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Running Backs Movin' Up - Week 10
Tim Van Prooyen
November 10, 2009
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Quarterbacks  |  Running Backs  |  Wide Receivers/Tight Ends

Movin’ Up

Breakdown:  With the season half way over, the movin’ up breakdown obviously must evolve accordingly.  This first section is, as usual, guys who are on rosters and are worth moving up to your starting lineup for the games this coming weekend, and in some cases beyond.  We evaluate trends as well as matchups to help you as you set your lineup for the upcoming weekend.

Pierre Thomas (NOS) – With touchdowns in back to back games, Thomas, while not having amazing rushing yardage, has put up respectable #2 back numbers the past couple of weeks.  Welcome St. Louis Rams.  One of the league’s worst rushing defenses is on tap this week, meaning that Thomas goes from a likely starter to a must start.  This should be a very high scoring game – for the Saints – and should yield more than enough stats to go around.  Look for Thomas to have a shot at his best game of the season so far on Sunday.  Make sure he’s in your starting lineup.

Ray Rice (BAL) – Rice gets placement here not as much for his rushing, which he’s doing very well, but for his receptions.  He’s putting up a very good season, but in the past four games has thirty receptions for about three hundred yards.  Those numbers are better than a majority of receivers in the league and it should be noted that he’s on pace for 92 catches on the season.  If you play in a PPR league, these are huge numbers and help make an already very good back all that much better.  The Ravens play the Browns this week and should have a healthy offensive output.  Rice is a must start for at least one week, as he gets the Colts a week later and their much better defense.

Michael Turner (ATL) – Turner was having a sub-par year (based on his breakout season last year) until two weeks ago when something woke him up and turned him into his 2008 version.  Carolina is on tap this weekend and their rushing defense which is among the lower half of the league.  Matt Ryan and the passing game will struggle this week and the running game will be called upon to carry the team. Look for another monster week and the possibility that he’ll make it three straight 150+ rushing yard games in a row.

Chris Johnson (TEN) – After Rice and Turner, two backs a bit better than the ones I usually feature here, I almost hate to include Johnson, as he’s a definite start every week already, but I couldn’t resist with the opportunity here this week.  Johnson has 491 rushing yards and four touchdowns in his last three games.  In the first five games he had a total of 468 yards and two touchdowns.  He has had well over one hundred yards each of the past three weeks and a two hundred plus yard game two weeks ago.  Enter the Buffalo Bills and the league’s worst rush defense.  The Bills are giving up an average of 173.6 yards per game and have given up twelve touchdowns to go along.   Their pass defense is strong, and the Titans passing game still has a lot of room to improve, so look for Johnson to have a field day.

Thomas Jones (NYJ) – Forgetting the arguing about what happens at running back in 2010 for the Jets, when Jones will be thirty-two, and focusing on where things are now, this is an interesting study.  Jones seemingly was looking to be the odd man out in the preseason, with the team likely to go with Leon Washington number one, with Jones helping out while Greene learned the game.  This did not happen and Jones has basically been the workhorse here all season.  With Washington’s injury three weeks ago Greene seemed to have the inside track to take the lead, but before the teams bye Jones continued to impress, plugging forward.  The track on over thirty backs is not good, but Jones seems to be avoiding those trends so far.  Similar to Curtis Martin a few years ago, he’s not just having one post thirty good season, he’s on his way to his second in a row.  In fact, the pace he’s on now is extremely similar to where he was last season when he finished with thirteen touchdowns and thirteen hundred yards rushing.  The team will continue to work Greene onto the field, but Jones will remain the focus, barring injury.

Waiver Wire Radar

Breakdown:  These are guys who more than likely are not residing on many, if any, rosters.  They are in situations that are favorable for possible fantasy this week and possibly beyond.

Ahman Green (GBP) – Green returned relatively quietly to his former team a couple of weeks ago and appears to be being brought gradually into more and more of a mix with Ryan Grant, and it appears to be helping them both to some extent.  Grants numbers have improved comparatively, this is certain.  Anything Green gets at this point in his career is an improvement, so growth in his game is good as well.   The team looks like it plans to simply use him as a bit of a change of pace, giving Grant a breather on third downs.  At thirty-two Green isn’t going to make any big splashes, but he’s a solid option that should see a few touches a game from here on out and can be of some value in deep leagues for owners struggling with injured starters.

Kolby Smith (KCC) – Kolby Smith isn’t a great running back option by any means, but with the release of Larry Johnson and the general struggles the KC running game has experienced so far, the upside is worth a gamble if you have roster room.  Smith has had some good games in the past, and while he’s lost a step due to surgeries, he looks like he could handle a goal line type job and some breathing time for Jamaal Charles.  If the passing game starts hitting on a few more cylinders, as it appears to be heading toward, the running game could benefit.  Smith gains value simply because he’s going to get carries, and late in the fantasy season that is a very valuable thing in and of itself.

…And On The Slide – Quick Hits

Breakdown:  These are guys who are relatively well known, but due to one circumstance or the other – whether a matchup, injury, or lack of performance – are not good starts this week, and in some cases beyond.

Cedric Benson (CIN) – Benson is a great start most weeks, but this week likely won’t be one.  After four absolutely outstanding outings he faces a Pittsburgh rush defense that is the best in the league.  He had 76 yards and a touchdown when the teams met earlier in the year, which isn’t bad, but it’s nowhere near the stats he’s  had recently, and in fact is a hefty decline.  This is a one week only slide, however, because the following three games are against Oakland, Cleveland and Detroit…so there will be more feasting by this Bengal, but just not this week.

Clinton Portis (WAS) – It is looking very much like Portis won’t be playing this year and the team is seriously talking about bringing in another back to help Ladell Betts this week.  All things considered, with the state of the Redskins in utter disarray, Portis should be benched for sure this week and possibly beyond.  This is a ship sailing south in a hurry.

Larry Johnson (KCC) – Johnson was cut by the Chiefs this week.  He was pretty much ineffective for most of the season anyway, so likely wasn’t in too many lineups.  He’s already getting a lot of looks from other teams, but the likeliest option is Washington, where he wouldn’t likely be much of an upgrade.  However, there is always the chance that a change of scenery could reinvigorate Johnson at least for a couple of weeks, somewhat like Chris Chambers last week.  Depending on where he goes he could get a boost in our piece as early as next week, but for this week…let him ride the pine!

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