Fantasy Football Rankings Week 2: Running Backs

Kevin Hanson@EDSFootballAnalyst IIIJanuary 16, 2017

The Pittsburgh Steelers have had one of the stingiest run defenses in the NFL for some time. Over the past seven seasons, they have ranked first, second or third against the run every year.

Therefore, it was a surprise that the Ravens were able to run the ball so successfully against the Steelers in Week 1 despite having one of the league's top running backs. Last week, the Ravens rushed for 170 yards on 31 carries for an average of 5.48 yards per carry (YPC) and a touchdown.

Since 2000, it's only the 10th time (fourth time by the Ravens) that a team has rushed for 170 yards on the Steelers.

During that span, the 5.48 YPC was the second-highest (of 74) allowed by the Steelers in games where the opponents rushed the ball 25 times or more.

This week, we expect Seahawks running Marshawn Lynch to find it much more difficult, which means Lynch is outside of our top 40 fantasy running backs for Week 2.

Here are our fantasy running backs (using standard scoring) for Week 2:

1. Ray Rice, Ravens (at TEN): In three games against the Steelers last year, Rice rushed for 82 yards combined. Last week, he rushed for 107 yards, had 149 yards from scrimmage and scored two touchdowns against them. The opponents can only get easier.

2. Adrian Peterson, Vikings (vs. TB): In 62 career games, Peterson has 52 rushing touchdowns. Since he didn't reach the end zone last week (or in the last game of 2010), Peterson is already overdue. He has gone three straight games without a rushing touchdown one time in his career (2008).

3. Darren McFadden, Raiders (at BUF): McFadden rushed for a league-high 150 yards last week. In three of his past four games, McFadden has reached the 100-yard milestone and should be in the 100-yard range this week as well.

4. LeSean McCoy, Eagles (at ATL): Only McFadden had more rushing yards and only Rice had more fantasy points (out of running backs) than McCoy.

5. Michael Turner, Falcons (vs. PHI): Turner had only 10 carries in Week 1, but he averaged 10 yards per carry. While it's very unlikely he duplicates that per-carry success, the Bears have a much tougher run defense than the Eagles have.

6. Jamaal Charles, Chiefs (at DET): As the Chiefs fell behind early (20-0 in the second quarter), Charles had only 10 rushing attempts in Week 1. Like Turner, that should change in Week 2.

7. Rashard Mendenhall, Steelers (vs. SEA): The Seahawks are ranked last in my NFL power rankings. I expect the Steelers to establish an early lead, maintain it and give Mendenhall lots of carries.

8. Peyton Hillis, Browns (at IND): In each of the past three seasons, the Colts have ranked in the bottom 10 in the NFL in rushing yards allowed. The trend continues as only three teams allowed more rushing yards in Week 1.

9. Matt Forte, Bears (at NO): Forte was the fourth-highest scoring running back in leagues with standard scoring in Week 1. One of the most versatile backs in the league, Forte should continue to get a lot of work week in and week out.

10. Chris Johnson, Titans (vs. BAL): Johnson's nine rushing attempts last week was inexplicable. While he should get (many) more carries this week, Johnson has a (much) more difficult matchup against the Ravens.

11. Arian Foster, Texans (at MIA): Foster returned to practice Wednesday and the Texans have the enviable problem of having too much talent at running back as rookie Ben Tate rushed for 116 yards in his NFL debut last week.

12. Cedric Benson, Bengals (at DEN): Benson is a true workhorse back. He has 300-plus carries in back-to-back seasons, tied for a league-high 25 carries last week and plays for a team with a rookie quarterback. Benson is not flashy but solid and no team allowed more rushing touchdowns than the Broncos (26) last year.

13. Frank Gore, 49ers (vs. DAL): Gore has two 200-yard games in his career and both were against the Seahawks so a 59-yard performance on 22 carries (2.68 yards per carry) on Sunday was especially disappointing.

14. Beanie Wells, Cardinals (at WAS): Only five running backs had more fantasy points (non-PPR leagues) than Wells in Week 1 as Wells rushed for 90 yards and a touchdown and had four receptions for 12 yards.

15. Fred Jackson, Bills (vs. OAK): In their blowout over the Chiefs, Jackson had a healthy 20 carries for 112 yards, which is tied for the seventh most in his career.

16. Jahvid Best, Lions (vs. KC): Another back getting a healthy workload in Week 1 was Best. Best had 21 carries plus five targets (four receptions) for a total of 114 yards from scrimmage. This week, he faces the Chiefs, who allowed the second-most points (41) in the NFL in Week 1.

17. Ahmad Bradshaw, Giants (vs. STL): In Week 1, the Giants only ran the ball 19 times (as a team). Bradshaw had a solid fantasy performance since he got into the end zone, but I would expect more work for Bradshaw against the Rams in Week 2.

18. Maurice Jones-Drew, Jaguars (at NYJ): Pocket Hercules rushed for nearly 100 yards in Week 1, but it will be tougher to run on the Jets than the Titans. I expect the Jets to put Darrelle Revis on Mike Thomas and scheme to shut down Jones-Drew.

19. Tim Hightower, Redskins (vs. ARI): Nobody had more carries in Week 1 than Hightower, who finished with 97 yards from a scrimmage and a score. Hightower has a favorable matchup in Week 2 against the Panthers, who allowed the second-most rushing touchdowns (20) in 2010.

20. Mike Tolbert, Chargers (at NE): Only Ray Rice scored more fantasy points in Week 1 than Tolbert, who scored three touchdowns and finished with a league-high nine receptions (tied with Reggie Bush).

Here are the rest of our top 40 fantasy running backs for Week 2:

21. Reggie Bush, Dolphins (vs. HOU)
22. Felix Jones, Cowboys (at SF)
23. Shonn Greene, Jets (vs. JAC)
24. LeGarrette Blount, Buccaneers (at MIN)
25. DeAngelo Williams, Panthers (vs. GB)
26. Cadillac Williams, Rams (at NYG)
27. James Starks, Packers (at CAR)
28. Ryan Mathews, Chargers (at NE)
29. BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Patriots (vs. SD)
30. Brandon Jacobs, Giants (vs. STL)
31. Joseph Addai, Colts (vs. CLE)
32. Mark Ingram, Saints (vs. CHI)
33. Knowshon Moreno, Broncos (vs. CIN)
34. Pierre Thomas, Saints (vs. CHI)
35. Willis McGahee, Broncos (vs. CIN)
36. Ben Tate, Texans (at MIA)
37. LaDainian Tomlinson, Jets (vs. JAC)
38. Danny Woodhead, Patriots (vs. SD)
39. Ryan Grant, Packers (at CAR)
40. Darren Sproles, Saints (vs. CHI)

For more Week 2 rankings, click here for our rankings on other positions.

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If you have specific lineup questions, need a second opinion on a trade proposal, etc., feel free to post your question in our free fantasy football forum. In addition, you'll find our free Week 2 fantasy football contest in our forums.

Good luck in your Week 2 matchup(s)!


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