With New Orleans and Kansas City on their bye week, only Jamal Charles is a top ranked fantasy football running back sitting idle in Week 6. For the first five weeks, the running backs have severely underperformed. Last year’s rushing leader, LeSean McCoy, is currently ranked number 31 in ESPN leagues, while averaging a meager seven points per game. Perennial leader Adrian Peterson is out of football altogether, trying to get his personal life straightened out. He is not expected to return this season.
Giovani Bernard is a running back to watch this week. He is facing a Carolina Panther defense that is giving up 5.4 yards per carry to running backs. Bernard currently ranks ninth on the ESPN Fantasy Football running back list, averaging close to 14 points per game. With the Bengals’ top receiver, A.J. Green, banged up, Bernard may see extra duty in the passing game as well. It does not hurt that Carolina is rated number 26 against the run.
Andre Williams, the Giants’ backup running back, is not only a good start with Rashad Jennings out for several weeks, but he is also a must add through the waiver wire. With the job all to himself, he is facing an Eagles team that has given up an average of 18 points to opposing runners. The Eagles have also given up at least one rushing touchdown in their last four games.
Ahmad Bradshaw, averaging over five yards per carry, has distanced himself from Trent Richardson and is clearly the lead back in Indianapolis. He is going up against a Texans team that is the fourth worst fantasy football defense against the run, giving up a hefty 4.7 yards per carry to opposing runners.
Frank Gore is facing a Rams team that is allowing over 150 rushing yards to the opposition per game. Gore is coming off two consecutive 100-yard rushing games while averaging almost 5.5 yards per carry.
Other fantasy football running backs that may be productive in Week 6 include Knowshon Moreno, who should be returning from his elbow injury, and Steven Jackson against the Bears. Shane Vereen could be a good play against a Bengals team that does not defend the running back pass very well.
It may be a good week to avoid Matt Asiata, whose Vikings are facing the Lions’ fourth rated defense against the run. Asiata is also in jeopardy of losing carries to Jerick McKinnon, the young rookie who is becoming more valuable each week. The rookie is averaging six yards a carry over the last two weeks.
Zac Stacy, a high value target in most fantasy football drafts, is currently languishing in the number 35 position in ESPN standard scoring leagues. In San Francisco he is facing the third best defense against the run.
Ronnie Hillman, who has just inherited the top running back job in Denver, is facing a Jets team in turmoil. About the only good thing the Jets do well is defend the run. They are the fourth best team in that category. Juwan Thompson and C.J. Anderson have shown some success this season. The hot hand will probably get the majority of the playing time.
With a topsy turvey running back field this season, fantasy football’s week six promises to be eventful. Only a handful of top runners have lived up to expectations. Picking players off the waiver wire could be crucial. Brandon Oliver of San Diego could provide some temporary help before the injured return.
Commentary by Hans Benes