Fantasy Player Projections

Running Backs
1texansArian Foster

Arian Foster

95 rush yards, rush TD, 5 rec, 75 rec yards, rec TD

The Texans ranked second overall in the NFL in rushing last season, although they will be facing a pretty good Miami rushing defense. When the Dolphins' offense is unable to move the ball, the defense will wither in the fourth quarter. Foster is considered the top player in fantasy for good reason.

2eaglesLeSean McCoy

LeSean McCoy

114 rush yards, rush TD, 3 rec, 43 rec yards, rec TD

The Browns gave up close to 150 yards per game on the ground last year, suggesting McCoy could have a big second half after Mike Vick and company gain a comfortable lead.

3titansChris Johnson

Chris Johnson

113 rush yards, rush TD, 4 rec, 42 rec yards

All last season fantasy owners played “Maybe this week …” with Johnson, usually walking away disappointed. So, we ask: Maybe this week? Yes, we definitely think so. The Patriots gave up 4.6 yards per carry last year. They didn’t improve that much this offseason.

4ramsSteven Jackson

Steven Jackson

91 rush yards, rush TD, 3 rec, 41 rec yards

In games against Detroit in 2009 and 2010, Jackson had 149 and 114 yards rushing, respectively. Not a bad track record for a back many fantasy owners have already written off.

5ravensRay Rice

Ray Rice

85 rush yards, rush TD, 5 rec, 35 rec yards

Last year, Rice torched the Bengals in two divisional matchups, with 295 rushing yards and seven catches for 51 yards. He could do more damage this time in the passing game.

6bearsMatt Forte

Matt Forte

85 rush yards, rush TD, 4 rec, 34 rec yards

Forte is expected to share some of his carries with Michael Bush this season, but this game against the Colts should be enough of a fantasy feast for both of them.

7buccaneersDoug Martin

Doug Martin

70 rush yards, 5 rec, 40 rec yards, rec TD

The rookie out of Boise State has already taken over the starting tailback spot in Tampa. He's a weapon in the air and on the ground, and the Panthers gave up the 27th-most points per game last season (26.8).

8panthersDeAngelo Williams

DeAngelo Williams

85 rush yards, rush TD, 3 rec, 20 rec yards

With Jonathan Stewart hobbled by an ankle, the Panthers could lean on Williams more than usual. He averaged a little under 50 yards with a TD in two games against the Bucs in 2011. He's a nice sleeper entering Week 1.

9raidersDarren McFadden

Darren McFadden

75 rush yards, rush TD, 4 rec, 22 rec yards

A big season is expected out of the Arkansas product -- though we say that every year. His fantasy owners love that he's one of very few running backs expected to carry the full load for their offense.

10dolphinsReggie Bush

Reggie Bush

70 rush yards, rush TD, 5 rec, 25 rec yards

The good news: The Dolphins will give Bush every chance to make some plays. The bad news: The defense knows that Bush is the Dolphins' best chance, so it's going to be all over him like a cheap suit.

11lionsKevin Smith

Kevin Smith

61 rush yards, rush TD, 3 rec, 28 rec yards

Smith is the last man standing on the Lions’ depth chart. Most everyone else is either injured or suspended, or both. Even Smith has injury concerns (ankle) but he has been practicing and will go. Fantasy owners should hold him back; this will be a passing lover’s delight.

12cowboysDeMarco Murray

DeMarco Murray

88 rush yards, rush TD, 1 rec, 4 rec yards

Which Murray will fantasy owners see in Week 1: The fresh-legged back who lit the league on fire last October and November? Or the injury-prone rookie who hobbled to the finish line? Hmmm, something in the middle, we suspect.

13falconsMichael Turner

Michael Turner

86 rush yards, rush TD

Turner doesn’t appear to have too many good fantasy days left in him; however, this week’s matchup is favorable. He’ll face a Kansas City run defense which ranked among the bottom 10 in the league last year.

14giantsDavid Wilson

David Wilson

48 rush yards, rush TD, 4 rec, 33 rec yards

For now, Wilson is Ahmad Bradshaw's primary backup. For now. After this game we have a hunch coach Tom Coughlin will begin to rethink his depth chart. Wilson will prove difficult for Dallas to stop once he gets outside the tackles.

15chargersRonnie Brown

Ronnie Brown

55 rush yards, rush TD, 3 rec, 20 rec yards

Brown could be one of those players who has a big game, only to end up on the bench a few weeks later. With Ryan Mathews quickly healing from a broken collarbone, Brown's time to get fantasy points is now. The Raiders have had a bad rushing defense for years, but they are improving.

