Fantasy football rankings 2013: Top 50 running backs

Chris Johnson takes a handoff from Titans quarterback Jake Locker at LP Field - Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

Is Chris Johnson still a viable fantasy contributor? Which running back should you take with the top pick in your fantasy football draft? Check my running back lists to find out.

1. C.J. Spiller - Buffalo Bills

I know most everyone has Adrian Peterson listed as their top tailback but I believe Spiller is set for a big year.

Bye week: 12

2. Doug Martin - Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tampa Bay looks like it might need a big year from its big running back. Fortunately, it looks like he is up to the task.

Bye week: 5

3. Adrian Peterson - Minnesota Vikings

Peterson rushed for 2,097 yards last year and had a league high 131.1 yards per game average in 2012. I didn't calculate the odds on how likely it is he can repeat that feat but I'm sure they are astronomical. Hey, they said there wouldn't be math.

Bye week: 5

4. Jamaal Charles - Kansas City Chiefs

The foot injury must be watched but Charles averaged 94.3 yards per game last year though he only scored 5 times. Even though Andy Reid hates fantasy owners he should be able to match that this year with a more competent offense.

Bye week: 10

5. LeSean "Shady" McCoy - Philadelphia Eagles

"Shady" should have a monster year in Chip Kelly's offense. That is all.

Bye week: 12

6. Ray Rice - Baltimore Ravens

Is Ray Rice overrated for fantasy purposes like some believe? Count me among those who don't think so.

Bye week: 8

7. Alfred Morris - Washington Redskins

Morris averaged 100.8 yards per game last year and scored 13 touchdowns. As a rookie. This spot might be low.

Bye week: 4

8. Marshawn Lynch - Seattle Seahawks

"Beast mode" is again going to be the focal part of the Hawks run game. The 27 year old averaged 5.0 yards per carry and scored 11 times in 2012.

Bye week: 12

9. Trent Richardson - Cleveland Browns

Richardson battled some injuries during his rookie season but it sounds like plus an overrated tag has motivated him going into his second year. He still put up 11 touchdowns during his rookie season.

Bye week: 10

10. Chris Johnson - Tennessee Titans

CJ2k wants another 2000 yard season but isn't likely to get it. Still, a revamped offensive line and better quarterback play is going to improve his stock. Look for CJ to get involved in the passing game as well so CJ1.5k isn't out of the question.

Bye week: 8

11. Arian Foster - Houston Texans

I have trust issues with Foster and this might be a bit high for him. Keep an eye on his injury situation. Very concerning. If healthy obviously he could be a good fantasy option as he should get the bulk of the running back duties.

Bye week: 8

12. Reggie Bush - Detroit Lions

Bush hasn't done as much in the running game as I expect but he has been very active in the passing game. The "better out in space" tag has plagued Bush but the Lions running game needs better play from the line especially the guards. I look for Bush to get great all purpose yards this year.

Bye week: 9

13. Matt Forte - Chicago Bears

If you have ever had Forte in a fantasy league you feel my Forte disappoint but the offensive line is supposed to be better this year which should help a lot. *If* he stays healthy he should be a viable fantasy back.

Bye week: 8

14. Stevan Ridley - New England Patriots

Ridley should be the Patriots primary running back though Shane Vareen could be their "offensive weapon." Still, Ridley should get the bulk of the carries and he scored 12 times last year.

Bye week: 10

15. Steven Jackson - Atlanta Falcons

Jackson should fit perfectly with the Falcons as he can do what Michael Turner was unable to do and that is be a versatile back who can be used in a variety of ways. Look for Jackson to get a lot of all purpose yards and he should score more than 4 times this year.

Bye week: 6

16. David Wilson - New York Giants

The Giants just made it official what everyone else knew was inevitable and that is David Wilson is the starter. A talented player, Wilson had to improve his blocking to win over Coach Tom Coughlin. The Giants will use him in both the passing as well as run game and he could put up some major numbers.

