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Fantasy Football Pre-Season Preview: Running Backs
David Dorey
July 27, 2012
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Other Positions:  Quarterbacks  |  Running Backs  |  Receivers

It is hard to tell which came first - fantasy football or the "Stud Running Back Theory". But the focus on the running game has changed for many teams at least in the manner they accomplish it and how many players that requires. Below is a team by team break down on where their running game has been for the last three years for a good idea of what they want from training camp.

Running Back Totals by Year

Year Runs Rush Yards Rush TD Targets Comps Receiving Yards Rcv TD Tot Yd Tot TD
2005 12,739 51,825 380 3,223 2,326 17,440 75 69,265 455
2006 12,717 53,336 374 3,431 2,519 19,377 58 72,713 432
2007 12,612 52,365 348 3,502 2,529 18,889 55 71,254 403
2008 12,518 53,170 418 3,338 2,416 18,926 88 72,096 506
2009 12,410 53,181 376 3,358 2,437 19,275 84 72,456 460
2010 12,138 50,698 344 3,358 2,462 19,571 71 70,269 415
2011 12,078 52,034 324 3,373 2,430 19,694 75 71,728 399

The overall view doesn't show much change to the position in terms of total output. They are accomplishing largely the same stats, it just may be done differently than in the past. The one area that has truly shown growth is using backs as receivers. Yards and scores via the pass has involved more third down backs than we have been used to seeing, particularly as scorers.

Top Ten Running Backs Totals

Year Runs Rush Yards Rush TD Targets Comps Receiving Yards Rcv TD FFP
2003 3,389 15,880 131 731 548 4,125 13 2,865
2004 3,189 13,994 120 545 414 3,572 17 2,579
2005 3,277 14,808 140 520 364 2,882 10 2,669
2006 3,080 14,603 120 743 536 4,600 19 2,756
2007 2,797 12,292 95 592 451 3,668 18 2,285
2008 2,950 13,163 116 516 394 2,959 17 2,413
2009 2,866 13,564 114 577 415 3,401 10 2,240
2010 2751 12,872 100 607 463 4,033 17 2,393
2011 2544 11,688 97 616 456 4,112 21 2,289

Grab your hanky, stud running back pigs. The top ten running backs (using standard fantasy scoring) show a continued decline at the top in almost all areas. Yards and scores are up as receivers overall and yet not so for the top dogs. That comes from involving other specialists. The mighty top ten is in a decline. The total points from the top ten have never been lower and that's even after Chris Johnson scorched the league for a 2000 yard rushing season. It could have been even worse. Top ten points are down 20%.

Arizona Cardinals

  Rushing Receiving Total Rank
Year Runs Yards YPC TDs Comp Yards TDs Yards TDs Yards TDs
2009 328 1,423 4.3 15 98 727 3 2,150 18 20 11
2010 298 1274 4.3 8 52 383 0 1657 8 32 32
2011 339 1396 4.1 12 49 482 2 1878 14 30 14

(Health Watch) The Cardinals were the worst rushing team in 2010 so at least there was progress last season. Granted - it wasn't much but at least it started out well. Wells opened the season with four very good games and then turned back into a pumpkin the rest of the way (exception to his 228 yard effort in St. Louis). He had no role as a receiver again but somehow ended with 10 touchdowns. Of course he missed one game injured and played less than 100% for most of the year. Wells had off-season knee surgery and the team has been vague about it. He may even miss some of training camp but is still slated to be ready for the start of the season. Ryan Williams was drafted with the 2.06 pick last year but suffered a torn patellar tendon before the season started. He too is expected to be ready to play this year and should be watched in training camp to see if he has healed completely. This is always a poor rushing team for unknown reasons and nothing much has changed from last year except now there are two running backs coming back form injury. Wells has to be downgraded from last year with Williams there.

