Fantasy Football Week 1 Rankings: Top 40 Running Backs

Eric StashinSenior Writer ISeptember 6, 2011

KANSAS CITY, MO - NOVEMBER 21:  Jamaal Charles #25 of the Kansas City Chiefs carries the ball during the game against the Arizona Cardinals on November 21, 2010  at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Let’s continue our look at Week 1 by taking a look at the top 40 running backs.  How does Arian Foster’s injury affect things?  Should you be willing to gamble on backs from Green Bay, San Diego or New Orleans?  Let’s answer those questions and all the rest:

  1. Jamaal Charles – Kansas City Chiefs – vs. Buffalo
  2. Adrian Peterson – Minnesota Vikings – at San Diego
  3. Chris Johnson – Tennessee Titans – at Jacksonville
  4. LeSean McCoy – Philadelphia Eagles – at St. Louis
  5. Darren McFadden – Oakland Raiders – at Denver
  6. Frank Gore – San Francisco 49ers – vs. Seattle
  7. Maurice Jones-Drew – Jacksonville Jaguars – vs. Tennessee
  8. Ray Rice – Baltimore Ravens – vs. Pittsburgh
  9. Peyton Hillis – Cleveland Browns – vs. Cincinnati
  10. Matt Forte – Chicago Bears – vs. Atlanta
  11. Steven Jackson – St. Louis Rams – vs. Philadelphia
  12. Michael Turner – Atlanta Falcons – at Chicago
  13. Beanie Wells – Arizona Cardinals – vs. Carolina
  14. Shonn Greene – New York Jets – vs. Dallas
  15. LeGarrette Blount – Tampa Bay Buccaneers – vs. Detroit
  16. DeAngelo Williams – Carolina Panthers – at Arizona
  17. Rashard Mendenhall – Pittsburgh Steelers – at Baltimore
  18. Knowshon Moreno – Denver Broncos – vs. Oakland
  19. Ahmad Bradshaw – New York Giants – at Washington
  20. Reggie Bush – Miami Dolphins – vs. New England
  21. Joseph Addai – Indianapolis Colts – at Houston
  22. Jahvid Best – Detroit Lions – at Tampa Bay
  23. Tim Hightower – Washington Redskins – vs. New York Giants
  24. Felix Jones – Dallas Cowboys – at New York Jets
  25. Fred Jackson – Buffalo Bills – at Kansas City
  26. Cedric Benson – Cincinnati Bengals – at Cleveland
  27. Brandon Jacobs – New York Giants – at Washington
  28. Marshawn Lynch – Seattle Seahawks – at San Francisco
  29. Ryan Mathews – San Diego Chargers – vs. Minnesota
  30. Mike Tolbert – San Diego Chargers – vs. Minnesota
  31. Pierre Thomas – New Orleans Saints – at Green Bay
  32. James Starks – Green Bay Packers – vs. New Orleans
  33. BenJarvus Green-Ellis – New England Patriots – at Miami
  34. Michael Bush – Oakland Raiders – at Denver
  35. Derrick Ward – Houston Texans – vs. Indianapolis
  36. Ben Tate – Houston Texans – vs. Indianapolis
  37. Thomas Jones – Kansas City Chiefs – vs. Buffalo
  38. Ryan Grant – Green Bay Packers – vs. New Orleans
  39. Jonathan Stewart – Carolina Panthers – at Arizona
  40. Mark Ingram – New Orleans Saints – at Green Bay


  • There may not be a better defense for an elite running back to take on then Buffalo.  They were the worst rushing defense in the league in 2010, allowing 169.6 yards per game.  Nothing appears to have changed in the preseason either, allowing 146.5 rushing yards per game, among the worst in the league.  Consider Charles the best choice in the league for the coming week.
  • If Arian Foster is healthy he’s a tremendous option.  Of course, that’s the $1,000,000 question, isn’t it?  It all depends on which side of the discussion you believe.  At this point you won’t find him on the rankings, because I have my doubts that he suits up.  If the news changes during the week, I’ll update the rankings to reflect that.  However, be prepared for life without him.  If he’s unable to go, both Derrick Ward and Ben Tate become fliers as FLEX options, as they will likely share carries.
  • There may be concerns regarding Maurice Jones-Drew and his ability to stay healthy this season.  However, his Week 1 matchup with the Titans is not something to be worried about.  He had a monster game against them last season (31 carries for 186 yards), and the Jaguars figures to focus on the ground game again.
  • Unlike most backs, Ray Rice should remain a RB1 despite facing a stout Steelers defense.  That’s what happens when you offer the potential to pile up receptions, as well as chipping in some rushing yards.
  • Ndamukong Suh has developed into a monster in the middle for the Detroit Lions and will certainly help to put LaGarrette Blount to the test in Week 1.  His performance this week will go a long way in determining his status for the rest of the season.  Will he be a bust or will he live up to expectations? 
  • Will the Giants feed Ahmad Bradshaw to ball or will it be the 50/50 split so many are now expecting?  If they went with the former approach, Bradshaw would likely be a surefire RB1.  Unfortunately, it is much more likely that Bradshaw shares carries with Brandon Jacobs (who will also get the goal line carries).  While Bradshaw is the better option, he’s much more likely to be a mid-tier RB2 with so much risk surrounding him.
  • With Peyton Manning hurting and potentially out, will this be Joseph Addai’s chance to shine?  Look for them to run the ball a bit more than we’re used to, making Addai a RB2 for this week.
  • The Chargers are going to go with a two-man system, allowing both Ryan Mathews and Mike Tolbert to make an impact.  Unfortunately, it’s impossible to know which one is going to make the bigger impact, meaning I’d much rather utilize them as a FLEX option for this week.

Make sure to check out all of Rotoprofessor’s Week 1 Rankings: