Finally, everything is cooling off, there’s change in the air, and of course, football is back! Week 1 is officially in the books, and I’ve come up with the top 5 running backs in the first games of the 2012 season. There were many worthy half back performances that belong on the list, but there can only be 5. After careful consideration, here’s my top 5 RB’s.
5. Adrian Petersen
I find it absolutely necessary that AP has a spot on the list for the week. It’s apparent Petersen has not missed a beat coming fresh off of an ACL tear 8 1/2 months ago. Minnesota fans were thrilled to have their hall of fame running back in the lineup at home against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Not only did the Vikings have a dramatic overtime win for the season opener, but Petersen also passed Robert Smith to move into first place on Minnesota’s all-time rushing list, with 6,836 yards in his 74th career game. Petersen contributed 2 touchdowns and rushed for 84 yards in 17 attempts. Welcome back AP!
4. Ray Rice
It’s amazing to me that with significantly less carries for Rice in Baltimore with Flacco running the offense and a long list of weapons, the man is still able to put up numbers with the carries he gets. Just for that, I gotta throw him in here getting in frame with mustache-less Joe Flacco (thank God). Rice ran 68 yards in only 10 attempts, and ran in two short Touchdowns in the blowout against the Bengals. He was able to put up these numbers in just 3 1/2 quarters of play as the Ravens were running away with it.
3. Frank Gore
Many have San Fransisco going to the Superbowl this year, and Frank Gore is a big reason why. The man blew it up against a very talented Green Bay Packers team on the road. Gore had 16 carries for 112 yards, including a huge 23-yd touchdown run. This was one of the better runs in week 1 as Gore pulled off a very unorthodox stiff arm with his rear end, followed by what kind of looked like a moonwalk to the end zone before getting shoved down for 6. If he keeps this up, I don’t see any reason to change my NFC champion for this season’s Superbowl.
2. Stevan Ridley
What? A New England Patriot on a top RB list? Believe it. New England hasn’t had much to cheer about at the running back position since Corey Dillon was on the roster. With Ben Jarvis Green-Ellis in Cincinnati, and Shane Vareen injured, Ridley stepped up, taking a lot of pressure off of Tom Brady. Ridley had over 150 all-purpose yards and a touchdown against a Titans defense that was solid last year. It was assumed Ridley would be lost in rotation on the depth chart, but after Sunday’s blowout, he’s the clear-cut #1, and a steal sleeper in your fantasy league if you got him. Look for a well-balanced Patriots offense with Ridley in the backfield. He may just yet make another appearance on this list.
1. C.J. Spiller
With the unfortunate injury to veteran running back Fred Jackson, Spiller answered the call and made a splash despite Buffalo’s embarrassing loss to their division rival New York Jets. Spiller is this weeks number 1 running back as he rushed for the most yards in the league (169) and had the highest fantasy points in most leagues. Spiller also contributed 6 of the Bills’ 28 points Sunday. By the time Davis has his knee blown up by the Jets defense, the Bills were already playing from far behind, so don’t hang your head too low Bills fans. Imagine what Spiller may have done had he started the game. This will be a running back to watch. I’m interested to see if this is a bust or a sign of things to come for Spiller starting. Congratulations C.J.
I must give a shout out to Matt Forte who had 120 all-purpose yards and a touchdown against the Colts, LeSean ‘Shady’ McCoy for over 130 all-purpose yards, and especially, Darren McFadden. Yes, the Raiders looked awful. Yes, the running game was poor. But without McFadden, that game wouldn’t have been as close as it was. The man had 13 receptions and was the sole reason the Raiders hung in there. When you have O-line problems affecting the QB’s accuracy, WR issues/injuries, and special teams bloopers, look to McFadden to clean it up. I have no doubt he will make this list this year.