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Shuffle Up and Run: Chris Johnson’s Treehouse of Horror

When you're a fantasy scribe by trade, you essentially rank things for a living. Today we meet up with running backs, kickers and defenses.

The listings below are rest-of-season ranks, how I'd attack a fresh draft tonight. It's an even-numbered week, which means we hit the backfield and the two fringe positions. The passing postions (QB, WR, TE) will return to the floor next week. Assume a standard scoring format (no PPR kickback, no return yards).

What's already happened on the field matters as an audition, but this is not intended to be a list of scoring leaders. What we're focused on is value from this point forward. Your intelligent and respectful disagreement is always welcome, but for the love of all that is holy, support your position. Give us something to think about. Win the argument, and I'll consider an adjustment. And sorry, Rutherford, your players don't gain 20 percent of bonus value merely because you own them.

I'll add comments as the day goes along and I reserve the right to make changes in the first few hours. Ready for the running backs? Take the handoff, hit the hole, get to the second level. Make the jump.

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Running Back
1. Fred Jackson(notes)
2. Arian Foster(notes)
3. Adrian Peterson
4. LeSean McCoy(notes)
5. Ray Rice(notes)
6. Matt Forte(notes)
7. Ryan Mathews(notes)
8. Michael Turner(notes)
9. Frank Gore(notes)
10. Maurice Jones-Drew(notes)
11. Ahmad Bradshaw(notes)
12. Darren McFadden(notes)
13. Rashard Mendenhall(notes)
14. Chris Johnson
15. Beanie Wells(notes)
16. Darren Sproles(notes)
17. BenJarvus Green-Ellis(notes)
18. Steven Jackson
19. Cedric Benson(notes)
20. DeMarco Murray(notes)
21. Shonn Greene(notes)
22. LeGarrette Blount(notes)
23. Ryan Torain(notes)
24. Jonathan Stewart(notes)
25. Daniel Thomas(notes)
26. Mike Tolbert(notes)
27. Peyton Hillis(notes)
28. Michael Bush(notes)
29. Ben Tate(notes)
Shuffle Up and Run: Chris Johnson’s Treehouse of Horror30. Jahvid Best(notes)
31. DeAngelo Williams(notes)
32. Brandon Jacobs(notes)
33. Jackie Battle(notes)
34. James Starks(notes)
35. Knowshon Moreno(notes)
36. Marshawn Lynch(notes)
37. Roy Helu(notes)
38. Montario Hardesty(notes)
39. Mark Ingram(notes)
40. Delone Carter(notes)
41. Willis McGahee(notes)
42. Pierre Thomas(notes)
43. Maurice Morris(notes)
44. Ryan Grant(notes)
45. Keiland Williams(notes)
46. Felix Jones(notes)
47. Bernard Scott(notes)
48. LaDainian Tomlinson(notes)
49. Isaac Redman(notes)
50. Kendall Hunter(notes)
51. Stevan Ridley(notes)
52. C.J. Spiller(notes)
53. Alfonso Smith(notes)
54. Joseph Addai(notes)
55. Kregg Lumpkin(notes)
56. Reggie Bush(notes)
57. Danny Woodhead(notes)
58. Javon Ringer(notes)
59. Marion Barber(notes)
60. Dexter McCluster(notes)
61. Thomas Jones(notes)
62. Donald Brown(notes)
63. Carnell Williams(notes)
64. Justin Forsett(notes)
65. LaRod Stephens-Howling(notes)
66. Deji Karim(notes)
67. Ricky Williams(notes)
68. Toby Gerhart(notes)
69. Jason Snelling(notes)
70. Jonathan Dwyer(notes)
71. Taiwan Jones(notes)
72. Ronnie Brown(notes)
73. Joe McKnight(notes)

