Top 75 RBs: 2012 PPR Fantasy Football Running Back Rankings (Updated 8/30)

Sean E. DouglasSenior Writer IIIAugust 30, 2012

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - AUGUST 24: Adrian Peterson #28 of the Minnesota Vikings catches the ball during pre-game warmups before the game against the San Diego Chargers on August 24, 2012 at Mall of America Field at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

You may look at the running back rankings below and ask yourself how running backs like Adrian Peterson, Trent Richardson and Maurice Jones-Drew are outside the top 20?

All three have elite talent and might even make you feel good about having them on your team in the first two or three rounds on draft day. However, take them too high, start out slow, and you will be singing a different tone come October.


All Day?

Peterson is the most gifted running back in the NFL hands down. However, even this freak will have a hard time bouncing back from a knee injury in December. This week, Peterson participated in contact drills (news update 8/24) and while he’s yet to suffer a setback, don’t think for a minute the Vikings won’t have him on a pitch count early on.

If you were an owner of an NFL team and paid your franchise running back a top end contract, would you want to face another knee injury because you rushed him back too soon?

No one would want that, and while Toby Gerhart is a backup-caliber running back in this league, he proved to the coaching staff he could give them production over the final month of last season.

It only makes sense to use Gerhart in a committee, and while Peterson is practicing we have yet to see him in a live-action game.

Sure, he will likely have his usual straight-line speed, but can he cut on a dime and show the elusiveness and power we are accustomed to seeing?

It’s hard to know for sure at this point.

I speculate that we will see flashes of the old Peterson from time to time, but not as frequently as we have seen in the past. Therefore, look to Peterson as more of an RB3 in 10-team leagues, or a late RB2 in 12-team leagues.

That probably means you will pass on him this year, but I think that’s a good idea if taking him means waiting on him through the early portion of the year—if not all year.


Richardson’s Knee

The Browns traded up to land not only a talented running back, but the new face of their franchise when they selected Trent Richardson. Much like Peterson's situation, Cleveland won’t put Richardson in a situation that would jeopardize his career (and the money they will make off his name) by over-working him early on.

Consider it likely Cleveland will be one of the worst teams in the NFL, and it only makes sense to use Richardson in some type of committee.

All three opponents in the Browns division are sound up front on defense and will make life difficult for Richardson to break off big runs. Take the rookie as your third running back outside of the fourth round, and it will be fair value at this point.


It’s Jennings Time

Whether you agree or disagree with what Maurice Jones-Drew is doing, the bottom line is we shouldn’t expect him on the field Week 1 against the Vikings. While Jones-Drew could come back at any point, we should draft him with the thought in mind that he may not return to the starting lineup until October, maybe longer.

Whatever the reasons, what we do know is backup Rashad Jennings can be a starter in this league and has looked great all offseason.

Even when Jones-Drew finds the field again, he will have to learn a new offense, get into football shape and fight with Jennings for snaps. It’s time to stay away until at least the sixth round.


2012 PPR Rankings : Top 200 | QB | WR | TE | Cheat Sheets |