Fantasy Football Week 15: Rankings for the Top 50 Running Backs

Jeremy Alpert@@pyroman1acSenior Analyst IIDecember 12, 2012

Figuring out who the best fantasy football running backs will be from week to week is a little easier than predicting which wide receivers will shine, but it is by no means simple—especially in Week 15 with all the byes completed and yet another crop of injuries to deal with.

That's why those of us in the fantasy industry put together these lists for you—to give you an idea of what to expect from your players on any given Sunday.

With that, here are the weekend's top 50 running backs, along with some detailed analysis of the 10 best plays for the week:

50. Montario Hardesty (vs. Was)

49. Mike Tolbert (at SD)

48. Bernard Pierce (vs. Den)

47. Daniel Thomas (vs. Jax)

46. Michael Bush (vs. GB)

45. Danny Woodhead (vs. SF, Sunday night)

44. Robert Turbin (at Buf)

43. LaMichael James (at NE, Sunday night)

42. Isaac Redman (at Dal)

41. Peyton Hillis (at Oak)

40. Mark Ingram (vs. TB)

39. Marcel Reece (vs. KC)

38. Shane Vereen (vs. SF, Sunday night)

37. Pierre Thomas (vs. TB)

36. Bilal Powell (at Ten, Monday night)

35. Ben Tate (vs. Ind)

34. Beanie Wells (vs. Det)

33. Jacquizz Rodgers (vs. NYG)

32. DeAngelo Williams (at SD)

31. Alex Green (at Chi)

30. Montell Owens (at Mia)

29. Jonathan Dwyer (at Dal)

28. Joique Bell (at Ari)

27. Michael Turner (vs. NYG)

26. Vick Ballard (at Hou)

25. Stevan Ridley (vs. SF, Sunday night)

24. Darren Sproles (vs. TB)

23. Matt Forte (vs. GB)

22. Mikel Leshoure (at Ari)

21. Shonn Greene (at Ten, Monday night)

20. DeMarco Murray (vs. Pit)

19. Knowshon Moreno (at Bal)

18. Reggie Bush (vs. Jax)

17. Steven Jackson (vs. Min)

16. Frank Gore (at NE, Sunday night)

15. Ryan Mathews (vs. Car)

14. Bryce Brown (vs. Cin, Thursday night) – FINAL STATISTICS:  16 rushes - 34 yards - 0 TDs  //  1 catch - 11 yards - 0 TDs

13. David Wilson (at Atl)

12. BenJarvus Green-Ellis (at Phi, Thursday night) – FINAL STATISTICS:  25 rushes – 106 yards - 1 TD  //  0 catches - 0 yards - 0 TDs 

11. Darren McFadden (vs. KC)

Top 10 RB Plays for Week 15 

10. C.J. Spiller (vs. Sea)

C.J. Spiller and his 6.6 yards per carry will for sure have the backfield all to himself this weekend, which is something fantasy owners have been waiting for ever since the minor tease of it happening earlier in the season.

This time, however, Jackson is on I.R., so there’s no chance Spiller doesn’t carry the load.

The only reason I don’t have Spiller higher in the rankings is because the Seattle Seahawks have been one of the best teams against the run for most of the season.

They did, however, allow five running backs in a four-game stretch recently to put up double-digit fantasy points against them, so there’s no reason to think an explosive player like C.J. won’t do the same. 

9. Chris Johnson (vs. NYJ, Monday night)

CJ2K went up over 1,000 yards last week for his fifth straight campaign, though the feat didn’t come easy.

I was expecting a lot more than the 44 yards on 19 carries he put up against a weak Indianapolis Colts defense in Week 14, as I’m sure did all his fantasy owners out there.

He now has two straight dismal fantasy games when it counts the most, though if you’re still in the running for the trophy, this week should turn out to be better.

The New York Jets, though not a sieve against the run, tend to allow a big play or two a game—something Johnson happens to excel in finding.

His RB1 status will hinge on him finding that big run or two this Monday night, but it’s definitely worth a chance. 

8. Trent Richardson (vs. Was)

Trent Richardson continues to plod along at a very slow pace, putting up his ninth game of the season with less than 3.7 yards per carry last week against the Chiefs.

As usual, however, he was able to save his fantasy owners for the week by crossing the goal line twice to give him 10 total touchdowns on the season.

This week he’ll be at home against a better than average Redskins rush D, even though they have given up two 100-yard rushers in the last two weekends.

They’re also not very good at defending running backs that excel in the passing game, so Trent should be just fine for Week 15. 

7. Alfred Morris (at Cle)

Alfred Morris has put together an astounding rookie season as he currently has 1,228 yards, seven touchdowns and the 10th most fantasy points per game.

