Category: RB Rankings


Anyone who has played fantasy for a few years has noticed that the RB position is being continually harder and harder to predict because of the rise of the passing game.  This year in particular is the hardest to predict because outside the top 3 runners every single option comes with question marks.  Will MJD holdout?  Will Johnson bounce back?  Can Lynch maintain beast mode now that he is paid?  Can Charles, and Peterson bounce back from a torn ACL?  Can Mathews and DMC stay healthy?  Can the rookies Richardson and Martin live up to the hype?  These are all concerns for the upcoming season and the truth is that only time will tell.  But we as fake football managers need to try and sort out the players who can help our team the most.  So following is my attempt to rank the top 30 RB’s in the league.  (All ADP/analysis/points use ESPN and ESPN standard scoring)

1.  Ray Rice (ADP 3.5)  Has had 2,000 yards from scrimmage 2 out of the past 3 years and is the teams 3rd down and goal line back.  He wont come off the field much and has Leach paving lanes for him.

2.  LeSean McCoy (ADP 5.1)  Will he sore another 20 touchdowns this season?  Probably not but he is almost a lock to post 1600 plus scrimmage yards and double digit touchdowns.

3.  Arian Foster (ADP 2.4)  He is probably the second most talented back in the league behind a healthy Adrian Peterson, but with Ben Tate in town I don’t see him as fantasy’s top RB.

4.  Chris Johnson (ADP 10.1)  Chris Johnson dissapointed countless owners last season but I think he is motivated again and is in line for a bounce back season.  He stated this off season he still views himself as the best RB in the league and wants to be the only RB in history to go over 2,000 rushing yards twice.  That probably wont happen but he is still capable for a huge season.

5.  Darren McFadden (ADP 21.1)  If McFadden can stay healthy for an entire season he can easily be fantasy’s top scoring back this season especially considering he is now the goal line back with Michael Bush gone.  That is a big if, but I still feel that 13 plus games from DMC is worth a late 1st round early 2nd round pick.

6.  Matt Forte (ADP 15.3)  Even with Brandon Marshall in town Forte is still going to get plenty of touches this season both on carries and catches.  Now that he is paid 1500 scrimmage yards and 6 plus touchdowns is easily within reach.  Just remember the Bears didn’t pay Michael Bush $1o million to just ride the pine, he will get touches especially near the goal line.

7.  Ryan Mathews  (ADP 37.7)  Yes Ryan Mathews has a broken collarbone and might not make it back till week 3, but in 14 games last season he still posted 1,547 scrimmage yards and 6 touchdowns and that was with Mike Tolbert stealing touches.  Once he is back on the field there is no other significant RB to take away touches, and if he is able to somehow make it back week 1 he will be the steal of the year.  I would not scoff at taking him in the 2nd round, it will be worth it in the end.

8.  Marshawn Lynch  (ADP 16.4)  Was last season just Lynch running for a contract, or is this the something we can expect to continue?  Its a risk because players who get paid sometimes underwhelm the following season but with the murky atmosphere in RB this season he is definitely worth this rank.

9.  Jammal Charles (ADP 24.6)  Hillis is in town and will take away a lot of looks away, but Charles has flourished in a time share before with Thomas Jones.  He has had almost a full year to recover from a torn ACL and should be able to hit the ground running and show what made him a 1st round selection last season.

10.  Trent Richardson (ADP 37.1)  He has had his knee scoped twice this season but as the second procedure was a clean up job and he is slated to make a week 1 return I think Richardson will flourish this season.  He may be eased into action the first couple weeks but he will take the reins of the running game quickly and show why he is being touted as the best RB prospect since Adrian Peterson.  He can easily post 1,300 yards and double digit touchdowns this season.

11.  Demarco Murray (ADP 21.6)  In the short time frame from week 7 to week 12 Murray showed he has potential to be a fantasy star as he averaged 126.8 yards and scored 2 touchdowns.  Sure Murray has had injury issues dating back to college and has only 2 touchdowns as a pro, but like I said with the present NFL climate he is still a top option and can be considered a low end RB1.

