Figuring out who the best fantasy football running backs will be from week to week is a little easier than predicting which wide receivers will shine, but it is by no means simple—especially in Week 13 with all the byes completed and yet another crop of injuries to deal with.
That's why those of us in the fantasy industry put together these lists for you—to give you an idea of what to expect from your players on any given Sunday.
With that, here are the weekend's top 50 running backs, along with some detailed analysis on the 10 best plays for the week.
50. Ronnie Brown (vs. Cin)
49. Pierre Thomas (at Atl, Thursday night)
48. Alex Green (vs. Min)
47. Brandon Jacobs (at StL)
46. Daryl Richardson (vs. SF)
45. Cedric Peerman (at SD)
44. LaRod Stephens-Howling (vs. NYJ)
43. David Wilson (at Was, Monday night)
42. Mark Ingram (at Atl, Thursday night)
41. Joique Bell (vs. Ind)
40. Daniel Thomas (vs. NE)
39. Shane Vereen (at Mia)
38. Donald Brown (at Det)
37. Michael Turner (vs. NO, Thursday night)
36. Shonn Greene (vs. Ari)
35. Steven Jackson (vs. SF)
34. Bilal Powell (vs. Ari)
33. Michael Bush (vs. Sea)
32. Chris Ivory (at Atl, Thursday night)
31. Vick Ballard (at Det)
30. Marcel Reece (vs. Cle)
29. Felix Jones (vs. Phi, Sunday night)
28. Fred Jackson (vs. Jax)
27. DeAngelo Williams (at KC)
26. Reggie Bush (vs. NE)
25. Jacquizz Rodgers (vs. NO, Thursday night)
24. BenJarvus Green-Ellis (at SD)
23. Matt Forte (vs. Sea)
22. Jonathan Dwyer (at Bal)
21. Rashad Jennings (at Buf)
20. Darren McFadden (vs. Cle)
19. Beanie Wells (at NYJ)
18. Darren Sproles (at Atl, Thursday night)
17. Stevan Ridley (at Mia)
16. Knowshon Moreno (vs. TB)
15. Ryan Mathews (vs. Cin)
14. Ahmad Bradshaw (at Was, Monday night)
13. Mikel Leshoure (vs. Ind)
12. Marshawn Lynch (at Chi)
11. Bryce Brown (at Dal, Sunday night)
Top 10 RB Plays for Week 13
10. Chris Johnson (vs. Hou)
Though he failed to record a 100 yards and a touchdown for a third straight game last weekend, CJ2K still had a nice overall performance rushing for 80 yards while adding 29 yards on two receptions out of the backfield.
I’ll continue to be a bit iffy on him for the rest of the season, but the return of his explosive capabilities this year has to warrant him a ranking in the top-10 here.
Earlier in the season when these two teams met, Johnson ran for 141 yards on 25 carries, so he should at least have the confidence to do a little damage against possibly the league’s best rush defense this weekend.
9. Ray Rice (vs. Pit)
In the past two seasons, Ray Rice has gone without a rushing touchdown for two straight games on five different occasions. At this very moment, he is in the middle of his sixth.
What did he do in each of those games after the deficiency?
Yep, he ended up scoring a touchdown, but not just one… In fact, he rushed for 10 touchdowns in those five games—which obviously comes out to two TDs per game.
He didn’t face the Pittsburgh Steelers in any of those contests, but still, you can tell he hates these mini-droughts with a passion.
Yes, Pittsburgh is one of the better run defenses in the league again this season and yes, Rice had a tough time against them two weeks ago on the road, but something tells me this game is going to be one of those freak-outs that you don’t quite expect.
Last year at home against these guys, Ray put up 107 rushing yards, 42 receiving yards and two TDs (one of each) in the game. Will he repeat those numbers?
Doubtful, but like I said, he obviously doesn’t like being stifled for long.
8. Alfred Morris (vs. NYG, Monday night)
Every time I lose a little confidence in this kid, he shows me up and runs for 100 yards or a touchdown—or both, like he did last week against the Cowboys.
This week the Redskins stay within the division as they come back home to take on the NFC East-leading Giants.
Strange as it sounds, this could actually be a huge game-changer for the ‘Skins because if they end up beating the G-Men, they’ll be within one game of the division lead and certainly back in the playoff picture.
Obviously they’ll ride RGIII as much as they can, but Morris will have to be a big part of the game as well like he was back in Week 7 against them when he ran for 120 yards on 22 carries.
New York can be pretty nasty against the run from time to time. However, they tend to tire out towards the end of games due to their emphasis on the pass-rush and have had their struggles containing bruisers like Morris because of it.
It may not be pretty, but Alfred should be able to come out with pretty good numbers by the end of this battle.
7. Doug Martin (at Den)
If a song about the “Muscle Hamster” doesn’t find its way onto the airwaves sometime soon, I’ll be forced to create one on my own.
The kid is legit, folks, and it doesn’t look like the “rookie wall” is going to hit him like it does most players in their first year out of college.
In fact, Martin has gotten better as the season has progressed and it seems like the coaching staff has noticed as they’ve given him 20 or more touches in five straight games now.
This week will undoubtedly be a tough test for him, though, with the Broncos being one of the better run defenses in the league.
