2012 Fantasy Rankings: Top 40 Running Backs

As training camps are closing in on opening, how do our running back rankings look?  How has Matt Forte’s contract situation changed his situation?  How should we be valuing Adrian Peterson?  What other running backs have seen their value change tremendously?  Let’s take a look at our updated rankings and see:

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

Thoughts:

  • We recently discussed why Matt Forte is a concerning option for fantasy owners (click here to view).  It’s not to say that I wouldn’t like to own him due to his potential, but coming off an injury shortened season, with the addition of Michael Bush and the potential for a holdout (though talk is this is less of a concern at this point) there is too much risk to consider him an elite option.  He’s more of a low-end RB1/high-end RB2 entering the year in non-PPR formats.
  • Fred Jackson does offer some risk, especially with C.J. Spiller potentially stealing some of his touches.  Handcuffing Jackson makes sense, just to be safe, but Jackson showed last season just how good he could be (nearly 1,400 total yards).  With the majority of the league moving to a two-back system, unless you think Spiller is going to be the top back in Buffalo there is no reason to shy away from Jackson.
  • Early word is that it will be Tim Hightower, not Roy Helu, opening the season as the Redskins’ top RB.  Does anyone truly believe that will last?  While dealing with a Mike Shanahan running back situation is always risky, Helu is the option I’d be targeting.
  • Maybe I’m a little too optimistic on Jahvid Best, but all he needs to do is stay healthy for an entire season and we will finally see how good he could be.  He’s shown flashes, especially when he amassed 58 receptions in his rookie season.  Obviously, in PPR formats, he’s never going to come in this low.  That said, I’d be more than willing to select him as my FLEX option in 2012 in all formats.
  • With Rashard Mendenhall out for the early part of the 2012 season, Isaac Redman is the RB to draft first from the Steelers.  Even when Medenhall (out due to MCL surgery) returns, can anyone really guarantee what we are going to get from him?  In deeper formats I’d stash Mendenhall on the bench, but that’s about it.
  • Both the Panthers (Jonathan Stewart, DeAngelo Williams & Mike Tolbert) and Patriots (Stevan Ridley & Shane Vereen) bring significant risk with them as we may not know from week-to-week who will get the bulk of the carries.  While Stewart/Ridley would be my choices as we head into training camps, that could change quickly.  It makes these options more of a low-end FLEX with upside.
  • Is this the season Shonn Greene finally lives up to the hype?  We’ve been waiting for it year after year, but he just consistently has disappointed.  I’d try to avoid drafting him as one of your top two options, but as a RB3 he’d be a good get.  For more on my thoughts of Greene, click here.
  • Will Adrian Peterson be healthy for the start of the season?  Will the Vikings ride him as their main back?  The latter is doubtful and it’s impossible to answer the first question at this point.  Time will tell, but you have to draft him with caution.
  • Looking for a potential breakout running back?  We talked about how this could be the season that Ryan Mathews, Daniel Thomas and Stevan Ridley breaks out.  To read why, click here.

Make sure to check out our 2012 fantasy football rankings:

2012 Fantasy Rankings: Top 30 Quarterbacks
2012 Fantasy Rankings: Top 5 Rookie Tight Ends

One comment

  1. Anthony Hernandez says:

    I disagree with the Trent Richardson, Fred Jackson, Adrian Peterson, and Mathews rankings the most. Adrian Peterson should crack the top 10 regardless of injury. Speaking of Peterson, Trent Richardson is no Adrian Peterson and certainly won’t look like him when playing the Steelers, Ravens, and Bengals 2 times each year. I would temper expectations on him with his crappy team and put him at 16 where you have Peterson. Possibly flip both positions.

    Fred Jackson will crack the top 10 as well, I’d replace Mathews and put Jackson in there. Jackson would’ve been top 10 if he didn’t get injured last year anyway. I’d also probably move up McFadden to Jones-drew and put jonesdrew to 12, and put Steven Jackson 1st above Arian Foster.

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