Thursday, September 3, 2009

2009 Fantasy Football Running Back Rankings

1 - Adrian Peterson - Still the best RB in Fantasy and real Football. Is tough, can take it to the outside and take it to the house, on any given play. Improved as a pass blocker and receiver last year. Which makes it likely he'll be on the field on almost every down. The additions of Favre and Harvin should make it less likely that LBs and S can key on Peterson on every play. 1600-1900 combined Ru/Re yards and 12- 16 TDS

2 - Michael Turner - Cats out of the bag, and while he was a potential breakout candidate last year , I don't think even Turner himself expected to blow up like he did in 08. Even though he won't catch anyone by surprise this season , the burner is the rarest of all Pro athletes. One who justifies his enormous contract the year he signed it. Relatively few miles for a RB of his age, due to being Tomlinsons backup for so long, although RB's usually take a hit a year after getting 350 carries. Return of LT Baker and the addition of TE Gonzalez should only make the run blocking for the Falcons better, so that should be alleviated some. Expect a slight dip due to Jerrius Norwood getting more looks. No sophomore slump for this 2nd year starter. 1400-1800 yards combined Ru/Re yards and 12 - 15 TD's

3 - Maurice Jones-Drew - Finally has the ball all to himself with Taylor now wearing a Pats Jersey. Another one of those guys who can take it to the house on any given play. He'll never dunk a basketball, but that makes him all the harder to see behind his huge OL. Speed and surprising power for someone of his size and still one of the best RBs in football, fantasy or real. 1400-1700 combined Ru/Re yards and 11- 15 TD's

4- DeAngelo Williams - If not for the presence of Stewart, he would be top three. Still a good bet for 1300 yards and 11 TDs, despite the time share. Could end the season Number # 1 or # 21 on this list, even if he's healthy. Wild fluctuation's and unsure carry number knock him down a tad. 1200- 1800 combined Ru/Re yards. 9-18 TD's

5 - Frank Gore - Always a threat to be injured, considering that he has head multiple knee reconstructions. Runs like a bowling ball with feet and is sure to get the ball 20 - 30 times a game. Will he be healthy? That's the only question. Combined 1300-1700 combined Ru/Re yards and 10-13 TD's

6 - Matt Forte - Proved he was a work horse as a rookie and should only improve with Jay Cutler forcing defenses to back up off the line of scrimmage. Will never be the home run threat of the top three, but is steady as the day is long. 1300-1700 combined Ru/Re yards and 11- 14 TDS's

7 - Steven Jackson - New coach Spagnola loves to run the ball. The Rams re-tooled OL is also built to run the ball. The Rams receiving core is less than stellar, and Marc Bulger has been on the decline sin ce getting his big contract. While Jackson will probably not ave. anywhere near 5 yards per carry, they are going to run him as much as possible. 1200-1700 combined Ru/Re yards and 9-14 TD's

8 - Brandon Jacobs - Sure gets hurt a lot for such a huge back. But, he's good for TDs near the goal line. Wards departure should only grant him more carries. If he plays all 16 games, expect 1600 yds & 18 TDs and a lot of beat down DBs underneath his tracks. However he has never shown that type of durability yet, and the giants have other backs to give him time to overcome his nicks and bumps. 1000-1700 combined Ru/Re yards and 11 to 18 TD's

9 - Ryan Grant - After a fantastic 07, played hurt all last year and didn't show the explosion he demonstrated in the past. He's looked great this preseason and since GB is a candidate for one of the leagues best pass offenses, I expect him to be a beneficiary of a lot of 7 man fronts. 1200-1500 combined Ru/Re yards and 9-12 TD'S

10 - Chris Johnson - Fastest man in the league and has the unfortunate circumstance of sharing the backfield with White. Surprisingly a stronger runner inside than expected, and a fiery competitor. This leads to him getting less goal line carries. He is still the biggest threat in the league to run 80 yds on any play. If they actually gave him the ball as much as they should he would be top 3 on this list. Improved as a receiver and has a chip on his shoulder after losing the Rookie of the Year award to Ryan. 1200-1600 combined Ru/Re yards and 8 to 13 TD's