12.  Steven Jackson (ADP 31.3)  Jackson is not a sexy name in fantasy football but the fact remains that he has averaged 1,604 scrimmage yards and 8 touchdowns per season since 2005.  Yes he has had a very heavy workload and may be slowing down a bit, but there is still some gas left in the tank and he should still post solid numbers this season.  In fact with the addition of Isaiah Pead in the backfield, Jackson will be able to stay fresher this season allowing him to keep it going through December. 

13.  Fred Jackson (ADP 34.1)  Jackson was on pace to be one of the top fantasy scorers last season before he broke his leg.  In his absence C.J. Spiller showed what he could do with a lead role, but with Jackson healthy he should still see the lion share of the carries.  I think Jackson will be a top end RB2 and is great value late in the 3rd or late 4th depending on who is sill available.

14.  Ahmad Bradshaw (ADP 46.8)  The Giants selected RB David Wilson in the 1st round, but Bradshaw is still going to see the lion share of the carries.  He has had some foot problems which limited his 2011 season, but those appear to be solved.  If healthy he will be anoter high end RB2 and the fact that he has an ADP of round 5 make him an absolute steal.

15.  Michael Turner (ADP 34.7)  Turner had a definite drop in production in the second half of the season as he scored 88 fantasy points in the final 8 games with 29 coming against a Tampa Bay team that had completely quit playing.  If you take out that huge game he scored 59 points in 7 games while scoring 115 in the first 8 games.  But to be honest with the RB position this season being as it is he still qualifies as a good RB2.  He has had double digit touchdowns every season since 2008 so if e can continue that trend should be fine.  Just be warned the cliff is coming.

16. Maurice Jones-Drew (ADP 10.2)  If there were no holdout MJD would easily be my 4th ranked RB, but as things stand now I would not want MJD on my team.  Who knows what will happen with the holdout, and when/if he does report you have to wonder if how long it will be before he gets into football shape and if he will get injured.  If you do roll the dice drafting Rashad Jennings is a must.

17.  Adrian Peterson (ADP 22.0)  The history of RB’s coming off of torn ACL’s is not pretty and the later the injury occurs the worse the following season usually is.  A.D.  has barley been cleared for contact, and I fear that he is rushing his recovery.  If he performs like he has for the majority of the season then he is a huge bargain, but it is too much risk for me.  Personally I would not touch him till the 3rd round, meaning he is not going to be on my rosters this season.

18.  Doug Martin (ADP 67.5)  Martin has clearly earned the starting gig in Tampa as he has a skill set that Blount does not.  He is a very capable RB2, and id feel very comfortable taking him with a late 4th early 5th round pick (depending on who is available)

19.  Reggie Bush (ADP 53.6)  Bush finally had his breakout year after many wrote him off because of his lack of success in New Orleans, posting 1,382 scrimmage yards and 7 touchdowns.  Still he is far from durable and you have to wonder if Daniel Thomas might take over at some point in the season.

20.  Darren Sproles (ADP43.4)  If this were PPR Sproles would be ranked much higher, but in standard leagues I really do not see him as anything more than an average to low end RB2.  I personally do not think that he can have another season like last year with Mark Ingram and Pierre Thomas taking away opportunities.

21.  Willis McGahee (ADP 50.6)  McGahee showed that he still had tread left on the tires last season accumulating 1,250 scrimmage yards and 5 scores.  With Peyton Manning in town and a suddenly strong passing game defenses will be unable to stack the box, which will lead McGahee to have another strong season.

22.  Frank Gore (ADP 36.2)  I know that Gore has been productive his entire career, but I think this year he slows down quite a bit.  With Jacobs, Hunter, and James also in the backfield Gore will be hard pressed to see the amount of touches necessary to justify anything more than a average RB2.

