Fantasy Football Week 13 Rankings: Running Backs

Michael WhooleySenior Writer IDecember 4, 2009

DENVER - NOVEMBER 09:  Rashard Mendenhall #34 of the Pittsburgh Steelers rushes against the Denver Broncos in the fourth quarter during NFL action at Invesco Field at Mile High on November 9, 2009 in Denver, Colorado. The Steelers defeated the Broncos 28-10.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

Well folks this is it. This is what we have all been waiting for. We are entering the most crucial week of the fantasy football season. In most leagues Week 13 signifies the last week of the regular season in fantasy football and we are either fighting just to get into the playoffs or working to solidify our playoff positions. So it is more important than ever not to make any mistakes with your fantasy football lineup this week, you do not want to miss the playoffs or end up in a lesser playoff position because you were unprepared.

Week in and week out, the running back position remains one of, if not the most important position on your fantasy team. Whether it has to do with injuries or performance, the landscape of the running backs has changed quite a bit since we started preparing for fantasy drafts back in the summer. So as you get your lineup in order for this very important fantasy football week, trust the Bruno Boys Fantasy Football Week 13 Running Back Rankings to keep you informed of any changes that may have occurred at this crucial fantasy position.

1. Maurice Jones-Drew (Jacksonville Jaguars) vs. Houston

In Week 12, Maurice Jones-Drew had 15 carries for 75 yards and added five receptions for 35 yards, but did not score a touchdown for the first time in five games. With 1,277 total yards and 13 touchdowns he has been one of the best running backs in the NFL this season, but his rushing totals have been inconsistent at times, as he has just four games with over 100 rushing yards. A match-up with the Houston Texans should be exactly what fantasy owners are looking for. Jones-Drew had 23 carries for 119 yards with three touchdowns against the Texans in Week 3. He should be used as a high-end RB1 this week against a Houston defense that has allowed 14 rushing touchdowns this season. 
Point Projection: 24 points

2. DeAngelo Williams (Carolina Panthers) vs. Tampa Bay  **CHECK INJURY STATUS**

After posting six straight games with double figure fantasy football points, DeAngelo Williams had a rare bad performance in a Week 12 loss to the New York Jets. He had 16 carries for 40 yards while adding four receptions for 10 yards, but did not manage a touchdown. Despite having a sprained ankle, Williams is expected to play in Week 13 and the good news for fantasy owners is that he has a great match-up this week against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers who has an extremely poor rush defense. In a Week 6 meeting with the Buccaneers, Williams had his best game of the season when he had 30 carries for 152 yards with two touchdowns. He is an elite fantasy running back option this week in this match-up.
Point Projection: 22 points

3. Chris Johnson (Tennessee Titans) @ Indianapolis

With 18 carries for 154 yards and a touchdown, Chris Johnson added to his NFL rushing lead and now has 1,396 rushing yards through 11 games played. It was the sixth straight game that he has amassed 128 or more rushing yards and he has seven rushing touchdowns over his last five games. There may not be a better running back in the NFL right now then Johnson and he is an absolute must-start on a weekly basis regardless of the match-up.
Point Projection: 21 points

4. Thomas Jones (New York Jets) @ Buffalo

Thomas Jones is quietly putting together a very good season. He has gained 959 rushing yards on 216 carries with nine rushing touchdowns, including a 25 carry 75-yard effort with a touchdown last week against the Carolina Panthers. He remains the No. 1 rushing option for the Jets, which is something many pundits didn’t expect. Jones has an excellent match-up this week against a Buffalo Bills rush defense that has been one of the worst in the NFL this season. Use him as a No. 1 fantasy football running back this week against a Bills’ team that he had 22 carries for 210 yards with a touchdown against in Week 6.
Point Projection: 21 points

5. Steven Jackson (St. Louis Rams) @ Chicago

After four straight games with 116 or more yards, Steven Jackson was held to 89 yards on 23 carries in Week 12. He did manage to score a touchdown in the game and after not scoring a touchdown in the Rams’ first seven games he has found the end zone in four straight games. He remains the focal point in St. Louis’ less than stellar offense this season and has scored double digit fantasy football points in seven of 11 games this season. Continue to use Jackson as a No. 1 fantasy running back this week against a Chicago Bears’ defense that is giving up more than 125 rushing yards per game and has allowed 10 rushing touchdowns.
Point Projection: 20 points

6. Adrian Peterson (Minnesota Vikings) @ Arizona

Adrian Peterson continues to be one of the best and most consistent fantasy running backs on a weekly basis. He had 25 carries for 85 yards with a touchdown, while adding two receptions for 18 yards. He has scored double digit fantasy point eight times this season and he has scored nine points or more in all 11 games. Continue to use Peterson as an elite fantasy running back this week when the Vikings face an Arizona Cardinals defense that has been very good against the run, but did allow Tennessee Titans’ running back Chris Johnson to gain 154 rushing yards and a touchdown in Week 12.
Point Projection: 19 points

7. Frank Gore (San Francisco 49ers) @ Seattle

In a Week 12 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars, Frank Gore had 16 carries for 33 yards and added seven receptions for 14 yards with a touchdown. From a yardage standpoint it was a less then stellar game, but he did add the receiving touchdown salvaging a decent performance for fantasy owners and it was his fifth straight double digit fantasy outings. Continue to use Gore as a RB1 this week when he faces a Seattle Seahawks rush defense that he torched for 207 rushing yards and two touchdowns in Week 2. 
Point Projection: 18 points

