- Eric Karabell, ESPN.com Senior Writer
I'm all for playing the matchups, and I saw our Week 9 projections on Chicago Bears running back Matt Forte, but I just couldn't go so far as to make him one of the top three scorers of the week at his position in my rankings. I mean, do you feel comfortable making a running back with precisely one game of more than 50 rushing yards a sure-fire play?
Forte is ninth in standard running back scoring for the season, thanks nearly as much for his work as a receiver out of the backfield than for what he does the conventional way as a runner, though I still feel like he's an all-or-nothing proposition. In Weeks 1 and 5, against the Detroit Lions and Carolina Panthers, he's accrued 60 fantasy points, split equally. In the other five games, he has 32 points. Sure, he and the Bears get to face the winless Buffalo Bills this week, so I understand why most people expect the "all" part when it comes to fantasy scoring. The Bills have allowed the second-most fantasy points to running backs, but I can't say that alone makes me so excited about Forte. He scares me because of the offense around him.
That all noted, I did make Forte my No. 12 running back this week, which means he's a good play but not one of the guys you absolutely have to use. One reason I didn't go overboard was due to the presence of Chester Taylor, whom Bears coach Lovie Smith claims will become more involved in the offense this week. Maybe the previously underused Taylor will get goal-line carries, or split the rushes much like the Kansas City Chiefs tandem does. Maybe Taylor and Forte will play together, one of them lined up outside because the team's wide receiver corps, other than Johnny Knox, is so unimpressive. But just because the Chiefs' Jamaal Charles went hog wild last week against the Bills -- he can do that against any team, really -- I can't compare Forte with him. The Bears have had some problems of their own the past month, you know.
The Bills, meanwhile, actually played a decent defensive game in Week 8 in Kansas City, losing in the final seconds of overtime 13-10. Chiefs quarterback Matt Cassel had fewer than 100 passing yards through regulation time, and though he wasn't running for his life the way Bears passer Jay Cutler has been forced to for more than a month, he was under occasional pressure. The Chiefs have an exceptional two-pronged running game and a sturdy offensive line, but putting together three scoring drives in five quarters of action wasn't impressive. The Bears come off the bye and don't have that kind of running game or blocking. This doesn't strike me as an above average offensive squad these days. The Bills allow the fifth-most fantasy points to quarterbacks and still Cutler didn't crack my top 10, or even come close (he's 17).
Knox, however, I like for this week, as he just about made my top 20. That's different. Cutler's three interceptions won't get charged to him.
Here are a few other notes about my portion of the Wednesday Week 9 rankings:
Driving Mr. Jones: Donald Driver has been a shell of his former productive self this past month as he deals with a quadriceps injury, and it doesn't appear that he will suit up Sunday. Enter James Jones, who seems primed to help light up the woebegone Dallas Cowboys. Did you see what David Garrard and pals did at Dallas last week? It's obvious to like Aaron Rodgers and Greg Jennings, but don't be afraid to use Jones as a WR3 or flex.
Who's left?: With four of the top six running backs from ESPN average live drafts sitting on their bye week, it makes fantasy owners think a bit more than normal. Just wait until Week 10 when quarterbacks Rodgers, Drew Brees and Philip Rivers are off. Anyway, an already weak running back position might really find you scraping this week. BenJarvus Green-Ellis made my top 20. Cedric Benson, doing very little, made it as well. LeGarrette Blount checked in at 15, based on basically a nice Week 8. Hey, the league left us no choice!
Peyton's party: It's a bit early in the week to know for sure who, if anyone, will be healthy for Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts for Sunday's game in Philadelphia. I ranked Mike Hart as the team's top running back, but at No. 27, it's not wise to expect a big game. The Colts used Javarris James a bit Monday night, not entirely an indictment on Donald Brown, but I ranked James anyway just in case he gets a shot. Maybe the Colts view their running backs as a bit interchangeable. Meanwhile, tight end Jacob Tamme made my top 10, but I couldn't muster the energy to rank wide receiver Anthony Gonzalez. Wide receiver is a strong position, and I feel like this guy is perpetually day-to-day, even during games. I left some pretty decent wide receivers out of the top 50, but some of them will make my top 100 flex rankings Thursday. I doubt more than 45 running backs will.
Eric Karabell analyzes this week's tough rankings decisions, focusing on Matt Forte, the Colts, Packers, Bears and a thin running back group.