williams could be worth owning depending on the severity of Ryan Torain’s hamstring injury.

BrunoBoys.Net explains that Detroit’s Kevin Smith is worth owning (especially for Javhid Best owners). recommends adding Tashard Choice as the Cowboys could decide to give their potential back of the future a chance to show his potential.


In San Diego, Darren Sproles and Mike Tolbert remain fantasy relevant as rookie Ryan Mathews has failed to seperate himself from the pack.

Mathews (77 carries for 337 yards and 2 TDs)  has struggled in pass protection and hasn’t had success in the red zone -  a job that has been dominated by the 243 pound Tolbert (scored a TD in 5 straight games). The Chargers receiving corps is a MASH unit as Malcolm Floyd (Hamstring), Buster Davis (on IR), Legedu Naanee (hamstring) continue to miss games – making Darren Sproles a legit fantasy weapon especially in PPR leagues as he has had a significant role for the Chargers over the past 3 weeks (18 catches).

If you have an extra roster spot, adding Tashard Choice could be worth the gamble as Felix Jones missed Wednesday’s practice with forearm and ankle injuries and Marion Barber is averaging a meager 3.0 YPC. Choice hasn’t had a carry since week 3 but could in line to get a large piece of the workload going forward as the 1-6 Cowboys audition for 2011. The 25 year old RB out of Georgia Tech averaged an impressive 5.5 yards per carry in limited action last season.  Barber has had two straight injury plagued seasons and Felix Jones,  despite being one of the more dynamic open field runners, has yet  to carry the ball over 15 times in a single game.

In Washington, Ryan Torain’s MRI showed no tear in his hamstring but his week 10 status  is uncertain (Skins have a week 9 BYE). Torain has been a legit RB2 since taking over the starting job from an injured Clinton Portis in week 4. The 6’1 225 pounder out of Arizona St posted back to back 100 yard efforts in weeks 6 and 7 and his owners would be wise to add Keiland Williams.  Williams has the size (5’11, 229) to be useful in the red zone if Torain misses the next few games (PHI, TEN, MIN).  He is probably a short term play as Portis is rehabbing his groin injury and could be ready by week 12 or 13.  Williams size / speed combo is detailed in this 2010 draft prospect analysis.

Javhid Best continues to battle a turf toe injury (hasn’t scored a TD since week 2) and the Lions seem to be leaning towards giving Kevin Smith an increased workload to keep the rookie from wearing down.  Kevin Smith looks recovered from ACL surgery and saw his first significant action in week 8 (12 carries for 51 yards) .  In his rookie season in 2008, Smith had 976 rushing yards, 8 TDs and has avergaed 40 catches per season in his first two NFL seasons.  Best is electrifying in the open field and can take it to the house from anywhere on the field but  his owners would be wise to add the 23 year old Smith as a handcuff.  This preseason article from the Detroit News agrees expected a committee approach by the Lions to give both injury prone backs a better chance of surviving the entire season.

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