16vikingsToby Gerhart

Toby Gerhart

52 rush yards, rush TD, 3 rec, 19 rec yards

Gerhart is stuck in no-man’s land, as the Vikings will split carries between Gerhart and Adrian Peterson this week. Expect Gerhart to touch the ball 15 times, making him an emergency play only.

17cardinalsRyan Williams

Ryan Williams

55 rush yards, rush TD, 2 rec, 15 rec yards

While Beanie Wells continues not to grab the starting job and run with it, Williams creeps ever closer to taking the starting job outright.

18jetsShonn Greene

Shonn Greene

69 rush yards, rush TD

Greene gained a combined 154 yards rushing in two games last year against a Buffalo defense that ranked 28th in the league. If that doesn’t tell you all you need to know about Greene, well …

19saintsMark Ingram

Mark Ingram

52 rush yards, rush TD, 1 rec, 14 rec yards

Ingram did little to entice fantasy owners this summer, but the writing on the wall suggests the team is ready to make him their featured back. He will share some time with Darren Sproles, but Ingram is the better play of the two this week.

20chiefsDexter McCluster

Dexter McCluster

14 rush yards, 5 rec, 51 rec yards, rec TD

McCluster was the Chiefs' most productive receiver this offseason, and his unique skill set (is he a running back or wide receiver?) helps put him in favorable matchups on passing downs. With Atlanta stacked to stop the running game, and focused on Dwayne Bowe, McCluster could go unnoticed.

21broncosWillis McGahee

Willis McGahee

65 rush yards, rush TD, 2 rec, 8 rec yards

McGahee had a solid preseason, rushing 19 times for 71 yards and a touchdown. The Steelers ranked eighth in the league in rushing yards allowed, however.

22seahawksMarshawn Lynch

Marshawn Lynch

65 rush yards, rush TD, 2 rec, 10 rec yards

The sixth-year veteran had some troubles this offseason, but fantasy owners are currently concerned about the back spasms he has been dealing with this preseason. It's possible he'll be unable to go.

23chiefsPeyton Hillis

Peyton Hillis

44 rush yards, rush TD, 2 rec, 17 rec yards

Finally, fantasy owners will get to see how Kansas City plans to divide carries among its two feature backs. Hillis will see a dozen touches in this contest, not enough to warrant anything but emergency fantasy consideration.

24brownsMontario Hardesty

Montario Hardesty

45 rush yards, rush TD, 1 rec, 12 rec yards

The Browns still need Hardesty due to Trent Richardson’s health concerns. Trouble is, Hardesty’s fumbling problems could open the door for Brandon Jackson to assume the No. 2 job.

25jaguarsMaurice Jones-Drew

Maurice Jones-Drew

54 rush yards, rush TD, 1 rec, 7 rec yards

Coach Mike Mularkey told reporters MJD would serve as a third down back this week. Uh, yeah, sure. The Jaguars will not want to rush Jones-Drew back into his usual workload, but if this game is close -- and chances are it will be -- the team will not neglect its best offensive player. Fantasy owners can expect 12 to 15 touches.

26redskinsEvan Royster

Evan Royster

46 rush yards, rush TD, 1 rec, 8 rec yards

Royster was anointed his team’s starting running back for Week 1, but that alone means very little. Coach Mike Shanahan is still trying to sift through what he has on the roster, so fantasy owners can expect even carries for Royster and Roy Helu, with Alfred Morris getting into the mix.

27bearsMichael Bush

Michael Bush

30 rush yards, rush TD, 2 rec, 13 rec yards

Bush is expected to see some goal-line action for the Bears this season. And the Colts' defense is expected to allow a lot of goal-line action this season.

28brownsTrent Richardson

Trent Richardson

66 rush yards, 2 rec, 24 rec yards

Richardson is a game-time decision, so even if he goes fantasy owners shouldn’t expect coach Pat Shurmur to give him a full day’s work. He’ll touch the ball 15 times at most, but fantasy owners will be encouraged by the results.

29patriotsStevan Ridley

Stevan Ridley

89 rush yards

Ridley is suddenly the top back on the Patriots depth chart -- a death sentence on par with being selected for the Madden cover. He could see a big workload if the New England passing game puts this one away early. And in true Bill Belichick fashion, next week it will be some other back’s turn.

30jaguarsRashad Jennings

Rashad Jennings

51 rush yards, 3 rec, 36 rec yards

The Jaguars’ “starter” last carried the ball in a meaningful game at the end of the 2010 season, when he logged two 100-yard games in the final month. Jacksonville will give him as much as he can handle against Minnesota, but we suspect his touch count will be similar to Maurice Jones-Drew’s by game’s end.