Worth Watching: Ryan Williams

Atlanta Falcons

  Rushing Receiving Total Rank
Year Runs Yards YPC TDs Comp Yards TDs Yards TDs Yards TDs
2009 405 1,761 4.3 14 69 585 3 2,346 17 10 13
2010 447 1772 4.0 14 73 529 4 2301 18 10 5
2011 404 1697 4.2 12 70 568 4 2265 16 13 8

(RBBC Change) Michael Turner comes off his third 1300+ rushing yard season and he has only missed games in 2009. But Turner turns 30 years old and has been dropping in drafts this summer. He still managed a 4.5 yard rushing average and has scored no less than 10 touchdowns in each of his four seasons in Atlanta. But he has no role in the passing game and the coaching staff has said that Turner will see fewer carries this year since they want to incorporate Jacquizz Rodgers into the offense more. Rodgers has been a 320 carry runner every year for the Falcons but that is slated to decrease. What happens will be interesting to see since Rodgers only averaged 3.6 yards on his 57 carries as a rookie and only caught 21 passes. Training camp and preseason should give a better idea just how much Rodgers may be involved.

Worth Watching: Jacquizz Rodgers

Baltimore Ravens

  Rushing Receiving Total Rank
Year Runs Yards YPC TDs Comp Yards TDs Yards TDs Yards TDs
2009 418 2,080 5.0 21 115 932 3 3,012 24 1 2
2010 435 1685 3.9 10 98 745 2 2430 12 9 15
2011 414 1851 4.5 14 104 856 3 2707 17 5 6

This is always one of the very best rushing attacks and it all revolves heavily around Ray Rice. He signed a $40 million contract in July and should be focused on just the looming season now. Nothing to watch here other than Rice staying healthy which he has always been.

Buffalo Bills

  Rushing Receiving Total Rank
Year Runs Yards YPC TDs Comp Yards TDs Yards TDs Yards TDs
2009 367 1,568 4.3 4 81 605 2 2,173 6 17 30
2010 347 1399 4.0 6 62 420 3 1819 9 29 27
2011 312 1603 5.1 11 87 763 2 2366 13 8 16

(RBBC Change) Fred Jackson was having a career year in 2011 with six 100+ yard efforts in his first nine games but a broken leg ended his fine season. Jackson was averaging 5.5 yards per carry but now is coming back from injury at the age of 31. C.J. Spiller had been mostly a bust since being drafted with the 1.09 pick by the Bills in 2010 but he was given a heavier load in the final six games and actually responded with 100+ total yards and a score in each of the remaining three home games. That has earned him a bigger role this year which was the same thing they said for the last two years. Jackson may be old in NFL terms, but he was having his best ever season until injured last year. If Spiller doesn't look better than last year in camp and preseason, figure on Jackson coming to the rescue again.

Carolina Panthers

  Rushing Receiving Total Rank
Year Runs Yards YPC TDs Comp Yards TDs Yards TDs Yards TDs
2009 491 2,419 4.9 18 59 491 2 2,910 20 2 6
2010 391 1683 4.3 7 76 578 1 2261 8 11 32
2011 307 1631 5.3 11 66 576 1 2207 12 16 19

The Panthers rushing attack improved last year but mostly it was Cam Newton stealing the scores from the backfield. Last year saw DeAngelo Williams with about 980 total yards and seven scores and Jonathan Stewart with 1170 yards and five touchdowns. Imagine what one back there could do. Now forget that and expect the exact same split this year. Scoring might go up since Newton is unlikely to match his rushing scores as a rookie. But nothing to learn this summer.

Chicago Bears

  Rushing Receiving Total Rank
Year Runs Yards YPC TDs Comp Yards TDs Yards TDs Yards TDs
2009 327 1,320 4.0 5 67 511 0 1,831 5 31 31
2010 353 1344 3.8 9 71 686 3 2030 12 21 17
2011 411 1804 4.4 9 84 721 2 2525 11 6 20

(RBBC Change) The Bears finally came to their senses and signed Matt Forte for around $8 million per year and with that returns the most productive player in their offense. This is a new scheme this year with Mike Tice promoted up and Mike Martz gone, the offense should return to a more familiar feel. That would wildly favor Forte as a runner but the Bears hedged their bets when they brought in Michael Bush. That will almost certainly give Bush the short yardage and goal line work that will impact Forte's fantasy value. Forte signed and is definitely the primary back. But Bush is going to have some role.

