Running backs can make or break a fantasy football team, and Week 9 features a number of risky RB decisions.
There are a number of things that can make someone a risky fantasy running back. Some players have matchups against tough defensive teams, while others have nagging injuries or some other issue that makes it tough to start them.
Let’s break down the riskiest running backs for Week 9 and make the decision of whether or not to put them in your starting lineup.
Note: All information regarding points scored is based off ESPN’s standard scoring leagues.
Steven Jackson, Atlanta Falcons
After missing four games with an injured hamstring, Steven Jackson was finally able to return against the Arizona Cardinals. However, it wasn’t exactly the best fantasy performance.
Jackson scored a whopping zero points in the game, grabbing a total of six rushing yards along with seven receiving yards on 11 carries and three receptions. He was able to get most of the workload, but he couldn’t get anything going, perhaps due to that hamstring.
Things aren’t going to get any better this week, as he will be going against one of the best defenses in the NFL. The Carolina Panthers are allowing just 13.7 points and 79.3 rushing yards per game, which are both the second-lowest marks in the league.
This is not an ideal matchup in any way for Jackson. He doesn’t appear to be 100 percent healthy and with the Panthers looking to shut the run down, it might be best to leave Jackson on the bench for this one.
Verdict: Sit ‘Em
Danny Woodhead, San Diego Chargers
He may not get a ton of carries on the ground, but Danny Woodhead is still one of the more surprisingly productive fantasy running backs out there.
Over the past four games, Woodhead has scored a total of 49 fantasy points. He’s run for 172 yards and a touchdown and has also recorded 314 yards and three scores through the air this season.
As he continues to get more and more involved in the offense, Woodhead is becoming a more valuable fantasy option. He’ll be going up against the Washington Redskins this week, and that means he’s likely to have another big game.
The Redskins have seriously struggled to stop opposing offenses in 2013. They rank 30th in the league allowing 123.4 rushing yards per game, not to mention the 32.7 points per game they allow.
A weak defense means the San Diego Chargers are going to be putting up quite a few points in Week 9, and that means even more opportunities for Woodhead to find the end zone. Make sure to start Woodhead in any league, especially in PPR leagues, where he’s probably already a very strong RB2 option at this point.
Verdict: Start ‘Em
James Starks, Green Bay Packers
Eddie Lacy is the starting running back, so some will be hesitant to put James Starks in their starting lineups. Still, based off what we’ve seen when he’s played, Starks has some real potential to put up some big numbers against the Chicago Bears on Monday Night Football.
We didn’t see any of Starks for three games for the Green Bay Packers due to a knee injury. He came back last week and had a solid outing, scoring 11 points thanks to 57 rushing yards and a touchdown. In the three games that Starks has played in, he’s put up a combined 38 points.
Without Brian Urlacher, the Bears just don’t look the same on defense. Not only are they giving up 117.3 rushing yards per game, they’re also allowing the fourth-most points per game at 29.4. To make matters worse, the Bears will be without Lance Briggs in this one and for the next couple of games.
With Aaron Rodgers under center for the Packers and Josh McCown starting for the Bears, the Packers are likely going to be leading for most of this game. That likely means more run plays, and that means more chances for Starks to get on the field and make plays.
I like Starks as a flex play for this week, and based off the remaining schedule for Green Bay, I like him as a flex play for the rest of the year, even as a backup.
Verdict: Start ‘Em