The Donkeys have allowed the second-fewest yards per carry so far this season (3.6) and have given up just one rushing touchdown to an opposing RB in their past six games.
That being said, Martin is one of those backs that tends to break trends and is already one of the better red-zone RBs in the league.
He may not put up outstanding numbers this week, but I still expect him to land in the top-ten one way or another.
6. Frank Gore (at StL)
I expected more out of Frank the Tank last week going up against a weak New Orleans Saints defense, but 101 total yards and a touchdown isn’t all that bad, so I’ll give him a pass.
This weekend he’ll be traveling to yet another indoor arena where he’ll take on another porous defense in the St. Louis Rams.
Earlier this season, the two teams played to the only tie of the year as Gore amassed 115 total yards (97 rushing) in the game with a fourth-quarter 20-yard touchdown.
His career has been more down than up against the Rams of late, but a season-ending injury to Kendall Hunter will force the 49ers to ride Gore a bit more from here on out and I expect him to rise to the challenge well.
5. Adrian Peterson (at GB)
With his fifth-straight 100-yard game (sixth on the year) against the Bears last week, Adrian Peterson extended his league-lead in rushing yards to a whopping 172 yards over Arian Foster.
If you would have told me before the season started that AP would be on pace for almost 1,800 yards by this point in the season, I would have crapped my pants laughing before I told you to go back to your on-line dating blog.
This week, the closest thing to Jim Brown that the NFL has seen since he left the game will be traveling over to Green Bay to take on a Packers defense that he’s averaged 103.3 yards and 5.1 yards against in his career.
He’s only had seven TDs in those 10 career games against them, but four of them were in Lambeau, so he obviously isn’t intimidated by his surroundings.
Considering Peterson’s recent hot streak and the Packers’ deficiencies on defense, look for Purple Jesus to have himself a real nice RB1 game this Sunday.
4. C.J. Spiller (vs. Jax)
Even though Fred Jackson actually played three more snaps than Spiller did against the Colts last weekend, C.J. still came out with more touches in the game edging Jackson by a margin of 15 to 7.
Coach Chan Gailey hasn’t jumped off the bandwagon yet, either, as he came out to say after the game that Spiller will continue to see the most action this week against the Jaguars.
If that is indeed the case, then Spiller should be able to put up better numbers than the 107 yards on 14 carries he did last weekend considering the Jags have allowed the fourth-most rushing yards and sixth-most fantasy points to running backs this season.
The main reason C.J. wasn’t in the game as much as F-Jax was because Jackson is a far superior pass protector.
However, that won’t be an issue in this game with the Jaguars being tied for the least amount of sacks in the league.
Being at home where Spiller tends to shine, I’m expecting a fat breakout game for the speed demon in this one.
3. Jamaal Charles (vs. Car)
Jamaal Charles has double-digit fantasy points in three straight games now after his 23-carry, 107-yard game against a tough Broncos rush defense last week.
His 4.8 yards per carry this season are nearly a yard below his career average (5.7 YPC), but still rank within the top-ten for running backs on the season.
This week he’ll keep his home cleats on against a Carolina Panthers rush defense that just got torched by rookie Bryce Brown for 178 yards and two touchdowns last Monday night.
The week before that, they were lit up by another rookie, Doug Martin, to the tune of 138 yards on 24 carries.
Against a team that has trouble tackling as is, a speedster like “The Ostrich” should be able to come up with a couple of long runs and easily find himself in the RB1 range this week.
2. Arian Foster (at Ten)
Arian Foster had his 13-game, touchdown scoring streak ended back in Week 11 by a team you wouldn’t expect to be able to do so—the Jacksonville Jaguars.
So what did Arian do about it?
He returned to action in Week 12 and put up two rushing touchdowns—and just so his fantasy owners would forgive him for his off-week, he decided to put up 100 yards as well.
Thank you, Mr. Foster.
This week looks like a good opportunity to extend his new streak as he’ll be taking on a Tennessee Titans defense that has allowed a rushing touchdown in three of their last four games.
They’ve also allowed the fourth-most fantasy points to opposing RBs this season, so to think Foster won’t oblige his fantasy owners with another five-star fantasy effort this weekend would simply be uncivilized.
1. Trent Richardson (at Oak)
So let me get this straight:
Trent Richardson is a rookie who missed a bunch of the preseason due to knee surgery, yet has no idea what a “rookie wall” is considering his 106 carries in the last four games (26.5 per game); has scored a touchdown or rushed for 100 yards in all three games against the Ravens and Steelers thus far; and currently sits within the top-five in fantasy scoring for running backs on the year.
Do I have that all correct? The answer, of course, is yes.
I could go into how astonishing, yet completely unsurprising all this is, but instead I’ll just talk about how dominant Trent will be this weekend.
The Oakland Raiders have allowed the second-most rushing touchdowns, the most receptions and the third-most fantasy points to running backs this season, all things that Richardson will pile up on all game long this Sunday.
In fact, I’ll be surprised as all hell if the rookie doesn’t end up with more than 100 rushing yards, 150 total yards, five receptions and a touchdown or two in this one.
Not that you would think of sitting him at this point, but he's an absolute must-start in Week 13.
For rankings at all the positions, check out the: Pyro® Rankings.
For advice on who to start, check out the: Pyro® Start 'Em Sit 'Em.
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