31redskinsRoy Helu

Roy Helu

38 rush yards, 4 rec, 46 rec yards

Helu is not starting but will see more time in the passing game, and could be the better overall fantasy play this week. That said, no Redskins back is worth playing, as there will not be enough production to go around.

3249ersFrank Gore

Frank Gore

55 rush yards, 3 rec, 25 rec yards

With just one touchdown and one 100-yard game in the second half of last season, Gore is desperate to start strong. Plus, he's suddenly in danger of losing touches to a bevy of running backs, including up-and-comer Kendall Hunter and veteran Brandon Jacobs.

33saintsDarren Sproles

Darren Sproles

36 rush yards, 4 rec, 39 rec yards

The Saints left Sproles off the injury report for Week 1, but fantasy owners should have at least some concern as to how much the team will use him following the minor knee injury he suffered last month.

34coltsDonald Brown

Donald Brown

45 rush yards, 4 rec, 30 rec yards

Brown needs to put together a string of solid games in order to keep rookie Vick Ballard behind him on the depth chart. The Colts' offensive line is unimpressive to say the least.

35packersCedric Benson

Cedric Benson

60 rush yards, 2 rec, 15 rec yards

The former Bengal will get the start at tailback for the Packers against a pretty stout defense. He's no better than a flex option this week, as he was only able to rack up 64 yards against the Niners last season.

36chiefsJamaal Charles

Jamaal Charles

72 rush yards, 1 rec, 9 rec yards

The speedy Charles is finally back running on a good set of wheels. He faces a Falcons run defense which allowed less than 100 yards per game last year. Those numbers are almost irrelevant for a back like Charles, whose yards come in gobs.

37billsFred Jackson

Fred Jackson

57 rush yards, 2 rec, 14 rec yards

Jackson’s fractured fibula is a distant memory; now he must stave off C.J. Spiller, who figures to eat into Jackson’s workload. Jackson had 120 yards from scrimmage in his lone contest against New York last year, but we don’t project that kind of production this time out.

38steelersJonathan Dwyer

Jonathan Dwyer

55 rush yards, 3 rec, 15 rec yards

Dwyer rushed for 63 yards in the final preseason game against Carolina, but that was mostly against backups. Even so, the distance between Dwyer and Isaac Redman on the depth chart has narrowed.

39billsC.J. Spiller

C.J. Spiller

43 rush yards, 2 rec, 26 rec yards

Spiller’s coming out party last year was against the Jets (22 touches). He has resorted to being Fred Jackson’s backup again, but with this expected to be a tight ballgame Spiller should see at least 10 touches.

40giantsAhmad Bradshaw

Ahmad Bradshaw

55 rush yards, 2 rec, 11 rec yards

The Cowboys defense has limited Bradshaw to 3.2 yards per carry in the last three meetings between these clubs. If Bradshaw fails to move the chains early on Wednesday, his workload will shrink in the second half.

41falconsJacquizz Rodgers

Jacquizz Rodgers

42 rush yards, 3 rec, 18 rec yards

The coaching staff has pledged to give Rodgers a bigger role this season, but it won’t happen overnight. Rodgers didn’t have a stellar preseason, and the Falcons may be content to let Michael Turner handle the bulk of the work in Week 1.

42ramsIsaiah Pead

Isaiah Pead

32 rush yards, 2 rec, 18 rec yards

As Steven Jackson’s primary backup, Pead’s job will be to keep Jackson fresh for a full 16-game schedule. Fantasy owners can expect eight to 10 touches, but probably not much more than that at this point.

43bengalsBenJarvus Green-Ellis

BenJarvus Green-Ellis

50 rush yards, 1 rec, 3 rec yards

Not the best opening game situation for Green-Ellis, who will be playing his first regular season game in a Bengals uniform Monday night. The Ravens had the second-ranked rushing defense in 2011.

44vikingsAdrian Peterson

Adrian Peterson

49 rush yards

Peterson endured his first physical test in practice this week and is expected to be active on Sunday. Those fantasy owners who spent a high-round pick on Peterson should be more patient than Minnesota. He isn’t a good fantasy option for another week (or two).

45panthersJonathan Stewart

Jonathan Stewart

35 rush yards, 2 rec, 14 rec yards

Stewart might not play against the Bucs, as he is still working his way back from a mid-preseason ankle injury. Tampa Bay had a horrible rushing defense last season, and Stewart average 99 total yards and one TD in two games against them last year.

46bengalsBernard Scott

Bernard Scott

30 rush yards, 3 rec, 14 rec yards

Scott has been dealing with a hand injury and his status for the season opener is up in the air. He would serve as BenJarvus Green-Ellis' backup.

