Already facing major holes with high-scoring running backs receivers on byes, fantasy football owners could be in for a rough Week 7 with the top rushers left all hitting the road and facing some very stiff challenges.
Fantasy’s best running back Devonta Freeman has exploded for 801 total yards and 10 touchdowns through six games, and while he will still be effective, owners may not get similar production this week when he faces a Titans squad allowing the 10th-fewest points to opposing running backs this year, according to ESPN.
Same goes for the Jets' Chris Ivory at New England (5th-best vs. RBs), Tampa Bay’s Doug Martin at Washington (11th-fewest points allowed), the Steelers' Le’Veon Bell at Kansas City (12th-fewest), the Saints' Mark Ingram with a potential test at Indianapolis (17.5 ppg to RBs), and the Ravens' Justin Forsett at Arizona (6th-best vs. RBs).
Now, of course, owners will still start every one of these RB1s because they still have the potential to go off, but the same can’t be said for many RB2s in Week 7.
So here are four running backs to start and four more to consider sitting in Week 7.
DeMarco Murray, Philadelphia Eagles
With 41 attempts in the last two games, compared to a combined 29 in his first three, Murray has exploded for 195 yards and two scores. The Eagles draw a tough Panthers secondary this week, which should only afford Murray, and to some degree Ryan Mathews, even more touches to continue the onslaught.
Melvin Gordon, San Diego Chargers
Everyone has waited for the rookie Gordon’s breakthrough game, and it could finally be here. The Chargers o-line has been decimated by injuries through the first six weeks of the season, but the group finally all practiced together Thursday. The matchup isn’t great against Oakland, but the Raiders might focus more on stopping NFL passing leader Philip Rivers, making room for Gordon to flourish.
LeGarrette Blount, New England Patriots
If the Patriots have any success rushing the ball against the Jets, Blount will be the spearhead. Between rushing and receiving yards, opposing running backs have gained a tiny 438 total yards and two touchdowns against the Jets' top ranked unit. But over the last three weeks the best anyone’s done is hold New England to 109 yards on the ground. Blount’s coming off his best game of the season and should parlay that into Sunday’s matchup.
Rashad Jennings, New York Giants
In standard leagues Jennings might be the sleeper of the week, while teammate Shane Vereen is the sleeper play in PPR-scoring formats. The most Jennings’ has gained in a single game was his 63-yard performance at Philadelphia last week, but he’s meeting a Cowboys D allowing the third-most points to opposing running backs.
T.J. Yeldon, Jacksonville Jaguars
On top of the fact he’s in danger of missing a second straight game with a groin injury, Yeldon also draws a stingy Bills rushing D that’s let up 100 or more rushing yards just twice all year. Jacksonville offensive tackle Jermy Parnell, while "probable," is also dealing with a knee injury in consecutive weeks, potentially limiting the effectiveness of the Jags’ o-line.
Danny Woodhead, San Diego Chargers
Gordon might soar, but Woodhead’s work as San Diego’s primary pass-catching back could be limited this week. The Raiders have allowed running backs to total 31 receptions but for only 223 yards and no touchdowns. Woodhead’s best weapons are his hands, sitting as the fourth-most targeted back in the league, but Oakland will cut them off.
Theo Riddick, Detroit Lions
Riddick is actually the most targeted back in the league with 42 targets resulting in 33 receptions for 278 yards and two scores, but a groin injury has hampered him in practices this week. He also meets a Vikings D that is much better than Oakland’s, allowing 19 receptions for a mere 182 yards and no scores.
Dion Lewis, New England Patriots
Lewis has arguably become the Patriots most dynamic playmaker outside of Tom Brady, but stopping him will be one of the Jets top priorities and he’s been limited in practice all week. Plus Lewis’ best games have come against some of the poorer defenses in the league like Dallas and Jacksonville, and his Week 1 explosion against Pittsburgh may have been an outlier with the Steelers healthier and now ninth against the run.