Week 1 Rankings (2013): Top 40 Running Backs

by Ray Kuhn
The opening week brings a few interesting dilemmas for fantasy owners when it comes to the running back position.  How do some of the reported early season timeshares factor into the rankings?  How do injuries (i.e. Arian Foster) impact things?  Which young running backs is in the best position to produce immediately?  Let’s answer all those questions and more in our Week 1 rankings:

  1. Adrian Peterson – Minnesota Vikings – at Detroit
  2. Jamaal Charles – Kansas City Chiefs – at Jacksonville
  3. Doug Martin – Tampa Bay Buccaneers – at NY Jets
  4. CJ Spiller – Buffalo Bills – vs. New England
  5. LeSean McCoy – Philadelphia Eagles – at Washington
  6. Ray Rice – Baltimore Ravens – at Denver
  7. Maurice Jones-Drew – Jacksonville Jaguars – vs. Kansas City
  8. Arian Foster – Houston Texans – at San Diego
  9. Alfred Morris – Washington Redskins – vs. Philadelphia
  10. Trent Richardson – Cleveland Browns – vs. Miami
  11. Marshawn Lynch – Seattle Seahawks – at Carolina
  12. Chris Johnson – Tennessee Titans – at Pittsburgh
  13. Steven Jackson – Atlanta Falcons – at New Orleans
  14. David Wilson – New York Giants – at Dallas
  15. Reggie Bush – Detroit Lions – vs. Minnesota
  16. Matt Forte – Chicago Bears – vs. Cincinnati
  17. Darren Sproles – New Orleans Saints – vs. Atlanta
  18. Stevan Ridley – New England Patriots – at Buffalo
  19. DeMarco Murray – Dallas Cowboys – vs. New York Giants
  20. Frank Gore – San Francisco 49ers – vs. Green Bay
  21. Lamar Miller – Miami Dolphins – at Cleveland
  22. Daryl Richardson – St. Louis Rams – vs. Arizona
  23. D’Angelo Williams – Carolina Panthers – vs. Seattle
  24. Darren McFadden – Oakland Raiders – at Indianapolis
  25. Isaac Redman – Pittsburgh Steelers – vs. Tennessee
  26. Eddie Lacey – Green Bay Packers – at San Francisco
  27. Rashard Mendenhall – Arizona Cardinals – at St. Louis
  28. Ryan Mathews – San Diego Chargers – vs. Houston
  29. Ahmad Bradshaw – Indianapolis Colts – vs. Oakland
  30. Montee Ball – Denver Broncos – vs. Baltimore
  31. Chris Ivory – New York Jets – vs. Tampa Bay
  32. Mark Ingram – New Orleans Saints – vs. Atlanta
  33. Shane Vereen – New England Patriots – at Buffalo
  34. BenJarvus Green-Ellis – Cincinnati Bengals – at Chicago
  35. Danny Woodhead – San Diego Chargers – vs. Houston
  36. Giovani Bernard – Cincinnati Bengals – at Chicago
  37. Ronnie Hillman – Denver Broncos – vs. Baltimore
  38. Bilal Powell – New York Jets – vs. Tampa Bay
  39. Jacquizz Rodgers – Atlanta Falcons – at New Orleans
  40. Vick Ballard – Indianapolis Colts – vs. Oakland


