As running backs can carry a fantasy football team in any given week, here are the players who will have big weeks and those who should be benched in Week 1.
Running back may be the toughest position to project for rookies, so it would be wise to stay away from them for a week or two.
Obviously, Adrian Peterson of the Minnesota Vikings is going to start in every league. He is the best running back in the game, but there is a lot of debate as to who are next in line.
Below are the best bets to put up points at running back along with players who will have a rough day.
Jamaal Charles, Kansas City Chiefs
Kansas City won only two games in 2012, but it sent six players to the Pro Bowl. One of its Pro Bowlers was running back Jamaal Charles. He is one of the best backs in the league and should have a great opening game against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
The 26-year-old rushed for 1,509 yards and five touchdowns on 285 carries, which comes out to an average of 5.3 yards per carry.
Last year, he carried the ball 16 times for 87 yards in the team's opener against the Falcons. He has averaged 78 yards in his last three openers, so he's not a slow starter.
Jacksonville ranked 30th in rush defense. The Jaguars allowed 141 yards per game on the ground, and the 19 rushing touchdowns that opponents scored ranked them 31st in the NFL.
The Chiefs should win this game, so Charles should get a lot of carries as they try to put the game away. He will be a great play this week.
Steven Jackson, Atlanta Falcons
After spending nine years in St. Louis, Steven Jackson will finally get to play on a winning team. He joined the Atlanta Falcons in the offseason, and he will see the benefits when his team goes to New Orleans this week.
The Saints had the worst run defense in the league. They allowed 147.6 yards per game and 18 rushing touchdowns.
Jackson carried the Rams offense again last season. He topped 1,000 yards for the eighth straight season and has averaged 4.2 yards per game in his career.
He has averaged more than 60 yards in each of the last four openers, but that was when he was the only playmaker on the team. Now he has Matt Ryan, Roddy White, Julio Jones and Tony Gonzalez to give him room to work.
New Orleans can't stop the run, and Atlanta likes to have balance on offense. Former Falcon Michael Turner had at least 10 rushing touchdowns in each of his five seasons with the team, so expect Jackson to score.
BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Cincinnati Bengals
After running for more than 1,000 yards in his first season in Cincinnati, BenJarvus Green-Ellis is on this side of the list for a couple of reasons.
For starters, the Chicago Bears aren't easy to run on. They allowed only 101.7 rushing yards per game last season, which ranked eighth in the league. They also allowed only six rushing touchdowns—only two teams permitted fewer.
Green-Ellis did not have a 100-yard game until Week 11 last season, and he had only three touchdowns through the first nine games.
The Bengals drafted Giovani Bernard in the second round, so they expect him to contribute right away. He's going to add speed, and he can catch passes out of the backfield.
Cincinnati likes to rotate backs, so Green-Ellis won't be on the field every play.
All signs point to him struggling against the Bears.
Chris Johnson, Tennessee Titans
Tennessee travels to Pittsburgh to play the Steelers in Week 1, so Chris Johnson is going to have a rough game.
He has been a slow starter in recent years. The 27-year-old has 28 rushing yards on 20 carries or an average of 1.4 yards per rush attempt in the last two openers combined. He has averaged 23.8 yards per game in the first three games in each of the past two seasons.
He had 91 yards on 19 carries against the Steelers last year, but that was in the middle of the season after he got on a roll.
Pittsburgh ranked second in the NFL by allowing opponents only 90.6 rushing yards per game. The Steelers gave up only nine rushing touchdowns all year, so Johnson is unlikely to find the end zone.
Heinz Field is a tough place for opponents to play, and the Steelers are stingy on defense. Johnson has gotten off to slow starts in each of the last two seasons, and that trend should continue this year.
*All stats are courtesy of NFL.com
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