At this point in the season, fantasy football teams are gearing up for playoff runs. It's also around this time that most teams’ running back situations are a complete mess. Between bye weeks and key injuries to players such as C.J. Anderson, Eddie Lacy and LeSean McCoy, fantasy owners are scrambling just to find enough healthy bodies to fill all of their spots for Week 9.
Before I get to which RBs to start and sit for Week 9, let's take a look at how wise (or unwise) my Week 8 wisdom was.
Start Jacquizz Rodgers (13.8 fantasy points) – Alas, this could be his last mention for a while (rest of the season?) now that he’s dealing with a foot sprain and Doug Martin should return soon.
Sit Mark Ingram (-1.5 FP) – Ingram fumbled early and was benched and forced to watch Tim Hightower rush for more than 100 yards on the Seahawks.
Sit Jordan Howard (26.2 FP) –He split carries with Ka’Deem Carey the previous two weeks and Jeremy Langford was active this week and Howard goes off (against the Vikings). Who knew?
Sit Jonathan Stewart (22 FP) – With Cam Newton no longer rushing for TDs close to the goal line, Stewart now has back-to-back two TD games
Teams on bye: Arizona, Chicago, Cincinnati, Houston, New England, Washington
START THESE RBs...
Carlos Hyde, SF (vs. NO)
Hyde picked a great time to be well rested. After sitting out Week 7 before the 49ers' bye due to a shoulder injury, Hyde will reportedly be ready to go this week against a Saints defense that’s allowed more than 1,000 yards and 13 touchdowns on the ground already this season. The 49ers’ bell-cow back has three 22-plus fantasy point days in just six games, and I’d be willing to bet he has a good shot at a fourth against this unit. They refuse to tackle.
Charcandrick West, KC (vs. JAC)
West gets a golden opportunity to shine in Week 9 with Jamaal Charles on injured reserve and Spencer Ware (concussion) likely sidelined. He showed well in limited work when given that same opportunity in 2015, and actually led all fantasy running backs in points from Weeks 7-9 last season when he racked up 412 total yards and four touchdowns over that span. He should handle a 20-plus touch workload against a poor Jaguars team that just allowed more than 200 rushing yards against the Titans a week ago. There’s legitimate RB1 value to be had here in this matchup.
Christine Michael, SEA (vs. BUF, Mon.)
Michael didn't put up the massive stat line his owners were hoping for last week, but he still scored 10.2 in a loss to the Saints. I'd continue to deploy him against the Bills, who have surrendered 10-plus fantasy points to three of the last four running backs to face them, including a huge 27-point performance to Jay Ajayi in Week 6.
MIGHT BE WORTH THE RISK...
Terrance West, BAL (vs. PIT)
West tallied just 10 yards on eight carries before Baltimore's Week 8 bye, so owners may find it difficult to trust him, but there are a few things worth noting there. First, he had a 49-yard run called back on a holding penalty. Second, that was against an elite Jets run defense that is first in the NFL in yards per carry allowed and third in Football Outsiders' run defense efficiency rankings. And third, don't forget that West was averaging 108.3 yards from scrimmage and 5.4 yards per carry with three total touchdowns over the previous three weeks. He should remain a central part of the game plan coming out of the bye week, while the Steelers have allowed the third-most fantasy points per game to RBs.
SIT THESE RBs...
Frank Gore, IND (at GB)
After giving up 157 rushing yards to Ezekiel Elliott in Week 6, the Packers have gotten back to shutting down opposing running backs. They held Ka'Deem Carey and Jordan Howard to 70 yards on 17 carries, limited Devonta Freeman to 35 yards on 11 totes and are second in the NFL in yards per carry allowed (3.3). Freeman was able to save his fantasy day with two short touchdowns, becoming the first running back to turn in a top-10 fantasy week against the Packers, but that doesn't change the fact that this defense is dominating in the trenches. Gore is playing well, but his upside is capped significantly in this one.
Latavius Murray, OAK (vs. DEN)
While the Broncos are actually only 20th in the NFL in yards per carry allowed (4.3), they've given up just one rushing touchdown in the last six weeks. That's bad for Murray, who has been extremely reliant upon finding the end zone, getting a whopping 44.8 percent of his fantasy points (ESPN standard scoring) from touchdowns.
Ryan Matthews, PHI (at NYG)
Raise your hand if you can name the number of snaps Mathews saw last week against the Cowboys. You might be surprised to know that the answer is eight, compared to the 63 that Darren Sproles got. With such a small snap percentage and a tough matchup against the Giants ahead, Mathews is a hard sell.
YOU’VE BEEN WARNED...
Todd Gurley, LA (vs. CAR)
It’s a shame it’s gotten to this point with Gurley, but it has. He’s passed 58 rushing yards just twice all season, and it took him 27 carries to get to his season-high of 85 yards. Additionally, he’s not being helped by bottom-barrel quarterback play from Case Keenum. The Rams have barely graced the red zone this season and defensive units are featuring eight-man boxes to force someone other than Gurley to beat them. He has become more involved in the passing game in recent weeks, which certainly keeps his floor high, but he needs a touchdown to warrant RB2 status this week. There’s just better guys out there right now when he’s facing off against an inspired Panthers defenses that has its back against the wall.
— 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.