  • Until proven otherwise, Adrian Peterson has to be the top running back on any rankings. Last season he was a sneeze away from 2,000 yards, and it took him about the half the year to find his groove. This season he looks to be fully healthy and between the loss of Percy Harvin and the continued struggles of Christian Ponder, Minnesota’s offense will fully revolve around Peterson.
  • Another team where the running back will be the focus of the offense is in Buffalo. No matter what a rookie quarterback will be starting week one, so CJ Spiller will be the focal point of the game plan. Spiller will catch the ball out of the backfield and also can break big rushing plays. New England’s defense is not the strongest and even when the Bills fall behind, Spiller will still get the ball consistently.
  • I am intrigued to see what the new look Eagles offense looks like under Chip Kelly. What I do know is that LeSean McCoy should be seeing the ball plenty both as a rusher and receiver. Last season was obviously a down year for the running back, but based just on the preseason he looks fully recovered. The offense will move fast, and I think Kelly will do a good job of finding McCoy in space giving him the opportunity to make things happen.
  • Steven Jackson is another running back looking to recover from a down season. I am thinking that the move to Atlanta will serve Jackson well. The Falcons are clearly a much better offense than that of the Rams, so there should be plenty of red zone opportunities and chances for him to find the end zone. I don’t think he will get that many targets out of the backfield, as the Falcons have Jacquizz Rodgers for that, but there should be enough chances for Jackson to control the ball and score some touchdowns.
  • While it was a tough break for Andre Brown in the last preseason game, it also meant that David Wilson’s value just went up. Prior to Brown’s broken leg, Wilson was in a timeshare and had more value as a receiver and third down back. Now the second year running back will be a three down back and a valuable part of the Giants’ offense. The big play potential is what puts him ahead of some of the other more “stable” or proven running backs like Frank Gore and Stevan Ridley for the opening week.
  • I know Arian Foster has fallen in drafts this year, but on a week-to-week basis he has to be at the top of your list. He appears to be healthy entering the season, but it remains to be seen how “ready” he is for the season to start. There is also the concern of what type of timeshare Foster will be in with Ben Tate to start the season. Perhaps after this week we will have a clearer picture of what to expect.
  • Darren McFadden and Ryan Matthews are two talented running backs. Until this season, both were being drafted near the top of drafts, but health issues and poor performance have greatly reduced their value entering this season. While they are healthy to start the year, it might be the time to get some value out of them before the nagging injuries take hold.  Take advantage while you can.
  • Before the preseason started there was some optimism surrounding Chris Ivory. Then he got injured in the preseason, and now we are left to wonder what to make of the Jets’ running back situation. The likely guess here is that Ivory will carry the ball on the first two downs and Bilal Powell will be the third round back. What we now need to see is how that impacts their respective fantasy values. I give the slight edge to Ivory this week, but in PPR formats they might be a little more even.
  • Denver is one team where we really don’t know what to expect out of the running back position. I think Montee Ball, Ronnie Hillman and Knowshon Moreno will all have value this week, with perhaps Ball getting the most carries. Moreno might get the most receptions, just because of his experience, and the fact that Hillman had some fumbling problems in the offseason.  That said, none of them are more than a FLEX option in the opening week.
  • BenJarvus Green Ellis can control the clock for the Bengals and keep the chains moving. However, for big plays and receptions out of the backfield, look no further than rookie Giovani Bernard. I think Bernard will be eased into the offense at the beginning of the season, and as the season progresses his value will increase. That keeps him suppressed on the rankings this week, but he could quickly rise.

Make sure to check out all of our Week 1 rankings:

Week 1 Rankings (2013): Top 15 Defenses
Week 1 Rankings (2013): Top 20 Tight Ends


  1. chris says:

    at the moment, i’ve got a toss up between ryan mathews and cecil shorts for flex in a standard scoring league. at this stage, i’m going with cecil. what do you think?

  2. Mark says:

    who would you go with at the flex this week? Its between chris ivory,lance moore,mark ingram, and golden tate. im leaning towards ivory but not sure. who would u go with?

  3. Chris – I would surprisingly agree with Shorts. Tough to count on Mathews because we don’t know his role.

    Mark – I definitely wouldn’t go with Ivory or Moore. It’s Ingram or Tate for me, slightly leaning towards Ingram.

  4. Erik says:

    AP ran for over 2000 yds last year. I think you meant to say he was a sneeze away from Dickerson’s record.

  5. Rob says:

    RP – how important do you think it is to have the handcuff for Arian Foster?

    What do you think of Ivory for Tate?

    I’m extremely deep at RB and have Ivory on my bench. They’re light on RBs too. What do you think?


  6. Eric says:

    What are your thoughts on ranking Ball so high? I’m stuck picking between Little, Hillman, Ball and Gio at FLEX due to long term strategy reasons.

  7. Rob – I don’t trust any Jets , honestly, so if you are already deep at RB I think handcuffing Foster makes a lot of sense. We know he’s already banged up a bit, so it’s worth playing it safe.

    Eric – What type of long-term strategy are we talking? I like Bernard better, long-term, and I have to defer a bit to Ray for why he put Ball where he did.

