Maybe the NFL doesn't run it as much as they used to. Maybe the idea of a "workhorse" back is a thing of the past. Well, if it is, nobody told Romeo Crennel or Tom Coughlin.
There are still plenty of elite performances and backs in the NFL. Still some duds in Tennessee. And still injuries. Here are the ones you need to know about for Week 5:
Jamaal Charles against the Ravens (ALL OF THE TOUCHES)
The story of the Charles and a heavy workload has been an interesting storyline in Kansas City and that's not going to go away after a 30-carry performance against Baltimore. Charles turned that into 140 yards and added three catches for 21 yards. That's now over 100 carries for Charles through five games proving that "ACL injury? What ACL injury?"
He was kept out of the end zone, but it's still an impressive performance against the Ravens and with his workload + talent, Charles makes a solid case as the top back in fantasy as of now. Kansas City ran it well more than twice as many times as they passed it, and with Matt Cassel potentially out for awhile, that trend should continue. Or maybe the opposite thing happens when Cassel goes out? Charles gets Tampa Bay in Week 6. He now has 551 rushing yards on the season.
Ahmad Bradshaw against the Browns (THAT'S A BROWNS QUESTION, BRO)
The early story in New York was that Ahmad Bradshaw fumbled his first touch and then Cleveland went up 14-0 to start the game. The end story was that the Browns did what they do and Bradshaw finished with 30 carries for 200 yards and a touchdown. Bradshaw's previous career-high was just 151 and he got all but two carries given to Giants backs on Sunday. Despite the fumble, he's still the most trusted back in New York but the do face the tough 49ers D in Week 6.
Andre Brown was expected to start to take heavy duty in the backfield, but left early with a concussion on a kickoff return.
BenJarvus Green-Ellis against the Dolphins (DOLPHINS)
This is more about Miami than it is about Law Firm. The Dolphins came in with the top run defense in the NFL and then held Green-Ellis to 14 yards on nine carries. They did, however, give up 40 yards to Bernard Scott on five carries. You still have to be wary about starting starters against them. With the Rams, Jets, Colts, and Titans in the next four, they won't face a lot of elite running backs coming up. Unless you still think that Chris Johnson is elite.
Chris Johnson against the Vikings (SPEAKING OF WHICH)
I didn't care how many yards he had last week, I would not have Chris Johnson. Why? 15 carries for 24 yards in Week 5, that's why. It's the eleventh time since the start of 2011 that Johnson has had less than three yards per carry in a game. Can we give up on him already? I did.
Cedric Benson against the Colts (FOOTSIES)
Benson left the game after gaining 20 yards on seven carries and was in a boot after the game, though he said he didn't think it was serious. We'll see how this week goes, but Alex Green (nine carries for 55 yards) will be the guy for now. Not that it matters, because we're talking about the Packers and running backs.
Trent Richardson against the Giants (GOING AFTER SOME SORT OF TD STREAK RECORD?)
People that took a chance on the rookie as an elite back out of the gate are getting early rewards after Richardson scored on the ground for his foruth straight game. T-Rich had 81 yards rushing and 47 yards receiving against New York and now has 472 total yards and five touchdowns in five games. With youth, talent, and the fact that he's the best thing going on their offense, Richardson is solidifying himself as a top-10 fantasy running back. He's got matchups against the Bengals, Colts, and Chargers coming up.
Rashard Mendenhall against the Eagles (WHAT ACL INJURY?)
Oh, that one? The one that kept Mendenhall out for nine months of practice and such but that he was able to finally return from on Sunday against the Eagles? It's of less concern, now. The Steelers backs have been not-so-good this year and Pitt will welcome back Mendenhall with open arms after 101 total yards and a touchdown in their win over Philly. The Steelers already got past their bye week and Mendenhall could be considered a low-end RB1 for rest-of-season.
Jonathan Stewart and DeAngelo Williams against the Seahawks (FANTASY NIGHTMARE)
Whether it's a ball-share between four players on the ground OR doing that against one of the leagues top run defenses, this was definitely a nightmare for any fantasy player that employees a Carolina running back. Williams had six yards on six carries, Stewart had 16 on four, and Mike Tolbert had a carry. They signed Mike Tolbert!
I can't recommend any Panthers backs this season until extenuating circumstances arise. The Seahawks try to stop Stevan Ridley (and that crowded backfield) in Week 6.
Stevan Ridley against the Broncos (SEEMS LIKE A GOOD TRANSITION OPPORTUNITY)
Ridley had a career-high 151 yards rushing and 28 carries against Denver in mostly a run-out-the-clock situation when the Patriots took control in the third. But Brandon Bolden had 14 carries, Danny Woodhead had 7, and Shane Vereen had one goal-line carry for a touchdown.
C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson against the 49ers (GETTING BAD FOR BILLS' OWNERS)
Unless we're talking about the classic, "Dollar, Dollar Bills, You All"
But if we're talking about the Buffalo Bills backs, it seems that when they struggle that they'll struggle together. Playing the 49ers, Jackson had nine carries for 29 and Spiller had seven carries for 24. That's two straight weeks that both have struggled, and now Jackson has just 73 yards in three games on the season.
Frank Gore against the Bills (AND FLIP THE SCRIPT)
The Bills have an abysmal run defense and gave up 106 yards on 14 carries to Gore, plus 81 yards on 11 carries to Kendall Hunter. Bump up Ryan Williams for the first time this season as the Bills take on the Cardinals in Week 6.
Ryan Mathews against the Saints (AND THINK IF ONLY HE WAS THE STARTER!)
Despite Jackie Battle as the "starter" for San Diego, Mathews is still the main guy. He had his biggest game of the season with 80 yards rushing and a touchdown, with 59 yards receiving against the terrible Saints defense. Battle had just four carries of his own. Mathews is working his way back up in the RB1 conversation.