23.  Shonn Greene (ADP 67.8)  Offensive coordinator Tony Sparano has stated that he sees Greene getting more than the 253 carries he had last season, and with New York’s dreadful passing game its not hard to imagine that being true.  Tebow will vulture a lot of touchdowns, but the opportunity is there for Greene to post 1,000 plus yards yet again.

24.  Steven Ridley (ADP 64.9)  Ridley has looked impressive this preseason and looks to have the starting RB position in New England won.  I think that he has upside to post 1,000 plus yards and 8 or more touchdowns.

25.  BenJarvus Green-Ellis (ADP 58.2)  Green-Ellis’ value was tied in large part to his ability to score touchdowns as he scored 24 times in the past 2 years.  He is a mediocre runner who play’s in for a team who will not be in the red zone enough for him to be anything but a decent RB3 or flex play.

26.  Cedric Benson (ADP 98.8)  Benson will be the RB to own in Green Bay as Alex Green is still working his way to full strength and James Starks who has been riddled with injuries his entire career is slow to recover from a toe injury.  I think with Benson in town the Packers might run the ball a bit more than they have to keep defenses honest and to open up the play action.  He should be a decent option who has ridiculous value starting in round 7.

27.  Jonathan Stewart (ADP 69.4)  I’m not a big fan of Carolina RB’s because of the committee approach they have with 4 very capable runners.  Stewart is in my opinion the most talented back on the team and despite splitting carries has still been a decent flex option every season.

28.  DeAngelo Williams (ADP 84.6)  Like I just mentioned Carolina has too many RB’s which is good in real life but bad for us fake football owners.  I actually like Williams the best this season in Carolina because of his ADP (like I said I still like Stewart better overall)

29.  Peyton Hillis (ADP 90.3)  Don’t discount Hillis this year because of last season, he should get 45% of the carries and most importantly should see the goal line touches.  His ADP is the best at his position this year and I would feel comfortable taking him in round 6-7 depending on my needs and who is available.

30.  Donald Brown (ADP 101.4)  He is a starting RB for a team with a rookie QB meaning he should see a decent amount of touches to make his current ADP of round 11 look like a joke.

31.  Kevin Smith (ADP 89.9)  As of right now he is the Lions starting RB because of a injured Jahvid Best and suspended Mikel Leshoure.  Will he hold it after week 3 when Leshoure comes back?  I have my doubts.

32.  Ben Tate (ADP 83.8)  The best backup RB in the NFL showed what he could do last season posting nearly 1000 rushing yards and should see enough time this season to be an average RB3 or flex play.

33.  Rashad Jennings (ADP 127.5)  Every day the MJD holdout drags on the more value Jennings will gain.  Personally I would be happy if MJD decides to pull a Vincent Jackson and leave the door open for Jennings to be a great draft day steal.  With no MJD he would be a very capable RB2.

34.  Michael Bush (ADP 92.0)  The Bears didn’t pay Bush $10 million to sit on the bench…he should see plenty of touches this season and get TD’s as he is one of the best goal line backs in the league.

35.  Mark Ingram (ADP 99.4)  He just might show the NFL what made him the lone RB selected in the 1st round in 2011.

36.  C.J. Spiller (ADP 94.1)  Spiller exploded last season for an injured Fred Jackson scoring 89 fantasy points in 6 games.  Chan Gailey has said he sees Spiller and Jackson being on the field together this season, so he should get enough looks to warrant decent flex play consideration.

37.  Ryan Williams (ADP 132.3)  He in my opinion is the more talented back out of him and Wells and as Wells has had injury issues his career I feel Williams will eventually either win out the job or else take over if Beanie gets hurt.

38.  Mikel Leshoure (ADP 143.3)  Like I said I think he takes over for the Lions after his suspension lifts week 3.

39.  Toby Gerhart (ADP 111.2)  Gerhart will see plenty of touches early this season as Peterson recovers…how long it will last I have no idea.

40.  David Wilson (ADP 107.7)  He will spell Bradshaw enough to be an o.k. bench stash and possible flex play in deep leagues.  Also if Bradshaw who has not been the picture of health lately gets injured, Wilson could easily take over.