Worth Watching: Michael Bush

Cincinnati Bengals

  Rushing Receiving Total Rank
Year Runs Yards YPC TDs Comp Yards TDs Yards TDs Yards TDs
2009 452 1,868 4.1 6 61 440 0 2,308 6 11 29
2010 394 1472 3.7 8 61 392 2 1864 10 28 25
2011 405 1547 3.8 9 53 349 0 1896 9 28 23

The Bengals started the offseason by dumping Cedric Benson and signing BenJarvus Green-Ellis who may or may not have been entirely a product of playing on the Patriots. We shall find this out soon. The intention is to use Bernard Scott more in the offense to make use of his speed and open field ability. Of course this is the third straight year that Scott has been slated for more work and at best he has only gained 418 total yards and three scores in a season. Not exactly a fantasy boon. This has been a below average rushing team for many years and nothing about 2012 looks like that will change.

Worth Watching: Benjarvus Green-Ellis

Cleveland Browns

  Rushing Receiving Total Rank
Year Runs Yards YPC TDs Comp Yards TDs Yards TDs Yards TDs
2009 409 1,597 3.9 6 63 396 3 1,993 9 27 26
2010 342 1359 4.0 11 75 596 2 1955 13 24 12
2011 337 1209 3.6 4 65 451 0 1660 4 32 32

This was the NFL's worst rushing team in both yards and scores for 2011. That should change with the addition of Trent Richardson as the top rookie runner from the draft. Montario Hardesty struggled through much of last season with a calf injury and he returns as the #2 but all indications point at Richardson being one of the rare, heavy-use backs in the league. Training camp is worth watching to see what Richardson is like, but no changes are likely to come out of the preseason.

Worth Watching: Trent Richardson

Dallas Cowboys

  Rushing Receiving Total Rank
Year Runs Yards YPC TDs Comp Yards TDs Yards TDs Yards TDs
2009 394 1,966 5.0 13 61 477 0 2,443 13 8 18
2010 369 1434 3.9 8 83 643 2 2077 10 16 24
2011 374 1724 4.6 4 83 568 0 2292 4 12 31

2011 could be a year of wild success for the Cowboys running backs. Or it could just be another year of encouragement that ends with dashed hopes and at least one or more players injured. DeMarco Murray was barely used until week seven when he posted 253 rushing yards on the Rams. He then had big games every time the Cowboys played in Dallas and marginal games away from home. And then he made good on his draft day negative and was injured just like in college. DeMarco fractured his right ankle but is back to 100% health. Felix Jones turned in two nice games late in the season but he is no longer considered a feature back. He underwent arthroscopic shoulder surgery to fix the problem that bothered him during last season. Now both backs are healthy and DeMarco returns to being the primary. After last year, both players just need to remain healthy this summer.

Denver Broncos

  Rushing Receiving Total Rank
Year Runs Yards YPC TDs Comp Yards TDs Yards TDs Yards TDs
2009 405 1,729 4.3 9 63 472 2 2,201 11 15 20
2010 323 1175 3.6 7 77 729 6 1904 13 25 13
2011 410 1901 4.6 5 55 438 3 2339 8 11 24

(RBBC Change) The addition of Peyton Manning throws a new spin on the offense that will no longer be as willing to rush the ball all the time. The running backs held their own last year thanks to Willis McGahee who had minor help from Lance Ball. Knowshon Moreno is returning from ACL surgery but had already fallen from favor and is not lock to even make the final roster let alone have a role of any measure. The Broncos drafted Ronnie Hillman with their 3.04 pick and the plan is to make him more of a receiving third down back since McGahee has been phased out of the passing game already. The only interesting part of this backfield is to watch Hillman to see what he might do since Manning will be more likely to pass to his backs.

Worth Watching: Ronnie Hillman

Detroit Lions

  Rushing Receiving Total Rank
Year Runs Yards YPC TDs Comp Yards TDs Yards TDs Yards TDs
2009 352 1,308 3.7 6 91 849 2 2,157 8 19 27
2010 334 1158 3.5 9 110 879 2 2037 11 20 22
2011 309 1298 4.2 9 85 770 5 2068 14 21 12

(Health Watch) The Lions knew they needed depth in the backfield and drafted Mikel LeShoure with their 2.25 pick in 2010. But LeShoure tore his Achilles tendon and missed his rookie year. Jahvid Best lasted for six games before incurring a major concussion that ended his season. Kevin Smith was resigned to help out and this year the season starts with all players healthy. LeShoure will miss a couple of games thanks to a marijuana incident but he is still expected to be the #2. The Lions were pass happy last year partly from need but the running backs could take a bigger role this year. It just all depends on the health of the players. Best had a few nice games last year and could make a big difference. There is no way of knowing what LeShoure could add once he is able to play. This all bears watching given the fantasy points generated by the Lions offense.

