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“Stromme the Way,” Week 7 Running Back Round-Up

Seriously, can we just stop and take a look at how crazy the running back position has been in 2015?

Six weeks into the season, the only two running backs in the top ten in rushing that you would expect to be are Adrian Peterson and Matt Forte. The remaining eight running backs in the top ten are chock full of surprises that not a lot of football fans saw coming; And if they did, they’re either psychic or just simply blowing hot air.

Here are your 2015 rushing leaders through Week 6:

  1. Matt Forte, Chicago Bears (126/507/2)
  2. Devonta Freeman, Atlanta Falcons (106/505/9)
  3. Chris Ivory, New York Jets (83/460/4)
  4. Justin Forsett, Baltimore Ravens (104/457/1)
  5. Chris Johnson, Arizona Cardinals (93/445/2)
  6. Adrian Peterson, Minnesota Vikings (101/432/3)
  7. Carlos Hyde, San Francisco 49ers (104/430/3)

    Matt Forte is the league's leading rusher after six weeks. (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)

    Matt Forte is the league’s leading rusher after six weeks. (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)

  8. Gio Bernard, Cincinnati Bengals (77/427/2)
  9. Doug Martin, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (90/405/3)
  10. Frank Gore, Indianapolis Colts (89/403/3)

Now, Jamaal Charles blowing out his ACL in Week 5 and Le’Veon Bell’s suspension have thrown a wrench into these rankings. I’m sure both would be there if they were healthy and active for all six weeks; Both backs occupy the 11th and 12th spots in the rankings.

Seriously though, Chris Johnson and Devonta Freeman are TOP FIVE RUNNING BACKS through six weeks. Who saw that coming? Freeman wasn’t even guaranteed a starting gig coming out of camp and CJ2K wasn’t even signed until Aug.17. Hell, Johnson still has a bullet in his shoulder from an offseason drive-by shooting.

Both Johnson and Freeman’s opportunities came as a result of injury. The Cardinals had Johnson fill-in for Andre

Who pegged Chris Johnson to be a top five running back in 2015? (Image from philly.com)

Who pegged Chris Johnson to be a top five running back in 2015? (Image from philly.com)

Ellington and Freeman seized the full-time gig in Atlanta after rookie Tevin Coleman sustained a rib injury in Week 2. Both backs may have claimed a role due to circumstance, but both teams don’t seem to be willing to exactly give the job back to the incumbent. With both Coleman and Ellington active in Week 6, Johnson and Freeman both managed to shoulder the load. Freeman out-carried Coleman 13-4 on Thursday Night Football and Johnson out-carried Ellington 14-3 in Arizona’s 25-13 loss to the Steelers. Week 7 will be a huge indication for CJ2K and Freeman owners, to know: was this a case of the Falcons and Cardinals easing back their running backs, or have two of the biggest surprises in fantasy football usurped the incumbent? Watch each back’s workload next week.

Last week, I had a healthy helping of crow for dinner. This week, not so much.

Lamar Miller had himself a day against the Titans, finishing with 19/113/1. Just as I suspected, Interim Head Coach Dan Campbell had his Dolphins playing inspired football, and Miller was no exception. Under Philbin, the Dolphins were a pass-happy team, throwing the ball on a whopping 72 percent of plays. Campbell had his Dolphins running the ball 52 percent of the time on Sunday, with Miller receiving the majority of those carries (Miller had 19 of the 32 Miami carries). If the Dolphins maintain this balanced approach, Lamar Miller could very well revitalize his season.

Now, LeGarrette Blount didn’t go off like he typically does versus Indy, but he still put up a modest 16/93/1. Not bad from your flex. Indianapolis still struggles against the power run and have given up an underwhelming 4.0 yards per attempt to opposing rushers.

Okay. So, last week, I advised that you start a Denver running back in Cleveland. The bad news for me, and anyone who took my advice, it was the wrong one. After proving to be ineffective against the league’s most porous run defense, C.J. Anderson was benched for Ronnie Hillman. Hillman took his chance and ran away with it, finishing the day with 20/111/0. Anderson managed to scrape together 41 yards on 13 carries. In standard formats, Anderson can be dropped. In deeper formats, stash him away on your bench until he shows some signs of life. 2.7

Ronnie Hillman has been the most productive running back in Denver this season (Image from profootballtalk.nbcsports.com)

Ronnie Hillman has been the most productive running back in Denver this season (Image from profootballtalk.nbcsports.com)

yards per carry is not what anyone expected from Anderson; The high draft pick from August has done nothing but disappoint.

Hey! DeMarco Murray showed up Monday night! Murray has had back-to-back weeks of 20+ carries and a touchdown. The time to buy low (or panic, depending on your situation) is officially over. Murray will be just fine going forward.

Bad news for Eddie Lacy owners, as Head Coach Mike McCarthy told The Packer Report that he will “ride the hot-hand” when it comes to his running backs. And that hot-hand clearly is James Starks.  Starks out-carried Lacy 10-4 Sunday and went off to the tune of 112 yards and a score. McCarthy claims that Lacy was “beat-up”, despite not appearing on the  Week 6 injury report. The Packers head into their bye week, so this may help Lacy’s chances of returning to form if he is indeed hurting. However, Lacy owners really should take notice going into Week 8.

