Big-time fantasy names keep dotting the top of the leaderboard for running backs. Ezekiel Elliott and LeSean McCoy topped the leaderboard in week 8, while Melvin Gordon and Lamar Miller continued to have RB1 seasons with top-five performances.
With week 9 byes, there are some shoes to fill this week. Here's the week 9 running backs start 'em, sit 'em guide in fantasy football.
DeMarco Murray vs. Baltimore Ravens
Everyone predicted less output from Murray when the year began, so it's no surprise that Murray isn't producing at an RB1 level.
Week 9 offers an opportunity for Murray to put up points and rack up the volume. Baltimore is one of the best teams in the NFL at limiting the opposition's passing game. Conversely, the team isn't good at stopping the run. The Ravens allow 25 fantasy points a game against opposing running backs, ranking in the bottom-10 of the NFL.
The Ravens allow 132 yards per game on the ground, the third-worst mark in the NFL. Murray should benefit from not only Baltimore's porous rush defense, but also from the amount of volume he should have in week 9. Don't worry about Derrick Henry's influence on this game. He hasn't been the kind of player we anticipated before the season began, so Murray should get the majority of carries.
Orleans Darkwa vs. Los Angeles Rams
Maybe a bye week has smartened up the New York coaching staff.
Darkwa went for double-digit fantasy points for two consecutive weeks, before being outsnapped by Wayne Gallman in week 7. Darkwa is the better option and he should continue to get more touches than the competition. And while Los Angeles is one of the better pass defenses, the rush defense leaves plenty to be desired.
The Rams are bottom-10 against the run and are allowing the third-most fantasy points against running backs in the NFL.
When given the opportunity, Darkwa can put up major production. Look for the Giants to establish the run, allowing Darkwa to be in the RB2 conversation.
Doug Martin vs. New Orleans Saints
Since coming back from suspension, Martin has been the main weapon out of the backfield for the Buccaneers. And with a passing game that is inconsistent, Martin's volume will continually to be good enough to justify keeping him in your starting lineup.
Martin has at least 13 carries in each of his previous four games, with a combined 38 in the previous two games. He hasn't been tremendously productive, but the volume is enough to trust him going forward, especially with a decent matchup against the Saints.
New Orleans is allowing 120 yards per game on the ground, giving up 4.9 yards per carry, the third-worst total in the NFL. Tampa Bay won't go away from its running game, giving Martin plenty of volume. And at least in week 9, he should be highly productive.
LeGarrette Blount vs. Denver Broncos
Denver doesn't allow teams to do anything on the ground. That's not a great outlook for Blount's week 9 production.
Philadelphia's backfield is already crowded, so I would lean more to the receiving options out of the backfield, than depend on Blount. Blount gets work in the latter stages of games, where he can net plenty of carries and work on the goal line.
That isn't likely to happen in week 9 against Denver. The Broncos continually shut down the opposition's rushing game, giving up just 71.8 yards per game on the ground, and limiting running backs to just 3 yards per carry, the second-best mark in the NFL.
Blount is more of a RB3/Flex option for week 9, so I'd find better options if possible.
Alex Collins vs. Tennessee Titans
Collins has been by far the best option in recent weeks for the Ravens. He busted out in week 8 with more than 100 yards and netted a season-high in carries of 18. It helped that week 8's win provided ultimate game flow for Collins as Baltimore built a huge lead over Miami.
This week won't be the same, though. The Titans are a top-10 defense against the run. We don't know Joe Flacco's availability, so if he misses some time, that would hamper Collins' value, since Ryan Mallett makes an already bad offense even worse.
Collins also is highly dependent on volume in rushing the ball. He won't catch balls out of the backfield and he'll continue to split time. The Titans are going to stop the run often, meaning Collins will have less value in week 9.
Matt Forte vs. Buffalo Bills
Buffalo doesn't allow much room to run. And Forte is having a tough time getting enough volume to even be considered a fantasy option.
Forte was out-touched in week 8 by Bilal Powell. In fact, Forte only rushed the ball four times. Forte doesn't have double-digit carries yet this season. He's keeping his head above water in fantasy at times by catching balls out of the backfield.
But it hasn't been enough to be relevant in fantasy. And that won't get any better in week 9. Buffalo ranks third against the run and gives up less than 20 fantasy points per game to running backs.
The Jets should compete on Thursday night football, but it won't be because of a monster game by Forte.
Scott Levine is the Associate Editor for the Clinton Herald. During his free time, he blogs about fantasy sports and handicaps games.
Scott Levine can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @ScottLevineCH