Worth Watching: Mikel LeShoure

Green Bay Packers

  Rushing Receiving Total Rank
Year Runs Yards YPC TDs Comp Yards TDs Yards TDs Yards TDs
2009 374 1,561 4.2 15 65 513 3 2,074 18 24 12
2010 347 1225 3.5 7 67 519 3 1744 10 31 26
2011 318 1295 4.1 7 74 636 3 1931 10 26 22

The rushing attack here is not even average and it may not be for the foreseeable future. With a prolific passing attack, it just does not need to be an effective rushing team really. There are plenty of people who count James Starks as their sleeper. OC Tom Clements said Starks could have a breakout this year. But there are three problems with that potentially. First, the Packers do not run the ball much and yet they play in Super Bowls. Secondly, Brandon Saine and Alex Green will figure in to some measure. In the nine games of 2011 that had Starks as the feature back, he only averaged 62% of the runs in those games. This is a committee backfield. Lastly, Starks has been injured in his first two seasons and that was with no more than 133 carries. He is the best runner they have, but what does that mean and how long does that last? Be interesting to see how much they use him in preseason games. There is a new Offensive Coordinator so past usage patterns could change.

Worth Watching: James Starks

Houston Texans

  Rushing Receiving Total Rank
Year Runs Yards YPC TDs Comp Yards TDs Yards TDs Yards TDs
2009 365 1,351 3.7 13 101 845 6 2,196 19 16 7
2010 396 2024 5.1 20 84 767 2 2791 22 3 1
2011 510 2357 4.6 16 89 1010 3 3367 19 1 3

Overall, this is not a bad running team.This time around both Arian Foster and Ben Tate are both healthy and that's a good thing for the Texans. Nothing to prove this summer other than to keep both of them healthy... for once...

Indianapolis Colts

  Rushing Receiving Total Rank
Year Runs Yards YPC TDs Comp Yards TDs Yards TDs Yards TDs
2009 338 1,281 3.8 16 70 560 3 1,841 19 30 8
2010 373 1459 3.9 13 55 421 0 1880 13 27 14
2011 353 1455 4.1 8 39 218 0 1673 8 31 25

The Colts rushing effort last year was one of the worst in the NFL and there is really no reason to expect any change. Donald Brown was initially expected to be released after the season but he likely saved his job with just one game when he gained 161 yards and a score on the visiting Titans. He still finished with only134 carries for 645 yards and five scores. Joseph Addai was released instead. HC Chuck Pagano claims that Brown is an every down back and that he had a great offseason. OC Bruce Arians comes over after four years running the Pittsburgh offense. While there he both used Rashard Mendenhall as a feature back at times and others would rely on a committee. The Colts only have Delone Carter, Mewelde Moore and Vick Ballard on the roster otherwise so there is no big hidden talent waiting to be discovered. Camp will cement if Brown is the feature back or not but it may not matter than much anyway.

Worth Watching: Vick Ballard

Jacksonville Jaguars

  Rushing Receiving Total Rank
Year Runs Yards YPC TDs Comp Yards TDs Yards TDs Yards TDs
2009 357 1,617 4.5 16 74 489 1 2,106 17 23 14
2010 420 1947 4.6 9 75 612 2 2559 11 6 18
2011 429 1838 4.3 9 66 525 3 2363 12 9 18

Yikes. While this offense only ranked moderately in rushing yards and scores each year, the fact is that they went through just one person - Maurice Jones-Drew. Though he has two years remaining on his contract, he wants to renegotiate it because he was their entire offense last year. He's been that way for a few years now. He's 27 years old at his prime with a growing amount of wear on the tires. But the Jags have been just as adamant that they will not renegotiate. This could extend throughout the summer and even into the season if no one blinks. MJD figures he is a premier running back wasting his best years on a team not willing to pay him. That means camp is worth watching because one of the six other running backs on the roster may end up starting in week one and beyond. Granted - what would that really mean? Rashad Jennings is most likely to fill in.