11 - LaDainian Tomlinson - Once would have been number 1 on this list. Now, has to prove he's still relevant and the best RB on his own team. Players like him come along once in a decade,and Adrian Peterson is the newest version. I'm betting his pride will spur him on to at least 1200 yds and 10 TDs,but he at that age where could just hit the wall. A risky pick before the late 3rd round. 1200-1500 combined Ru/RE yards 8-12 TD's

12. Brian Westbrook- When healthy he is as good as it gets, but he has reached the age(30) where running backs start to die. The drafting of Shady McCoy should steal some carries from Westbrook, but also might make it possible for him to survive the season intact. His receiving yards and scores make up for some of these things, as no ones runs the screen better, but is no longer a # 1 fantasy back. Can drive you mad when you play him and he doesn't play much, or don't play him and he has a big day.900-1500 combined Ru/Re yards and 8-14 Td's

13 - Steve Slaton - His rookie year in the NFL looked like a return to his earlier years in college. Home run threat, but will never be a bruiser, who can take 20-25 carries between the tackles. At his best when getting 12- 15 carries a game ,and catching passes out of the backfield.A healthy( an oxymoron I know ) Chris Brown could steal carries from Slayton, especially at the goal line .1300-1600 combined Ru/Re yards and 9-12 TD's

14. Marion Barber- Runs through a defense like a bowling ball, but now has Jones and Choice to steal some carries from him. Was at his best closing out games and beating up already tired defenses in the 2nd half. But, Dallas seems content to keep him starting and carrying the ball a lot in the first half for now. Will still see the majority of goal line carries. 1000-1300 combined Ru/Re yards and 9-12 TD's

15. Kevin Smith- If only he was on a better team . Does everything well, but nothing great. Still likely to get a lot of carries, but don't expect a large YPC avg. Tough goal line runner, good pass protector means he doesn't need to leave the field , even if Maurice Morris plays well. 1100-1400 combined Ru/Re yards and 8-10 TD's

16. Ronnie Brown- As of now Pat White isn't running the wildcat , so that leads us to believe Ronnie may even throw a few . Ricky Williams doesn't seem to really want to even try to take his job, bust still take some carries away from Brown. Best of all, he is a FA after this year. Still explosive despite past knee injury.1100 to 1400 combined Ru/Re yard and 7-9 TD's

17. Ray Rice- McGahee and even fullback McClain will steal some of his carries, especially at the goal line, but he is clearly the best RB wearing a Raven uniform. 1300 yds and 9 TD's are not out of the question, but there are safer bets for a # 2 Fantasy back. 1000-1300 combined Ru/Re yards and 6-9 TD's

18. Clinton Portis- Will lose 3rd down carries to Ladell Betts this year. Has had a lot of carries, and has had problems with head coach Jim Zorn's offense . Still runs like a workhorse, but you have to wonder when all those tough carries are going to catch up with him. 1100 to 1400 yard and 7-9 TD's

19. Joseph Addai - Is coming up on his free agent year and Indy drafted Brown in the first round of the draft. So, it stands to reason that Addai will lose carries to him, not through any fault of his own (because he is a three down back). If healthy, expect about 85% of his usual stats.

20. Reggie Bush- I wouldn't even rank him this high except for the injury to Pierre Thomas. Is never going to be a every down back. Is really a 3rd down back, 3rd WR, punt & kick returner. Percy Harvin is much the same guy, and the saints would do well to use Reggie the way Harvin will be used in MINN, but they are still trying to justify his draft status and contract. Make or break year leads me to believe he may approach 10 TD's this year, but is the type of player who will get them in only 4 games. 900-1400 combined Ru/Re yards and 5-10 TD's

21. Pierre Thomas- He would be higher except any injury ( sprain or not) to a running back knees is cause for concern. Showed he is a much better runner than Bush last year , and if healthy is a possible breakout candidate.

22. Thomas Jones - Despite a fantastic 08, Jones is currently in a contract dispute with the team. The Jets drafted Greene to split time with him anyway. He probably won't get the carries or money he deserves, therefore he's at best a number 2 or high end 3 fantasy back unless his contract gets worked .Has no weakneses.

23. Marshawn Lynch- When not breaking laws or violating NFL rules Lynch is actually a very good RB. His suspension to start he season obviously ruins a chance to fulfill a career long dream. The chance to see consistent 7 man fronts. With TO and Evans backing the safety's off the line he may have had more running room than ever before. The loss of Jason Peter won't help, but the current line is built to run the ball anyway. Whenever you miss time theirs always a chance you could end up the next Wally Pip.

