RB Rankings

2012 Fantasy Running Back Rankings
(Last updated on July 15)

Rankings are based on a 12-team league flex format with 1 point awarded per reception

1. Arian Foster, Texans
2. LeSean McCoy, Eagles
3. Ray Rice, Ravens
4. Maurice Jones-Drew, Jaguars
5. Ryan Mathews, Chargers
6. Chris Johnson, Titans
7. Darren McFadden, Raiders
8. Marshawn Lynch, Seahawks
9. Matt Forte, Bears
10. DeMarco Murray, Cowboys
11. Trent Richardson, Browns
12. Jamaal Charles, Chiefs
13. Darren Sproles, Saints
14. Ahmad Bradshaw, Giants
15. Steven Jackson, Rams
16. Adrian Peterson, Vikings
17. Fred Jackson, Bills
18. Reggie Bush, Dolphins
19. Frank Gore, 49ers
20. Michael Turner, Falcons
21. James Starks, Packers
22. Roy Helu, Redskins
23. Jahvid Best, Lions
24. Doug Martin, Bucs
25. Jonathan Stewart, Panthers ↑
26. Stevan Ridley, Patriots
27. Beanie Wells, Cardinals
28. Isaac Redman, Steelers
29. Shonn Greene, Jets
30. Peyton Hillis, Chiefs
31. C.J. Spiller, Bills
32. BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Bengals
33. Michael Bush, Bears
34. LeGarrette Blount, Bucs
35. Willis McGahee, Broncos
36. Ronnie Hillman, Broncos
37. Mark Ingram, Saints
38. Toby Gerhart, Vikings
39. Donald Brown, Colts
40. Ben Tate, Texans
41. Mikel Leshoure, Lions
42. David Wilson, Giants
43. Ryan Williams, Cardinals
44. Shane Vereen, Patriots
45. Kendall Hunter, 49ers
46. DeAngelo Williams, Panthers
47. Felix Jones, Cowboys
48. Jacquizz Rodgers, Falcons
49. Isaiah Pead, Rams
50. Pierre Thomas, Saints
51. Rashad Jennings, Jaguars
52. Mike Goodson, Raiders
53. LaMichael James 49ers
54. Mike Tolbert, Panthers
55. Rashard Mendenhall, Steelers
56. Daniel Thomas, Dolphins
57. Ronnie Brown, Chargers
58. Javon Ringer, Titans
59. Jason Snelling, Falcons
60. Bernard Scott, Bengals
61. Dion Lewis, Eagles
62. Kevin Smith, Lions
63. Brandon Jacobs, 49ers
64. Evan Royster, Redskins
65. Alex Green, Packers
66. D.J. Ware, Giants
67. Delone Carter, Colts
68. Christopher Ivory, Saints
69. Brandon Jackson, Browns
70. Tim Hightower, Redskins
71. Lamar Miller, Dolphins
72. Joe McKnight, Jets
73. Bernard Pierce, RB Ravens
74. Robert Turbin, Seahawks
75. Vic Ballard, Colts

Just Missed
Lance Ball, Broncos
Taiwan Jones, Raiders
Danny Woodhead, Patriots
Terrance Ganaway, Jets
Le’Ron McClain, Chargers
Brandon Saine, Packers

Going Up

Forte – This is assuming Forte signs by Monday. Reports say he’s close to signing a long-term deal. I’m posting this the day before, so I’m betting that a deal is going to get done. If it does, Forte moves up to No. 9 on my board even with Michael Bush in town. Forte simply catches too many passes in a PPR format that you can’t downgrade him much for losing short touchdowns to Bush. I say if Forte plays 16 games he could catch 70 balls this year. New offensive coordinator Mike Tice wants Jay Cutler getting the ball out much quicker this year and that means more passes to the running backs. I’m actually pretty high on Forte, even with the Bears adding Bush. Remember, Darren McFadden put up some pretty good numbers last September with Bush stealing touchdowns. It’s not the end of the world.

