Top 40 Running Backs For 2011: Updated as of August 26

How do the situations in Miami, San Diego and Green Bay (among others) affect our rankings?  Does Chris Johnson’s holdout send him falling down the rankings?  Let’s take a look at how things currently look:

  1. Arian Foster – Houston Texans
  2. Adrian Peterson – Minnesota Vikings
  3. Jamaal Charles – Kansas City Chiefs
  4. Ray Rice – Baltimore Ravens
  5. Chris Johnson – Tennessee Titans
  6. LeSean McCoy – Philadelphia Eagles
  7. Darren McFadden – Oakland Raiders
  8. Michael Turner – Atlanta Falcons
  9. Rashard Mendenhall – Pittsburgh Steelers
  10. Frank Gore – San Francisco 49ers
  11. Maurice Jones-Drew – Jacksonville Jaguars
  12. Steven Jackson – St. Louis Rams
  13. Matt Forte – Chicago Bears
  14. Shonn Greene – New York Jets
  15. LeGarrette Blount – Tampa Bay Buccaneers
  16. Peyton Hillis – Cleveland Browns
  17. Knowshon Moreno – Denver Broncos
  18. DeAngelo Williams – Carolina Panthers
  19. Ahmad Bradshaw – New York Giants
  20. Jahvid Best – Detroit Lions
  21. Felix Jones – Dallas Cowboys
  22. Beanie Wells – Arizona Cardinals
  23. Cedric Benson – Cincinnati Bengals
  24. Mark Ingram – New Orleans Saints
  25. Ryan Mathews – San Diego Chargers
  26. Fred Jackson – Buffalo Bills
  27. Jonathan Stewart – Carolina Panthers
  28. Joseph Addai – Indianapolis Colts
  29. Reggie Bush – Miami Dolphins
  30. Tim Hightower – Washington Redskins
  31. Daniel Thomas – Miami Dolphins
  32. BenJarvus Green-Ellis – New England Patriots
  33. Ryan Grant – Green Bay Packers
  34. Mike Tolbert – San Diego Chargers
  35. James Starks – Green Bay Packers
  36. Marshawn Lynch – Seattle Seahawks
  37. Brandon Jacobs – New York Giants
  38. C.J. Spiller – Buffalo Bills
  39. Bernard Scott – Cincinnati Bengals
  40. Rashad Jennings – Jacksonville Jaguars


  • What are we supposed to do with Chris Johnson at this point?  You have to think that he is going to sign in time for the opening of the season, don’t we?  He’s slowly starting to creep down the rankings, though I wouldn’t drop him from the Top 5 quite yet.  If we are sitting here in a week and he still hasn’t signed, things are going to get real interesting.
  • According to Tom Silverstein of the Sporting News (click here for the article), “Grant, meanwhile, hasn’t looked like his old self, but the club guaranteed his salary in exchange for a $1 million pay cut, so it can’t cut him. Grant really needs to show something Friday because rookie Alex Green is right on his heels.“  In other words, Grant’s potential value is starting to plummet, while Starks is beginning to quickly move up.  After Week 3 of the preseason, Starks could easily be the favorable pick for fantasy owners.
  • I mentioned it in our Running Back Risers & Fallers (click here for the article), but Ahmad Bradshaw’s stock is quickly falling.  While he’s still worth owning as a RB2, chances are his time share with Brandon Jacobs is going to be a lot closer to 50/50 than anyone initially believed.  That has to drop him a few spots down in these rankings.
  • Mike Tolbert or Ryan Mathews?  Will either of them emerge as the Chargers go to back?  Not likely, making both much better suited to be RB3 for fantasy owners.  However, if you are going to own one, you will certainly want to own both just in case.
  • Will the Dolphins actually give Reggie Bush an opportunity to be the RB1?  It’s hard to imagine him suddenly being able to handle those responsibilities, though Daniel Thomas’ lackluster showing thus far is going to give him the chance.  It’s a tough call who you would rather own, though with Bush looking good he may be the better option right now.  Flip a coin.
  • So much for C.J. Spiller taking advantage of his opportunity to win the Bills’ starting running back job, huh?  Fred Jackson remains the better selection at this point.
  • Beanie Wells is the last man standing in Arizona and suddenly looking like he could finally live up to the potential we’ve heard about for all these years.  He’s still a RB2, but one with significant potential.

Make sure to check out all of the rankings from Rotoprofessor:

Top 20 Tight Ends For 2011: Updated August 29
Top 50 Wide Receivers For 2011: Updated as of August 24


  1. Ken says:

    Hightower is projected way too low. Washington’s running attack is no fluke. He has put up strong numbers against both Pittsburgh and Baltimore. I hope his projections stay this way though. He’ll be a steal in the 5th or 6th round. If he stays healthy I believe it’s likely he’ll outperform guys like Gore, Steven Jackson, and Forte. Forte is especially vulnerable due to a healthy Marion Barber arriving in Chicago.

  2. Alex says:

    I’m not one to factor in schedule/defenses faced too much (since teams change so much y2y in NFL), but does anyone else find Jamaal Charles 2nd half scary? Chiefs end season playing (starting 11/21): NE, Pitt, Chicago, Jets, Green Bay, Oakland – every team except Chicago (debatable at that) is considered to be strong defensively/strong against the run. Could be trouble for the playoff stretch. Charles is an incredible talent and I’m expecting big things, but personally @ #3, I’ll take Ray Rice and his mostly cakewalk run during the same time period (Cin, SF, Clev, Indy, SD, CLEV again for finals)

    • Alex, that is a very fair point, though I would say that Charles’ ability to make plays in the passing game as well will help his cause against tougher defenses.

      At the same time, I don’t think the difference between Rice and Charles is very big at all, so I certainly wouldn’t have an issue if someone swapped the two.

      The one thing we know about the NFL is that what you expect isn’t always a reality. While the defenses look tough, that doesn’t necessarily mean Charles can’t rack up plenty of fantasy points against them.

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