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Fantasy Football 2011: Week 2 Running Back Rankings

Ray Rice just <em>seems </em>like he is on fire.
Ray Rice just seems like he is on fire.

There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.

Mark Twain had no idea what fantasy football is, but the words he popularized certainly apply to the game we all love. Last week was a very surprising one as guys like Mike Tolbert and Cedric Benson carried some teams. Meanwhile, the consensus top-four picks didn’t fare so well to start off the season. Arian Foster didn’t play, Adrian Peterson was held in check by the Chargers, Chris Johnson only mustered 24 rushing yards and Jamaal Charles shockingly only came up with 56 rushing yards against Buffalo. Before we get down to the rankings, it’s very important to remember that owners should almost never sell low. Ray Rice and Shady McCoy are really the only players that have the same value as those four gentlemen.

As per usual, Week 1 had some unexpected things happen. No team surprised me more than Kansas City laying an egg. After watching the entire game on Short Cuts for DirecTV, I noticed that Matt Cassel looked like a rookie. The Kansas City play calling was for the birds all game and it seemed like they were planning to run the ball at will. As fate would have it, they were down too much and they ran a ton of screens and short passes to matriculate the ball down the field. Cassel rarely went away from his first option and didn’t go through his progressions. At one point I counted 14 plays where he went to his first read. You might be asking: why is this relevant to running backs? Well, I think Jamaal Charles is still an elite option even though his second-worst quarterback from Week 1 (Collins). This holds true for the other backs as well. The point don't suffer paralysis by analysis. If an offense is sputtering, fantasy owners shouldn’t be concerned about their elite at this early point in the year.

Guys I like:

Arian Foster- The Texans were cautious with him during the first week and now he should be ready to roll. He should cause more trouble for than Dolphins than Ray Finkle and/or Lois Einhorn. If he is starting, he has to be in your starting lineup.

Tim Hightower- Hightower surpassed the expectation of most by putting a hundred on the Giants. This week he gets to take on the Cardinals. His former team couldn't keep Cam Newton and the Panthers in check by allowing the most offensive yards on Sunday (Miami and New England played Monday).

Jahvid Best- If you saw Kansas City's defense on Sunday it's pretty obvious that starting your Lions is the prudent move. Fred Jackson left more Chiefs on the ground than the American-Indian War. Too soon? Best will never get more than 20 carries in a game, but the Detroit offense is set up for him to get plenty of work in the screen game.

Cadillac Williams- The Rams said today that they're planning on featuring Caddy on Monday night. Why wouldn't they? He toted the rock 19 times and was pretty effective with 91 yards on Sunday. The Auburn product's talent has never been in question, but the inability to stay healthy has led to him falling short of his potential. He's healthy now and the Rams do not have much talent behind him.

Reggie Bush- I admittedly went out on a limb last week by ranking Bush at 15. He had an underwhelming performance on the ground with 38 yards on 11 carries, but made up for it with 56 yards and a TD in the passing game. The Dolphins figure to have some trouble stopping Houston. Miami will likely use more Bush screens to combat the Wade Phillips' blitzes which should translate to close to 100 receiving yards for Bush.

Ryan Mathews- While the stats didn't show it last week (45 rushing and 73 receiving yards), Mathews looked pretty good on Sunday. He did much better in pass protection and was running more north and south than last year. The Chargers are going to have a tougher time to keep pace with the Pats and are poised to pass a lot once again (Rivers had 48 passes and they ran the ball 27 times).

Danny Woodhead- Woodhead looked fantastic on Monday night with his 14 carries for 69 yards. He was also sticking his blocks on blitzes up the middle and is one of the best runners at hitting the hole at full speed in the league. What's more, Brady's tight ends are down the field most of the time, so Woodhead serves as his safety valve when Brady has pressure. Woodhead is arguably a top-25 play in PPR leagues as well.

Guys I don't like:

BenJarvus Green-Ellis- I disliked him last week (36) and he only carried the ball seven times. He was able to score, so he still has some trade value. If I owned him (I obviously don't), I would be sending out all sorts of offers to trade him away.

Mark Ingram- The Bears wreaked havoc on Matt Ryan with pressure, so it's very unlikely that they will trust Ingram to pick up the blitzes in his second game as a pro.

Marshawn Lynch- Yeah Seattle is pretty bad. They get the unenviable task of traveling to Pittsburgh after the Steelers were turned into crab cakes in Baltimore. The Seahawks should abandon the run game earlier and Justin Forsett should get a bunch of snaps on the second half.

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Running Back Team Opp.
1. Ray Rice BAL @TEN
2. LeSean McCoy PHI @ATL
3. Jamaal Charles KC @DET
4. Darren McFadden OAK @BUF
5. Rashard Mendenhall PIT SEA
6. Adrian Peterson MIN TB
7. Peyton Hillis CLE @IND
8. Arian Foster HOU @MIA
9. Jahvid Best DET KC
10. Felix Jones DAL @SF
11. Michael Turner ATL PHI
12. Frank Gore SF DAL
13. Matt Forte CHI @NO
14. Tim Hightower WAS ARI
15. Maurice Jones-Drew JAC @NYJ
16. Chris Johnson TEN BAL
17. Shonn Greene NYJ JAC
18. Cedric Benson CIN @DEN
19. Reggie Bush MIA HOU
20. Ahmad Bradshaw NYG @STL
21. Beanie Wells ARI @WAS
22. Cadillac Williams STL NYG
23. DeAngelo Williams CAR GB
24. Fred Jackson BUF OAK
25. James Starks GB @CAR
26. Mike Tolbert SD @NE
27. Ryan Mathews SD @NE
28. Willis McGahee DEN CIN
29. LeGarrette Blount TB @MIN
30. Brandon Jacobs NYG @STL
31. Ben Tate HOU MIA
32.Joseph Addai IND CLE
33. Darren Sproles NO CHI
34. Danny Woodhead NE @SD
35.  Michael Bush OAK @BUF
36. BenJarvus Green-Ellis NE @SD
37. LaDainian Tomlinson NYJ JAC
38. Jonathan Stewart CAR GB
39. Pierre Thomas NO CHI
40. Deji Karim JAC NYJ
41. Delone Carter IND CLE
42. Mark Ingram NO CHI
43. Knowshon Moreno DEN CIN
44. Justin Forsett SEA @PIT
45. C.J. Spiller BUF OAK
46. Jerome Harrison DET KC
47. Ryan Grant GB @CAR
48. Montario Hardesty CLE @IND
49. Ricky Williams BAL @TEN
50. Marshawn Lynch SEA @PIT
51. Dexter McCluster KC @DET
52. Earnest Graham TB @MIN
53. Jerious Norwood STL NYG
54. DeMarco Murray DAL @SF
55. Daniel Thomas MIA HOU
56. Marcel Reese OAK @BUF
57. Jason Snelling ATL PHI
58. Isaac Redman PIT SEA
59. Thomas Jones
60 Chester Taylor WAS ARI
61. Jacquizz Rodgers ATL PHI
63. John Kuhn GB @CAR
64. Derrick Ward HOU @MIA
65. Joe McKnight NYJ JAC