8. Rashard Mendenhall (Pittsburgh Steelers) vs. Oakland

Rashard Mendenhall had 24 carries for 95 yards and added two catches for 22 yards in an overtime loss to the Baltimore Ravens in Week 12. It was an impressive performance against a very good Ravens’ rush defense and it was the third time in the past four games that he has scored double figure fantasy points. Mendenhall should be used as a RB1 this week against a Oakland Raiders’ rush defense that is allowing more then 160 rushing yards per game and has given up 17 rushing touchdowns this season. 
Point Projection: 18 points

9. LaDainian Tomlinson (San Diego Chargers) @ Cleveland

LaDainian Tomlinson had 13 carries for 39 yards with two touchdowns in a Week 12 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs. If he didn’t lose a fumble as he was diving into the end zone he could have found pay dirt for the third straight time. Tomlinson now has seven touchdowns in the past five games and it was his third multiple touchdown performance during that span. He appears to be fully recovered from early season injury issues and is once again becoming a viable starting fantasy running back. If you own Tomlinson he is a must-start fantasy option this week against a Cleveland Browns rushing defense that is allowing nearly 160 rushing yards per game and has given up 13 rushing touchdowns this season. 
Point Projection: 17 points

10. Ricky Williams (Miami Dolphins) vs. New England

In a surprising Week 12 loss to the Buffalo Bills, Ricky Williams had 27 carries for 115 yards with a touchdown. It was his third straight game with more 20 or more carries and over 100 yards, but he left fantasy football owner slightly disappointed as they were hoping for bigger totals against a very poor Bills rush defense. Regardless of fantasy owner’s expectations, Williams has been very good since taking over the starting running back role in Miami after the season ending injury to starter Ronnie Brown. He had seven carries for 33 yards with a touchdown in a Week 9 game against the New England Patriots, but should post better rushing totals this week as the Dolphins primary rushing option. If you own Williams you can feel confident about using him as a low-end RB1 this week against the Patriots. 
Point Projection: 17 points

11. Ray Rice (Baltimore Ravens) @ Green Bay

Ray Rice continued to solidify his status as the Ravens No. 1 running back with an excellent game against the Pittsburgh Steelers and their top-ranked rush defense. He had 19 carries for 88 yards and added five receptions for 67 yards. He is having a stellar sophomore season in the NFL with 821 rushing yards, 582 receiving yards and seven total touchdowns. Rice should be used as a low-end No. 1 fantasy running back this week against a Green Bay Packers team that is allowing less then 90 rushing yards per game and has given up just three rushing touchdowns this season.
Point Projection: 16 points

12. Matt Forte (Chicago Bears) vs. St. Louis

Matt Forte had eight carries for 27 yards and added four catches for 34 yards in a Week 12 loss to the Minnesota Vikings. It was the sixth time in seven games that he has rushed for less then 45 yards and if not for his pass catching ability he would be considered a huge bust by fantasy football owners. Forte has posted double digit fantasy points just five times this season, but a match-up with a below average St. Louis run defense should change all that. The Rams defense is allowing more then 145 rushing yards per game and has given up 16 rushing touchdowns this season. Despite the constant disappointing results out of Forte this is the week to insert him into your fantasy lineup.
Point Projection: 16 points

13. Cedric Benson (Cincinnati Bengals) vs. Detroit  **CHECK INJURY STATUS**

After practicing on a limited basis in preparation for Week 12, it was rumored Cedric Benson would play for the Bengals against the Cleveland Browns, but he was a late scratch for the game. It appears that the Bengals were just being cautious with his injury and head coach Marvin Lewis has already stated that he expects Benson to play this week against the Detroit Lions. Backup running backs Bernard Scott and Larry Johnson combined for 194 rushing yards in his place against the Browns. If Benson is active for this week’s game against the Lions he should be used as a high-end RB2, but you better keep an eye on how much he practices this week as it could very well be an indication of whether or not he plays against Detroit.
Point Projection: 15 points

14. Laurence Maroney (New England Patriots) @ Miami

Laurence Maroney had another big outing in a Week 12 loss to the New Orleans Saints when he had 15 carries for 64 yards with two touchdowns and added three catches for 23 yards. Since taking over the starting role in the absence of both Fred Taylor and Sammy Morris with injuries, Maroney has been very good. He has scored eight touchdowns in six weeks and has become the focal point in New England’s running game. Morris did return to action last week and had five carries for 18 yards in the game, but it was evident that Maroney is the main back in New England. Even with the return of Morris, Maroney should remain the No. 1 rushing option for the Patriots and he should be used as a RB2 this week against the Miami Dolphins, who have allowed 13 rushing touchdowns this season.
Point Projection: 15 points

15. Joseph Addai (Indianapolis Colts) vs. Tennessee

In a Week 12 victory over the Houston Texans, Joseph Addai had 15 carries for 69 yards and added three catches for 13 yards. It was the first time in nine games that he was held without a touchdown. After a sub-par 2008 season, he is having a very good 2009 campaign with 839 total yards and 10 total touchdowns through 11 games. Continue to use Addai as a No. 2 fantasy running back this week against a Tennessee Titans defense that has been struggling against the run and that Addaio totaled 80 yards and a touchdown against in Week 5.
Point Projection: 15 points