Starks – I liked Starks coming out of the draft a couple of years ago and I’m still high on him. The Packers will never run the ball a lot but I think Starks’ skill-set is a good fit for Green Bay’s offense. Now with Ryan Grant out of the way, Starks should post career bests across the board in 2012. If he doesn’t, it’s a problem. With an ADP of Round 6 in PPR leagues, Starks offers some good value for fantasy owners. Everything is in place for Starks to have the best season of his career and getting the Packers starting running back in the sixth round isn’t bad. I do like Alex Green as well but right now Starks is clearly the man in Green Bay. I think he’s being undervalued a little bit.

Helu – I was thinking more and more about the Redskins backfield and Tim Hightower is trash. He may steal a few reps away from Helu early on in the season but to be honest I’m more worried about Evan Royster. If Helu stays healthy he’s going to rush for over 1,000 yards and catch 50 balls. Listen, Mike Shanahan has to win now before more people figure out he’s only won one playoff game since John Elway retired. If he wants to start being a better head coach than Wade Phillips again, Shanahan will give the ball to Helu and sit Hightower’s average ass on the bench where it belongs.

Ryan Williams – I had Williams ranked as a Top 15 player coming out of the 2011 draft and I’m still very high on him, despite the fact that he injured his knee in the preseason and never played a down. I said after he was drafted that once Wells got injured (a mathematical certainty), Williams would come in and never give up the starting job. We would have had a chance to test that theory if not for Williams’ injury. Now we’re basically back to square one this season. I love Williams’ running style. He’s a punishing runner in the Marion Barber mold. We know Wells will go down at some point (again, a mathematical certainty), so if Williams is healthy, he’s going to have a big role in the Cardinals offense this season. Also, dynasty league owners should be all over Williams assuming his knee checks out in training camp.

Coming Down

Peterson – To me Peterson going roughly in the Top 20 picks of a PPR league is too high. First of all, we don’t even know if Peterson will be healthy to start the season. I know knee injuries are like a flesh wound these days but I still think it will take Peterson about a month to get back to normal. I expect Toby Gerhart to be involved heavily on passing downs and that simply hurts Peterson’s overall value too much for me to pay a mid-second round price tag in a PPR format.

Ingram – Ingram’s latest knee procedure isn’t expected to be serious but three knee surgeries in three years is never a good sign for a running back. Now the Saints aren’t sure if Ingram will even be ready for training camp. That’s too many red flags for me when we’re talking about a guy that plays in a crowded backfield and is getting selected in Round 7 on average. Plus, Darren Sproles is usually on the field when the Saints throw the ball. I don’t know if you’ve ever watched the Saints play but they tend to throw the ball every now and then.

Daniel Thomas – I’ve never been a big Thomas fan. The thing I pointed out about Thomas coming out of college is he’s way too tentative running between the tackles. I think that criticism was justified considering Thomas was one of the worst short yardage backs in the NFL last year. Remember people claiming Thomas was this great goal line back? Well, he scored zero rushing touchdowns as a rookie despite getting at least 11 carries (ones I saw personally) from inside the 5-yard line. I’m awful at math but even I know a 0% success rate isn’t very good.Thomas’ current ADP puts him in Round 9 and that’s too high for me. Thomas didn’t look like an NFL running back when I watched him at Kansas State and he didn’t look like one as a rookie. He’ll need to get a lot better fast to help fantasy owners this season and beyond.

Dion Lewis – The next time Lewis gets arrested can it not be in Albany, NY? I live near Albany and now every day when I turn on the local news they’re still talking about it. You know, it’s bad enough I have to hear the non-stop Jimmer Fredette stories (He’s from Glens Falls, NY) on the news every week with them conveniently leaving out the fact that Jimmer was a monumental bust in his first NBA season.You mean Jimmer isn’t the next Larry Bird? But he’s white and he’s made a three-point shot in his life. For Christ sakes, Lewis calls in a fake fire? You’re in the NFL, Dion, you’re not me in college. To think, this is the same guy I predicted would win the Heisman Trophy a couple of years ago. Now he’s the lead story on the local news right before the kid I used to go to school with getting busted for selling weed. Nice job buddy.

