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Fantasy football: Running backs have veered greatly from expectations

Expect AarRodgers Jay Cutler air it out.  |  AP

Expect Aaron Rodgers and Jay Cutler to air it out. | AP

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Updated: December 1, 2012 4:41PM



So have I been right or not completely wrong?

Now that we’re about halfway through the season, let’s look back at my preseason top 10 at quarterback, running back and wide receiver and see who’s still there, who never belonged (in hindsight, of course) and who are the best bets to make it. ‘‘In’’ players are ranked among the top 10 at their position in a standard-scoring system.

Quarterbacks

In: Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Matt Ryan, Ben Roethlisberger, Matthew Stafford, Eli Manning.

Out: Cam Newton, Tony Romo and Philip Rivers.

Of the top 10 scorers, I had seven in my top 10. Roethlisberger wasn’t a popular top-10 pick, but he’s seventh at the position. Stafford re-entered the top 10 with a big game against a tough Seahawks defense. Expect a much better second half from him.

The story of the year has been Robert Griffin III, the top-scoring fantasy player (albeit by a point over Rodgers). If he can get his passing numbers back to where they were the first four weeks, he could carry a fantasy team to a title. Peyton Manning has removed all concerns about his neck, ranking fifth. Josh Freeman is 10th and has nine touchdown passes in the last three games.

I wrote that Newton was worth a second- or third-round pick, not a first, but he should have gone even later at No. 13. Romo and Rivers have been huge disappointments. Neither is worthy of starting unless you’re in a two-quarterback league.

Running backs

In: Arian Foster, Ray Rice, Marshawn Lynch.

Out: LeSean McCoy, Chris Johnson, Darren McFadden, Maurice Jones-Drew, Matt Forte, DeMarco Murray, Steven Jackson.

This position has gone haywire. Foster, Rice and Lynch rank 1-3-6, but there are surprises elsewhere. Alfred Morris has defied the skeptics, ranking fifth in scoring among running backs. Adrian Peterson has recovered from a torn anterior cruciate ligament faster than most of us thought to rank second. Stevan Ridley’s big game Sunday moved him to fourth.

More was expected from McCoy and Forte, but both have been serviceable. Johnson and McFadden are putting first-half disappointments behind them. They’re worthy starters again and are capable of a huge game any week. Jones-Drew and Murray are week-to-week with foot injuries. Jackson might be unplayable when the bye weeks are over.

Wide receivers

In: Roddy White, Wes Welker, Jordy Nelson, A.J. Green, Victor Cruz.

Out: Calvin Johnson, Larry Fitzgerald, Greg Jennings, Hakeem Nicks, Andre Johnson.

I had Green eighth and Cruz ninth. They’re tied for first in wide-receiver scoring. White and Welker are tied for 10th with James Jones. Nelson is ninth, and another Packer, Randall Cobb, is 12th. He’ll crack the top 10 before you know it.

Vincent Jackson has recaptured his old form to rank fourth, but he has been an all-or-nothing player (four ‘‘all’’ games, three ‘‘nothing’’). Percy Harvin is a close third, thanks to his rushing points, and Brandon Marshall is fifth.

I ranked Calvin Johnson first, Fitzgerald third and Jennings fourth. At least the first two have scored in the top 20. Jennings has been out with a groin injury, Nicks missed three games with a knee injury and Andre Johnson remains overvalued.

WEEK 9 OUTLOOK

Bye weeks: Rams, Jets, Patriots, 49ers.

GAME OF THE WEEK

Eagles at Saints: If Michael Vick can’t get it done against the Saints, he can’t get it done.

GAME OF THE MEEK

Ravens at Browns: Ray Rice and Trent Richardson have been reliable. That’s about it.

PLAYERS OF THE WEEK

Lions QB Matthew Stafford: He was great against the Seahawks. More success awaits against the Jaguars.

Bears RB Matt Forte: The Titans rank 30th in run defense, and the Bears should play from ahead this week.

Raiders WR Denarius Moore: The Buccaneers have allowed the second-most yards to wide receivers in the league.

PLAYERS OF THE MEEK

Bills QB Ryan Fitzpatrick: He has been a matchup quarterback, and the Texans’ fifth-ranked pass defense isn’t a good matchup.

Colts RB Donald Brown: He’s back, but don’t hitch your wagon to him this week. The Dolphins rank third in run defense.

Seahawks WR Sidney Rice: The Vikings, his former team, have allowed only four touchdown catches to wide receivers.

LAST WEEK’S PICKS

PLAYERS OF THE WEEK

QB Philip Rivers: 154 yards

RB Reggie Bush: 65 total yards

WR Mike Wallace: 7 catches, 62 yards

PLAYERS OF THE MEEK

QB Matthew Stafford: 352 yards, 3 TD passes, TD run

RB Steven Jackson: 45 total yards

WR Steve Smith: 7 catches, 118 yards



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