Comments: The Top 6 backs essentially form Tier 1. In a redraft, I could see any of them going first overall without any wild controversy. Jackson's consistency and his ability to make things happen as a runner and receiver earned him the top spot, but if your preference is anyone in this pool, you'll be able to make a strong argument . . . I'm no doctor or psychic; ranking injured backs like McFadden and Wells is next to impossible. McFadden hangs with the top backs when he's healthy, and Wells would probably push into the Top 10 if we knew for sure that he'd make it back for those two cushy St. Louis games. Missing an angry Ravens bunch in Week 8 isn't a big deal . . . Johnson's schedule has been utterly hellish, as Brandon Funston noted in the Week 8 Skinny, so better days figure to be ahead. The Colts haven't been bad against the run on a per-carry basis (at 4.3 YPC, they're middle of the pack) but the gross numbers are bloated because of the volume (that's life when you're 0-7). The injury-ravaged Panthers run defense (4.7 YPC) lies in waiting for Week 10. But it's astounding to me that Johnson didn't have a run longer than three yards last week, after the bye and all, and he hasn't been anything special as a receiver. Is it a physical problem? A confidence issue? Is runner vision and block reading something that can go into a slump? The Johnson file is full of questions today; no one has concrete answers . . . Mike Shanahan is a lot like Tony La Russa — the man in the bullpen is always more interesting than the guy on the mound. Say hello to Mr. Helu. Hopefully the Redskins have a better handle on modern communications than the Cardinals do. Back in Washington, we also have to keep an eye on Evan Royster(notes), assuming he's promoted from the practice squad (at press time, we were still waiting) . . . The Bills have finally found something for Spiller to do, giving him work as a receiver. They say it's a temporary move; we'll see.

Kicker
1. Jason Hanson(notes)
2. Neil Rackers(notes)
3. John Kasay(notes)
4. Mason Crosby(notes)
5. Stephen Gostkowski(notes)
6. Billy Cundiff(notes)
Shuffle Up and Run: Chris Johnson’s Treehouse of Horror7. Sebastian Janikowski(notes)
8. Dan Bailey(notes)
9. David Akers(notes)
10. Nick Novak(notes)
11. Robbie Gould(notes)
12. Rian Lindell(notes)
13. Alex Henery(notes)
14. Matt Bryant(notes)
15. Josh Scobee(notes)
16. Ryan Longwell(notes)
17. Rob Bironas(notes)
18. Matt Prater(notes)
19. Graham Gano(notes)
20. Nick Folk(notes)
21. Mike Nugent(notes)
22. Shaun Suisham(notes)
23. Lawrence Tynes(notes)
24. Connor Barth(notes)
25. Dan Carpenter(notes)
26. Olindo Mare(notes)
27. Jay Feely(notes)
28. Ryan Succop(notes)
29. Phil Dawson(notes)
30. Steven Hauschka(notes)
31. Josh Brown(notes)
32. Adam Vinatieri(notes)

Comments: Kicker is a context position; we want to align with winning teams most of all. Teams that are getting scotched by 27 points in the fourth period don't kick field goals (and sometimes they eschew the extra point as well) . . . Hanson works mostly indoors and his coach trusts him with 50-plus kicks. That goes a long way with me . . . Kasay turned out to be in the perfect setup, on a pinball-scoring club, playing indoors, and tied to a late bye week . . . Janikowski is currently on a lot of waiver wires, nicked up and in his bye week. I'd never want to waste a valuable bench spot on a kicker, but he'll be an interesting bidding item next week, provided we can be sure on his health. Then again, it could be risky being tied to an injury-prone kicker who plays most of his games on the West Coast.

Defense
Shuffle Up and Run: Chris Johnson’s Treehouse of Horror1. Baltimore Ravens
2. Green Bay Packers
3. Dallas Cowboys
4. San Francisco 49ers
5. Chicago Bears
6. Philadelphia Eagles
7. New York Jets
8. Detroit Lions
9. New York Giants
10. New Orleans Saints
11. Minnesota Vikings
12. Cincinnati Bengals
13. Houston Texans
14. Washington Redskins
15. Pittsburgh Steelers
16. New England Patriots
17. Atlanta Falcons
18. Tennessee Titans
19. Oakland Raiders
20. San Diego Chargers
21. Arizona Cardinals
22. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
23. Cleveland Browns
24. Buffalo Bills
25. Kansas City Chiefs
26. Jacksonville Jaguars
27. Seattle Seahawks
28. Miami Dolphins
29. Denver Broncos
30. Carolina Panthers
31. Indianapolis Colts
32. St. Louis Rams

Comments: The Bills have been lucky with interceptions and runbacks, but I can't trust any team with just four sacks this late in the season . . . The Eagles are 12-0 after the bye in the Andy Reid era; if they beat Dallas this week, they're right back in the NFC East race. The Giants have an insane schedule after drawing Miami this week: at New England, at San Francisco, Philadelphia, at New Orleans, Green Bay, at Dallas, Washington, at New York Jets, Dallas . . . Maybe I'm giving the Pittsburgh laundry too much respect, because this defense hasn't been forcing anything and there are so many key members down for the season. Then again, a middle-of-the-road defensive ranking basically means they're a matchup play and nothing more.

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Image courtesy Associated Press

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