Hello again fans and friends. On to the next installment of my fantasy football preview, and the position usually the most important is fantasy running back. Today I will give you a look at my top 20 going into this season. However you must look at some factors when seeing my list:
1. Does your league reward a point per catch?
2. Do you get a point for every 10 yards, or a point for every 20?
3. In a 10 man league, you should look to those RB who carry a major load.
So my fantasy football running back list may look similar at the top to most list, let’s face it, nobody is passing on Chris Johnson at number 1, and it is more than safe to say no one is drafting LaDainian Tomlinson there either, unless it is a person who knows zero and is borrowing your 2007 magazines. So let’s put all my cute little quips and jokes aside, sit back and relax, read away and check out the top 20. Don’t forget that I will have more in the upcoming days, so keep doing your homework!
20. Jamaal Charles, Chiefs: The addition of Thomas Jones scares me very little here. With a work still in progress, the running game will need some help to succeed and with Charles’ excellent pass catching skills and blazing speed, he is more inclined to be the workhorse back here. Last season, when he got the chance to carry the load he tallied 1,120 rush yards and 7 TDs, also mixed in was 40 catches and 2 more TDs. I doubt they will use him in the return game, although he was electric there last year too. Don’t wait too long on this guy for fear of a committee he will have a big year.
19. Joseph Addai, Colts: Was recently seen as top 10 material, but injuries and the Colts desire to pass hurt him a bit. Now he has a nice partner in Donald Brown to ease some of the load,so he stays more durable, and in point per catch leagues he is always accumulating nice numbers. He will get you TDs and receptions, and that is the key to a solid fantasy RB. He may go later than normal, but he is a nice option.
18. Jahvid Best, Lions: If you have a fear of Lions and rookie RBs we advise you to look away. However if you have belief in the youth and the skill of Best, keep reading. The Lions will not be total doormats this year, and have good young receivers and a QB to work with. Best should be thrown right into the fire as last season’s starter Kevin Smith tries to rebound from injury. Best has awesome speed that some compare to Chris Johnson, not a bad comparison at all. Rookies will be big this year, so taking a look at best in a 5th or 6th round can’t hurt.
17. Ronnie Brown, Dolphins: A guy who really pushes the “love/hate” envelope, but yet has the skill to be productive. Here is what makes us cry about Brown: His injuries are usually not neat little have a seat type injuries, they are normally “bad news for Brown owners” injuries. What we love about Brown: He has a nose for the end zone and in this Miami Wildcat friendly offense he also catches a lot of passes and throws some TDs. Brown is high risk/high reward, and the reward will have you dancing in the streets. Make sure you lock him to Ricky Williams though if you take the chance on him.
16. Pierre Thomas, Saints: He improves every year, and every year I praise him. Now we look at the factors: last season’s big back Mike Bell is gone, so from inside the 5 Thomas will more likely be the man. Reggie Bush is a nice back but more of a pass catching split out then a power runner, and he has a history of injuries. With this offense being as strong as it is, Thomas should have no problems getting career best numbers in all of his categories, as long as Sean Payton keeps him on the field. 39 catches in 14 games also shows that he can catch them just like Bush.
15. DeAngelo Williams: I’m sorry folks I do not have Jonathan Stewart in my top 20, which is a pure insult to many of the “published experts” in fantasy land. Some call Williams an injury risk, well so is Stewart. Some say bad QB play will hurt his production, isn’t Stewart on the same team? In my opinion this guy who was an MVP type guy on 2008 still has the speed, power and even better hands and I see no reason why he won’t be the leader here again. I know it is a time-share, but the 2 guys still found over 1,100 yards each and plenty of TDs. Don’t let a tough QB situation make you pass on this guy.
14. Ryan Mathews, Chargers: Here again I find myself liking a rookie back, but I feel good with it. Mathews enters the high power offense in San Diego and comes in with L.T. type skills. He’s a big tough back, has excellent hands and can really carry a load. Over 1,800 yards and 19 TDs last year in college is no fluke. His coach Norv Turner was quoted in the San Diego Union Tribune as saying he will have “250 carries and around 40 catches this season”, that can only spell big time numbers on a team this good. Matthews is a second round rookie? Don’t rule him out.
