Last week was a tricky one for fantasy owners since several running backs either stumbled or had surprise breakout performances in Week 8. Some of the breakout performances included:
LeGarrette Blount (TB) has finally brought a running game to the 5-2 Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The undrafted rookie out of Oregon ran for 120 yards and two touchdowns on just 22 carries.
Jamaal Charles (KC) had his best game of the season after rushing for 177 yards on 22 carries and catching four passes for 61 yards. His 238 total yards were the primary reason for Kansas City's narrow overtime victory against Buffalo.
BenJarvus Green-Ellis (NE) carried the Patriots past the Vikings with 112 yards and two touchdowns on just 17 carries.
Big-time stumbles included:
Ryan Torain (WAS) and his fairytale season took at big hit after he left the first half with a hamstring injury. Even before the injury, Torain only had 10 yards on nine carries against the Detroit Lions' 27th ranked run defense (allowing 130.4 rushing YPG). His game was saved by a receiving touchdown.
Chris Ivory (NO) is running out of chances to seize opportunity after being knocked out of last week's game with a concussion. Prior to the concussion, Ivory only had seven yards on seven carries against the Steelers.
Marshawn Lynch (Sea) had a rough outing against Oakland after gaining just seven yards on nine carries. This after a solid 89-yard effort on 24 carries against Arizona.
If you're looking to avoid the pitfalls of poor running back performances in Week 9, you should start the following players.
Start 'Em Week 9
LeGarrette Blount @ Atlanta - With a young quarterback in Josh Freeman and a need for a solid ground game, Tampa Bay finally looks to have found a solution in LeGarrette Blount. After a decent 72-yard performance in Week 7 and a huge 120-yard, two-touchdown performance last week, nobody's stock has risen as much as Bount's in the last two weeks. Sure the decision to start Blount isn't easy since Atlanta does have a very good run defense (allowing 95.9 rushing YPG). However, Blount is the number one back on this team and will get at least 20 carries this week, so he's worth a start if you don't have two elite running backs.
Matt Forte @ Buffalo - The Bears will be looking to establish a run game early versus the Bills next week, which means Forte should get more than the 10 carries he had against Washington in Week 7. Now Forte is by no means a great running back with just 352 yards on 90 carries, but everybody should be considered a great RB against Buffalo's horrible run defense (allowing 188.7 rushing YPG). Start Forte if you have him for sure!
Ahmad Bradshaw @ Seattle - Although he is losing some goal line carries to Brandon Jacobs recently, Bradshaw has been on fire the past couple of games with totals of 133 rushing yards on 19 carries and 124 rushing yards on 24 carries. Seattle is no slouch against the run (allowing 100.6 YPG), but they got torched for 239 rushing yards last game. Look for Bradshaw to give Seattle more defensive nightmares as he goes over 100 yards for the third game in a row.
Darren McFadden vs. Kansas City - Much like Bradshaw, McFadden is another running back who is on fire the past two games. Since coming off of an injury, McFadden has ended the starting RB controversy with Michael Bush by rushing for 276 yards and three touchdowns in the last two games. The one catch here is that McFadden is facing a Kansas City run defense that's allowing just 96.4 YPG. However, Oakland's offense is predicated on the run so expect McFadden to get plenty of carries this week anyways.
LeSean McCoy vs. Indianapolis - McCoy has not ran the ball well the past two weeks against Atlanta (64 yards on 21 carries) and Tennessee (48 yards on 16 carries). But he should get back on track against an Indianapolis Colts defense that is giving up 133.1 rushing YPG. McCoy's ribs have been given a rest too so he is a great option this week at home against the Colts.
Sit 'Em Week 9
Cedric Benson vs. Pittsburgh - The only thing that Benson has going for him this week against Pittsburgh is that he's at home. Pittsburgh is only allowing 58.9 rushing YPG, which easily ranks first in the NFL. Considering that Benson looked like an afterthought after rushing for 69 on 20 carries against Miami's 11th ranked run defense (101.6 YPG), he doesn't stand a chance against Pittsburgh this week.
Marshawn Lynch vs. New York Giants - Lynch, who was mentioned at the beginning of this report, was stuffed last week for just 7 yards on 9 carries. That's not the way you want to be heading into a game against the third ranked Giants defense (allowing 85.4 YPG). Wait until next week to start Lynch when he gets his second crack against the Arizona Cardinals.
Ronnie Brown @ Baltimore - Baltimore's run defense has not been was it has in previous years (giving up 109.3 rushing YPG this season). And while they might not totally shut down the Dolphins running game, it's a bad idea to take a chance on Brown burning the Ravens this week on their home field. What's worse is that Brown has just one rushing touchdown on the season so he is a definite sit.
Beanie Wells @ Minnesota - Wells is going against a motivated Minnesota defense that got torched by BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Danny Woodhead last week. In reality, Minnesota's run defense is much better than their 13th ranked, 102.4 rushing YPG suggests. The banged-up Wells isn't coming into this game with a whole lot of momentum either (39.5 rushing YPG over the last four games). Only start Wells this week if you are in desperate need of a No. 2 RB.
Jahvid Best vs. New York Jets - Coming out of a bye week, many thought that Best would have a huge game against Washington's porous defense. Instead, Best shared most of the workload with Kevin Smith and rushed for a mediocre 48 yards on 12 carries. This week against the Jets, Best is going against the 4th ranked rushing defense (allowing 88.7 YPG). Don't even look at Best as a flex option this week against this tough Jets defense.