This year in fantasy is truly the most unpredictable I have ever been a part of.  Gone are the days of selecting running backs exclusively in the 1st round as more and more owners are taking signal callers and even a few big name receivers with their top picks.  Nearly every RB in the league has a question mark this year as many are coming off of injury, holding out for a new contract, or are in a committee attack.  That being said I have done my best to create a list of tier 2 runners who I would feel the most confident with as my RB1 on my fantasy team.  Based on a 10 team league I have done my list of tier 2 runners ranked 5-10 since my tier 1 list only had 4 names on it (Rice, Foster, McCoy, Jones-Drew).  Here are my conclusions…(all scoring based on ESPN standard scoring)

5.  Ryan Mathews:  All signs point toward Mathews having a huge year in 2012 with the shadow of Mike Tolbert now in Carolina.  Despite missing 2 games due to injury Mathews still managed an impressive 1,546 total yards and 6 touchdowns.  Now ponder what Mathews numbers might have been if Tolbert wasn’t around to steal 175 touches, 923 yards and 10 total touchdowns.  San Diego has no back nearly as capable as Tolbert to steal touches from him this year so Mathews should easily post huge numbers if he can remain healthy.  Once the top 4 come off the board he is the back I am targeting.

6.  Chris Johnson:  Johnson ruined countless fantasy rosters last seasons (including mine) as he showed up unmotivated and out of shape after he finally got the contract he sought after an ugly holdout.  In 2011 Johnson had 9 games last season in which he had 75 or less total yards and only managed to find the end zone a total of 4 times.  If you watched Johnson last year the contract seemed to have gone to his head as he appeared to have no heart and was unmotivated.  Toward the end of the season Johnson showed flashes of the talent that made him a top 5 pick.  Through the first 8 games Johnson managed 57 fantasy points whereas he scored 100 throughout the last 8 games.  Johnson I feel will be motivated to rebound this year as he has stated this off season “”I feel I am still the best back in the league” and “”I want to be the first back to go for 2,000 yards twice, and I think it can be done.”  I am not that optimistic but he should rebound and have a great year.

7.  Marshawn Lynch:  Lynch came back to fantasy relevance last season as he racked up over 1,400 total yards and 13 combined scores.  Lynch had 10 games last season with double digit fantasy points and had at least one score in the same amount of contests.  Lynch has had some injury problems his career as he has never played a full 16 games but if he can stay motivated is still a solid pick.  It feels like Lynch has been in the league forever but is only 26 and is in the prime of his career.  As long as he stays focused and training staff doesn’t run out of skittles, Marshawn should do just fine.

8.  Trent Richardson:  Richardson is one of the only running backs in the league that has no significant other to steal time from him and will be a true workhorse for his team.  Peyton Hillis was a fantasy stud in 2010 as he accumulated over 1,650 total yards and 13 touchdowns.  Richardson has a skill set much more impressive than Hillis and is playing in a division whose defenses are not as impressive as 2 years ago.  I feel that the Richardson who is being touted as the best prospect since Adrian Peterson will have great success as a rookie and will be well worth a pick in the 2nd round.

9.  Matt Forte:  Despite only playing in 12 games last season Forte still managed to rack up nearly 1,500 yards and 4 touchdowns.  Throughout his career he has averaged 1,554 yards and 7 touchdowns.  Forte based on talent alone would be my 5th ranked back however there is a lot of uncertainty surrounding him this season.  He is still holding out for a contract and the longer it lasts the more he loses value.  He has stated he will not miss any games because he feels he doesn’t really have a choice, but if he does not make training camp I think he will be rushed to get back into football shape and will either struggle or get injured at some point.  There is also questions surrounding his knees as he missed the Bears final 4 contests with a sprained MCL.  Chicago has also added Michael bush who will steal plenty of touches this season especially near the goal line.  Matt Forte is a very sketchy pick this season because of all the question marks surrounding him.

