-by Braden Gall (@AthlonBraden on twitter)
That is right, after five weeks of NFL action, Buffalo Bills running back Fred Jackson is fantasy football's No. 1 running back.
One of my favorite aspects of fantasy is charting the season of progress. So after five weeks of play (and a 3-2 record in all three leagues), I took a look at the fantasy rankings of Athlon Sports Keeper NFL Fantasy League to see just who the best running backs have been thus far in 2011. And here is what I found:
1. Fred Jackson, Buffalo: 110.7 Total Fantasy Points
Stats: 90 att., 480 yards (5.3), 5 TD, 19 rec., 232 yards, 0 Fum
The Bills workhorse back deserves much of the credit for where the Bills are in the standings right now. He has three 100-yard efforts (his lowest total is 66 yards against the NFL's No. 1 defense two weeks ago) and has scored a touchdown in four straight games. He also has caught at least five passes in three straight games. Expect his workload to stay right where it is, and finishing in the top ten at the end of the season is a near lock. This is not a sell high candidate — ride this wave all season. However, expectations could be lowered with the Giants, Redskins and Jets as his next three.
2. LeSean McCoy, Philadelphia: 106.8 TFP
Stats: 77 att., 443 yards (5.8), 5 TD, 19 rec., 110 yards, 2 TD, 0 Fum
Shady McCoy has scored a touchdown in every game and will always find a way to get into the offense — even when he can't run the ball (see nine rushes for 18 yards against the Niners with six catches and a TD through the air.) With Michael Vick battling inconsistency and nagging injuries, you can bet Andy Reid will keep feeding the ball to the playmaker. However, if the Eagles continue to tumble, you might want to try to get full market value for McCoy.
3. Matt Forte, Chicago: 105.5 TFP
Stats: 82 att., 440 yards (5.4), 30 rec., 345 yards, TD, 0 Fum
That is not a misprint, Forte has 30 receptions for 345 yards in the passing game. Only Darren Sproles has caught more passes at the RB position, and no one is close to Forte's yardage total (Sproles, 264). Forte is doing his best Marshall Faulk impression and is not just the focal point of the offense, but maybe the only point of the offense. Especially if Mike Martz is going to give him 23.5 carries per game, like he has over the last two games.
4. Darren McFadden, Oakland: 99.3 TFP
Stats: 91 att., 519 yards (5.7), 3 TD, 17 rec., 149 yards, TD, 1 Fum
The NFL's leading rusher has the talent to be an elite player in this league for a long period of time. However, Run-DMC dealt with injuries throughout his college career at Arkansas and has never played more than 13 games in a season. If you can max-out McFadden's value in a trade, this might be the time to capitalize.
5. Ryan Mathews, San Diego: 96.4 TFP
Stats: 85 att., 413 yards (4.9), 20 rec., 261 yards, 1 Fum
Fantasy owners held their collective breath on Sunday when Mathews left the game against the Broncos with a calf injury. Reports are that it is not serious and that Mathews won't miss any time (whew!). However, like McFadden, Mathews was hurt frequently at Fresno State and during his rookie season last fall. Keep an eye on his carries and don't hesitate to pull the trigger if you can get value for him.
Best of the Rest:
6. Adrian Peterson, Minnesota: 96.2 TFP
7. Darren Sproles, New Orleans: 87.35 TFP
8. Ray Rice, Baltimore: 85.9 TFP
9. Jahvid Best, Detroit: 85.2 TFP
10. Beanie Wells, Arizona: 78.3 TFP
Week 6 NFL Fantasy Waiver Wire