Week 12 Rankings: Top 40 Running Backs

Injuries are starting to take a major toll, with several high profile backs either going down, or likely staying down, as we enter the week.  Luckily the byes are behind us, but that doesn’t necessarily make decisions easy.  Let’s take a look at how everything shakes out for the coming week:

  1. Doug Martin – Tampa Bay Buccaneers – vs. Atlanta
  2. Adrian Peterson – Minnesota Vikings – at Chicago
  3. Arian Foster – Houston Texans – at Detroit
  4. Chris Johnson – Tennessee Titans – at Jacksonville
  5. C.J. Spiller – Buffalo Bills – at Indianapolis
  6. Marshawn Lynch – Seattle Seahawks – at Miami
  7. Frank Gore – San Francisco 49ers – at New Orleans
  8. Trent Richardson – Cleveland Browns – vs. Pittsburgh
  9. Ray Rice – Baltimore Ravens – at San Diego
  10. BenJarvus Green-Ellis – Cincinnati Bengals – vs. Oakland
  11. Matt Forte – Chicago Bears – vs. Minnesota
  12. Alfred Morris – Washington Redskins – at Dallas
  13. Jamaal Charles – Kansas City Chiefs – vs. Denver
  14. Stevan Ridley – New England Patriots – at New York Jets
  15. Marcel Reece – Oakland Raiders – at Cincinnati
  16. Felix Jones – Dallas Cowboys – vs. Washington
  17. Steven Jackson – St. Louis Rams – at Arizona
  18. Ryan Mathews – San Diego Chargers – vs. Baltimore
  19. Bryce Brown – Philadelphia Eagles – vs. Carolina
  20. Ronnie Hillman – Denver Broncos – at Kansas City
  21. Ahmad Bradshaw – New York Giants – vs. Green Bay
  22. Jalen Parmelee – Jacksonville Jaguars – vs. Tennessee
  23. Vick Ballard – Indianapolis Colts – vs. Buffalo
  24. Michael Turner – Atlanta Falcons – at Tampa Bay
  25. Rashard Mendenhall – Pittsburgh Steelers – at Cleveland
  26. Reggie Bush – Miami Dolphins – vs. Seattle
  27. Jonathan Stewart – Carolina Panthers – at Philadelphia
  28. Shonn Greene – New York Jets – vs. New England
  29. Mikel Leshoure – Detroit Lions – vs. Houston
  30. LaRod Stephens-Howling – Arizona Cardinals – vs. St. Louis
  31. James Starks – Green Bay Packers – at New York Giants
  32. Mark Ingram – New Orleans Saints – vs. San Francisco
  33. Daniel Thomas – Miami Dolphins – vs. Seattle
  34. Beanie Wells – Arizona Cardinals – vs. St. Louis
  35. Jonathan Dwyer – Pittsburgh Steelers – at Cleveland
  36. Donald Brown – Indianapolis Colts – vs. Buffalo
  37. Andre Brown – New York Giants – vs. Green Bay
  38. Chris Ivory – New Orleans Saints – vs. San Francisco
  39. Daryl Richardson – St. Louis Rams – at Arizona
  40. Ronnie Brown – San Diego Chargers – vs. Baltimore


  • As we have said before, Doug Martin has become virtually matchup proof.  Of course, having a favorable matchup doesn’t hurt anything (Atlanta is allowing 130.5 rushing yards per game and 10 TD).  He is coming off another impressive outing, with 138 rushing yards on 24 carries, while adding another 23 yards through the air.  He has quickly emerged as one of the elite running backs in the game.
  • A few of the top backs in the league draw difficult matchups this week, most notably Adrian Peterson vs. the Bears.  Of course, over his previous four games Peterson has averaged 157.3 yards per game while scoring five touchdowns.  The stretch includes impressive outings against the Seahawks (at Seattle) and, the way he’s playing right now, it is impossible to downgrade him for matchup purposes.  He’s a Top 5 back and is going to continue to get opportunities to produce.
  • Chris Johnson is looking more and more like his old self, averaging 140.3 rushing yards per game and a touchdown over his past four games (including matchups with the Bears and Dolphins).  Now, taking on a Jaguars defense that is among the worst in the league stopping the run (137.3 yards per game, 14 TD), he should be counted on to continue to wreak havoc once again.
  • Even if Fred Jackson is healthy we have to think C.J. Spiller is going to be the focal point of the offense, right?  What else does he have to do to earn that respect?  For now he is coming in as a RB1 under that pretense, but the news this week could change that.
  • Sure, there has been talk of a Darren McFadden return, but we all know his history of injuries and slow recoveries.  Plus, Marcel Reece is producing which helps give the Raiders reason to be cautious with their star running back.  For now McFadden is being left off the rankings.
  • We can blame Ryan Mathews’ Week 11 lack of effectiveness to being banged up (47 yards on 15 carries), but at this point who are we kidding?  In what was supposed to be a breakout campaign, Mathews has been a huge bust.  He remains a viable RB2, but until he proves otherwise he needs to be pushed down on the rankings.
  • Speaking of struggling running backs, would it surprise anyone if the Dolphins turned to Daniel Thomas at some point soon in order to see if he can handle regular duties in 2013?  In the past few weeks, Reggie Bush certainly hasn’t cut it…
  • Will this be the week DeMarco Murray returns to the lineup?  Even if he does, given his lengthy absence there is going to be some risk as to how many touches he gets.  At this point it ie impossible to trust him.
  • With Beanie Wells expected back this week, LaRod Stephens picked the right game to bust out in, didn’t he?  That said, I would expect this to be a time share (at least), with Wells eventually take on the bulk of the duties.
  • We will be taking a look at some of the other injury replacements, like Bryce Brown and Ronnie Hillman, later this morning.

