This is my projected list of the top 30 running backs in the league, based on last season’s statistics, schedule, team positions, and previous depth chart. This list is subject to change as a result of trades, depth chart changes, and injuries as I see fit. This is a discussion board from the mind of a fantasy football player. This is my take on the coming season to help you better your fantasy game. Let’s get started:
1. Adrian Peterson: What can’t I say about this guy’s game? He is an overall achiever at the position, not to mention his consistent MVP talk seasons. He is an absolute beast at the position. Averaging 4.9 yards per carry and 12 touchdowns last season with 18.9 attempts per game, you can bet he will get you yardage, and touchdowns. The Vikings offense starts with Peterson, so I can’t see him going lower than 1.
2. Arian Foster: The shock player of last season had to be Arian Foster. The rookie blew through the opposition as the yardage and touchdown leader. With 4.9 yards a carry, he will be a playmaker for any fantasy team. The only two reasons he’s not #1 on my board is that 1: With Matt Schaub under center, he may have a problem getting his carries due to Houston’s pass-first mentality; and 2: the chance that he is not proven consistent yet, being only a rookie. I wouldn’t be upset with choosing him at 1, that’s for sure. But if you do, just know, you may be taking a risk.
3. Chris Johnson: Know this about Johnson: He’s a beast. Have you tried tackling this guy? I wouldn’t want to. Last season, 300+ attempts, 1364 yards, 11 touchdowns, and so many broken tackles, Johnson may not have had 2500, but he had a brilliant season yet again. Still in his prime, this could be a League MVP choice right here. As the highlight of the Titans’ offense and the departure of Collins and Young, expect the most of Johnson. It’s all about him now.
4. Jamaal Charles: The Chiefs tried a 2 running back tandem last year; IT WORKED!!! Jamaal and Thomas Jones went off, leading the Chiefs to a division title. With the second highest yardage in the league, and 6.4 yards per carry, Charles dominated defenses and became a fantasy player’s dream. Expect just as much, if not more, of him this year. Every year, the Chiefs play a high-rush percentage, and with the aging of Thomas Jones, expect many more attempts to Charles than last year’s 230.
5. Rashad Mendenhall: Although the postseason doesn’t count for the fantasy season, this guy went off. He tortured the Green Bay defense with break after break, and when they got close, they couldn’t tackle the guy. Having the fourth highest attempts last season and tied for the second highest touchdown mark, expect Mendenhall to keep his dominance continuing in 2011.
6. Maurice Jones-Drew: Jacksonville’s silent leader. Every year, he is a fantasy giant for everyone who knows the game. The prime jewel of the Jaguars’ offense, he has always loved to pound defenders and make them pay 6. Even though he only had 5 touchdowns last year, he had 1300+ yards and in the top 8 at attempts. I expect MJD to have quite a season this year, so if he’s still on the board, don’t hesitate, or it just might cost you a championship.
7. Ray Rice: The Ravens have always been a heavy rushing game team. Expect nothing less from them this year; just look at their head coach. Ray Rice had a great season last year, having the seventh most attempts, 1200+ yards, and the big 0 in the fumbles column. A true gem at the position; he will lay out would-be defenders and make them give up the extra yard. He’s a great late first round or early second round pick up.
8. Michael Turner: Last year I made the mistake of passing up on Michael Turner with the first pick in the second round. It cost me a championship in that league. I say that to keep you from making my mistake. He is a fantasy must for anyone to pick up. Consistently being near or at the top in attempts and yards, there’s no stop to this guy. You want to win, draft Michael Turner.
9. Peyton Hillis: What a season for the Cleveland Brown, with 11 touchdown 1100+ yards, and 16.7 attempts per game, he is something special. Trust Cleveland to give him plenty more carries, being a rush-heavy team. Also expect plenty of goal line isolation and power plays given to him for six. All in all, a great second round picks.
10. Darren McFadden: Once the Raiders finally got their act together and worked to become a team, guess what happened; they won games. Most of their wins were on the shoulders of this man. He came from that dreaded bottom tiered, avoided section of running backs, and became what he had potential to. 1157 yards and 7 touchdowns, need I say more. Expect just the same from this highly talented player.
11. Steven Jackson: He dropped a little on my board because of the rising confidence of Sam Bradford. As Bradford got better, Jackson lost more and more carries. However, he is always a fantasy threat, and with the rise of the pass offense in St. Louis, expect Jackson’s numbers where they always are: near the top.
12. Frank Gore: Don’t let the injury lessen your thoughts of Frank Gore. With the fluctuating offense of the San Francisco 49ers, he is the piece that kept them moving the right direction. He has consistently been a top threat in the running back position, and don’t think that is going to end anytime soon. Gore still had over 4 yards per carry last year, so when he goes into this season healthy, expect him to make a huge impact.
13. LeSean McCoy: This guy has been more and more impressive every time that I watch him play. A great overall running back. My only reservation about him is if he is going to get his touches this year. With a great running back like James Harrison as his backup, he lost some touches there last year, but the main concern is Vick. Being one of the only teams with a running QB, I can only anticipate that McCoy will lose several touches to the Eagles’ star QB.
14. Ahmad Bradshaw: The New York Giants have gone back to the game they love last season, the running game. With Jacobs, they had over 2000 yards and 17 touchdowns. With Bradshaw at the forefront, expect just the same. Even though he loses carries to Jacobs, the two work brilliantly together, and it only made Bradshaw stronger. Look for their chemistry and numbers to increase.
