Earlier, I looked at the Average Fantasy Rankings for Quarterbacks, and found a few players that several sites are in disagreement about, including Peyton Manning and Philip Rivers. But running backs – the backbone of any good Fantasy Football team – are usually the most deliberated of positions, and the average Fantasy Football rankings for RBs with these websites are quite interesting. (The top 24 wide receivers and top 12 tight ends are coming soon.)
Again, I chose the same sites as before, 4for4.com, FakeTeams.com, KFFL.com, FFToolbox.com and TheFakeFootball.com. Each of these sites appear to be updating their rankings regularly, so check them out throughout the preseason and regular season. The top five Fantasy Football rankings at each position from major media sites can be found here.
I went with the top 12 Quarterbacks, so I’m going to average out the rankings for the top 24 Running Backs. FakeTeams.com only showed rankings up to the top 25 running backs, so there were a few players that went unranked in their rankings. For the averages, any player that was “not ranked,” I gave a value of 26, as if they were the 26th player ranked.
Average Fantasy Football Rankings: Running Backs
|1. Arian Foster, HOU||1||1||1||1||1||1|
|2. Ray Rice, BAL||3||3||2||2||2||2.4|
|3. LeSean McCoy, PHI||2||2||3||3||3||2.6|
|4. Ryan Mathews, SD||5||4||4||4||4||4.2|
|5. Maurice Jones-Drew, JAC||4||6||5||8||7||6|
|T-6. Chris Johnson, TEN||10||5||6||5||6||6.4|
|T-6. Darren McFadden, OAK||6||8||7||6||5||6.4|
|8. Marshawn Lynch, SEA||7||11||8||10||15||10.2|
|9. Matt Forte, CHI||9||9||10||11||14||10.6|
|10. Trent Richardson, CLE||8||12||9||15||10||10.8|
|11. DeMarco Murray, DAL||12||13||13||7||12||11.4|
|T-12. Jamaal Charles, KC||11||7||11||23||9||12.2|
|T-12. Adrian Peterson, MIN||15||10||12||16||8||12.2|
|14. Steven Jackson, STL||14||19||14||12||13||14.4|
|15. Ahmad Bradshaw, NYG||16||18||15||17||11||15.4|
|16. Michael Turner, ATL||13||21||16||9||26||17|
|17. Fred Jackson, BUF||18||20||17||19||19||18.6|
|18. Doug Martin, TB||24||16||25||14||16||19|
|19. Roy Helu, WAS||29||15||20||13||22||19.8|
|20. Frank Gore, SF||20||14||21||21||27||20.6|
|21. Reggie Bush, MIA||17||17||19||29||23||21|
|T-22. Isaac Redman, PIT||22||NR||28||18||17||22.2|
|T-22. Darren Sproles, NO||19||NR||18||24||24||22.2|
|T-24. Shonn Greene, NYJ||21||22||24||35||20||24.4|
|T-24. Stevan Ridley, NE||28||NR||NR||27||41||24.4|
Analyzing the Rankings
By looking at it from this perspective, you see that everyone agrees on the No. 1 running back — which means they all agree on the No. 1 player overall. (Except for me. I like Arian Foster, and obviously, I’d be happy to have him on any team, but after doing some digging, I recently came up with 8 Reasons to NOT Take Foster No. 1 Overall. I’m on an island, but I like Ray Rice better this season.)
And all five sites agree on the top three RBs overall, in different orders.
I do find it interesting that all five of these sites had Ryan Mathews in their top fives, and all but one had him in their top fours. The experts in the major media sites aren’t quite as impressed. Of CBSSports.com, ESPN.com and NFL.com, only CBS had Mathews ranked as high as fifth. The other two sites had him sixth, with Maurice Jones-Drew and Chris Johnson overtaking him.
Again, I’m going against the grain here, but just because Mathews lost Mike Tolbert to Carolina, that doesn’t make him a top-five RB to me. I realize he didn’t get goal line carries, but he had just three touchdowns in his last 11 games last season. If he falters at the goal line early, will Norv Turner wait long before choosing another goal-line back to punch it in?