24. James Stewart- Could easily be a part of a duo of 1000 yard rushers. Was drafted to replace Williams, and instead seemed to spur Deangelo into reaching his potential. Runs behind a line of maulers, and is the rarest of all things, A big back with home run ability. Has Michael Turner like ability if he ever gets the chance to show it. Has a history of being injured , but never for anything that keeps him out for a season.

25. Knowshon Moreno - Would have been my pick for rookie of the year, if not for training camp injuries. He is just now getting back to pre-season action, so will probably not start this season with the first string. This isn't Shannahan's Bronco's anymore, so it's less likely that the RB by committee approach will be in effect. Also consider that McDaniels has already lost Cutler, has a major problem on his hands with Brandon Marshall and really needs Moreno to succeed in order to justify his leadership. Funny enough, Moreno reminds me of another former Bronco, Terrell Davis and in time I believe he'll become the same type of superstar player,but never rush for 2000 yards .

26. Chris "Beanie" Wells - Tim Hightower averaged less than 3 YPC last year and as such, he's shown himself to be nothing more than a short yardage back, but Leroy Hoard would be proud. Edge is now in Seattle, Arrington is gone and Wells will be given every opportunity to be the starter. Not only is he better than Hightower in the short yardage game, when he got on the field in the preseason, he demonstrated his break away ability. All he needs is to stay healthy. He'll see more 7 man fronts than any running back in the league.

27. Lendale White- Fat, out of shape malcontent suddenly gets in shape. You ask why ? FREE AGENCY! Yep Lendale is now in shape just in time for his free agent year. Has even tried to play nice with his coaches, and is still Tennessee's best goal line option. Coach Jeff fisher seems to like to go with the hot hand so its hard to predict whether he will get you almost nothing,or have 3 scores. 800-1100 combined Ru/Re yards and 7 to 11 TD's

28. Willie Parker - Never know what you're gonna get. But, if he's healthy he has home run ability. Even if he is healthy, he'll probably lose goal line carries to Mendenhall this season at the very least . Also, a great receiver out of the back field, but is just one of those players that never makes it a full season.

29. Darren McFadden - Most likely to be a boom or bust this season. The raiders need to justify his draft status and contract. Al Davis loves speed and the big play . McFadden can provide both. (Should have drafted Clady or Dorsey) Either way, if he gets a normal #1 backs worth of carries, expect a boom. If he ends up splitting time or gets injured, expect a bust.

30. Felix Jones - Was dynamite last year before a season ending injury. He led the league up until the injury in YPC. Dallas has already made it clear that he will be in on most third downs and split about a third of the series with Barber. He's the lightening to Barber's thunder,and could be primed for a breakout.

31. Larry Johnson - If he would just remove head from butt and stay quiet I believe Johnson possesses the ability to be a good RB again. Those things are easier said than done, but he has to know if he doesn't fit in and produce this year Jamall Charles will have his job ,and KC will be looking to get rid of him. Will never be what he once was, as he used to have the best OL in football and now runs behind a mostly young , but still talented group. On the bright side is great around the goal line when the aforementioned head is in the daylight.

32. Darren Sproles - Played like he should have been the starter last year, over LT. So much so that the Chargers actually used a franchise tag on a backup RB. Doesn't have the size or frame to carry the ball 20 times per game over a 16 game season, but in a 3rd down roll & spot duty, is an explosive play maker. Poor mans Steve Slaton if given the chance and his body holds up. Also kind of reminds me of Dave Meggett in his prime.

33. Lesean McCoy - Shady actually reminds me a lot of the man he's destined to replace, Westbrook. If Westbrook's injuries continue to mount, McCoy could be a huge break out candidate. Probably a year away from being the man in Philly though, and he needs to get vertical quicker.

34. James Davis - Lewis has plenty of tread warn off his tires and if he goes down, Davis is the most likely person to get the bulk of the carries. Still possess problems catching the ball out of the backfield, but has made the most of his limited playing time, thus far. I just don't see Lewis lasting long more than anything.

35. Donald Brown - He is the reason why Joseph Addai is ranked so low. He reminds me a lot of Curtis Martin. I expect him to have a Martin like career once Addai leaves with free agency.