Bye week: 9

17. Eddie Lacy - Green Bay Packers

Those who called Lacy fat during the preseason clearly didn't watch him at Alabama. He is the answer the Packers needed in their run game. Lacy didn't do as well in the last preseason game but it shouldn't be a cause for concern. He is as good as advertised.

Bye week: 4

18. Frank Gore - San Francisco Forty Niners

Gore just turned 30 and has a ton of mileage but he has looked good this preseason. Still, you have to think he is going to lose some carries to younger guys like Kendal Hunter. Still, Gore should be the guy this year as rookie Marcus Lattimore recovers from his last ACL injury. Look for Lattimore to take the reins in 2014.

Bye week: 9

19. Giovani Bernard - Cincinnati Bengals

The rookie running back can do it all and wants to be an every down running back. With what you see out of him right now, it's easy to believe he might be.

Bye week: 12

20. Darren Sproles - New Orleans

Will Sproles rebound from a bad 2012 like some people expect? Even if he does you can expect the Saints to platoon their backs and Mark Ingram and Pierre Thomas will get carries as well.

Bye week: 7

21. Chris Ivory - New York Jets

I like Chris Ivory with the Jets if he can get healthy but man do I really have doubts about that offense. The Jets expect him to be the man though the remains can he fill the role.

Bye week: 10

22. Maurice Jones-Drew - Jacksonville Jaguars

He thinks he should be the #1 running back in fantasy. He is not. There is a ton of mileage there and look for Denard Robinson to get increased looks in the Jags "offense" which will be led by Blaine Gabbert.

Bye week: 9

23. Lamar Miller - Miami Dolphins

Miller should be "the guy" but the Dolphins aren't using him that way. With Miller splitting time and losing carries to Daniel Thomas he isn't a dependable fantasy back at this point even though I feel like he should be.

Bye week: 6

24. Shane Vareen - New England Patriots

The Patriots continue to line him up everywhere and his all purpose yards could be huge with the loss of Brady's top tight end targets.

Bye week: 10

25. Darren McFadden - Oakland Raiders

Run DMC is super talented but can't stay on the field. He is in a contract year and must have a beast year to get a big payday.

Bye week: 7

26. Ahmad Bradshaw - Indianapolis Colts

A lingering foot injury is of concern but if healthy he should get some good carries and many think he will be the primary back. The Colts run game is atrocious right now.

Bye week: 8

27. DeMarco Murray - Dallas Cowboys

The Cowboys are expected to be a run first team this year but Murray could get injured walking into the building. Plus, rookie Joseph Randle has looked pretty good in the preseason.

Bye week: 11

28. Daryl Richardson - St. Louis Rams

He is officially the starter but Fisher is said to like Pead as well but he will miss the first game of the season. Don't count Zac Stacy out either. Hard to count on any Rams running back getting enough carries to be an impact player.

Bye week: 11

29. Montee Ball - Denver Broncos

Ball is clearly talented but must get better in pass protection. The Broncos are using Ronnie Hillman like the starter but he hasn't shown much and can't hang onto the ball. Ball has shown better hands as a receiver than some thought so expect the rookie to make his way into the lineup.

Bye week: 9

30. DeAngelo Williams - Carolina Panthers

The Panthers offense looks terrible right now. Jonathan Stewart is still on PUP with no indication on when he will return but Williams isn't getting any significant work right now. Cam Newton may end up leading them in rushing. I'm only half kidding.

Bye week: 4

31. Mark Ingram - New Orleans Saints

Ingram is second on the Saints depth chart behind Pierre Thomas but he is first in our hearts. Expect him to get the bulk of the carries if he can stay healthy.

Bye week: 7

32. Ryan Mathews - San Diego Chargers

The Chargers look terrible and their offensive line is a disaster. Mathews can't put together a full season but his coach made it clear he has to show he can carry the load this year. Still, he can't be counted on.

Bye week: 8

33. Shonn Greene - Tennessee Titans

Greene is going to be more than a goal line back for the Titans but will surely get some work there as well. Expect him to vulture at least 2 or 3 TDs from CJ.

Bye week: 8

34. Bryce Brown - Philadelphia Eagles

Is he or isn't he the #2 back in Philly? Hard to tell right now and even harder to count on him despite his talent.

