While the Ravens held Browns RB Trent Richardson to just 47 yards on 14 carries in the Week Four meeting between the clubs, he scored a rushing TD, and he also added 57 yards receiving. What’s more, the Ravens’ run defense has fallen to pieces since, surrendering 622 yards in the last three games. Richardson’s a fine starting option in Week Nine.
The Bengals’ defense has not been very good against the run this season, and Broncos RBs Willis McGahee and Ronnie Hillman are coming off big games against New Orleans on Sunday night. Denver will balance the run with the pass, but should they get out to a lead thanks to Peyton Manning, you can bank on several touches for both backs. McGahee should be a start in all leagues and Hillman is coming on strong, and is even worthy of a start in deep leagues as a bye-week or injury fill-in.
Cover your ears, owners of Donald Brown and/or Vick Ballard, as the Colts this week have been using two of the most resented words in fantasy football: time share. After both Ballard and Brown made huge contributions in Indianapolis’ Week Eight overtime victory over the Titans — Brown doing all the heavy lifting during overtime, until Ballard’s remarkable lunging game-winning TD — it appears interim head coach Bruce Arians intends on keeping both of his backs busy, which, of course, adversely affects the fantasy value of both. Making matters worse, third-stringer Delone Carter received a goal-line carry, converting it into a one-yard TD. Although the Colts’ ground game is popping more than it has in years, we can’t recommend any of the backfield options in Indy this week against one of the league’s stouter run defenses, the Dolphins.
The Dolphins’ run game has not rushed for over 100 yards since Week Three, but it’ll have an opportunity to get going against the Colts’ defense, which is ranked 27th against the run. Ryan Tannehill is questionable and Miami will want to take pressure off him, or Matt Moore, by establishing the run with Reggie Bush and Daniel Thomas. Bush is a fantasy starter in all formats, and Thomas merits consideration in deeper leagues after getting 15 carries against the Jets. Thomas is also more likely to get the rock near the goal line.
Fantasy owners really don’t have much of a choice other than to start Bills RBs Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller, though it won’t be easy this week against Houston’s fourth-ranked run defense. Additionally, if Buffalo is playing from behind, carries will be limited for both backs. This is a key game for the Bills coming off a bye and Jackson and Spiller remain the top two playmakers, so they’ll get their opportunities, but productive outings might not be in the cards.
Bengals RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis doesn’t have an ideal matchup in Week Nine, as the Broncos are allowing just 3.7 yards per carry. If counting upon Green-Ellis, you can take solace in his relative improvement in his last two games before the Week Eight bye. In that span, Green Ellis gained 3.9 yards per carry after not exceeding 3.6 yards per attempt in any of the previous four games.
The Jaguars are allowing 135.7 rushing yards per game, making Lions RB Mikel Leshoure an appealing option for fantasy owners in Week Nine. In his last three games, Leshoure is gaining 4.8 yards per attempt (179 yards, 37 attempts). With the strength of the Lions’ passing game not lost on opponents, Leshoure doesn’t figure to be running against many defenses crowding the line of scrimmage.
Steelers RB Jonathan Dwyer (quad) is a very good starting option if he remains in the lineup in Week Nine, what with the Giants ranking in the bottom half of the league in yards allowed per game and per carry. However, he didn’t practice on Wednesday. Dwyer has played very well of late, racking up 229 yards on 34 carries in the last two games. Rashard Mendenhall (Achilles) would be the foremost threat for carries if healthy. Isaac Redman (ankle) could also get a little work, too. Redman practiced fully on Wednesday, with Mendenhall limited.
RB Adrian Peterson (ankle) is almost certain to go Sunday against the Seahawks but has been a bit nicked up in addition to his surgically repaired knee.
We seem to have a pattern for Giants RB Ahmad Bradshaw: Sit out practice during the week, play Sunday. His foot has been limiting, but he should give it a go Sunday against the Steelers, just as he has the past few weeks without much mid-week work.
If you’ve had Texans backup RB Ben Tate stashed on your bench, either in the hopes he would start carving out a bigger role or because Arian Foster seems to miss a game or two each season, now might be the time to unload him. Tate is dealing with a hamstring issue that is expected to sideline him for multiple weeks, we hear, making Justin Forsett, averaging 5.2 yards per carry in limited opportunities, the top backup to Foster.
Falcons RB Michael Turner should be considered a low-end No. 2 RB in deep formats this week vs. the Cowboys’ 13th-ranked run defense. Turner had a season-high 24 carries last week vs. the Eagles, who are currently ranked 17th vs. the run, but he gained only 58 yards (2.4 average). Turner had always been a reliable TD producer since he joined the Falcons in 2008. In fact, he had double-digit TD totals in each of the past four seasons. However, he has only three TDs through seven games in 2012 and we can’t count on him to add to that number vs. Dallas.
Good news for Beanie Wells owners: Word is the Cardinals running back is running well and appears to be on target to return to action on Nov. 25 against the Rams. What might be bad news, though, are potentially bad fantasy numbers for Wells unless the Arizona offensive line’s run-blocking does a complete 180 after stinking up the field against the Niners (seven yards rushing on nine carries).
Jason Garrett said Cowboys RB DeMarco Murray (foot) was making progress, but it remains unlikely he’ll play against the Falcons. The Cowboys often will keep injured players home from road trips, so we might have an answer by Friday night or Saturday morning whether Murray will play.
Just like how Norv Turner will continue giving the ball to RB Ryan Mathews, fantasy owners need to keep starting him, even though the numbers can be disappointing. With the passing game struggling and the Chargers unraveling, Mathews will be called upon to carry the rock often, especially on Thursday night against the Chiefs and their 23rd-ranked run defense.
Is Jamaal Charles an automatic start against the Chargers’ second-ranked run defense? Well, on the one hand, Trent Richardson busted out for a good game against them last week, but on the other hand, Charles was held in check by the Raiders, who made him the focus of their defensive approach. It’s a truly maddening situation, although the Chiefs know they must get Charles the ball more than the eight times they did last Sunday.
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