Follow me on Twitter @ThePigskinGuy

  1. JT Marlin says:

    If I can’t get one of the top 5 guys, I would probably go with a strategy of stockpiling 6 or 7 mid to late RB’s and hope that 1 really breaks out and that 2 more have solid years. Ridley, BJGE, Hillis, Michael Bush, Donald Brown, Jacquizz, Redman, Mike Goodson, Vereen. Most of these guys can be had for probably $1-$10 in an auction format. You summed it up well in your RB in General comments.

    • thomascasale says:

      I agree with that strategy. If you can get one of the few studs, I would do so but if not don’t reach for a Gore or Turner. Wait and try to hit with some of the guys you mentioned.

  2. #nerd says:

    Ok so i’m watching the top 100. #86 blew my mind, and made me rewind three times. Some of his stats in that Saints offense this past year were amazing. Sean Payton starts the bit off saying, “Most yards in the history of our game from the line of scrimmage”,.. then says it again for good measure,.. then tosses the game ball to Sproles? I know that factored in return yards, but still, WoW!… how’s that guy ranked 15th? I ‘ll have him in the top 10. I know i’d take him before MJD, CJ2K, RUN DMC, and Murray, because he outscored them all his first year in the big easy. I’ll take him over Richardson too. A for sure top 10 back you can’t defend a round later over a rook? Thank you very much.

    Last year i called McCoy’s blow up season, i took him #2 overall in a league i was so sure. The reason i was so sure he’d be more productive then ever, is because of how they use him, and how they slowly increased his work load every season in Philly. McCoy always seems to get his fantasy points, even when it seems like he’s having a bad game. Because his production is too evenly spread across receiving and rushing to defend. For the same reason i’m high as hell on Sproles this year. Obviously i’m talking PPR leagues only here. He’s a running back who only gets 115 touches, and still outscores all but 5 of the leagues rushers. I don’t see him getting more running plays, i don’t even think he’ll get more passes thrown his way, but i do think he can pretty easily do what he just did again. I’m looking solely at the small amount of plays he had, 200 receiving and rushing combined, and how productive they were. He’s right where mcCoy was two years ago for number of plays. Too few handoffs to defend like a real runner, too speedy when he plays receiver. I think he’s money to repeat, especially with the loss of Meach and no real O added in the draft.

    • ThePigskinGuy says:

      Sproles could easily be a Top 10 RB. I’m kind of waiting to see where Ingram stands and what his role looks like heading into the year. I think Sproles is going to have a very good year but I also see Ingram getting more involved if he’s healthy. Still, Sproles is in a great situation to be a Top 10 fantasy back again. You make some good points for backing him. Thanks for positing.

  3. stampats says:

    I’m finding it hard for me right now to Draft:
    Chris Johnson
    Jamal Charles

    Yet, you can get some incredible value if they pan out… Mcfadden is the one I’m really thinking about… I own Bradshaw and I’m looking to dump meanwhiel I can take Chris Johnson cheap in a keeper….

    • ThePigskinGuy says:

      Johnson is still only 27 years old. I think people are jumping off him too quickly. When a guy has a down year we have to look at the factors. In Johnson’s case I don’t believe he’s slowing down yet. I think he was out of shape. His game is predicated on speed and if he loses a step he’s not the same player. I see him having a nice season. I’m not ready to close the book on him yet.

  4. You are the first person I have seen that gets the first 6 RB’s right.

  5. DePratt says:

    So I just stumbled upon this site because i actually googled “Matt Ryan vs Tony Romo” and look what you did for me.

    Anyway, the point of this post, I think Donald Brown is sneaky good. Hes a bell cow starter that produces in the red zone. (When the Colts could get him there). Now i’m not in a PPR league but in 2010 he averaged 10.3 yards a catch but only 20 catches. I like him as a 3rd running back easily had late.

    • ThePigskinGuy says:

      Thanks for checking out the blog and for the feedback. Brown will have a chance to put up solid fantasy numbers. Now it’s up to him to stay healthy and produce. I loved him coming out of college but he never became the player I thought he would be. maybe this is the year.

  6. DePratt says:

    Also I think you greatly underrate BJGE I would put him after Fred Jackson. No RB has more rushing touchdowns then the Lawfirm over the last 2 years save Arian Foster. BJGE also played in the pass happy New England offense.

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