2012 Fantasy Tiered Rankings: Top 40 Running Backs (Updated 08/22/12)

The biggest impact on the rankings is clearly the holdout from Maurice Jones-Drew, which has sent him spiraling down our draft board.  However, that’s not the only change.  Let’s take a look at how things currently look:

Tier 1 – The Elite

  1. Arian Foster – Houston Texans (1)
  2. Ray Rice – Baltimore Rice (2)
  3. LeSean McCoy – Philadelphia Eagles (3)

Tier 2 – Mid-First Round Consideration

  1. Chris Johnson – Tennessee Titans (4)
  2. Darren McFadden – Oakland Raiders (6)

Tier 3 – Maybe in the First Round or Maybe Not, But RB1 Worthy

  1. Ryan Mathews – San Diego Chargers (7)
  2. Matt Forte – Chicago Bears (8)
  3. Marshawn Lynch – Seattle Seahawks (9)
  4. DeMarco Murray – Dallas Cowboys (10)
  5. Adrian Peterson – Minnesota Vikings (11)
  6. Jamaal Charles – Kansas City Chiefs (12)
  7. Maurice Jones-Drew – Jacksonville Jaguars (5)

Tier 4 – The Best of the RB2 Candidates

  1. Trent Richardson – Cleveland Browns (13)
  2. Steven Jackson – St. Louis Rams (14)
  3. Fred Jackson – Buffalo Bills (15)
  4. Frank Gore – San Francisco 49ers (16)

Tier 5 – Solid RB2 Options, but with Concerns

  1. Doug Martin – Tampa Bay Buccaneers (17)
  2. Ahmad Bradshaw – New York Giants (18)
  3. Reggie Bush – Miami Dolphins (19)
  4. Darren Sproles – New Orleans Saints (21)
  5. BenJarvus Green-Ellis – Cincinnati Bengals (25)
  6. Willis McGahee – Denver Broncos (26)

Tier 6 – Question Marks, but have Value

  1. Michael Turner – Atlanta Falcons (20)
  2. Shonn Greene – New York Jets (22)
  3. Jonathan Stewart – Carolina Panthers (27)
  4. Kevin Smith – Detroit Lions (28)
  5. Beanie Wells – Arizona Cardinals (24)
  6. Stevan Ridley – New England Patriots (23)
  7. Ben Tate – Houston Texans (29)
  8. Evan Royster – Washington Redskins (30)
  9. Cedric Benson – Green Bay Packers (31)
  10. Donald Brown – Indianapolis Colts (NR)

Tier 7 – The Rest

  1. Toby Gerhart – Minnesota Vikings (32)
  2. C.J. Spiller – Buffalo Bills (33)
  3. Daniel Thomas – Miami Dolphins (34)
  4. DeAngelo Williams – Carolina Panthers (35)
  5. Michael Bush – Chicago Bears (36)
  6. Peyton Hillis – Kansas City Chiefs (37)
  7. Mark Ingram – New Orleans Saints (38)
  8. LeGarrette Blount – Tampa Bay Buccaneers (39)

Dropped from the rankings – David Wilson


  • There has been a lot of talk regarding Shane Vereen and him taking the starting job away from Stevan Ridley (who we all just assumed would get the bulk of the carries).  However, Vereen looked like more of a threat catching the football (4 receptions for 29 yards) than he did running it (10 carries for 20 yards with a long of 6 yards) this past week.  It’s not that Ridley was tremendous (10 carries for 25 yards), but the bottom line is that this is going to likely be a timeshare, with us never being sure who is going to get the bulk of the carries on a weekly basis.  I know its surprising coming from the Patriots, right?
  • According to Tony Grossi (via Twitter) who was answering a question from a follower, “’what’s the status on t-rich? Will he be ready for opener??’//All systems are go.”  That’s definitely good news for fantasy owners.  I would still be cautious, but at this point plan on having him available.
  • What can we expect from Beanie Wells this season?  There has been a lot of talk about his recovery from knee surgery but according to Kent Somers (via Twitter), “DJ Young will start at LT thursday but RT D’Anthony Batiste will bet some time at LT with starters, too. Beanie expected to play”.  It’s great that he’s likely to play, but he needs to show us that he is healthy and can produce.  Until he proves that, he’s dropping down the rankings.
  • We were already concerned about Michael Turner, but things appear to be getting worse.  According to Pat Yasinskas of espn.com (click here for the article), “I know it’s only the preseason and offenses are holding back a lot of their tricks. But so far, Turner looks a step slow and no longer seems like a great fit in the Atlanta offense. I know Turner is one of those guys who needs carries to wear down a defense and really be effective. But the Falcons have insisted that Turner’s carries will be limited this season. I’m not sure he’ll have as big an impact if he’s not getting the carries.”  He appears primed to be a major disappointment in 2012.  Though, if we are expecting him to disappoint is he really a disappointment…
  • Donald Brown is clearly looking like the leader of a muddled Colts running back rotation, isn’t he?  He has 32 rushing yards and 72 receiving yards along with 2 TD.  He’s a low-end option, but he’s worth drafting as a FLEX for now.
  • Maurice Jones-Drew continues to holdout and fantasy owners have to start getting a little bit concerned.  We saw how last season’s holdout affected Chris Johnson and it appears that this situation could get ugly.  Time will tell, but at this point he needs to drop down the rankings a little bit with the potential for the bottom to completely fall out if this lasts much longer.  While he’s a potential RB1, you have to be extremely cautious as you don’t want to destroy your fantasy season before it even starts.


Make sure to check out our 2012 fantasy football rankings:

2012 Fantasy Tiered Rankings: Top 25 Tight Ends (Updated 08/23/12)
2012 Fantasy Rankings: Top 30 Quarterbacks (Updated 08/21/12)


  1. Rick says:

    I do not understand why so people are jumping on the Marshawn Lynch bandwagon. He had one decent year last year. He has had far more dud years and he just got paid. I’d put him in tier 4 with Jackson ahead of him.

    • It was actually the third time in his career that he has rushed for over 1,000 yards (something he has achieved any time he has played at least 13 games). Seattle’s offense is going t run through him again so, as long as he ca stay on the field, there is no reason to think he won’t have a big year.

  2. Ray Kuhn says:

    I agree with the Professor here. As a second or third round pick you cant go wrong as he is one of the few everydown backs left. Plus i like Seattles O-line

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