36. Chester Taylor - If you draft Peterson you have to draft Taylor. He is an excellent running back in his own right. He'd start for many teams in the NFL, but he just happens to be behind the best RB in football. Makes things happen with the limited carries he does get.

37. Cedric Benson - Yes 'he of the never ending diminishing returns' in Chicago. One of the great draft busts of the last 10 years. Resurfaced the second half of last year in Cinci and claimed the starting job. Still will probably never average more than 4 yards per carry, but is a good goal line option. Reminds me of Rudi Jhonson, but needs the carries to show it.

38. Ladell Betts - Coach Zorn announced that he would be taking over the 3rd down back duties and cutting into Portis' carries. It wasn't that long ago he rushed for over 1k yards during a Portis injury marred season.

39. Fred Jackson - Has already shown himself to be a capable ball carrier when filling in for the troubled Lynch. Has a chance to steal the spot light and cement himself as the starter, possibly relegating Lynch to a short yardage role. He finally has his chance, now he just needs to take it.

40. Rashard Mendenhall - Drafted to replace Parker and remedy Pitt's short yardage problems. Mendenhall's rookie year was a bust. Injuries and a problem learning the offense from the get go made his rookie year a lost season. Pitt is counting on him to at least split time with Parker. Will he step up to the plate? I'm saying yes.

41. Cadiliac Williams - Has the support of the locker room and is the sentimental favorite of the trio of Tampa Bay RBs. Most likely to get the goal line carries and is the best receiver out of the back field of the three. 2 major knee injuries make him a small boom or a large bust possibility, b/c in the end he's still going to split carries with 2 other backs.

42. Ahmad Bradshaw- When healthy he's healthy he's lightning in a bottle, but his injury history is too prevalent to rank him any higher. The giants need him to take some of the load that Ward carried last year. At least the 3rd down back job is his and he can bust long ones in the running and passing game.

43. Fred Taylor - The ageless wonder finally has a chance to get a ring, and is still a smart player with a burst. Went from a place where a young RB proved he was worthy to get the lions share of carries, to a place where another young RB has proved to be a bust. Whether Taylor lights a fire under Maroney or burns him to ashes, expect Taylor to do everything possible to get a ring. Has had a checkered injury history so he's best as a # 4 fantasy back used for spot starts.

44. Jamal Charles - The body of a 3rd down back and the explosiveness of one, with an outside chance to replace the disruptive Johnson. If Johnson doesn't get it together, he could lose the job to Charles. This could mean up to 15 or so good carries with explosiveness out of the backfield to the Chiefs. A track star in High School and College, his rookie year was the first time he ever concentrated on Football alone.

45. Jerious Norwood - Very similar profile to Jamal Charles, but will get very few carries as long as Turner is healthy. Despite his limited playing time, he's still likely to bust 4 -5 runs or catches for over 50 yards this season.

46. Glen Coffee - Had a fantastic pre-season. Whether he is providing relief for work horse Gore or Gore has more injuries, expect Coffee to get some carries and make the most of them.

47. Shonn Greene - Drafted to eventually replace Thomas Jones. While his time may not have come yet, it's not that far off. Had a good pre-season with the exception of pass protection, until a injury sidelined him. Still has a lot to learn, but has a definite nose for the goal line. Hard nosed runner who attacks the line of scrimmage,and should be healthy for the week 1. It could very well be Leon Washington who takes this role, but he is also in a contract dispute.

48. Justin Vargas- Never gets the credit he deserves and the raiders drafted McFadden to replace him. Is a bit injury prone but when he's on the field he runs hard. McFadden is also injury prone so Fargas could run for 1,000 yards if he gets the carries. Then again Michael Bush could too, but since Vargas has the track record we'll go with him right now.

49. Correll Buckhalter - Has had flashes of brilliance during his injury laden career, while backing up Westbrook in Philly. He's most likely just holding a spot until Knowshon gets the offense down and shows he's healthy. Expect flashes of that same brilliance until he gets hurt or Moreno takes over.

50. Edgerrin James - He warrants this spot by default, because Julius Jones repeatedly shows himself not capable of handling the number 1 spot, and they don't seem wiling to give Justin Forsett a chance to win it. At the very least, James will provide a huge boost in pass protection and receiving out of the backfield. He's definitely lost a couple of steps, but is still a crafty veteran.

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