How you look at running backs depends largely on the scoring in your particular league. Leagues that use PPR (Points Per Reception) pay much greater attention to their running back's involvement in their team's passing game. Much of the same can be said for tight ends, perhaps even more so. A good indication of how involved your player can be is the amount of targets (or looks) he is getting from the quarterback(s). Backs like Detroit's Reggie Bush may actually score more points receiving, while others like Seattle workhorse Marshawn Lynch get the majority of their production from the ground game.
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As we get into week 2 and beyond, we will feature both the weekly leaders, but also seasonal leaders in targets. Week 1 is a bit different as we break down our two lists into overall leaders and surprises. To avoid duplication, we are lising those players that are likely available in your league along with the surprises. We are also including the week 1 "duds" below the surprises, but you probably have a good idea who those are, especially if they are on your team!
No surprise at the top as Ray Rice remains the focal point of the Ravens offense, with or without Bernard Pierce. DeMarco Murray ran hard on Sunday night and was involved in the passing game. Shane Vereen took over in New England, then was promptly injured. Steven Jackson appears to be a three down back in Atlanta, which really dooms any backups. Reggie Bush was huge as an option to Megatron, taking one the distance and finished with over 100 yards receiving. Arian Foster remains excellent out of the backfield, but Ben Tate looked to be the better ball carrier on Monday night. CJ Spiller was supposed to really take over this season, but don't count out Fred Jackson just yet. Trent Richardson and Doug Martin both had tough going on the ground, but remain elite backs. Jordan Cameron received plenty of hype in August and delivered as Norv Turner loves utilizing them. Jared Cook also delivered as many expected, the Cardinals wondering how the Titans failed to utilize him. Jason Witten will continue to be a top target of Tony Romo, especially if one (or both) of the starting receivers gets banged up. Vernon Davis was very involved, which is worth mentioning, as he was largely ignored when Colin Kaepernick took over as starter midway through last season.
Week 1 Leaders (RB)
11 Ray Rice BAL
10 DeMarco Murray DAL
10 Shane Vereen NE
8 Steven Jackson ATL
8 Reggie Bush DET
8 Arian Foster HOU
6 Darren Sproles NO
6 Matt Forte CHI
6 Jamaal Charles KC
6 CJ Spiller BUF
6 Trent Richardson CLE
6 Doug Martin TB
Week 1 Leaders (TE)
13 Jordan Cameron CLE
10 Greg Olsen CAR
10 Jared Cook CAR
9 Jason Witten DAL
9 Vernon Davis SF
8 Jermichael Finley GB
7 Owen Daniels HOU
7 Jimmy Graham NO
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For the second year running, David Wilson had a meltdown on opening weekend. For now, Da'Rel Scott is an option, but the Giants are working out Brandon Jacobs and others. Joique Bell not only picked up a couple of goal line touchdowns, but was involved in the passing game as well. Daryl Richardson owners can begin to worry about Isiah Peed as he returns from suspension this week. Justin Forsett showd up, but is nothing more than a backup as Maurice Jones-Drew continues to be a three down back. LeSean McCoy was only targeted once on Monday night, but who could complain? Chris Johnson owners have to be worried and the fumbling Stevan Ridley is back as the starter... by default. Dallas Clark is probably a Hall of Fame tight end, but its a bit of a surprise how quickly he became a focal point of the Baltimore passing game. Brandon Myers has stepped right in for the Giants. Many didn't even know Kellen Winslow Jr, was back, they know now after his fine performance in the opener for the Jets. Julius Thomas figures to be one of the hottest pickups this week and also doubles as the most unknown just a week ago. Zach Sudfeld was just one of several Patriots targets that didn't live up to the hype on Sunday. Brent Celek will have a great season, don't be fooled by his lack of targets on Monday night, get a piece of that Eagles offense, any way you can. Finally, we kept hearing about Philip Rivers and Antonio Gates and how they only need one more touchdown pass to set the all-time record, then Rivers prompted everyone but #85 in the red zone.
Week 1 Surprises (RB)
8 Da'Rel Scott NYG
6 Joique Bell DET
6 Daryl Richardson STL
5 Fred Jackson BUF
5 Justin Forsett JAX
1 LeSean McCoy PHI
1 Alfred Morris WSH
1 David Wilson NYG
1 Lamar Miller MIA
0 Chris Johnson TEN
0 Stevan Ridley NE
Week 1 Surprises (TE)
12 Dallas Clark BAL
9 Brandon Myers NYG
8 Kellen Winslow NYJ
7 Julius Thomas DEN
4 Antonio Gates SD
4 Kyle Rudolph MIN
3 Brent Celek PHI
1 Zach Sudfeld NE
Up next: A look at the winners and losers in targets, following week 2! Have a great fantasy weekend!
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Tom Blaz is a writer for Fantasy Alarm and co-owner of The Recruiting Eagle a website focusing on Auburn University Athletics. Follow Tom on twitter @RecruitingEagle
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