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Make sure to check out all of our Week 12 rankings:


Week 12 Rankings: Top 50 Wide Receivers
Week 12 Rankings: Top 25 Tight Ends


  1. Gamer says:

    Flex Question: non-PPR

    Starting: Martin, Rice, Demarius Thomas, Dez Bryant

    For flex leaning towards Alfred Morris over Jordy Nelson


  2. Steve says:

    Who should I start?

    In a standard pt league I have Richardson, Mathews, Mendenhall, Murray & Reece. I also just picked up James Starks. Murray is out of the question. So who should I start for my RB1 & RB2 and possibly flex?

    My gut tells me Richardson & Reece are my starters. But Mendenhall & Mathews are big question marks. Mendenhall is in a RB committee, and Mathews is not putting up numbers.

    • Steve says:

      Also seeing as how Pittsburgh is playing lights out defense lately, Richardson could be a real roll of the dice. So Mathews might be a must start for me in this instance.

  3. chuck says:

    Flex decision to make…

    Starting – Marshawn, BJGE, brandon Marshall, Harvin (if he plays)

    Need one flex – Julio Jones, Fred Jax, Torrey Smith

    Leaning Julio if he’s good and Torrey if not. thoughts?

  4. steve – For me, Richardson & Reece are the locks, with Mathews as the FLEX.

    chuck – Exactly how I’d play it

  5. Brenden says:

    Gonna have to decide who to start at RB1 and RB2 before al morris’ game on thanksgiving. I’ve got forte, morris, spiller, charles and leaning towards starting spiller at RB1..would you start morris on thursday or wait and pick between forte and charles?

  6. bryon says:

    I have jackson ,mccoy, hillman ,parmele who should i start if mccoy can’t go?

  7. Brenden – Spiller is the must play, then I have the other three back-to-back-to-back. I’d lean Charles (slightly), but Morris is tough to bench as he is developing into an every down back. It’s between those two for me.

    bryon – If it’s Steven Jackson, I am going Jackson & Hillman. If it’s Fred Jackson it’s Hillman & Parmele

  8. bucsfan17345 says:

    Ridley or miles austin

  9. Mike in Georgia says:

    I’m starting J. Charles as my RB1…DMC and Murray are out and Felix Jones is questionable in many ways. I picked up Bryce Brown and Shane Vareen. Who should be my RB2? I have Cecil Shorts as my Flex with AJ and Cruz as my WR’s.

  10. shaun says:

    In a tough situation have ap ridley j charles and reece need 3

  11. Chris says:

    Martin, Mathews, Reece, and Hillman. Can play three, with Martin a given, who shouldI sit

  12. bucsfan – Hopefully you went Ridley

    Mike – I would’ve said Brown (sorry I wasn’t around yesterday). Which way did you decide to go?

    Shaun – I would’ve said you cat go wrong with any of the four, t AP is te one must start. Good problem to have.

    Chris – I would say Hillman, because Mathews upside is still there (as frustrating as it is), but it’s really close.

  13. Luc says:

    Hey Prof,
    I have Beanie Wells and Vick Ballard and need to start 1 of them for my RB2 spot. Leaning towards Ballard at this point, what are you thoughts?

  14. Dan says:

    I need two of three RB’S
    Adrian Peterson, Matt Forte or Frank Gore.

    Thank You

  15. Mike in Georgia says:

    Thanks for the reply…I went with Brown mid-day to see if any of my trade offers would go through. I declined on Jones simply because I was concerned with his knees.

    At 8:19 p.m., I tried to switch to Vereen at the last minute because I felt NE would pound NY but ESPN’s clock must have been different than mine as it would not allow switch even though game had not started yet (didn’t start until 8:30 or so. Of course, Vereen has a great fantasy day!

    So I am stuck with Brown now, so go Eagles! Run the ball!

  16. Luc – I agree, I would go Ballard. Wells’ role is pretty much an unknown at this point, and a bit too big of a risk.

    Dan – AP & Gore, but you can’t go wrong!

  17. Tyler says:

    PPR league: Mendenhall or Sproles?

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