Kansas City Chiefs

  Rushing Receiving Total Rank
Year Runs Yards YPC TDs Comp Yards TDs Yards TDs Yards TDs
2009 377 1,662 4.4 8 77 546 2 2,208 10 14 23
2010 500 2416 4.8 12 74 669 3 3085 15 1 7
2011 443 1725 3.9 4 79 530 3 2255 7 14 26

(Health Watch) (RBBC Change) - Plenty of questions entering training camp and preseason. Jamaal Charles tore his ACL and missed all but two games of the 2011 season. He has not practiced in the offseason and newly acquired Peyton Hillis has been taking all the first-team reps during OTA's. But Charles has been adamant that he will be ready and 100% for training camp and it has been about 11 months since his injury. OC Brian Daboll is new but served as the Cleveland OC in 2010 when Hillis had his breakout year. That bodes well for Hillis but doesn't necessarily detract from Charles since Daboll wants to see 500 carries from this backfield. He envisions a similar backfield to 2010 when Charles (230-1467-5 rush / 45-468-3 receive) shared with Thomas Jones (245-896-6 rush / 14-122-0 receive). That is all predicated on Charles returning to his speedy and powerful form that has him averaging 6.1 yards per carry for his career. This is a very interesting camp to watch.

Worth Watching: Jamaal Charles, Peyton Hillis

Miami Dolphins

  Rushing Receiving Total Rank
Year Runs Yards YPC TDs Comp Yards TDs Yards TDs Yards TDs
2009 455 2,022 4.4 20 83 594 4 2,616 24 6 3
2010 389 1469 3.8 8 73 538 3 2007 11 22 23
2011 415 1774 4.3 8 78 647 5 2421 13 7 15

(RBBC Change) The Dolphins swapped out the coaching staff and ended up with Mike Sherman as the offensive coordinator. Sherman was running the Texas A&M program and in the past ran the Houston offense (2007) and was the head coach of the Packers (2000-2005) during the heyday of Ahman Green. Sherman is going to run the ball a lot. He had nearly a 50/50 ratio pass to run at A&M. Reggie Bush is going to do well in the zone blocking scheme that Sherman will use and the only unsettled question is who the #2 back will be? He will get plenty of work supporting Bush and it is between Daniel Thomas and the rookie Lamar Miller. Thomas did himself no favors last season when he averaged only 3.5 yards per carry and fumbled a couple of times on just 165 carries. Thomas was bothered by his hamstring much of the year but a new coaching staff won't care much. It is a new competition for the #2 spot and Miller has a legitimate if not likely chance to become the #2.

Worth Watching: Lamar Miller

Minnesota Vikings

  Rushing Receiving Total Rank
Year Runs Yards YPC TDs Comp Yards TDs Yards TDs Yards TDs
2009 423 1,779 4.2 19 97 892 2 2,671 21 5 5
2010 378 1650 4.4 13 70 590 2 2240 15 12 7
2011 331 1556 4.7 13 51 418 4 1974 17 24 7

(Health Watch) Purple Armageddon happened on December 24, 2011 when Adrian Peterson was bent backwards on a hit by FS DeJon Gomes and he tore the ACL, MCL and meniscus. Optimists say that he has been running and is way ahead in his rehab. That he will be ready for week one or so and should be good to go. Pessimists say that he tore up all the ligaments involved in actually walking or running and that he will be just nine months removed from the injury when the season opens. Unfortunately, there will be very little to go on with his health in training camp and preseason if he shows up at all. His leg strength will be an issue and even with the wonders of modern medicine it is aggressive to think he will be back to 100% form anytime during the season. Toby Gerhart is likely to be the starter in week one and regardless will likely have a major role in the offense all season.

New England Patriots

  Rushing Receiving Total Rank
Year Runs Yards YPC TDs Comp Yards TDs Yards TDs Yards TDs
2009 418 1,794 4.3 17 74 608 1 2,402 18 9 10
2010 403 1828 4.5 18 61 609 1 2437 19 8 4
2011 377 1573 4.2 14 37 363 0 1936 14 25 13

The Patriots have long featured the ever-changing backfield with players you can rarely feel good about starting. That gets yet another makeover this year with the departure of BenJarvus Green-Ellis. Stevan Ridley and Mystery Man Shane Vereen will take over and Danny Woodhead remains to help out though he was little used last season. Vereen spent most of last year hampered by various unreported injuries and he did have hamstring problems. All preseason is going to do is give you the sense you have finally figured out the Patriots backfield which invariably leads to heartache. But one worthy comment here - last year was a pass happy season but the Patriots almost always have a top ten backfield in rushing and scoring. They just split up the work.

