Big-time fantasy names keep dotting the top of the leaderboard for running backs. Ezekiel Elliot (who got another last-minute reprieve from the courts) and LeSean McCoy led the way in scoring in Week 8, while Melvin Gordon and Lamar Miller continued to prove their RB1-worth with top-five performances.
With all the Week 9 byes, there are probably some lineup spots that need to be filled this week. Here are those running backs you should trust and those you may want to consider leaving on the bench, as tough as that might be with so many teams on bye.
Good Calls for Week 8...
Start Alvin Kamara (16.6 fantasy points) – In a week where six teams were on bye, Kamara came through huge for fantasy owners.
Sit Thomas Rawls and Eddie Lacy (-0.1 FP combined) – The Seahawks are terrible at running the football and the way Russell Wilson is playing, they don’t need to run it.
Bad Calls for Week 8...
Sit Isaiah Crowell (15.8 FP) – Crowell has done nothing all year, and finally, in London of all places, he has a decent game and scored a touchdown against a stout Vikings defense.
Start Jay Ajayi (4.1 FP) – Are the Dolphins really better off with Jay Cutler under center than Matt Moore?
Teams on bye: Chicago, Cleveland, Los Angeles Chargers, Minnesota, New England, Pittsburgh
START THESE RBs...
Ameer Abdullah, DET (at GB, Mon.)
His 11 rushes for 27 yards could scare you away, but game flow can lead to a better production from Abdullah. If the Lions get out to an early lead against the Packers, which they should, we may see Detroit try to eat up the clock with Abdullah, and to a lesser extent, Theo Riddick. I want to believe. All the coaching staff needs to is give Abdullah a few goal-line carries and everything is just fine.
Doug Martin, TB (at NO)
New Orleans is giving up some ground this year, allowing 4.9 yards per carry and more than 130 rushing yards per game. Martin’s been featured by the Bucs every week since he’s come back from serving his suspension, and he’s guaranteed at least 15 touches against the Saints. Roll him out confidently as an RB2 with RB1 upside.
Alvin Kamara, NO (vs. TB)
Mark Ingram fumbled twice last week and got benched for the last drive in favor of Kamara. Head coach Sean Payton already has a dislike for Ingram, and two fumbles sure don’t help his cause. So, given the history, there is a good chance Payton starts Kamara this week. More importantly, Drew Brees will throw the ball a lot against Tampa Bay. Kamara is often further downfield than the wide receivers on passing plays. He has as good a chance at going over 100 receiving yards as Michael Thomas or Ted Ginn Jr. Start Kamara.
MIGHT BE WORTH THE RISK...
Joe Mixon, CIN (at JAC)
The Bengals’ game plan should focus on attacking the league's worst rushing defense on Sunday. Fantasy owners should anticipate minimal pass attempts for quarterback Andy Dalton and at least 20 touches for Mixon. Despite a dip in workload over the past two weeks, he eclipsed 100 yards from scrimmage for the second time against the Colts last week. Mixon leads the Bengals’ backfield in carries (85) and receptions (17). Expect him to see a high volume of touches in a conservative offensive approach against an aggressive defense. He's a must-start player in Week 9.
SIT THESE RBs...
Adrian Peterson, ARI (at SF)
Maybe Bruce Arians and the Cardinals got things right after their bye, but with Drew Stanton under center, how can you expect anything less than eight men in the box at all times, ready to stuff AP? It’s a sad situation. The comeback lasted for one game.
Devonta Freeman, ATL (at CAR)
Atlanta looks to get back in the NFC South race this week with its first divisional game. Over the first eight weeks, Freeman has put together the quietest top-10 fantasy performance in the league. He is averaging 4.5 yards per carry, but inexplicably has averaged just 11 carries per game over his last three. The Falcons’ offensive identity has yet to be determined under coordinator Steve Sarkisian, but limited carries and the third-stingiest fantasy defense of the Carolina Panthers make Freeman a tough start in Week 9.
C.J. Anderson, DEN (at PHI)
Denver is turning to Brock Osweiler at quarterback, so Anderson’s value could go back up. But the Broncos seem to be moving toward a full-blown running back-by-committee with Anderson ceding more touches each week to Jamaal Charles and Devontae Booker. That will make achieving a fantasy-relevant day even harder against Philadelphia’s top-five rushing defense.
— Written by Michael Horvath, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Horvath is a Canadian who also happens to be a fantasy football (not to be confused with CFL) and fitness nut. Follow him on Twitter @realmikehorvath.
(Top photo by Michael C. Herbert, courtesy of www.neworleanssaints.com)