Week 1 Rankings: Top 40 Running Backs

There’s little question who the top ranked running back is heading into Week 1, but after that all bets appear to be off.  Matchups helped some (Ryan Mathews), while injuries/suspensions helped others get a little bit of a boost (Rashard Mendenhall).  Let’s take a look at how all the running backs stack up this week:
  1. Chris Johnson – Tennessee Titans – vs. Oakland
  2. Adrian Peterson – Minnesota Vikings – at New Orleans
  3. Frank Gore – San Francisco 49ers – at Seattle
  4. Maurice Jones-Drew – Jacksonville Jaguars – vs. Denver
  5. Ray Rice – Baltimore Ravens – at New York Jets
  6. Steven Jackson – St. Louis Rams – vs. Arizona
  7. Rashard Mendenhall – Pittsburgh Steelers – vs. Atlanta
  8. Ryan Mathews – San Diego Chargers – at Kansas City
  9. Ryan Grant – Green Bay Packers – at Philadelphia
  10. Michael Turner – Atlanta Falcons – at Pittsburgh
  11. DeAngelo Williams – Carolina Panthers – at New York Giants
  12. Cedric Benson – Cincinnati Bengals – at New England
  13. Pierre Thomas – New Orleans Saints – vs. Minnesota
  14. LeSean McCoy – Philadelphia Eagles – vs. Green Bay
  15. Jamaal Charles – Kansas City Chiefs – vs. San Diego
  16. Shonn Greene – New York Jets – vs. Baltimore
  17. Jonathan Stewart – Carolina Panthers – at New York Giants
  18. Joseph Addai – Indianapolis Colts – at Houston
  19. Knowshon Moreno – Denver Broncos – at Jacksonville
  20. Arian Foster – Houston Texans – vs. Indianapolis
  21. Beanie Wells – Arizona Cardinals – at St. Louis
  22. Ahmad Bradshaw – New York Giants – vs. Carolina
  23. Ronnie Brown – Miami Dolphins – at Buffalo
  24. Carnell Williams – Tampa Bay Buccaneers – vs. Cleveland
  25. Matt Forte – Chicago Bears – vs. Detroit
  26. Felix Jones – Dallas Cowboys – at Washington
  27. C.J. Spiller – Buffalo Bills – vs. Miami
  28. Jahvid Best – Detroit Lions – at Chicago
  29. Darren McFadden – Oakland Raiders – at Tennessee
  30. Tim Hightower – Arizona Cardinals – at St. Louis
  31. Brandon Jacobs – New York Giants – vs. Carolina
  32. Jerome Harrison – Cleveland Browns – at Tampa Bay
  33. Clinton Portis – Washington Redskins – vs. Dallas
  34. Thomas Jones – Kansas City Chiefs – vs. San Diego
  35. Reggie Bush – New Orleans Saints – vs. Minnesota
  36. LaDanian Tomlinson – New York Jets – vs. Baltimore
  37. Chester Taylor – Chicago Bears – vs. Detroit
  38. Justin Forsett – Seattle Seahawks – vs. San Francisco
  39. Darren Sproles – San Diego Chargers – at Kansas City
  40. Ricky Williams – Miami Dolphins – at Buffalo
  • While there was preseason debate on who should be the #1 RB between Chris Johnson and Adrian Peterson, there is no question this week.  With Johnson drawing the Raiders to open the season, look for him to pick up right where he left off in 2009.
  • Overall I have concerns about Rashard Mendenhall, but with Ben Roethlisberger and Byron Leftwich out the team will likely lean heavily on the running game the first few weeks.  That makes Mendenhall a really strong play, especially this week as the Steelers try to sort through their QB options.
  • Ryan Mathews is another RB that I have long-term concerns about, but I would expect him to get off to strong start against the Chiefs.  I wouldn’t get too excited, however, and expect him to be a Top 10 option all year long.
  • I know Knowshon Moreno is coming off a hamstring injury, but at this point he is expected to be at, or near, 100% for the opening week of the season.  He’s risky, to be sure, but he’s a solid play as a RB2 in all formats.
  • Playing time questions is the only reason why Beanie Wells isn’t ranked significantly higher, especially with the St. Louis Rams on the schedule.  It’ll be interesting to see how the Cardinals split carries between Wells and Tim Hightower, but I’d still prefer to lean on Wells in fantasy formats.
  • Ahmad Bradshaw appears to be the top running back for the Giants to open the season.  That makes him the better option then Brandon Jacobs and a low-end RB2/high-end RB3.
  • The Tampa Bay Buccaneers offense is full of questions, but there is little question who the top running back is going to be.  Carnell Williams was under whelming in 2009, but against the Browns he has a great chance to get 2010 off to a good start.  He’s potentially usable, depending on your other options at RB.
  • Matt Forte was a 2009 bust, we all know that.  He also could lose a few carries to Chester Taylor.  Still, against the Detroit Lions, I would expect him to have a solid start to his season.  He’s not a RB2, but in leagues that use a FLEX option, he is certainly a potential option this week.

Make sure to check out the rest of our Week 1 Rankings:

Week 1 Rankings: Top 60 Wide Receivers
Week 1 Rankings: Top 25 Quarterbacks


  1. Jake H says:

    Really? No Marion Barber? Isn’t he the starter on a high-powered offense?

  2. admin says:

    It looks like Felix Jones will be starting, but Barber and Tashard Choice will also get time in the backfield. We have to wait and see how the rotation works out before ranking any of the three extremely highly.

    In fact, there had been rumors that the Cowboys were shopping both Barber and Choice, so hopefully this situation gains clarity sooner rather than later.

  3. peter says:

    I was thinking of starting Harrison going against a terrible run def from last year in Tampa– (I don’t think they’ve improved that much) vs. Mendehall against Atl who I don’t beleive even gave up a 100 yard rusher the last 7 or so games last year. I see you have Mendenhall ranked much higher, and mention “injuries and suspension” has boosted him.. Can you elaborate?

  4. admin says:

    Peter, it has to due with the absence of Roethlisberger and Leftwich. With Dennis Dixon manning the QB spot, you have to think that the offense is going to be more run oriented then it normally would be. That certainly gives Mendenhall a significant boost and personally, I couldn’t imagine having him on my bench at this point.

  5. Chad says:

    A. Foster is way too low on this list. It will only take a few weeks and he will be ranked consistently in the top ten. He’s playing the Colts this week, so I think you missed on this one. He get’s the carries, catches, and goalines…in a high powered offense.

  6. taylor says:

    i have gore starting, but idk who to pick for #2 i have johnathan stewart and carrell williams. i think Cadillac will have a bigger game. help

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