Fantasy RBs: Which Number One Backs Are Legitimate Monsters?
Unfortunately for Foster owners, the Houston back came up short against the Giants in Week 5, total 27 yards on 13 touches while scoring no TDs. It speaks to how well he did over the first four weeks of the season that he has still averaged more fantasy points than any other running back even with that clunker.
Some of the bad performance was attributed to a knee injury Foster sustained during the game, but that doesn't appear to be an issue moving forward, and Foster is expected to be active in Week 6.
Should you be selling Foster's hot start to the highest bidder, or is he worth holding for the duration of the season? Unless someone is willing to give up Adrian Peterson or Chris Johnson, I'd hang on to the Houston back. He's not going to break the yards-from-scrimmage record, like his current pace suggests, but he'll be a fine No. 1 fantasy back for the rest of the season.
Eight other backs have averaged over 15 points per game this season, joining Foster as surefire RB1s over the first five weeks of the season. We expected it from Peterson, Johnson, and Rashard Mendenhall, but what about the other six backs that have been pleasant surprises this season?
The Detroit rookie was on fire at the beginning of the season, scoring twice in Week 1 and piling up over 40 fantasy points in Week 2. He's cooled down considerably since, and he's had to deal with a toe injury in recent weeks. He's averaged 17 points per game this season, but that's skewed thanks to the huge Week 2 performance. Buy or sell?
I wouldn't worry about the injury at this point, as Best received 18 carries in Week 5, the most he's had in any week this year. He can partly thank Detroit's utter dominance of St. Louis, as the team could afford to play ball control offense for most of the second half.
Best has a very tough matchup against the Giants looming in Week 6, then a bye week in Week 7. If he predictably struggles against New York, I'd float an offer to the Best owner in your league and see if you can get a guy that should be an every-week fantasy starter over the second half of the season.
McCoy, like Best and most of McCoy's teammates, has had to battle with injury this season as well. Also like Best, McCoy's high per-game average can be partly attributed to a huge Week 2, when he piled up over 30 fantasy points against Best's Lions.
With Kevin Kolb under center, McCoy has become the focal point of the offense. He caught a dozen passes in Week 4 when Kolb had to replace an injured Michael Vick, and McCoy received 18 carries in Week 5. the most he's had in any game this season.
McCoy's fantasy usefulness will likely be dictated by opposing defenses, but he should continue to be a top-15 guy for the remainder of the season. Hang on to him in your leagues.
The former top-five pick has finally been cashing in on his promise, totaling 554 yards in four games while receiving 85 carries and catching 16 passes. The injury bug always strikes McFadden sooner or later, and it did so yet again in Week 4, when he injured his hamstring. He ultimately wound up missing Week 5.
While Michael Bush didn't provoke images of Marcus Allen, McFadden has likely lost his chance to be an every-down back for the Raiders. They want to keep their star on the field, and once you start giving McFadden 20 touches per game, the odds of an injury rise significantly.
McFadden could make it back for a Week 6 game against San Francisco, and if he's given a clean bill of health, it'll be time for you to sell high. I see him splitting carries with Bush moving forward as the Raiders try and keep both backs healthy. I have McFadden as a low-end RB2 moving forward, and you can get more value than that from some owner.
Five games, five TDs. While Jerome Harrison looked like the back to own in Cleveland heading into the season, Hillis has taken full advantage of his playing opportunities, scoring in every game this season. In Weeks 3 and 4, the Browns were up against a couple of elite defenses, and they turned to Hillis, giving him 29 touches in each game. The result? One close win and one close loss.
The team looks committed to Hillis as a feature back, and you should be as well. He's averaging over 15 points a game by putting up close to 100 yards in each contest in addition to his touchdown. Harrison has become an afterthought of an afterthought.
A pulled quad limited Hillis in his Week 5 game against Atlanta, which suppressed his overall line. His schedule doesn't get any easier, as the Browns must face Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers in Week 6 coming off a bye. Expect Hillis to play and receive 25-30 touches as Cleveland tries to cope with injuries at QB. Hillis is a solid RB1 moving forward, so add him now while he's "struggling."
The Bears back that was a disappointment last season certainly got things started on the right foot in 2010, scoring two receiving TDs against the Lions in Week 1 while totaling over 200 yards of offense. He nearly reprised that performance in Week 5 (though this one came mainly on the ground), and his 30-point day now has him averaging over 15 points per game.
In Mike Martz's offense, it was likely Forte would see an increase in value when compared to last year's disappointing stat-line. There are a few red flags with Forte's performance. First, he's averaged less than 30 rushing yards in three games this season. Second, in each of his last three games, he's only managed two receptions. Finally, the Bears schedule is pretty brutal, as they still have to face the Vikings twice, including once in Week 15 during the fantasy playoffs. Chicago's Week 16 opponent? The New York Jets. Ouch.
With Chicago's offensive line looking terrible, now is the time to sell high on Forte. With his dominant performance fresh in owners' minds, and his monster Week 1 game still hanging around in the back of our collective memories, someone should be willing to overpay for what looks like a borderline RB1. Don't let that guy be you.
For the record, FanHouse had Best 20th in the preseason and McCoy 21st. Forte came in 24th in the preseason RB rankings, while Foster was 33rd and McFadden 39th. Hillis wasn't on our radars, but there's always at least one back that fits that description. For the rest of the season, I'd put Foster in the top five, Best in the top ten, Hillis and McCoy in the top 15, Forte in the top 25, and McFadden in the top 30.