4For4.com rates Chris Johnson the lowest (10th), but they also rank Browns rookie RB Trent Richardson (eighth) the highest among the five sites. Rookie running backs usually offer the most immediate Fantasy value out of all first-year players. Over the past 20 years, players like Rice, Adrian Peterson, LaDainian Tomlinson, Curtis Martin and Terrell Davis, have all been huge Fantasy hits in their first year. Richardson will be running behind an above-average offensive line, and he’s certain to be a big part of the passing game, as an outlet for Colt McCoy or rookie Brandon Weeden.
Hurt Running Backs on the Mend
At the bottom of the No. 1 running backs is a tie for 12thf place, between Jamaal Charles and Peterson – two players coming back from season-ending knee injuries and torn ACLs. Gone are the years when a knee injury started a retirement party for a running back, but even so, how much can we depend on these once-dynamic players?
Here’s a short list of three players that came back from the injury successfully in the following season:
- Jamal Lewis, RB, BAL: After blowing the knee out one year after a Super Bowl win (during “Hard Knocks” in Baltimore), Lewis returned to rush for 1,327 yards in 2002.
- Edgerrin James, RB, IND: He also tore his ACL in 2001, and came back to rush for 989 yards in 2002.
- Jerry Rice, WR, SF: After tearing his ACL in Game 1 of 1997, he came back and caught 82 passes for 1,157 yards the following season.
Charles’ knee injury happened very early last season, as his Fantasy owners can attest since it coincided with the death of their championship dreams. And Peterson’s injury happened in late December, giving him about four fewer months of rehab than Charles. But Charles now has Peyton Hillis taking away some carries.
I’d rather go with the three running backs ranked directly behind them: Steven Jackson, Ahmad Bradshaw and Michael Turner.
Rashard Mendenhall tore his ACL not too long after Peterson, yet he’s not even being considered in the top 25. Isaac Redman is expected to get the bulk of the carries in Pittsburgh now, and these sites have him ranked as a Fantasy starter also. I like RB Chris Rainey as a late sleeper also. Offensive coordinator Todd Haley said he anticipates using the rookie as a “hybrid” RB/WR this season, which is a similar role to how the coach used Dexter McCluster in Kansas City in recent years. The Steelers are famous for getting great athletes on the field and allowing them to make plays (see Kordell Stewart and Hines Ward). MyFantasyLeague.com’s Average Draft Position for Rainey currently has him as a 20th-round pick in deep-roster leagues. I’ll bite earlier, like with my pre-kicker pick.
I hope these Average Fantasy Football Rankings helped you out! Make sure to check out all of these sites!
Here are some of the articles from their sites that I specifically enjoyed:
- 4for4.com — Key Position Battles Heading Into Camp: QBs & RBs by my boy, Matt De Lima, who used to write with me at OPENSports.com.
- TheFakeFootball.com – Top 10 Dynasty Rookie Rankings by a fella namedChet. I like where he has Isaiah Pead ranked, too!
- FFToolbox.com – Strong Finishers — These guys have so many great, well, tools. Like this one, that shows which players had the highest average Fantasy points from Weeks 12-17 last season.
- KFFL.com – I am not afraid of Hakeem Nicks’ foot injury by Cory J. Bonini. He likes what the doctors are saying.
- FakeTeams.com – Fantasy Football: Mock Season by Mike Gallagher. Gotta love an early June IDP mock draft! He even posts which picks he liked and didn’t like. Spoiler alert: Peyton Manning went in Round 7, and there were only three defensive players that were drafted ahead of him.
- Average Fantasy Football Rankings in June: Quarterbacks
- 8 Reasons NOT to Take Arian Foster First Overall
- Major Sites’ Top 5 Fantasy Football Rankings 2012
David Gonos spent 5 years as a CBSSports.com Senior Fantasy Writer and three more years writing with SI.com. Over the past 17 years, his work has been published on NFL.com, MLB.com, FanDuel, FoxSports.com and USA Today. Since 2001, he has been tracking down the Top 50-plus Free Fantasy Football Draft Tools online. You can contact David Gonos here.