Bye week: 12

35. Ben Tate - Houston Texans

Tate assumed the workload when Arian Foster went out. His stat sheet from the preseason? 4 carries for 12 yards and a 3.o YPC. Yikes.

Bye week: 8

36. Benjarvis Ellis-Green - Cincinnati Bengals

Expect rookie Giovani Bernard to get the biggest percentage of playing time though there is still much work to be done in his pass blocking. BJE will likely still see significant playing time but expect Bernard to be the star of the show.

Bye week: 12

37. Vick Ballard - Indianapolis Colts

Ahmad Bradshaw is going to be the starter and at least "appears" on track to start the season healthy. Most expect Ballard to be the #2 but he hasn't made the most of his opportunities in the preseason. Still probably worth a late round pick.

Bye week: 8

38. Andre Brown - New York Giants

David Wilson is the starter but a healthy Brown will also get plenty of touches.

Bye week: 9

39. Ronnie Hillman - Denver Broncos

Indications are that he will "start" over Montee Ball but he can't hold onto the rock. Hillman fumbled twice against Seattle. Yikes.

Bye week: 9

40. Pierre Thomas - New Orleans Saints

Thomas has an "undisclosed" leg injury and hasn't played a snap yet in the preseason. While he is expected to play in the third preseason game this is a situation to watch.

Bye week: 7

41. Danny Woodhead - San Diego Chargers

Another player sidelined by an "undisclosed injury" Woodhead hasn't yet made an appearance for the Chargers. It's very hard to rely on him in a terrible offense.

Bye week: 8

42. Jacquizz Rodgers - Atlanta Falcons

Steven Jackson is clearly going to the starter but Rodgers could get some looks as a Darren Sproles/Reggie Bush type "space player." While Jackson could get the bulk of the carries Rodgers could be a good mid to late sleeper pick in a PPR league.

Bye week: 6

43. Fred Jackson - Buffalo Bills

Jackson is expected to be the #2 running back behind C.J. Spiller but he struggled in the second preseason game. The Bills are expected to run a multiback set and Jackson could still get some carries and very well could vulture a few touchdowns.

Bye week: 12

44. Michael Bush - Chicago Bears

Bush has 22 carries for 59 yards and 3 touchdowns through 3 preseason games. He could be a late round steal.

Bye week: 8

45. Jonathan Stewart - Carolina Panthers

The Panthers offense is struggling right now but it's only preseason. Stewart is still on PUP as well.

Bye week: 4

46. Isaiah Pead/Zac Stacy - St. Louis Rams

Expect Jeff Fisher to troll everyone with the run game. Richardson will "start" but how the running game fares with Tavon Austin in the mix should be fun to watch. Jared Cook may lead the Rams in rushing. I'm only slightly joking.

Bye week: 11

47. Mikel Leshoure/Joique Bell - Detroit Lions

The Lions need better guard play and until they get it the running game will be iffy. Expect rookie Larry Warford to win the right guard spot eventually which should help the run game.

Bye week: 9

48. Johnathan Franklin - Green Bay Packers

He has struggled but the rookie was a good college player. Still, it's never good when annamed personnel man says "if you didn't know he was a draft pick, you'd think he was a free agent." Eddie Lacy has shown why he was a stud at Alabama.

Bye week: 4

49. Jonathan Dwyer - Pittsburgh Steelers

Someone has to run the ball for the Steelers now that Bell is out with a lisfranc injury. It might as well be Dwyer but expect the Steelers to employ a platoon approach. The addition of Felix Jones could likewise cut into his numbers. Hard to trust a Steelers' running back right now.

Bye week: 5

50. Bernard Pierce - Baltimore Ravens

Perhaps a bit too low but the trade for Delone Carter makes you wonder whether the Ravens consider his injury to be more serious. He didn't play in the second preseason game against the Falcons but did return to action Thursday night. He hasn't shown much in preseason but he should be the #2 behind Ray Rice. However, the Ravens did trade for Delone Carter so watch how the backup spot competition.

Bye week: 8

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