Fantasy week: Running back rankings

June, 27, 2012
6/27/12
5:49
PM ET
Jeez, with everything going on today, I almost forgot it was fantasy week! But it is fantasy week, and so I owe you a fantasy post. I promise there will be more than one tomorrow, but for today this will be it, as in addition to fantasy week it is also poker night.

Here is how our fantasy experts have ranked the running backs in the NFC East heading into this season. Each guy is listed next to his overall ranking, not his ranking in the division:

[+] EnlargeTim Hightower
James Lang/US PresswireDon't be surprised if the Redskins use Tim Hightower and their other backs to run up the middle often.
3. LeSean McCoy, Philadelphia Eagles

9. DeMarco Murray, Dallas Cowboys

18. Roy Helu, Washington Redskins

20. Ahmad Bradshaw, New York Giants

40. David Wilson, Giants

42. Felix Jones, Cowboys

57. Evan Royster, Redskins

59. Dion Lewis, Eagles

70. Tim Hightower, Redskins

80. Chris Polk, Eagles

86. D.J. Ware, Giants

99. Da'Rel Scott, Giants

101. Bryce Brown, Eagles

105. Phillip Tanner, Cowboys

— Interesting that Murray is the only starter in the division with a clear-cut handcuff. If he's out, Jones will start. I'd watch Tanner because (a) Jones gets hurt too and (b) I think Tanner is good. But as of now, he's a clear No. 3 on the depth chart. Not so in New York, where Wilson is ranked the highest because they just took him in the first round and none of those other guys has shown much during his career so far, or in Philadelphia, where Lewis will get a challenge from the undrafted (but well regarded) Polk and seventh-rounder Brown. This is a situation to watch in training camp, and if you have McCoy, you will want to get whoever they pick to back him up. I think if you own Murray, you want Jones, but if you own Bradshaw, you're better off backing him up with non-Giants options than guessing how the carries would break down if Bradshaw did.

— As long as Hightower is still recovering from his ACL injury, this ranking is understandable. But if he's full-go come training camp, he should be the highest-ranked Redskins back. He is the starter, in the eyes of the coaches. And as much as everyone wants to make Helu happen, a healthy Hightower would be used just as a healthy Hightower was used in the first month of the 2011 season. Helu and Royster would continue to be used in key spots and develop in backup roles. The general rule in fantasy is to stay away from Mike Shanahan running backs anyway, so that's the first bit of advice on that situation. But if Hightower's healthy, he'll be the one getting the carries and the catches in September. And if you have him, you want Helu and probably Royster, too. But I don't know what kind of league you have to be in to have three roster spots to use on Redskins running backs. Me, I'd draft Helu and trade him after his first good game.

— I think Bradshaw's ranking is low, though I understand it. If he's healthy, I'd rank him probably around No. 11 or 12. I think you can survive with a healthy Bradshaw as your No. 1 back if you really load up at quarterback and wide receiver. So if you get him as the 20th back off the board, I'd say you've done well. But you need to back him up, or trade him early before the foot injuries come back.

— The two guys ahead of McCoy are Houston's Arian Foster and Baltimore's Ray Rice, in that order. That's for those of you who were too lazy to click the link. I feel ya. Real nice weather the last couple of days, who wants to spend any more time than they have to in front of the computer? Personally, I'd have no issues with ranking those three guys in any order as long as they're the top three.

Dan Graziano

ESPN New York Giants reporter

SPONSORED HEADLINES

Comments

You must be signed in to post a comment

Already have an account?