13. Ryan Grant, Packers: Talk about coming back to form! Grant was very good and mostly overlooked last season. OK so this year go ahead and overlook 1,253 rush yards, 11 TDs and 25 catches. Not to many of your opponents will. The Packers have one of the best offenses in football and late in the year the O-Line started to make huge holes. At 27 Grant has the youth, and has nice back-ups to give him just enough rest to remain huge. A lot of people still choose to overlook him. Don’t be that guy!
12. Beanie Wells, Cardinals: Coach Ken Whisenhunt came from a run happy team in Pittsburgh, then came here with all this WR talent and knew he had to throw more often. Now, however he may be a little leery of his starting QB and may lean heavier on the run. Wells got it going late last year and started to steal the thunder from Tim Hightower. Wells brings 230 pounds of power, and this offensive line is getting better. Wells can be a 1,000 yards, double-digit TD guy easily in this offense.
11. LeSean McCoy, Eagles: Picking up everything that Brian Westbrook left behind can benefit him nicely. Last season he was sturdy, and this season he will be the main back. He has Brian Westbrooks’ hands and hole hitting ability but we need to see if he has the speed. With Kevin Kolb leading this offense, the Eagles will need to go back to RB screens to open things up and that can be nice for McCoy. He may lose some of the goal line stuff to bigger backs Mike Bell and Leonard Weaver, so if he gets you TDs it will have to be creative.
10. Matt Forte, Bears: I am willing to forgive and forget the mess he was last season. The addition of free agent Chester Taylor will mean more rest and better options for Forte when in. Also Mike Martz comes in as offensive coordinator and we all saw the great things he did for Marshal Faulk in St. Louis. Forte has the speed and the hands to be a fantasy monster, but he will have to put all that skill to use, if not we will see a lot more of Taylor. 120 receptions over the last 2 seasons can’t be a bad thing, can it?
9. Rashard Mendenhall, Steelers: Year 3 seems to be the year that the Steelers hand the keys to the truck to Rashard. Willie Parker is gone, so now it is his turn to flourish in a run first offense with a big offensive line. Also with QB issues and questions at receiver he will be leaned on heavily to score. Mendenhall is still only 23, so he has the stamina and fresh legs to make big things happen. Also flashing 25 catches last year lets us know he is capable of making some big plays. He is worthy of top 10 status, get in on it early.
8. Shonn Greene, Jets: Thomas Jones,gone. Leon Washington,gone. LaDainian Tomlinsons is here but he is not the same LT from San Diego. Wow has Shonn Greene found a sudden spotlight? If football had an American Idol, Greene would look like the winner. Overnight he becomes the top back in an offense that was tops in rushing last year and may have the very best offensive line in the league. The one question is his hands, but not many Jet backs were big pass catchers the last few years. Bank on his 304 yards and 2 TDs in 3 playoff games last season to be the real deal. Certainly has the highest buzz coming in to camp.
7. Michael Turner, Falcons: Poor hands? Perhaps, he does have poor hands but there is no denying his numbers the last 2 seasons. Yes an ankle injury made him miss 5 games last season but in all over 2 years as a full time back he has accumulated close to 2,600 rushing yards and 27 TDs! There is no doubt that if he can stay on the field he will be a big time producer. Yes, you like to see your backs catch more passes, but this guy is a bull and the Falcons, despite having good back up runners, love to put it on his shoulders.
6. Steven Jackson, Rams: Last year he survived 15 games, which is huge and in that he had success. 1,416 rush yards, 51 catches and 4 TDs are good numbers, but he needs help to get closer to the goal line to punch it in more. With a rookie QB and the fact that he is what sells tickets in St. Louis we may expect Jackson to push the 100 reception envelope that is rare among RBs, but one he can certainly handle. He is the best option by far and is one tough guy. If he can get any kind of end zone help he could be a top 3 again.
5. Frank Gore, 49ers: The fact that the pass attack got better was evident in Gore’s numbers last year. Over 1,100 yards rushing, 52 catches and 13 total TDs are big increases from what he had the last 2 years while this team tried to find an identity. Now they are poised to be the main team in the NFC West, and Gore should have even better numbers then last year. Oh, the fact that he has missed just 5 games over the last 4 seasons lets you know he can be trusted as well.