10.  Darren McFadden:  McFadden is one of the most talented backs in the league and if it were not for injury issues would easily be ranked much higher.  Last season he accumulated 768 total yards and 5 touchdowns in only 7 games.  While he has never played in more than 13 games in his career I feel his elite talent makes him deserving of this spot.  When healthy he is a fantasy machine and this season will be no different.  In 2010 in only 13 games had 1,663 scrimmage yards and 10 touchdowns.  So I feel that if he can manage to stay healthy even the majority of the season is worth a selection in the 2nd or 3rd round.  Just remember if you do draft DMC you MUST ALSO DRAFT HIS HANDCUFF.


So there you have it my tier 2 runners who all are capable of being your RB1.  Like I said this was a hard list to compile because of all the questions surrounding each back but in the end I like the ranks of each player.  As always comments are encouraged.

Remember a few years back when taking a QB like Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, or Tom Brady in the first round was met with major criticism?  Back when workhorse backs where not near extinct and RB’s composed nearly every selection in round 1?  Well like Bob Dylan once said “times they are a changing”, especially in the world of fantasy football.  Nearly every back in the draft has major question marks this season because of injury, holdouts, and the ever popular RB by committee approach NFL teams have embraced.  In some mock drafts this season I have seen as little as 4 RB’s taken in the first round…a major reality check we as fake football managers must take notice of.  As it just so happens these 4 running backs just happen to be the 4 RB’s I have listed as my tier 1 backs.  So here it is… my very short list of RB’s I feel warrant the label “Tier 1” in my rankings…(all points based on ESPN standard scoring)

  1. Ray Rice:  Coming off of the best year of his career posting 2,068 total yards from scrimmage and 15 total touchdowns, Rice finished 6th overall among all players and 1st among non QB’s in fantasy points with 283.  In 2 of the past three years Rice has had over 2000 scrimmage yards…the year he missed he “only” posted 1,776.  Rice has added value in PPR leagues as his reception numbers since 2009 have gone as follows; (78/702/1), (63/556/1), and (76/704/3), very impressive.  Another factor most people do not think of in drafting Rice is that he has the leagues BEST FB in Vontae Leach opening lanes for Rice to run.  And last but not least the reason why I will rank Rice #1 overall is the fact that has remained healthy starting 16 games for 3 consecutive seasons.
  2. Arian Foster:  The top running back according to the majority of FF players ranks 2 in my list.  Playing in only 13 of 16 games last season, Foster still earned enough points to finish 4th among running backs and had the highest points per games played ratio for his position.  There is no denying Foster has the skills to be the top RB this year, but one thing is keeping me from taking him ahead of Rice, and his name is Ben Tate.  Foster will command the lion share of the carries but Tate will still take plenty of opportunity away from Foster as he had 175 carries and 942 yards last season (a 5.4 avg!) proving he has talent to deliver as well.  So while Tate is around Foster is my #2.
  3. LeSean McCoy:  Last season McCoy was the top weapon in Philly posting 1,624 scrimmage yards and a stunning 20 total touchdowns.  McCoy is explosive and is the best player on the Eagle roster offensively in my opinion.  I’m not buying Andy Reid stating that the overused him last season and may cut back on his touches…come game time they will get him the ball if they want to win.  However I am concerned with Mike Vick taking back a few touchdowns.  Either way McCoy is solid as they come in reliability.
  4. Maurice Jones-Drew:  The leagues leading rusher from last season with 1,606 yards along with an additional 374 through the air and 11 total touchdowns, MJD ranks in #4.  MJD has posted at least 1,600 scrimmage yards and 7 TD’s in each of the last 3 seasons.  He does come with some risk however…firstly he is in a contract depute with the Jaguars and the longer he holds out the more his stock declines.  Secondly his heavy workload he has endured the past 3 seasons may make him a bit more of an injury risk.  Still once the Big 3 names get called, don’t hesitate to draft him.

So there you have my fellow fanatics… my tier 1 RB rankings.  As always comments welcome! Look for my Tier 2 rankings coming soon…