2012 Fantasy Football Week 1: Running Backs (RB) Rankings and Projections

Sean E. DouglasSenior Writer IIISeptember 3, 2012

CHARLOTTE, NC - AUGUST 17:  DeAngelo Williams #34 of the Carolina Panthers during their preseason game at Bank of America Stadium on August 17, 2012 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

For now, Jonathan Stewart still has a chance to play against the Buccaneers, but don’t be surprised if he’s out of the lineup, or at best in a limited role, coming of an ankle injury.

Both Cam Newton and Mike Tolbert will be the top candidates to run the football in close to the goal line should Stewart miss the game, but I like Williams as an RB2 option.

Williams looked good during the preseason, and we saw his production go up towards the end of last season as defenses were forced to respect Newton’s abilities as a passer and a runner.

Expect big plays from the Panthers' starting running back, and I have a feeling those of you that selected Williams will be rewarded for not giving up on him after a few disappointing seasons.

Truth is, after Jake Delhomme fell apart, it was hard for the Panthers' running backs to get much done.

Without a reliable quarterback, they faced eight and nine-man fronts, and the passing game was so bad they couldn’t pick up first downs through the air, even with Steve Smith on the field.

The Buccaneers were torched on the ground through the preseason and have been one of the worst teams against the run in recent years. Make sure Williams is in the lineup if you have an injured running back or they face a difficult matchup.


Sean’s Watch List

We have a bunch of injuries at the running back position, and I will be watching to see how key running backs like Adrian Peterson, Trent Richardson, BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Beanie Wells, Kevin Smith and Marshawn Lynch will be used.

You may notice that I’ve left Peterson off the list. Unless he puts in a full week of practice and gets the green light to play, hold him out this week and let’s see what happens. Even if he gets on the field, the Vikings are probably going to put him on a low pitch count, as he failed to see live-game action in the preseason and just recently took part in contact drills.

Lynch is battling back spasms, but at this time, I expect him to play against a solid front seven in Arizona.

Green-Ellis is batting a foot injury and will play against a tough Ravens defense, so you might want to sit him this week.

Smith is an interesting play because the Lions host the Rams, but make sure he can participate in a full practice before looking to him as a starting option in standard leagues.

Wells will battle Ryan Williams for playing time, and both will be up against one of the better run defenses in the game.

As for Richardson, he has a respectable matchup, but it’s likely the Eagles will blow the Browns out by the third quarter, making him a risk to be pulled early, as the Browns wouldn’t want to risk further injury in a lost cause.


1 LeSean McCoy @ Browns
2 Darren McFadden Chargers
3 Arian Foster Dolphins
4 Ray Rice Bengals
5 Matt Forte Colts
6 Chris Johnson Patriots
7 Jamaal Charles Falcons
8 Steven Jackson @ Lions
9 DeMarco Murray @ Giants
10 Fred Jackson @ Jets
11 Doug Martin Panthers
12 DeAngelo Williams @ Bucs
13 Ahmad Bradshaw Cowboys
14 Marshawn Lynch (I) @ Cardinals
15 Frank Gore @ Packers
16 Willis McGahee Steelers
17 Peyton Hillis Falcons
18 Rashad Jennings @ Vikings
19 Michael Turner @ Chiefs
20 Stevan Ridley @ Titans
21 Shonn Greene Bills
22 Mark Ingram Redskins
23 Trent Richardson (I) Eagles
24 Kevin Smith (I) Rams
25 Darren Sproles (I) Redskins
26 Cedric Benson 49ers
27 Reggie Bush @ Texans
28 Michael Bush Colts
29 BenJarvus Green-Ellis (I) @ Ravens
30 Beanie Wells (I) Seahawks
31 Jonathan Dwyer @ Broncos
32 Toby Gerhart Jaguars
33 Ronnie Brown @ Raiders
34 Donald Brown @ Bears
35 Roy Helu @ Saints
36 Beanie Wells (I) Seahawks
37 Ryan Williams Seahawks
38 Isaac Redman (I) @ Broncos
39 Ben Tate Dolphins
40 Jonathan Stewart (I) @ Buccaneers

Week 1 Rankings—QB |  WR | TE | Start / Sit | Waiver Wire |