47cardinalsBeanie Wells

Beanie Wells

40 rush yards, 2 rec, 10 rec yards

Wells didn't play in the two games against the Seahawks last season because of injuries. That sounds about right. He's still working his way back from knee surgery, and he should only be considered a flex play this week.

48steelersIsaac Redman

Isaac Redman

40 rush yards, 1 rec, 6 rec yards

Much has been made about the mediocrity of the Steelers' running game this preseason. Redman finished up 2011 on a high, but he has to pick it up if he's going to keep Jonathan Dwyer on the bench.

49texansBen Tate

Ben Tate

40 rush yards, 1 rec, 8 rec yards

While Tate isn't someone to consider starting in Week 1, he warrants a lot of fantasy attention because he backs up one of the best running backs in the league. Tate can still produce, even when Arian Foster is healthy, but it's hard to start him outside of the flex spot.

50packersAlex Green

Alex Green

18 rush yards, 1 rec, 18 rec yards

Green was a hot commodity this summer in fantasy circles -- and then the Packers signed Cedric Benson. His value could grow as the season wears on and he gets more touches.

51broncosLance Ball

Lance Ball

20 rush yards, 3 rec, 12 rec yards

Ball is currently holding the RB2 spot until rookie Ronnie Hillman climbs the depth chart after a preseason hamstring injury.

52jetsBilal Powell

Bilal Powell

31 rush yards, 1 rec, 8 rec yards

New York’s utility back will see time against Buffalo on third downs and to spell Shonn Greene on occasion. As much as we like the Jets matchup against Buffalo’s run defense, we can’t suggest any of New York’s backs.

53cowboysFelix Jones

Felix Jones

27 rush yards, 1 rec, 9 rec yards

This offense belongs to DeMarco Murray now. Jones is a nice change-of-pace back, good for a handful of carries and a catch or two -- little else. He still has the burst to offer his team a long-gainer now and then, but fantasy owners should not expect much of that this week.

54patriotsDanny Woodhead

Danny Woodhead

27 rush yards, 1 rec, 6 rec yards

Shane Vereen’s bum foot is likely to keep him out of action, allowing Woodhead an opportunity to see a few more carries than what can be expected most weeks. Not enough for fantasy owners -- not even close.

5549ersKendall Hunter

Kendall Hunter

25 rush yards, 2 rec, 10 rec yards

Hunter had a nice preseason, but the Niners also have Brandon Jacobs looking for carries behind starter Frank Gore. Hunter's a nice fantasy handcuff, but keep him reserved until we see the rushing splits.

56dolphinsDaniel Thomas

Daniel Thomas

25 rush yards, 2 rec, 8 rec yards

With rookie Lamar Miller breathing down his neck, Thomas rushed for 31 yards on five carries in Miami's preseason finale. He'll have to bring up his 3.5 yards per carry, though.

57seahawksRobert Turbin

Robert Turbin

25 rush yards, 1 rec, 5 rec yards

The rookie could see more playing time than everyone originally anticipated, as starter Marshawn Lynch is dealing with back spasms. The Cardinals allowed 124.1 rushing yards per game last season.

58coltsVick Ballard

Vick Ballard

22 rush yards, 2 rec, 10 rec yards

Rumors are swirling that it's only a matter of time before the rookie, who has been more dynamic this preseason, surpasses Donald Brown as the starter.

59raidersTaiwan Jones

Taiwan Jones

22 rush yards, 1 rec, 5 rec yards

Darren McFadden’s injury history makes his backup a wanted man in many fantasy circles. Jones is ahead of Mike Goodson on the depth chart for now, but the second-year back won't see many carries unless Run DMC is sidelined.

60buccaneersLeGarrette Blount

LeGarrette Blount

20 rush yards, 1 rec, 4 rec yards

With Doug Martin taking most of the load on both rushing and passing yards, Blount will be relied on to keep the rookie fresh. He usually needs several carries before getting into a groove and breaking a big run, but it's doubtful that he'll get them.

61titansJavon Ringer

Javon Ringer

18 rush yards

Ringer’s opportunity was in 2011 when Chris Johnson held out, then failed to return to form. That was then; Ringer will begin 2012 back on the anonymous list.

62chargersCurtis Brinkley

Curtis Brinkley

13 rush yards, 1 rec, 6 rec yards

The backup's backup, Brinkley isn't expected to make much noise in the season opener. The Raiders were 27th against the run last year.

63ravensBernard Pierce

Bernard Pierce

12 rush yards, 1 rec, 5 rec yards

The rookie out of Temple was hampered by a hamstring injury during the preseason. He'll serve as Ray Rice's backup this season, but isn't expected to see a lot of action.

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