Week 16 Rankings: Top 40 Running Backs

by Ray Kuhn

This is what you play for.  In most leagues this is Championship Sunday.  Regardless of how many good or bad picks you had, your performance this week will truly determine whether your season was a success or not.  With that said let’s take a look at some running back options for Week 16:

  1. Adrian Peterson – Minnesota Vikings – @ Houston
  2. Arian Foster – Houston Texans – vs. Minnesota
  3. DeMarco Murray – Dallas Cowboys – vs. New Orleans
  4. Ray Rice – Baltimore Ravens – vs. New York Giants
  5. Marshawn Lynch – Seattle Seahawks – vs. San Francisco
  6. Doug Martin – Tampa Bay Buccaneers – vs. St. Louis
  7. Jamaal Charles – Kansas City Chiefs – vs. Indianapolis
  8. Alfred Morris – Washington Redskins – @ Philadelphia
  9. Trent Richardson – Cleveland Browns – @ Denver
  10. Chris Johnson – Tennessee Titans – @ Green Bay
  11. Steven Jackson – St. Louis Rams – @ Tampa Bay
  12. Knowshon Moreno – Denver Broncos – vs. Cleveland
  13. Reggie Bush – Miami Dolphins – vs. Buffalo
  14. CJ Spiller – Buffalo Bills – @ Miami Dolphins
  15. Matt Forte – Chicago Bears – @ Arizona
  16. Darren McFadden – Oakland Raiders – @ Carolina
  17. DeAngelo Williams – Carolina Panthers – vs. Oakland
  18. Vick Ballard – Indianapolis Colts – @ Kansas City
  19. Frank Gore – San Francisco 49ers – @ Seattle
  20. David Wilson – New York Giants – @ Baltimore
  21. Stevan Ridley – New England Patriots – @ Jacksonville
  22. Mikel Leshoure – Detroit Lions – vs. Atlanta
  23. Darren Sproles – New Orleans Saints – @ Dallas
  24. Shonn Greene – New York Jets – vs. San Diego
  25. Bryce Brown – Philadelphia Eagles – vs. Washington
  26. Michael Turner – Atlanta Falcons – @ Detroit
  27. Jonathan Dwyer – Pittsburgh Steelers – vs. Cincinnati
  28. Beanie Wells – Arizona Cardinals – vs. Chicago
  29. BenJarvus Green-Ellis –Cincinnati Bengals – @ Pittsburgh
  30. Montell Owens – Jacksonville Jaguars – vs. New England
  31. Joique Bell – Detroit Lions – vs. Atlanta
  32. Pierre Thomas – New Orleans Saints – @ Dallas
  33. Danny Woodhead – New England Patriots- @ Jacksonville
  34. Alex Green – Green Bay Packers – vs. Tennessee
  35. Dexter McCluster – Kansas City Chiefs – vs. Indianapolis
  36. Curtis Brinkley – San Diego Chargers – @ New York Jets
  37. LaMichael James – San Francisco 49ers – @ Seattle
  38. B ilal Powell – New York Jets – vs. San Diego
  39. Jacquizz Rodgers – Atlanta Falcons – @ Detroit
  40. Mark Ingram – New Orleans Saints – @ Dallas