15. Johnathan Stewart: Another player plagued by injury last year, Stewart wasn’t able to show his true talent for the sport. Being part of the Carolina running attack with Deangelo Williams, he is an extremely talented back, having a 1000+ yard season 2 years ago. Healthy and working to improve his game, expect Stewart to get the Panthers and your fantasy game back into the win column.
16. Matt Forte: Having yet another 1000 yard season, Forte will be a great pick in 2011 for anyone needing assistance in the position. His strong, agile style that he brings will be beneficial to any fantasy owner. With Cutler’s better developed pass attack, expect the ground game in 2011 to breakout.
17. Cedric Benson: The Bengal decreased from the season he had 2 years ago, but he still was impressive. With 1100 yards and 7 touchdowns, the rushing game was still the same smash mouth style that Cincinnati brings to the table. If you’re looking for a strong, durable 2nd round pick, then this is your fantasy scorer.
18. Knowshon Moreno: Even though he was injured for an extended time, with the 180 carries that he got, he made something with. Averaging over 4 yards a carry and seven touchdowns last season, what he got to the field was very impressive. Any fantasy expert can understand the value of a single running back team, so if you want a strong contender, I’d go Moreno at this spot.
19. Ryan Matthews: With the high octane pass offense that is the San Diego Chargers, they were missing a strong running game due to the Matthews injury. I know this player, and I know his work. Had it not been for an injury, he would be in the 1000 yard club this season. The Chargers are a balanced team, and will look to develop their rush game, so expect plenty of stats for Matthews this season.
20. Deangelo Williams: Numbers don’t lie in fantasy sports, and his numbers are consistent. Yet another injury victim, but he has been a consistent threat at the offensive end. If there is anything that a fantasy player loves, it is player consistency, and with this Panther, expect exactly that this season.
21. Jahvid Best: With all eyes on Megatron in the Lions’ offense, many didn’t expect much from Best. However, this is a true-blue running back with high potential. Even though fighting injuries and playing time, he managed quite well last season, and you should look for an increase in Best’s stats in 2011.
22. LeGarrette Blount: After being drafted by the Titans, and having many issues, he reached a team in Tampa Bay that could give him what he needed: a nurturing RB atmosphere and playing time. With that playing time, he shocked the world, joining the 1000 yard club. If you want a steal of a running back in this year’s draft, get Blount and let his stats do the talking.
23. Benjarvus Green-Ellis: The last time a Patriots running back was ranked this high was when they had a young Corey Dillon. This guy is special. In the 220 attempts he got, he gave the Patriots a 1000 yard rusher and 13 touchdowns. While trusting a Patriot back has been crazy since Brady arrived, the talent of Green-Ellis is unmistakable. A great 3rd round pick.
24. Ryan Grant: One question; did anyone forget about him? With the horrid injury that benched him for the season, the Packers lost their franchise RB. Of course, we know the rest of the story. With Grant back, expect him to explode onto the scene. With the defensive focus on Rodgers, he will get plenty of touches, yardage, and touchdowns. He is definitely worth the pick.
25. Felix Jones: With the running back tandem that is in place in Dallas, Jones is your best bet. With 180+ attempts, he had 800 yards and a touchdown, but expect this stat to climb. With Jones getting most of the touches now, and the defense focused on the powerful passing game, it’s safe to say that Jones may be looking at a career year.
26. Fred Jackson: A strong starter for Buffalo. With 220+ attempts, Jackson made 900+ yards and 5 touchdowns. Good stats for your typical starter. My only concern for Jackson is C.J. Spiller, and when the Bills will begin to give him Jackson’s touches. Otherwise, he can be a strong starter for your fantasy team.
27. LaDamian Tomlinson: I sure hope I spelled his name right… Anyway, when everyone said LT was done, what does he do? 914 yards and 6 touchdowns, that’s what. We caught a glimpse of the old LT this year, and if we remember, he was a fantasy must back then. Anyone who wants a game changer for their fantasy league, trust LT with the start.
28. Mark Ingram: The top running back in the 2011 draft, this guy was “the man” at Alabama. With a Heisman on his resume, trust this guy to be a key in the Saints offense. He has proved his talent time and time again, and you can believe that he can be a fantasy spark to any roster.
29. Brandon Jacobs: The second half of the New York Giants tandem, he was a key role in the Giants’ game plan. On only 147 attempts, he averaged 5.6 yards per carry, 800+ yards, and 9 touchdowns. He had a brilliant season, and seems to be improving every time he gets on the field. He is a true fantasy player’s player.
30. Shonn Greene: As the guy beside LT at the running back position for the New York Jets, he had a strong season. With 750+ yards and 2 touchdowns on 180 attempts, he started off slow, but grew through the season and was beneficial to fantasy players through the playoffs. With the aging of LT, he will get more carries and will improve as the fantasy season approaches.
As always, I will also give you my list of potential sleepers at the RB position. I hope that this has been beneficial to your fantasy game.
1. Marshawn Lynch
2. Pierre Thomas
3. Joseph Addai
4. Ryan Williams
5. Mike Tolbert
6. Daniel Thomas
7. C.J. Spiller
8. Ronnie Brown
9. Thomas Jones
10. Michael Bush
The next Top Players post I will be reporting is on the Top Wide Recievers:
Tags: fantasy football, Football, NFL, projected rankings