2012 Fantasy Tiered Rankings: Top 40 Running Backs (Updated 08/29/12)

With Maurice Jones-Drew’s holdout continuing, how far does he fall down the rankings?  How do the injuries to Jonathan Stewart or Kevin Smith affect their status?  Who else is making a move?  Let’s take a look at how the rankings currently look as we head towards the start of the season:

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 (5)
  3. Ryan Mathews – San Diego Chargers (6)

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

  1. Matt Forte – Chicago Bears (7)
  2. Marshawn Lynch – Seattle Seahawks (8)
  3. DeMarco Murray – Dallas Cowboys (9)
  4. Adrian Peterson – Minnesota Vikings (10)
  5. Jamaal Charles – Kansas City Chiefs (11)
  6. Trent Richardson – Cleveland Browns (13)

Tier 4 – The Best of the RB2 Candidates

  1. Maurice Jones-Drew – Jacksonville Jaguars (12)
  2. Steven Jackson – St. Louis Rams (14)
  3. Doug Martin – Tampa Bay Buccaneers (17)
  4. Fred Jackson – Buffalo Bills (15)

Tier 5 – Solid RB2 Options, but with Concerns

  1. Ahmad Bradshaw – New York Giants (18)
  2. Reggie Bush – Miami Dolphins (19)
  3. Frank Gore – San Francisco 49ers (16)
  4. Darren Sproles – New Orleans Saints (20)
  5. BenJarvus Green-Ellis – Cincinnati Bengals (21)
  6. Willis McGahee – Denver Broncos (22)

Tier 6 – Question Marks, but have Value

  1. Michael Turner – Atlanta Falcons (23)
  2. Cedric Benson – Green Bay Packers (31)
  3. Shonn Greene – New York Jets (24)
  4. Jonathan Stewart – Carolina Panthers (25)
  5. Kevin Smith – Detroit Lions (26)
  6. Beanie Wells – Arizona Cardinals (27)
  7. Stevan Ridley – New England Patriots (28)
  8. Ben Tate – Houston Texans (29)
  9. Donald Brown – Indianapolis Colts (32)

Tier 7 – The Rest

  1. Rashad Jennings – Jacksonville Jaguars (NR)
  2. Ryan Williams – Arizona Cardinals (NR)
  3. Toby Gerhart – Minnesota Vikings (33)
  4. C.J. Spiller – Buffalo Bills (34)
  5. Daniel Thomas – Miami Dolphins (35)
  6. DeAngelo Williams – Carolina Panthers (36)
  7. Michael Bush – Chicago Bears (37)
  8. Peyton Hillis – Kansas City Chiefs (38)
  9. Mark Ingram – New Orleans Saints (39)

Dropped from the rankings – Evan Royster, LeGarrette Blount


  • We all know that Maurice Jones-Drew has the potential to be one of the elite running backs in the league, but there is currently no end in sight to his holdout.  As it is, even if he signed right now he’s going to lose playing time to Rashad Jennings early in the season.  If he misses the first few weeks?  The majority of his value is going to disappear.  Time will tell how this plays out, but right now Jones-Drew is becoming a riskier and riskier option.
  • Injury concerns for Kevin Smith have already reared their ugly head as he is dealing with an ankle issue.  Will it keep him out of action?  It seems like it, but even if it doesn’t it could easily be a foreshadowing of things to come.  He has value, but he’s more of a RB3 option because of the risk involved.  I wouldn’t blame anyone for bypassing him on draft day.
  • How much will Kendall Hunter cut into Frank Gore’s carries?  Gore should still be the lead back in San Francisco, but he definitely is a bit of a risk this season.  There have been signs of a potential decline, so tread carefully, especially with a capable replacement already behind him.
  • Does anyone have faith in what is going to happen in Washington, especially given all of the injuries?  Evan Royster could ultimately be the lead back, but there is a ton of risk there as it could change on a weekly basis.  At this point I would consider any of the options as nothing more than depth options.
  • Can Beanie Wells stay healthy?  Can he make an impact?  Ryan Williams looked good in his return and suddenly is looking like he could emerge before long.  He needs to be on all fantasy radars.
  • Jonathan Stewart’s ankle injury, as well as a crowded backfield, has to give you a little bit of cause for concern.  However, given the question marks that fill that part of the rankings, I still like him better than the other options.

Make sure to check out our 2012 fantasy football rankings:

2012 Fantasy Tiered Rankings: Top 25 Tight Ends (Updated 08/30/12)
2012 Fantasy Tiered Rankings: Top 30 Quarterbacks (Updated 08/28/12)


  1. TY says:

    Long time reader on the baseball side, first time doing FB in about 10+ years? Just had my draft last night, 12 teams, I had some assistance from a buddy: How’d we do?

    Pick#9 Picks are in the Order I took them.
    Michael Floyd
    Felix jones, Kendall hunter to handcuff
    K- Dan bailey

    • How many teams and does the league use a FLEX? You could end up a little weak at RB, though I like that you got Hunter as a handcuff. He really could emerge.

      Top two wide receivers are solid, and hopefully Garçon can step up, though it is easier to find a WR on waivers any ways.

      All in all, would expect you to be competitive

  2. TY says:

    hey RP, its a 12 teamer, and yes there’s a WR/TE/RB flex spot….

    that change anything? I figure no, thanks for the review, i feel pretty decent. I know Bree’s scored 447 pts in this league last year 2nd to only rodgers and I drafted him #9, i was stoked about that…. Not really sure why Rodgers and Bree’s fell to 5 and 9 when they were head and shoulders above others pts wise, and RELIABLE (crossing fingers for health)

    Whens the basketball side going to start up again?

    • Will and I are discussing that now. Hopefully he will have some news shortly.

      As for why the QB dropped, well that’s simply draft strategy. It’s easier to find a QB later in the draft than an every down RB. That said, at #9 I wouldn’t have hesitated to grab Brees either.

  3. Brainpimp says:

    I think you did quite solid.

  4. TY says:

    thanks guys, looking forward to some hoops news

  5. help asap says:

    I have
    RB Demarco Murray,
    RB Ray rice
    WR Dez Bryant
    WR Robert Meachem
    WR Demarious Thomas
    WR Victor Cruz
    I can start either
    2 RB 2 WR or
    3 WR 1 RB

    Pleast tell me which route to take

    Thanks for the help

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