He also has a string of three straight 100-yard performances right now and leads all rookies with six on the season.

This week he takes on a Cleveland Browns rush defense that is getting better, though they just allowed Jamaal Charles to run for 165 yards against them last week.

They’ve also been pretty porous against NFC East teams, allowing a running back from each of the other squads (LeSean McCoy, Ahmad Bradshaw, Felix Jones) to put up double-digit fantasy points against them.

A touchdown may be a bit hard to come by, but I expect his 100-yard game streak to increase to four in this one. 

6. Ray Rice (vs. Den)

The Baltimore Ravens decided to fire its offensive coordinator, Cam Cameron, this week, partly due to the way he misused Ray Rice.

Rice should have been seeing far more touches per game than he had been under Cameron, a mistake that will undoubtedly change from here on out under new OC, Jim Caldwell.

Be that as it may, Rice was still able to put up his highest rushing total of the season last week with 121 yards and a touchdown against the Washington Redskins.

This Sunday he returns home, where he plays much better, to take on the AFC West-leading Denver Broncos.

The Donkeys have been one of the best teams against the rush this season, but they have allowed three guys to go over 100 yards (Arian Foster, Stevan Ridley, Jamaal Charles), so obviously they can be run on for some nice fantasy points. 

5. Jamaal Charles (at Oak)

After last weekend’s 165-yard outburst against the Cleveland Browns, Jamaal Charles now has three straight 100-yard games, four in his last five games, and a total of six on the season.

The bonus last week, however, was that Charles was able to find the end zone for the fifth time this season (four rushing, one receiving) on a delicious 80-yard, highlight speed-run on the first play of the game.

This week he’ll be taking on the Oakland Raiders, a defense that has allowed the second most rushing touchdowns and second most fantasy points to running backs this season, as well as two 100-yard rushers in the last three weeks alone.

He’s fun to watch as is, but you won’t want to miss the “Ostrich” this weekend. 

4. Doug Martin (at NO)

After a weak performance in Denver back in Week 13, the “Muscle Hamster” got back on track last Sunday, rushing for 128 yards and a touchdown while touching the ball a whopping 31 times against the Philadelphia Eagles.

This week I expect another grand showing for the youngster, with the Buccaneers traveling to New Orleans for a rematch with the defensively-challenged Saints.

The last time they met back in Week 7, Martin was able to put up 122 total yards and touchdown en route to one of his finer fantasy outputs of the season.

I’ll be very surprised if the rookie doesn’t put up nearly the same exact numbers this Sunday. 

3. Arian Foster (vs. Ind)

Arian Foster did what he does best for his fantasy owners last Monday night, which was take one of his 19 touches into the end zone against a tough Patriots rush defense.

You can’t ask for much more than at least one touchdown in 12 of 13 games this season, but I’m sure there are plenty of playoff owners out there asking for exactly that.

Never fear, because I have no doubt your wishes will come true this Sunday.

The Indianapolis Colts rush defense hasn’t been terrible as a whole this season, but they’ve given up a ton of touchdowns and have been awful on the road.

With Texans playing at home and fighting for a first-round playoff bye, look for the coaching staff to let Arian lead the way to victory. 

2. Adrian Peterson (at StL)

I honestly have no idea how to praise this guy any more than I already have. The guy is simply amazing.

After 13 games, Adrian Peterson’s numbers continue to speak for themselves as he’s now on pace for 1,969 yards, 12 touchdowns and slightly over a 6.2 yards-per-carry average.

His 18 runs of 20 yards or more (C.J. Spiller is second with 11) are astounding and if it’s even possible, he seems to be both stronger and faster now than he was at the beginning of the season.

St. Louis has been pretty good against the run this year, but they’ve allowed 12 TDs on the ground to RBs this season, tied for fourth most in the league.

Peterson’s lone career game against the Rams was in St. Louis where he took two of his 14 carries into the end zone.

I wouldn’t be shocked to see it happen again this time around. 

1. Marshawn Lynch (at Buf)

“Fugly McSkittles” had the best game of his career last weekend rushing for 128 yards and three touchdowns against the Arizona Cardinals… and he did it on just 11 carries!

I can’t imagine the type of numbers he would have put up if the Seahawks didn’t replace him five minutes into the third quarter with a 45-0 lead.

Arizona’s rush D had actually been pretty darn good this season before that game, not like the Buffalo Bills who have been awful the whole way through.

With the Seahawks still fighting for a playoff spot, Coach Pete Carroll plans to ride the beast hard over the next few weeks, so I expect another monster performance to come from him this Sunday.

For rankings at all the positions, check out the: Pyro® Rankings.

For advice on who to start, check out the: Pyro® Start 'Em Sit 'Em

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