Worth Watching: Shane Vereen

New Orleans Saints

  Rushing Receiving Total Rank
Year Runs Yards YPC TDs Comp Yards TDs Yards TDs Yards TDs
2009 431 1,984 4.6 19 107 781 7 2,765 26 4 1
2010 351 1480 4.2 9 111 667 2 2147 11 14 20
2011 402 2017 5.0 15 158 1231 10 3248 25 2 1

This is a top rushing team to be sure. It just takes about four players to accomplish it all. All the same players return and Mark Ingram had arthroscopic surgery on his knee and work on his toe as well. His rookie season was a major disappointment considering his lofty credentials and draft slot but Darren Sproles took over much of the year and Pierre Thomas continues to figure in as well. It would be nice to see Ingram healthy again but there's no reason to expect much change from last year.

New York Giants

  Rushing Receiving Total Rank
Year Runs Yards YPC TDs Comp Yards TDs Yards TDs Yards TDs
2009 413 1,729 4.2 13 46 429 2 2,158 15 18 16
2010 443 2131 4.8 17 63 448 0 2579 17 5 6
2011 374 1409 3.8 16 90 661 3 2070 19 19 4

(RBBC Change) This may be interesting. The Giants have long been Thunder and Lightning with Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs but parted ways with Jacobs. Bradshaw had a career year in 2010 but has been hampered by chronic foot problems that, of course, are claimed to be healed again. His stress fracture should be gone but he has done little in the offseason so that he can go full speed in training camp. The Giants also drafted David Wilson with their first pick (1.32) and he's a near clone in size to Bradshaw. He's not the complement that Jacobs was but he could be the replacement for Bradshaw if he continues to have health issues. This is always a committee backfield though HC Tom Coughlin has been reticent to use rookie backs. Wilson is worth watching in this offense anyway.

Worth Watching: David Wilson

New York Jets

  Rushing Receiving Total Rank
Year Runs Yards YPC TDs Comp Yards TDs Yards TDs Yards TDs
2009 518 2,321 4.5 16 28 199 0 2,520 16 7 15
2010 456 1926 4.2 9 78 548 0 2474 9 7 27
2011 397 1533 3.9 8 88 815 2 2348 10 10 21

The Jets brought in OC Tony Sparano to run the offense and that should just further make this a run-first team despite a lack of personnel. Sparano focused on the run in Miami to the detriment of the passing game and that will likely happen here as well. Shonn Greene returns as the feature back who rarely gains over four yards per carry and who has ten touchdowns total in his three year career. LaDainian Tomlinson has retired but the Jets did nothing to replace him other than draft Terrance Ganaway with their 6.32 draft pick (that fairly screams practice squad). Joe McKnight has been promoted to be Greene's backup and the third down back even though his first two seasons have resulted in no touchdowns and only a total of 82 carries for 323 yards. There is nothing to really watch here despite the fact that it seems there should be. This is not a strong looking backfield for a team that loves to run.

Oakland Raiders

  Rushing Receiving Total Rank
Year Runs Yards YPC TDs Comp Yards TDs Yards TDs Yards TDs
2009 360 1,437 4.0 7 76 610 0 2,047 7 26 28
2010 422 1967 4.7 16 93 1053 6 3020 22 2 1
2011 407 1833 4.5 11 92 940 4 2773 15 3 10

(Health Watch) (RBBC Change) There is no denying that Darren McFadden is a stud and that he was having a great season in 2010 before he, yet again, was injured. So far his four seasons in the NFL have never seen him play more than 13 games in a season and missing the final nine games of 2011 was his worst. He says he is fully recovered from his foot injury and will need to prove that in camp. Michael Bush is gone and that means someone (or two) will need to relieve him and then eventually replace him when he is injured again. Taiwan Jones has been impressive in minicamps and should see work regardless. He's a lighter speedster and not an every down back. Mike Goodson came over from the Panthers and would definitely figure in should McFadden be injured. Camp is worth watching to get a better feel for McFadden's health and what roles Jones and Goodson will serve.