    • Eric says:

      A combination of a 2 QB keeper league and trying to peak late in the season, hence why I only have 4 guys eligible for flex in a 10 team, 8 bench league. On my bench and candidates for flex I have Pryor, Geno and Bradford at QB, Ball, Hillman, Bell and Gio at RB and Gordon and Little at WR.

      I definitely agree with you on Gio, especially considering literally everything about BGE, but Week 1 is going to be interesting no matter who I start at flex.

      • I know this goes against Ray’s rankings, but I would actually go with Bernard this week. The Bears run defense was very good last season, meaning they could go more pass oriented (and therefore more playing time for Bernard).

        In Denver, while Ball could get the most touches, it’s far from a guarantee. He needs to battle two other RB, as well as three WR and an emerging TE for touches. That’s hard to count on.

        • Ray Kuhn says:

          My logic with Ball, is that he will get the most touches, and I’m a little more curious as to what Bernard’s early season role will be. I think they will ease him into it, and Law Firm might be a touchdown vulture. I could see Ball getting 20 carries and a touchdown depending on how the game goes. Bernard probably has more upside, but at least for this week i’m more comfortable with Ball personally. Although it is close and there is some preference involved.

          • Not to dispute Ray, but if memory serves me correctly all of Bernard’s TD this preseason came from 1 yard out. That would tell me that Green-Ellis may not be as big of a vulture as some may think.

            Also, as I said earlier, I could easily see the Bengals going to a more pass-oriented offense against the Bears (leading to more of Bernard on the field).

            Could Ball get 20 carries? I guess it’s possible, but with Hillman and Moreno also getting time and the Bengals seemingly riding the hot hand, that’s hard for me to bank on in Week 1.

            (Sorry Ray…lol)

          • Eric says:

            I might just flip a coin tomorrow, haha. I can definitely see the arguments in both directions, I wouldn’t be surprised if each got 8 touches or 20 touches.

            And yeah Rotoprof, Gio had 3 rush TDs, all from the 1 yard line, during the preseason out of something like 30 total touches.

          • Interesting quote from Ball courtesy of Mike Garafalo of Fox Sports, just to add some fuel to the debate:

            “My problem is I’m coming from Wisconsin, a power school, and I had 900 carries in four years. Whenever I was out on the field, I was getting the ball a majority of the time,” Ball told FOX Sports this week. “But with this offense and No. 18…”

            I’m definitely going Bernard, but it is debatable

    • Rob says:

      Thanks RP. Doesn’t look like I’m gonna get Tate though. (other team wasn’t feeling my offer).

      without Tate should I be freaking out? Foster has Top 10 potential at all times but I don’t know if I want to deal with his injury issues.

      Should I start making trade offers for him? If so, who do you think would be a realistic trade?

  8. Tyler says:

    What are your thoughts on Lamar Miller? The dolphins are still saying Thomas is just as good and will get his reps. I’ve been trying to sell him but nobody is biting. I’m getting a little worried… He is only my flex option but my other options are Stevie Johnson and Mike Williams so he’s clearly my best flex play.

  9. Dustin says:

    Daryl Richardson, Lamar Miller, Dwayne Bowe, or Emmanuel Sanders at my flex? I have miller in now, but subject to change. All four are projected to put good numbers week 1

  10. Tyler – The Dolphins are talking a lot, but I think it’s only a matter of time Miller takes full-time duties (it seems inevitable).

    Dustin – Long-term I do lie Miller best, but this week I think I would go Richardson. Just from what the Dolphins have been saying, he is tough to trust.

    • Dustin says:

      Andrew luck (vs oakland) or Aaron rodgers (vs 49ers) week one. I’m leaning luck’s way because oakland is just horrid all around, but rodgers is still rodgers. I’m torn between the two this week.

  11. steven says:

    In my flex do i start reggie wayne, dewayne bowe, lamar miller or daryl richardson. I am leaning towards wayne.

    • Definitely not Bowe.

      If I’m going a RB I would lean Richardson, because he has a lot stronger hold on the job (Miller should be the better option, but all the talk of a timeshare has to scare us a little bit).

      That means Wayne vs. Richardson…

      I like Richardson’s upside, but hard to sit Wayne. If go with Wayne this week

  12. RT says:

    HI RP!

    Ahmad Bradshaw or Rashard Mendenhall for flex?

    Or would you put Cecil Shorts instea of the two?


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