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Fantasy Football 2011: Week 1 Running Back Rankings


Ah, running back. There is arguably no position that is more influenced by a good or bad matchup in fantasy football. Teams like the Steelers are capable of going an entire season without allowing a 100-yard rusher. On the opposite of the spectrum the Buffalo Bills allowed a whopping 169 yards per contest last year. While an easy game is inviting for a guy that might be your RB4 on most days, don't bench your studs. There are some caveats that are involved with those and for those highly unlikely circumstances, you can bet there will be a sentence or two in each weekly article in this section.

Week 1 rankings are never fun, folks. I have decided it might be better to shoot some dice and throw some darts in order to help create the first set of my top 50 for this week. Kidding. While we can use last year's data a bit to help forecast this season's matchups, it's doesn't quite have the same weight as a set of rankings during the 14th week of the season. Nevertheless, there is confidence in these rankings and I will stand by them. If I botch one (or 15), I welcome all criticism. Let's get to it!

Guys I like this week (I won't be mentioning the must-start guys in this section):

Shonn Greene- It's the Ryan Bowl and if there's one thing that Rex will want to do it's run the football. Greene should get close to 25 carries on Sunday Night Football as the Jets will look to control the tempo at home.

Beanie Wells- Beanie is healthy and he is going to be the "workhorse" for the Cardinals. Cam Newton will likely struggle in his first game, therefore Arizona will have the luxury of running the ball in the second half to play clock control.

Reggie Bush- Bush was dubbed the main man and he gets the daunting task of taking on the Patriots in his Dolphin debut. He did look sharp like his name was Reggie Gillette in the preseason and he might actually become a stud this year (if healthy). Miami is probably going to be trailing in this game, which should allow Bush to get plenty of passes in the flat and out of the backfield to rack up YAC.

Thomas Jones- Buffalo's defense didn't get much better over the summer. In fact, you can make an easy argument that they're worse now that Paul Posluszny and Donte Whitner are out of town. The Chiefs are almost a lock for 200 yards on the ground.

Guys I don't like this week:

BenJarvus Green-Ellis- If you read my August 30th Rankings (or saw this PPR draft critique), I've made it no secret that I want no part of The Law Firm. There are just too many young and up-and-coming backs on the roster and Green-Ellis just isn't that talented. He's a player that is a sell-high candidate from this point forth.

Ryan Mathews- Mathews is one of the toughest guys to project at this juncture. For all we know he could come out like gangbusters, but the cloudiness of his role makes him a player I'm not comfortable starting until further notice.

Mark Ingram- Ingram has been flying off fantasy draft boards and it is justified to a certain degree. However, this week he is taking on Dom Capers and the Packers. Ingram is arguably the most-likely Saint to score a TD, but Pierre Thomas could get the most snaps at running back.

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Running Back Team Opponent
1. Jamaal Charles KC BUF
2. LeSean McCoy PHI STL
3. Chris Johnson TEN JAC
4. Darren McFadden OAK DEN
5. Frank Gore SF SEA
6. Adrian Peterson MIN SD
7. Maurice Jones-Drew JAC TEN
8. Peyton Hillis CLE CIN
9. Michael Turner ATL CHI
10. Shonn Greene NYJ DAL
11. Matt Forte CHI ATL
12. Beanie Wells ARI CAR
13. Jahvid Best DET TB
14. Steven Jackson STL PHI
15. Reggie Bush MIA NE
16. DeAngelo Williams CAR ARI
17. Ray Rice BAL PIT
18. Rashard Mendenhall PIT BAL
19. Tim Hightower WAS NYG
20. LeGarrette Blount TB DET
21. Felix Jones DAL NYJ
22. Cedric Benson CIN CLE
23. Mike Tolbert SD MIN
24. Ahmad Bradshaw NYG WAS
25. Knowshon Moreno DEN OAK
26. Marshawn Lynch SEA SF
27. Mark Ingram NO GB
28. Thomas Jones
29. Jonathan Stewart CAR ARI
30. Fred Jackson BUF KC
31. Ryan Grant GB NO
32. Brandon Jacobs NYG WAS
33. Joseph Addai IND HOU
34. Ryan Mathews SD MIN
35. Willis McGahee DEN OAK
36. BenJarvus Green-Ellis NE MIA
37.Ben Tate HOU IND
38.Pierre Thomas
39. LaDainian Tomlinson NYJ DAL
40. James Starks GB NO
41. Derrick Ward HOU IND
42. Kendall Hunter SF SEA
43. Delone Carter IND HOU
44. Stevan Ridley NE MIA
45. C.J. Spiller BUF KC
46. Michael Bush OAK DEN
47. Danny Woodhead NE MIA
48. Deji Karim JAC TEN
49. Jamie Harper TEN JAC
50. Roy Helu

Thanks for reading and if you're in a lineup pickle with non-standard scoring, then feel free to leave a comment below. You can also inquire on Twitter for a quicker response. Best of luck this week and I hope to see all of you with a 1 on the left side of the ledger.