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Run DMC looking for breakout
Let’s check the temperature gauge again. How do you feel about Chris Johnson this morning?
Once again relegated to Bench slots across fantasyland, Johnson posted a strong effort against the Steelers in a huge home win. He rushed for 91 yards, adding four receptions for 23 yards. Alas, Johnson was thwarted in a glorious goal-line opportunity, a carry that went to Jamie Harper.
Johnson’s bounce-back performance thrilled his trusting fantasy owners. Those owners who held onto or claimed Rashard Mendenhall anticipated a huge Thursday night game. Mendenhall struggled to a meager total of six yards on six carries (one reception for 11 yards) before departing the game because of an Achilles’ injury. Mendenhall’s backup, Isaac Redman, was a beast in the passing game (four receptions for 105 yards) before sustaining an injury of his own.
We’ll add the mountain of injuries that befell the Steelers to our “Watch” list for the days to follow. It’s certainly a lengthy sheet of fantasy heroes that will keep owners guessing until kickoff. We’ll have you covered on FOXSports.com and FOX Sports Radio.
Let’s move back within the white lines and pave the road to fantasy glory. It’s time for “Lineup Calls” in Week 6.
Remember that the Bears, Saints, Panthers and Jaguars are OFF this week.
Trent Richardson vs. CIN
Though he’s averaging just 3.7 yards per carry, fantasy owners have to be thrilled with the early returns from the rookie tailback. Richardson has scored in four consecutive weeks and enters this game with a robust average of 94.4 total yards per contest. His “Welcome to the league” game came in Week 2 against these Bengals when he tallied 145 total yards and two touchdowns (one rushing).
Ryan Mathews vs. DEN
Mathews emerged from Norv Turner’s doghouse and posted a tremendous stat line in the Week 5 loss to New Orleans. Mathews amassed 139 yards on 18 touches, including a touchdown run. He’s a fantastic play against the middling Denver defense (15th-most fantasy points to running backs) in what smells of a shootout on Monday night.
Darren McFadden at ATL
McFadden posted 113 rushing yards against the Steelers in Week 3. He’s rushed for 34 yards or fewer in his other three starts. I know. He caught pass after pass in Week 1 against the Chargers (13 for 86 yards).
This is a good spot for McFadden to get back into a groove following the Bye week. The Falcons allow 5.4 yards per carry and 142.8 yards per game. That ranks 28th in the league. Overall, the Falcons have allowed the 13th-most fantasy points to running backs.
Frank Gore vs. NYG
The 49ers are running the ball at a ridiculous pace, posting nearly 200 yards per game, while imposing their will on defensive fronts. Gore is averaging 86.8 rushing yards per game with four touchdowns.
The Giants have allowed 111.4 rushing yards per game through five weeks. Opponents have thrown deep early and often because of injuries in the secondary (or while playing catch-up). When they have committed to run, opponents have averaged 4.5 yards per carry.
Michael Turner at OAK
Unless the Raiders solved all of their first-quarter problems during the Bye week, the Atlanta offense will continue to post big numbers. Turner has scored in four consecutive games and enters Week 6 with a strong 4.4 rushing average (64.8 yards per game). He’s a fantastic play this week against Oakland, a defense that has surrendered the fourth-most fantasy points to running backs. Take that with a grain of salt. Much of the damage from running backs has come in the passing game. While we do see Turner catch passes on occasion, that’s not his forte. Either way, I’m anticipating at least one plunge into the end zone this week.
Reggie Bush vs. STL
As of this writing, Bush is expected to play through a sprained knee against the Rams. He found the end zone in Week 5 to save an otherwise pedestrian day (72 total yards on 21 touches) against the Bengals. Of course, it was a decided upgrade over his failed efforts against the Jets and Cardinals.
He has a solid, albeit unspectacular, matchup on tap against St. Louis (14th-most fantasy points allowed to running backs). Bush will be spelled by rookie Lamar Miller, who rates a “sleeper” tag this week. I’d like to know why Bush doesn’t see more targets out of the backfield, Mr. Tannehill.
DeMarco Murray at BAL
The Ravens have allowed the 12th-most points to running backs, and uncharacteristically high ranking during the Haloti Ngata era. Murray has been limited to 44 rushing yards or fewer in three consecutive games. Which of these puzzling situations gets rectified on Sunday?
Curiously, the Cowboys have abandoned the run fairly early in their two losses. Murray had 12 and 11 carries in those games, respectively. All eyes are on Rex Ryan and that Dallas defense. The Cowboys need to slow the Baltimore passing game and Ray Rice, or Murray may log a smallish workload again. He’s a borderline RB1 this week.
Shonn Greene at IND
Can Greene take advantage of a fantastic matchup against the Colts? He comes into this game averaging 2.9 yards per carry while trying to fend off a challenge from Bilal Powell. The Colts have allowed the ninth-most fantasy points to running backs through five weeks (144.6 rushing yards and 1.4 touchdowns per game). Bye weeks and injuries make for strange bedfellows.
Vick Ballard at NYJ
He’s already a candidate for the “2012 All-Name Team” before he makes his first start for the Colts. The fifth-round pick out of Mississippi State has averaged two yards per carry in limited work (21 carries), but he steps into a prime opportunity here. The Jets have allowed the fifth-most fantasy points to running backs. Indianapolis currently ranks 19th in rushing offense (97.2 yards per game).
BenJarvus Green-Ellis at CLE
Fantasy owners hoped for greater output from Green-Ellis following his arrival to Cincinnati. He’s been inconsistent through five weeks, averaging just 60 rushing yards per game, with two touchdowns. Green-Ellis has logged 13 red zone carries.
He gets a return bout with the Browns this week. Green-Ellis rushed for 75 yards in Week 2 while adding three receptions for 30 yards. The Browns have allowed the 11th-most fantasy points to running backs.
Ahmad Bradshaw at SF
How can you possibly put a 200-yard runner in the “Flops” section? You see the San Francisco run defense staring at you in the “OPP” column. As a result, expectations for Bradshaw are mighty low for this Week 6 matchup. The 49ers surrender 81.8 total yards per game and have yet to allow a running back to score. Bradshaw’s a lower-end RB2 this week.
Alfred Morris vs. MIN
Morris is one of the great stories of the 2012 season. He’s generated back-to-back 100-yard games (98.2 YPG this season) with four touchdown runs. For this week, Morris falls into the mid-RB2 range against the dominant Minnesota run defense. The Vikings have allowed the second-fewest fantasy points to running backs (97.6 total yards per game) and have yet to surrender a touchdown to a running back.
Steven Ridley at SEA
Ridley has been one of the great breakthrough players of the first five weeks. He’s sitting as a mid-RB2 option this week against the Seahawks. We continue to see work from Brandon Bolden in a workload split while Danny Woodhead and Shane Vereen pop onto the radar to frustrate Ridley owners.
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