Fantasy Football Week 5: The Week's Top 10 Scoring RBs #10-6
Raise your hand if you had Chris Johnson with the most rushing yards in the NFL last week? OK then, how many had Brandon Bolden in second? How about those who had Hartline as the number 1 receiver to grab off the waiver wire last week? (Wait, for that one I should actually raise my hand.)
The point is, fantasy football is a bit crazy. You never know what's going to happen. But you can always make a solid estimate, and there's no better way to make that estimate than with solid math. And with that, we're off!
Fantasy Football Week 5: The Top 10 High-Scoring RBs
#10: Ryan Mathews - San Diego Chargers
NumberFire Projected Stats: 75.91 rushing yards, 0.64 rushing TDs, 21.35 receiving yards, 0.09 receiving TDs
Projected Fantasy Points: 13.85
Week 6 Opponent: New Orleans Saints
I understand the injury concerns, and I would rather be struck by a lightning bolt than guess how the Ryan Mathews/Jackie Battle timeshare is going to work out. That's the downside that you're going to have with Mathews, especially when Battle saw 10 carries in the first quarter against the Chiefs.
But with that said, the Saints defense has been bad this season. As in "numberFire has only the inept Raiders defense as less efficient" bad. Every single opposing running back they have faced so far this season has put up at least 10 fantasy points, including the not-so-murderer's-row of Alfred Morris, DeAngelo Williams, and Cedric Benson. And the one time they did play a top-tier back, Week 3 against the Chiefs? All Jamaal Charles did was go off for the single-highest fantasy day on the entire season.
Even if Mathews gets some of his carries poaches by Battle, there should be enough room for him here to have a productive day. Be aware of his pass-catching ability as well—he had five receptions against the Falcons in his first game back and two last weekend.
#9: Willis McGahee - Denver Broncos
NumberFire Projected Stats: 83.18 rushing yards, 0.72 rushing TDs, 18.91 receiving yards, 0.02 receiving TDs
Projected Fantasy Points: 14.39
Week 6 Opponent: New England Patriots
You can go ahead and tell me that Willis McGahee's body should be breaking down soon, and I'll agree with you. You could tell me that the Denver Broncos' offense is becoming more passing-centric with Peyton Manning, and nobody could argue. You could even point to Ronnie Hillman and Lance Ball stealing occasional carries, and I would understand where you're coming from.
Then I would tell you to turn right around and look at the stats. In the three games where McGahee hasn't played the most efficient defense in the league (Houston), he has combined for 289 rushing yards, three rushing TDs, and 34 receiving yards. He has torn up both good defenses (Atlanta) and bad defenses (Oakland), and New England lies somewhere in the middle. And for those worried about him losing carries, check the stats: 65 percent of all the Broncos' handoffs this year have gone to McGahee. Meanwhile, Hillman has only carried the ball 16 total times through four games, and Lance Ball has only seen 12 handoffs. Barring injury, Willis McGahee is the Broncos' featured back going forward and a must-start.
#8: Jamaal Charles - Kansas City Chiefs
NumberFire Projected Stats: 77.87 rushing yards, 0.57 rushing TDs, 29.65 receiving yards, 0.13 receiving TDs
Projected Fantasy Points: 14.53
Week 6 Opponent: Baltimore Ravens
He came back down to earth this past week; and by came back down to earth, I mean that he still had the fifth-highest fantasy point total for a running back in a standard league. At this point, Charles is tearing everyone who doubted him to shreds, and there is no reason he should be on a fantasy bench this week.
One of the metrics numberFire likes to look at to measure a running back's effectiveness is "success rate". The idea is simple: Does your team have a higher chance of scoring points than it did before your rush? If so, that rush is successful. If you have a success rate of 30 percent as a running back, you're average. If you have a success rate of 35 percent, then you're doing something right. If you're at 40 percent, then you deserve the money that Maurice Jones-Drew didn't get.
So how do this season's starting backs stack up? Through four games, C.J. Spiller is still riding high off of his first two incredible weeks with an unsustainable 53.7 percent success rate. In second is Stevan Ridley with his surprising 46.0 percent rate. In third? It's not Ray Rice (4th) or Maurice Jones-Drew (6th) or LeSean McCoy (7th). It's Jamaal Charles with a 41.7 percent success rate. That means that over two-fifths of the time he carries the ball, he gives the Chiefs a better chance to score. Especially in a league where passing has become much more efficient than running the ball, that's not a bad percentage to have.
#7: Maurice Jones-Drew - Jacksonville Jaguars
NumberFire Projected Stats: 97.20 rushing yards, 0.46 rushing TDs, 23.23 receiving yards, 0.09 receiving TDs
Projected Fantasy Points: 14.82
Week 6 Opponent: Chicago Bears
MJD is coming off of his worst rushing performance of the year against the Bengals. Now, he's coming into a game against a Bears defense that numberFire has ranked as the third-toughest defensive unit in all of football. Should you be worried as an MJD owner? Slightly, yes. But not enough to even think about benching your star back.
The main reason for Jones-Drew's success is that, simply, the Jaguars don't have that many other weapons. MJD accounts for 86 percent of all handoffs so far for Jacksonville this season, and that's even when you throw in the eight carries and the start Rashad Jennings had in Week 1. Since then, Jennings has carried the ball only two times, and no other Jaguar (other than Gabbert scrambles) has more than once. Passing the ball is only slightly different. Jones-Drew is fourth on the team in targets with 15, but those 15 targets are only two behind second-place Laurent Robinson and one behind third-place (and owner of the coolest name ever) Cecil Shorts III. This season, he has converted those 15 targets into 13 receptions, an astonishing 87 percent catch rate that solidifies him as a dual-threat heading into the future.
#6: Ray Rice - Baltimore Ravens
NumberFire Projected Stats: 70.26 rushing yards, 0.42 rushing TDs, 50.20 receiving yards, 0.20 receiving TDs
Projected Fantasy Points: 15.43
Week 6 Opponent: Kansas City Chiefs
Saying why Ray Rice is going to run wild all over the Chiefs is like explaining proper crab-catching technique to a Maryland fisherman. Rice has had at least eight fantasy points in every one of his games so far this season, and he's hit the 20 FP mark twice. He's second among all running backs with 62 FP through the first four games, which is right around where most figured he would be. Not only is he the leading rusher on the team, but he's a leading receiver as well (his 31 targets are one behind Dennis Pitta for the most on the team). He can do it all.
I bet he could even play defense, and at this point, the Chiefs would be happy to have him there. They have given up at least 24 points in every single one of their contests this season and have given up 35 points in three of those games. More often than not, it's been the pass that has been the Chiefs' undoing, but running backs are getting their points too (just look at what C.J. Spiller did in Week 2). If I'm a fantasy owner, the only thing I'm worried about is the Ravens getting ahead by too much this week.
For the #5 through #1 RBs this week, make sure to read on.