Fantasy Football Rankings: Top 25 NFL Running Backs For Week 1

John TheodoreContributor ISeptember 9, 2010

Ray Rice is one of several top running backs facing a tough defensive matchup this weekend.
Ray Rice is one of several top running backs facing a tough defensive matchup this weekend.Larry French/Getty Images

1. Chris Johnson - Best rusher in the league against one of the worst run defenses.  Need I say more?

2. Adrian Peterson - Should benefit from this high-scoring affair Thursday.

3. Frank Gore - The Seahawks look to be in disarray right now - look for Gore to take full advantage.

4. Rashard Mendenhall - The Falcons have improved their secondary, and with Dixon throwing, Pittsburgh will run.  A lot.

5. Cedric Benson - New England's defense looked worse than shaky this preseason.

6. Michael Turner - Steelers have Polamalu back, but Turner should still have a good game.

7. Ryan Matthews - Great opportunity for this rookie to show his stuff against the Chiefs' soft defense.

8. Ray Rice - Am I really that worried about the Jets' defense?  Yes.  And you should be, too.  I'd still start Rice; I just don't think he's as much of a lock for a big game this week as he will be in other matchups.

9. Maurice Jones-Drew - Am I really that worried about his knee?  Yes.  And you should be, too.  Maybe he is fine, and they are just resting him.  I expect him to play, but if there's anything wrong with that knee, it could easily cut into his productivity this week.  Keep a close eye on injury reports.

10. Jamaal Charles - I love Charles this year, and the Chiefs/Chargers game on Monday night should be a very high-scoring affair.

11. Matt Forte - Even his doubters should love this matchup against the Lions.  Forte could have a huge day here.

12. Shonn Greene - Baltimore's rushing defense was ranked 5th last year, but they're banged up heading into this season.

13. Jahvid Best - He's one of the few backs who has the job all to himself, and Chicago's defense ranked 23rd against the run in 2009.  Detroit has invested heavily in Best this year, and they're going to want to feature him early.

14. Arian Foster - Texans/Colts is another matchup where I see a lot of points being scored by both teams.  That likely means a lot of work and at least 1 TD for Foster.

15. Joseph Addai - Same goes for Addai.  I see Foster as the better talent, so given equal touches, I expect him to be slightly more productive, but both are good plays this week.

16. Ryan Grant - The Eagles are tough against the run, and the Packers pass first.

17. Tim Hightower - Looks like this split will go Hightower's way in week 1, especially with Wells not quite at 100%.  Rams are a juicy matchup, so Hightower could have a big day here.

18. DeAngelo Williams - If only this wasn't a committee.  Both Panthers' backs should get double digits, but they both keep the other's ceiling lower than the other options listed above.

19. Jonathan Stewart - If this guy had the job to himself, he'd be in the top 5 or 10 every week.  But he's not, so he's here.

20. Lesean McCoy - The Packers were the toughest defense against the run last year.

21. Ronnie Brown - The Bills were the 3rd-worst defense against the run last year.  Too bad this is another committee situation.

22. Pierre Thomas - I expect a lot of points in this game, just not from the run.  The Vikings ranked second against the run in 2009.

23. Ahmad Bradshaw - He's been named the starter, but it's still a committee.  Carolina's defense is better than it was last year, but it's better against the pass than the run.  Bradshaw could find some yards, but I don't expect a lot of points out of this matchup.

24. Ricky Williams - Too bad this is a committee situation - that matchup against the Bills would be a lot juicier otherwise.

25. Jerome Harrison - Great opportunity to prove he deserves the starting job against the NFL's worst run defense.