Depth is vital at running back in every format of fantasy football. Your Week 1 lineup might have one or two Top 20 guys, but it's important to have at least one or two more capable backs for flex or third-back spots.
As the most consistent points producers, you can't afford to miss on your selections each week. Do you play a fringe guy like Isaac Redman or roll with a guy like DeAngelo Williams against a stout Seattle pass defense?
You likely have options, including high-potential rookies or rushers in confusing backfield situations. We'll take a look at the top rankings for running backs this week and also highlight a couple of the fringe guys to help you decide who to play in Week 1.
No. 21 DeAngelo Williams, Carolina Panthers
DeAngelo Williams has less mileage than most running backs at 30 years old. He has consistently been in a timeshare in Carolina's backfield, a maddening fact for fantasy owners over the years.
But this year, at least in the early stages of the season, the backfield belongs to the speedy veteran back. Johnathan Stewart is going to miss the first six weeks of the season after being placed on the physically unable to perform list, making rookie Kenjon Barner the only real threat to steal carries.
His matchup might not be great, but Williams will get plenty of opportunities to run the ball to help take the pressure off of Cam Newton. He flashed his skills during the end of 2012 when given the chance, showing he still has the chance to change a game with one touch. Against Seattle's tough defense, he's Carolina's only hope.
No. 22 Shane Vereen, New England Patriots
There are going to be plenty of fantasy points to go around for New England against the Buffalo Bills at Ralph Wilson Stadium. Shane Vereen figures to be a big beneficiary of that considering his role in the Pats' passing game.
Vereen flashed some pretty awesome fantasy potential in the playoffs last season, scoring three total touchdowns during New England's win over Houston. With so much offensive turnover, he'll likely be relied on more heavily in passing situations.
He'll undoubtedly be on the field more, too, with running back Danny Woodhead gone and Leon Washington being cut following the preseason.
No. 23 Isaac Redman, Pittsburgh Steelers
Not many people are showing Isaac Redman any love. He wasn't a fantasy stud by any means, but I think concerns about the back are being overblown.
For one thing, he's excellent in the pass game, both as a receiver and a blocker for quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. Last year, he racked up over 100 yards receiving against the Tennessee Titans. Big Ben knows he can rely on Redman being in the right place for a dump-off when in a pinch.
Plus, the Titans defense was miserable against the run last year, and the Steelers offensive line was banged up. Opposing running backs averaged 19.6 points per game against their porous front seven. Redman might not be an elite back, but he has the matchup and the role it takes to have a big fantasy day.
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