LeSean McCoy quietly had his best game in a Buffalo Bill uniform. The former Eagle finished the day with 17/90/1, and appears to be over the hamstring trouble he battled over training camp and into the regular season. It appears that Karlos Williams will be downgraded back down to handcuff status from this point forward.

 

Fantasy PSAs:

The second London game of the season is this week as the Bills and Jaguars battle things out across the pond. The game is a [9:30] A.M. EST kickoff, and for anyone who doesn’t live in the local Buffalo or Jacksonville T.V. markets or doesn’t subscribe to NFL Sunday Ticket, the game will be streamed on Yahoo.com. So, be sure to set your alarms, reset your routers, and get in your waiver claims on Saturday.

At least three of the NFL’s five undefeated will remain undefeated going into Week 8. The Packers, Bears, Bengals, and Broncos all have Week 7 byes.

 

Start ‘Em:

Todd Gurley, St. Louis Rams:

The rookie sensation is coming off a bye week, rested and ready to go play the Browns, the team looking to win back-to-back worst run defense titles. The Browns give up 149.8 rush yards per game, and Gurley has rushed for 303 yards

He's baaaaack! (image from si.com)

He’s baaaaack! (image from si.com)

over the past two games. You do the math.

Mark Ingram, New Orleans Saints:

Despite scoring a couple of touchdowns last Thursday night, Ingram struggled against the Atlanta run defense. He only managed 46 yards on 20 carries, and his day was saved only by his ability to trot into the end zone. Now, Ingram isn’t nearly as bad as the 2.3 yards per carry he put up last week, and he gets to prove it this week against Indianapolis. Ingram is a sturdy, between the tackles runner who thrives on the power run playing against a defense that has perpetually struggled against powerful backs. LeGarrette Blount racked up 5.8 yards per carry last week. I don’t see why Ingram can’t accumulate at least 4 yards per attempt. He’s averaging 14.6 carries per game. The opportunity is there for Ingram to have a good game.

Latavius Murray, Oakland Raiders:

Another running back coming off a bye, Murray gets a chance to remind the NFL what they missed out on last week, facing a San Diego run defense that has given up 5.4 yards per rush this season: the most in the NFL. Last time Murray saw a weak run defense, he went off for 26/139/1 against the Browns. I expect more of the same this Sunday.

Frank Gore, Indianapolis Colts:

Over his last three games, Frank Gore has averaged just over 17 carries, 76.3 yards, and has a touchdown. His Colts face the Saints, who rank 30th in yards given up to ball carriers; Only the Falcons and Lions have given up more rushing touchdowns than the Saints. In a game that many expect will be high scoring, Frank Gore should get his opportunities around the goal line. Expect a Frank Gore touchdown this week.

 

Sit ‘Em:

 Melvin Gordon, San Diego Chargers:

This “Sit ‘Em” isn’t just for Week 7, but going forward as well. Melvin Gordon has looked awful all season long and the low-point of his NFL career may have came when he was benched in favor of Danny Woodhead and Brandon Oliver after fumbling issues got the best of him. Gordon, Woodhead and Oliver all had seven carries each and neither of them amassed 30 rushing yards. Woodhead did however managed 5 catches for 63 yards on seven targets, Oliver was productive catching passes out of the backfield as well, grabbing all four balls thrown his way for 40 yards. Gordon did nothing in the passing game. He very well might be third on the San Diego running back depth chart in Mike McCoy’s eyes. Treat Gordon the way I told you to handle C.J. Anderson.

T.J. Yeldon, Toby Gerhart, or Denard Robinson, Jacksonville Jaguars:

T.J. Yeldon was inactive last week with a groin injury and his status for Week 7 is uncertain. If he’s good to go for the Jags, that doesn’t mean he’s good to go on your team. If you take away his games against Miami and Indianapolis, teams that struggle with power backs, Yeldon is averaging 3.41 yards per rushing attempt. The Jaguars clash with the Bills in London Sunday, the Bills run defense is one of the better in the NFL, yielding only 3.8 yards per rush. Gerhart and Robinson combined for 45 yards against Houston, they are both big hell no’s for me if Yeldon isn’t available. Don’t waste a waiver claim or FAAB dollars on either Jaguar backup this weekend. It’s just not worth it.

 

Waiver Wire Mining:

In an attempt to spark their offense and turn around their season, the Dallas Cowboys have thrown out the idea of making a change at running back. Dallascowboys.com reported that Christine Michael got the majority of first-team reps over the bye week. If he’s still around, grab him.

Ever since the Titans’ Week 4 bye, Antonio Andrews has lead the team in carries. He hasn’t broken out yet, but that day could come soon. He’s well worth a stash, especially with all the bye weeks coming up.

 

That’s it for me this week, best of luck!

Mike Stromme

@stromme_93

 

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