Who are the top 10 fantasy football running backs looking forward from Weeks 14-16? Does Ryan Grant belong in the top 10? Should he be ranked even higher? What about Larry Johnson? Where do you rank all these questionable rushers heading into your playoffs?
Now, we still have the Monday night game to go, but neither the Patriots or the Ravens have a top 10 rusher, so it is safe to rank the top ten rushers looking forward without considering the outcome of tonight’s Week 13 Monday night game.
Peterson is by far the best fantasy back on the planet right now. Starting, not starting… it doesn’t matter. Twenty-five carries, 15 carries… that doesn’t matter either. Dynasty league owners are sitting on gold with this guy. As for Weeks 14-16, he seems like a lock for at least 350+ rushing yards and 4-6 touchdowns in those three games (with the upside for a lot more). There is no better back in football and it might stay that way for another 5-6 years.
Tomlinson proved on Sunday that he is still a top 2RB. If you own him, expect a consistent 100+ and a touchdown in each of the next three games (with the upside for a lot more). After Adrian Peterson, there is no safer fantasy football running back than Tomlinson.
McNabb is looking more and more likely to come back this week, and this will only make Westbrook even better. Westy is easily my #3 running back. Addai and Jackson both have the upside to claim this #3 spot, but given Addai’s match-up next week (which I will talk about below), Westy is the guy to go with right here… Fantasy owners should get about 100 total yards and a score out of the runner from here on out (with upside for a lot more).
Jackson has really done well since coming back from his nasty groin injury. He has scored in four of his five games since returning and the runner is averaging over 90 rushing yards per game over the last three games. He isn’t hitting that “home run” quite like Westbrook is, so he can’t be ranked ahead of Westy… Still, Jackson feels like he’s on the verge of finishing out the season like a beast. I wouldn’t be shocked at all if he scored in each of his last three games, with one of the contests being a multiple-touchdown performance.
Addai should provide some consistent numbers in the final three outings of the 2007 fantasy football season. One thing to keep in mind is that Addai has an extremely tough match-up next week (Week 14) against the Ravens, but he has the best match-up imaginable in Week 15 against Oakland and another fantastic set-up against Houston in Week 16. If you can get past Week 14, you will have some solid running back numbers waiting for you in the final two weeks of the fantasy playoffs. Addai’s Baltimore match-up next week is the only reason he isn’t #4 on this list.
Gore is hit or miss, no question, but so are all the others listed below (except maybe Grant – And, we will talk about Grant later). Like Addai, Gore has two solid match-ups (CIN/TB) in Week’s 15 and 16, but faces one of the toughest rushing defense in the NFL in Week 14 (MIN). Still, Gore has the upside to be a top 5RB looking forward and I would feel just fine if forced to start Gore as my low-end RB1 from here on out.
Parker had a bad case of the fumbles in Week 13 and it couldn’t have come at a worse time for fantasy owners. Do I think Parker will lose carries? No, not really, but I think there is a chance that he touches the ball less in scoring situations. Don’t get me wrong, Parker is ranked #7 for a reason… he has top 5RB upside and has had it all year long, but I trust all of the above running backs more right now given Parker’s fumbling problem (even Gore)… and on top of that, Parker’s rushing schedule in the final three fantasy weeks isn’t outstanding or anything (NE, JAC and STL). Only the Rams are what I’d call a solid match-up, and that match-up isn’t until Week 16.
Grant #8? I know what you’re thinking, but it isn’t like we would draft Grant over Reggie Bush next year… this all comes down to match-ups. In Weeks 14-16, Grant may end up being a top 7-8 fantasy back. He faces Oakland in Week 14, which is gold, and then he goes on to face two very mediocre defenses in the Rams and then the Bears. You couldn’t ask for a better rushing schedule to finish out the year. If you own Grant, start him with a sneaky smile and he should continue his hot string of games right on through Week 16. As for ranking Grant next year…. what a great topic to discuss! I’m not sure he’d sniff this kind of respect come August, but we could be signing a different tune on the matter once these final three weeks are over.
Bush is going to be hit or miss. One wouldn’t be nuts to rank him outside of the top 10, and one wouldn’t be nuts to have him a spot or two higher than this. One thing we have learned in fantasy football this year is that last week doesn’t matter, which is why I’m still holding onto the Reggie Bush stock. Because of Bush’s insane upside, I just can’t knock him out of the top 9-10 looking forward.
I don’t care what people say about Barber’s lack of size, he is the hardest working runner in the NFL. If he only received all the carries! As for Weeks 14-16, he has the upside for top 10 numbers without a doubt, but expecting those numbers… well, that comes with some risk. The Cowboys’ coaching staff are the ones in control of his touches, not us… so if he continues to get limited work here and there, he could burn fantasy owners when it counts. Hopefully that isn’t the case, because this kid is capable of more than 3-4 TDs in these finally three games.
Willis McGahee, Clinton Portis, Ernest Graham, Larry Johnson and Travis Henry (as well as a few others) are closely behind that #10 spot.
Larry Johnson, especially, could quickly vault back into the top ten if news breaks that he is an absolute “go” for Week 14. If Travis Henry is officially NOT suspended for the remainder of the 2007 fantasy season, he could also shoot right up into that top 7-10. Even Brandon Jacobs could jump right into that top 10 if he finishes out the week strong and looks healthy enough to play out the year.
If you have some running back dilemmas heading into your playoffs, get on our Fantasy Football Forums and get some help from our forum moderators (Tavaner and Craphonso), as well as myself (Smitty)… our FFX community is also all over each thread, so help is there for the taking!
Enjoy the Monday Night game and get ready for our Week 14 Fantasy Football Player Projections early Tuesday morning.