According to our Week 10 fantasy tips for running backs, Shonn Greene and Frank Gore should continue their strong seasons, while a few backups in New England and Miami may deserve a shot with good matchups this week.
Feeling fully recovered from the rib injury he suffered a few weeks back in the game against the Seahawks, we hear Niners RB Frank Gore is ready and raring to go at full strength this Sunday against a Rams defense that got gashed for 152 yards on the ground in its last game against the Patriots, across the pond in London in Week Eight. It’s worth noting that the Niners’ Week 10 game last year began a sharp decline in Gore’s production. Coming off five straight 100-yard outings, Gore had zero yards in six carries after getting nicked up early in a 27-20 win over the Giants. Gore didn’t have a 100-yard game the rest of the season, including the playoffs. This year, though, benefitting from more rest courtesy of change-of-pace complement Kendall Hunter (who might not be a bad fantasy “flex” option this Sunday), Gore figures to remain a potent force, especially against run-challenged defenses.
Last week, Adrian Peterson gashed the Seahawks’ vaunted run defense. Pro tip: Jets RB Shonn Greene is not Adrian Peterson, but that doesn’t make him a bad start in Week 10. You can always bank on Greene getting touches in a Jets offense that consistently tries to establish the run, and coming off a bye, Gang Green likely focused on returning to that ground-and-pound identity. It’s a tough matchup for Greene, but he should still be in lineups as a No. 2 RB or a flex.
The Vikings have allowed at least 126 rushing yards in each of the last four games. While Minnesota did hold Lions RB Mikel Leshoure in check in the first meeting between the clubs in Week Four, Leshoure was making only his second start after sitting out more than a season because of injuries and a suspension. The Vikings’ current form suggests playing Leshoure is a solid move.
Steelers RB coach Kirby Wilson told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review Wednesday that RB Rashard Mendenhall (Achilles) will be the starter once healthy. Mendenhall’s status for Week 10 is questionable at best, leaving Isaac Redman and Jonathan Dwyer as the top options vs. Kansas City. Both would figure to get work. It’s hard to say how the carries will be divided this week. Going forward, the Steelers’ RB situation is one to watch closely. Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin explained the club’s plan on how the club would use all three backs when everyone’s healthy: “Whoever’s being productive when healthy is going to get the totes. I really think it’s that simple. I’m not going to make it any more complex than it has to be. At times this season we’ve had a running back by committee approach because none of them had been overly effective at that time. When someone’s effective, they’ll get the ball.”
Bengals RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis is a reasonable play in Week 10 vs. the Giants, who are allowing 4.62 yards per carry and who surrendered 147 yards to Pittsburgh’s Isaac Redman last week.
Chargers RB Ryan Mathews is still a must-start in all fantasy formats, even though his numbers haven’t lived up to expectations. In deeper leagues, though, Ronnie Brown is not a bad option. Don’t count on any touchdowns — he has none this season and scored only once in 2011 — but he had 11 touches in each of the last two weeks, and is averaging just shy of five catches a game. Brown could benefit PPR owners and is clearly San Diego’s No. 2 back.
The entire Dolphins offense gets an increase in fantasy value this week going against a struggling Titans defense, and owners in deeper leagues may want to take a look at RB Daniel Thomas. He actually was on the field for five more snaps than Reggie Bush last week and averaged 6.2 yards a carry, in addition to catching two passes. If the Dolphins build a lead, Thomas will certainly get extra carries if Miami would then want to rest Bush. Owners can’t expect a huge game from the second-year back, but he will get his chances.
It’s not easy to start a Patriots running back, aside from Stevan Ridley, because it can be anyone’s guess which back plays Ridley’s second fiddle, but that player could have a nice fantasy game against the Bills on Sunday. Ridley and Brandon Bolden both rushed for over 100 yards in their last meeting, though Bolden is battling a knee injury. Danny Woodhead is the most likely option, but don’t be surprised if Shane Vereen sees some snaps. It can be too risky in some formats to make the guess. Woodhead is the safer option, averaging 8.4 touches a game.
Stop us if you’ve heard it recently: Cowboys RB DeMarco Murray is close to returning but perhaps not ready for action. His availability for Sunday’s game against the Eagles is not yet known, but he’s not on track to dress right now. Things could change dramatically as the week rolls on, but be prepared to have a Plan B — again.
Eagles RB LeSean McCoy (illness) missed practice Wednesday but isn’t expected to miss Sunday’s game against the Cowboys. He’s likely to get lots of work, but with how little the team has used him overall and in the red zone, you might want to temper your enthusiasm a shade, even coming off a strong effort vs. New Orleans.
The Colts could again be without RB Donald Brown Thursday night against the Jaguars, as Brown experienced swelling in his surgically repaired knee in the first quarter against Miami and did not return. If Brown can’t go, Vick Ballard will get the lion’s share of the carries, but Delone Carter could also be an interesting flier. Carter has been handling the Colts’ goal-line carries and figures to have at least a few chances in that area against Jacksonville’s 26th-ranked scoring defense.
Texans RB Arian Foster was a limited practice participant on Wednesday (coach’s decision), but he should be full go Sunday night against Chicago’s sixth-ranked run defense. However, RB Ben Tate (hamstring) is progressing slower than expected and is unlikely to play.
Fantasy owners of Raiders RB Darren McFadden should be prepared to go into Week 10 without him. He has not officially been ruled out of Sunday’s game at Baltimore, but he has not practiced this week after suffering a high ankle sprain in Week Nine. The Raiders could use Marcel Reece and Taiwan Jones at running back because McFadden’s top backup, Mike Goodson, also suffered a high-ankle sprain in Week Nine. Reece, who is technically a fullback, has only one carry all season, but he’s been a major factor as a receiver, including last week vs. the Bucs, when he made eight catches for 95 yards and a TD. In very deep leagues, Reece is worth a look as a flex player.