2012 Fantasy Football Running Back Rankings by Tier

Ryan Lester@LestersLegendsSenior Writer IAugust 21, 2012

BALTIMORE, MD - JANUARY 15:  Arian Foster #23 of the Houston Texans runs the ball against the Baltimore Ravens during the second quarter of the AFC Divisional playoff game at M&T Bank Stadium on January 15, 2012 in Baltimore, Maryland. Baltimore won 20-13 in regulation. (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)
Chris Trotman/Getty Images

Here’s a look at the LestersLegends' 2012 fantasy football running back rankings by tier.

Tier One: Truly the elite. They should be the top three picks in most leagues.

Arian Foster, Houston Texans: Closed the season averaging 169.3 total yards with five TDs in his past four games. With 1,841 total yards and 12 total TDs in 13 games, he’s clearly still the top back in the game.

LeSean McCoy, Philadelphia Eagles
: Turned in a beast of a year with 1,624 total yards and 20 TDs. I don’t see him putting up those numbers again, but he is clearly elite.

Ray Rice, Baltimore Ravens: 2,068 total yards and 15 TDs. He’s as electric as they come.

Tier Two: Still-elite backs that warrant first-round consideration. They just aren’t locks like the Big Three.

Adrian Peterson, Minnesota Vikings: Knee seems to be checking out. You know his resume. If he’s good to go, he’s really good.

Chris Johnson, Tennessee Titans: He definitely wasn’t his normal self last year, and I don’t expect him to return to his 2009 level, but 1,800 total yards and double-digit touchdowns wouldn’t be a stretch. With questions marks surrounding several backs, he jumped up these rankings.

Matt Forte, Chicago Bears: He got paid, and while Michael Bush will cut into his value, it should also keep him fresh. Another one who benefited from question marks.

Tier Three: Quality RB1s, but even more question marks. These backs should go in the first two rounds.

Darren McFadden, Oakland Raiders: He could put up monster numbers with Michael Bush gone, but he’ll have to stay on the field.

DeMarco Murray, Dallas Cowboys: He was a beast midseason, but slowed down the stretch. He still has big-time potential.

Jamaal Charles, Kansas City Chiefs: Peyton Hillis will get the tough yards, but Charles should still get a ton of carries between the 20s.

Marshawn Lynch, Seattle Seahawks: "Beast Mode" was back in a big way. It seems like he’s been in the league forever, but he’ll turn just 26 later this month. He will likely avoid suspension for his DUI, so his value remains high.

Maurice Jones-Drew, Jacksonville Jaguars: Year in and year out, he continues to produce. Led NFL last year with 1,606 yards (1,980 total). He also scored 11 touchdowns. His contract situation is beginning to make me nervous.

Ryan Mathews, San Diego Chargers: Had 1,546 total yards in 14 games. With Mike Tolbert in Carolina, look for a surge in TDs and a serious breakout for Mathews. His injury came at a good time, so his value didn’t go down that much. His health is a serious concern though.

Trent Richardson, Cleveland Browns: The Browns have a solid offensive line, and they will lean heavily on Richardson, who is one of the top running back prospects to come into the league in years. His knee concerns me, but it happened early enough and isn't serious.

Tier Four: Low-end RB1s or High-end RB2s. These backs should go in Rounds 2 through 4.

Frank Gore, San Francisco 49ers: He’s still the lead back, but he will lose some touches to keep him fresh. Brandon Jacobs’ injury should help his cause.

Fred Jackson, Buffalo Bills: Mr. Underappreciated is coming off a pretty serious injury, plus C.J. Spiller threatens his value. Still, you can’t count him out.

Michael Turner, Atlanta Falcons: Continues to put up big numbers. Many thought he’d slide last year, and he had 1,508 total yards and 11 TDs. I am finally giving in to the fact that his decline is here.

Steven Jackson, St. Louis Rams: There is a lot of mileage on the tires, but he can still get it done. He had 1,478 total yards last year.

Tier Five: RB2s that should go in Rounds 4 through 8.

Ahmad Bradshaw, New York Giants: He’ll have to prove he can stay healthy. With Brandon Jacobs gone, Bradshaw should see his touches.

Darren Sproles, New Orleans Saints: Sproles was tailor-made to play with Drew Brees.

Doug Martin, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: The rookie will have to share with LeGarrette Blount, but he is a three-down player that should assume the starters gig sooner than later.

Reggie Bush, Miami Dolphins: Am I “all in” with Reggie? Not exactly. I did think he’d have a nice run in Miami, and he didn’t disappoint. He was more of a running back than I imagined and less of a receiver. I think he can be even more productive when Miami utilizes him better in the passing game.

Tier Six: These backs could still prove to be RB2 worthy, but they have some warts.

Beanie Wells, Arizona Cardinals: I’d feel a lot better about Beanie if he could stay healthy.

BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Cincinnati Bengals: Should be a little more dynamic than Cedric Benson was. Plus, he never coughs up the ball.

Cedric Benson, Green Bay Packers: He may improve on his three yards and a cloud of dust bit in Green Bay’s potent offense. He’s one of the least sexy picks available though.

C.J. Spiller, Buffalo Bills: Showed some promise last year. He’ll have to share with Fred Jackson, but he should be fairly productive.

DeAngelo Williams, Carolina Panthers: Has to share with J-Stew, Mike Tolbert and Cam Newton. If someone goes down, his value jumps.

Donald Brown, Indianapolis Colts: Finally showed a little something last year. He should be able to build on it.

Jonathan Stewart, Carolina Panthers: See Williams, DeAngelo.

Mark Ingram, New Orleans Saints: If he can stay healthy, he’ll be in the mix for early-down work.

Shonn Greene, New York Jets: Jets offense looks terrible. Greene will get his looks though.

Willis McGahee, Denver Broncos: The offense will look much different than last year’s, which hurts McGahee’s value.

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