  • The Philadelphia Eagles have the backfield this week that bears the most watching.  Last week Lesean McCoy was cleared for practice, and now it is looking like he could return to action this week.  If he does end up playing, it is clear what McCoy can do if healthy.  If he is not owned in all leagues, he should be.  However before you get too excited that McCoy will save your season, it is still too early in the week to see if he will actually play or how much he does and how to gauge the impact on Bryce Brown.  Regardless of McCoy’s status Brown is a shaky play as he has had big problems holding on the ball and he is coming off his second straight lackluster performance gaining only 34 yards.  At this point Brown is not a sure thing.
  • Just because Ryan Matthews is now out for year, it does not mean that the Chargers backfield is appealing in fantasy leagues.  Ronnie Brown is battling his own hamstring injuries but even if he is healthy his value is limited to PPR leagues, and even then it is minimal.  Based on how it shook out the last time Matthews was hurt Jackie Battle might see the biggest increase in carries, but even when he was getting the ball earlier in the season the ball was not moving much down field.  Aside from taking a flier on him in a touchdown league, there is not much value here.  If you are looking to take a flier, then Curtis Brinkley might be your best bet.  After Matthews came out of the game this past week Brinkley had 6 carries for 42 yards and caught 3 passes for 14 yards.  He is the most versatile option and also the healthiest.
  • The news that Jonathan Dwyer is going to remain the number one running back for the Steelers has to be taken with a dose of reality since they are facing the Bengals and their 9th ranked defense.  Even regardless of the opponent there has not been much to see from Dwyer over the last 3 games.  All that has helped save some of his value is the fact that he scored a touchdown in 2 of those 3 games, but he has not gained more than 56 yards since Week 10.
  • We all know Bill Belichick is a little on the fickle side when doling out playing time, so there is no reason not to expect Stevan Ridley to have his workload returned to him this week against the Jaguars.  Yes Ridley only saw 19 snaps the whole game and really did not see the field at all after his third quarter fumble, but his competition Shane Vereen also had problems holding onto the ball.  More importantly, Danny Woodhead was the player that capitalized and that was dictated by the deficit the Patriots were climbing back from.  Against the Jaguars this week they should be maintaining an early lead and should be relying on Ridley and the running game.
  • Man did Doug Martin disappoint people this week.  The blame though should not go all to him as he was only given 9 carries to work with as Tampa was trailing the whole afternoon and Josh Freeman could not take care of the ball.  Chalk this up as an aberration and look for a nice recovery from Martin this week.
  • Reggie Bush has now made a reappearance for the Dolphins.  The fumble by Daniel Thomas a few weeks ago certainly has helped as Bush now has taken control of the playing time as he ran for 104 yards this past week.  Granted he did not catch any passes but he did catch 5 the week before.  After a few weeks where Bush was close to unusable, it appears that most of his early season value has been restored.
  • Do not let David Wilson’s 55 yards this past week fool you.  He gained those yards on only 12 carries and his quiet afternoon was merely a byproduct of Eli Manning’s inability to get the offense moving.  With their season on the line this week they can be expected to rebound, and even if Ahmad Bradshaw is back, Wilson will still have a role in the offense.

***** Pre-order the Rotoprofessor 2013 Fantasy Baseball Draft Guide today for just $6!!  Expanded rankings, prospect lists, Top 25 sleepers and so much more!  To order, or for more information, click here. *****

Make sure to check out all of our Week 16 Rankings:

Week 16 Rankings: Top 50 Wide Receivers
Week 16 Rankings: Top 15 Kickers


  1. Randy says:

    Where will Wilson be ranked if Bradshaw returns? I have to chose between him and Ridley for a standard league. Thanks! And also, thanks for your help this season…I made it to the championship!

  2. Sahel says:

    Professor, I’ve carried the rotation of my hydra head of running backs all season long consisting of; the alf Morris, cj the spill, and Ridley. One of the three had always been featured in the flex since Percy has been put on the I.r. Judging by your rankings should I strongly consider finally elevating deangelo williams from my bench in place of Ridley? My gut says no even despite bellichecks fickleness and Ridleys pudding hands last week. How does the professor feel about this inquiry?

  3. Andy says:

    Professor, Ray Rice let me down last week, but luckily i also had Alfred Morris to send me to 2nd round Playoff. Which 2 RBs should I start?
    Ray Rice, Alfred Morris, D Murray and Knownson Moreno? I am thinking to start D Murray and Knownson Moreno. Thanks.

  4. Randy – Ridley is the better option in my book, if Bradshaw plays or not. And CONGRATS!!

    Sahel – I know the way Ray has them ranked here, but I would disagree. I have a feeling Ridley is going to play a big role, especially if (when) the Pats go up early. I’d stick with your trio.

    Andy – I think all four are usable, so. Would go with your gut. That said I prefer Rice & Morris with Murray as #3

  5. Casey says:

    Looking for some guidance on my RB(2), WR(2), and Flex. I have Trent R, Alf Morris, and Chris Johnson at RB; Demarius Thomas, Eric Decker, Danny Amendola, and Denarius Alexander. I’m thinking Alf and CJ at RB plus Thomas, Decker and Amendola. I’m worried Trent may be held out and I don’t trust Alexander this week. What do you think on this one?

    I have the Bengals and Chargers defense. The Bengals have been good to me all season but Im worried about their matchup. I’d go with the Chargers but McElroy is a wildcard in this one. Any thoughts on this one as well?

    Thanks for all your help this year, I didn’t get this far without you guys. Happy Holiday’s!!!!!

    • Congrats and good luck today!! Here’s how I’d go:

      RB – Morris is the must play; to me Richardson and Johnson are a coin flip. If you have reservations about Richardson, then go with Johnson
      WR – Thomas & Decker
      FLEX – I’d go with the RB here, but if you are more comfortable with Amendola then go for it. It’s close enough

      I’d go SD for the D

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