4. Maurice Jones-Drew, Jaguars: The big fear of his touches being doubled turned into a pure joke as far as worrying was concerned. All he did with double the touches was double his usually awesome numbers. You can’t mess with close to 1,400 yards rushing, 53 catches (which is actually light for MJD) and 16 total TDs. Every year experts try and find something wrong with this guy, but the only wrong I see is the team he is on. He is “Mister Jaguar” and without him, they may not win a game? Count on top 5 numbers if he stays healthy, hm judging that he missed one game in 3 seasons, I’d say it looks promising.
2. Ray Rice, Ravens: 1,339 rush yards, 78 catches 8 TDs and only 23 years old. We know who the top fantasy running back is but here is as good a second running back pick as ever. Last season he was a bit of a risk, and I made the big mistake of telling fantasy vultures how great he is for a 6th round pick, stories unhappy ending, the guy snaked me and took him in the 4th round, then tried to explain how it had nothing to do with my love for him. Rice is built like Jones-Drew, runs like Peterson, catches like, heck Jerry Rice, and takes people down! The Ravens love to run, and play clock games with opponents, a piece of pie in Rice’s dessert tray of talents. Yes you cannot pass on the obvious number 1, but this guy is close to 1A.
1. Chris Johnson, Titans: Just like Jennifer Aniston used to reign over the Maxim top 100 back in the day, Johnson will reign in fantasy RBs for a few years. The guy is lightning fast, elusive and runs with attitude. Now they rid him of goal-line time stealer LenDale White, so he can even enjoy more TD success, scary thought huh? He had over 2,000 rushing yards, 16 total TDs, oh and the scary fact that he also caught 50 passes. He also got the brand new contract he wanted so you know it’s all about the on-field business now. You can pass on him at 1 if you like, but can you stand being laughed at all year? Best all around skill in the NFL right now, PERIOD!
More names, lower rounds:
Running back is such an important position that every team in fantasy should have 4 very good guys to go too. It is always hard to know after the top 20 who will be real good, and who will be a lucky start on a given week. In no real order ill list 10 more to keep in mind for mid rounds and a few names to let drop and wait and see.
Keep a close eye on:
Fred Jackson, Bills: He will start the year as the lead man, which he was huge in last season.
Jerome Harrison, Browns: Not much to like about the Browns, but loads to like about Harrison.
Jonathan Stewart, Panthers: We know he will be big, but I got an odd feeling about making him top 20 material among fantasy running backs.
Knowshon Moreno, Broncos: The arrival of Tebow and the departure of Marshall can make this a savvy run team. He had decent rookie numbers last year.
Felix Jones, Cowboys: They will win a lot, and Marion Barber looks like he is wearing out his welcome. “The Cat” is real fast, and real good.
Be patient and wait on these names. These guys can be had later and still be decent bench players:
Thomas Jones, Chiefs: I love Jamaal Charles, but you know they brought Jones in to play.
Brandon Jacobs, Giants: Huge drop-off last year, may not be elite anymore.
Steve Slaton, Texans: Pre-fumbilitis monster, still not out of the mix, but be careful.
Justin Forsett, Seahawks: LenDale White was booted out of town just as fast as he got here. Julius Jones is slowly fading away and Leon Washington is going to be battling a tough injury. Forsett looked terrific in his limited role last year but now he will be a much bigger factor. He proved he can catch with 41 grabs, had a yards per rush of just under 5 last year, and this team will need to run a lot to keep it honest. I like this kid a lot, and think he will get the first few games largely to himself, and he will do everything needed to take this job. He is hard to pass on in the mid rounds.
Bernard Scott, Bengals: We do not know as of yet if the league will punish Cedric Benson for a recent offense, but we do know Scott can play. He is an excellent return man and proved he can be a starting back when given the chance to play. Benson is in the last year of his contract as well, so maybe Cincy can be looking at this as an audition process for Scott, and he may not miss.
Michael Bush, Oakland: You may not like Oakland backs, but I know why, and it may be time to toss that out. He is a big tough runner unlike Justin Fargas, and he can hang on to the ball and make plays unlike McFadden. Bush was stellar in college and held back by an injury. He may very well be the starter here and he will make good on it.
OK so here is the newest installment, next we will do receivers. Keep with us for some more news to come!
If you’d like to hear anything else from me on topics or ideas I can be reached at [email protected]
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