Worth Watching: Taiwan Jones and Mike Goodson

Philadelphia Eagles

  Rushing Receiving Total Rank
Year Runs Yards YPC TDs Comp Yards TDs Yards TDs Yards TDs
2009 301 1,278 4.2 8 80 629 3 1,907 11 29 22
2010 285 1414 5.0 8 107 786 3 2200 11 13 19
2011 342 1553 4.5 19 52 344 3 1897 22 27 2

The Eagles backfield has no changes and LeSean McCoy is one of the rare feature backs who have no backup worth owning in fantasy. Last year he scored 20 touchdowns and all other running backs combined for two touchdowns. Ronnie Brown left so Dion Lewis is the likely backup but there is nothing here to note this summer other than McCoy remaining healthy.

Pittsburgh Steelers

  Rushing Receiving Total Rank
Year Runs Yards YPC TDs Comp Yards TDs Yards TDs Yards TDs
2009 377 1,630 4.3 7 53 483 4 2,113 11 22 21
2010 418 1647 3.9 13 58 444 2 2091 15 15 7
2011 386 1728 4.5 13 48 342 1 2070 14 20 11

(Health Watch) Rashard Mendenhall tore his ACL at the end of last season and is expected to start the 2012 season on the PUP list. He would have been subject to a contract extension but now the Steelers want to wait and see how he returns from the injury. That means Isaac Redman will be the feature back on a team that will use him 20+ times per game. Likely not much to glean from camp and preseason because Mendenhall is not ready and Redman should not be overworked. If Redman has one decent preseason game, his stock rises in fantasy drafts.

San Diego Chargers

  Rushing Receiving Total Rank
Year Runs Yards YPC TDs Comp Yards TDs Yards TDs Yards TDs
2009 385 1,360 3.5 16 97 932 7 2,292 23 12 4
2010 418 1751 4.2 18 128 1026 3 2777 21 4 3
2011 401 1772 4.4 15 123 977 3 2749 18 4 5

This should be the big year for Ryan Mathews who already gained 1546 total yards and six scores last year. Mike Tolbert has left and with him the eight touchdowns he scored in 2010. That should mean Mathews has more touchdowns in his future and the coaching staff says as much. Ronnie Brown was brought in for a backup that they hope not to need to use. Le'Ron McClain is the blocking fullback that should carve out at least a minor role but the Chargers intend to run Mathews as a feature back with minimal sharing. Now we only have to see if he remains healthy all year for the first time.

San Francisco 49ers

  Rushing Receiving Total Rank
Year Runs Yards YPC TDs Comp Yards TDs Yards TDs Yards TDs
2009 329 1,389 4.2 12 76 537 3 1,926 15 28 17
2010 353 1430 4.1 9 71 633 3 2063 12 19 16
2011 427 1779 4.2 12 45 398 1 2177 13 17 17

(RBBC Change) The 49ers have been relying heavily on Frank Gore for many seasons but he was seriously wearing down last year when he reeled off five straight 100+ yard games but then hurt his ankle. He never broke 100 rush yards in any of the final ten games. He is 29 years old and only remained healthy in two seasons of the seven he has played. How his help plays out remains to be seen. Brandon Jacobs came over from the Giants and he is considered the favorite for goal line and short yardage work. LaMichael James was drafted with their 2.29 pick for a reason but he is only 5-8, 194 pounds and not an every down player. Kendall Hunter remains the most likely replacement for when Gore suffers his annual injury but how this all works will be figured out in the preseason. With a slew of decent receivers suddenly, the 49ers offense looks far better and yet so much more difficult to forecast.

Worth Watching: LaMichael James

Seattle Seahawks

  Rushing Receiving Total Rank
Year Runs Yards YPC TDs Comp Yards TDs Yards TDs Yards TDs
2009 349 1,449 4.2 6 109 773 5 2,222 11 13 19
2010 334 1303 3.9 9 71 506 0 1809 9 30 27
2011 390 1606 4.1 14 71 479 2 2085 16 18 9

The 2011 season started as mediocre as any and then in week five, Marshawn Lynch gained 100 yards and a touchdown. And he went on to do as much in nearly every remaining game. He ended with an astounding 13 touchdowns and 1416 yards. To celebrate, he signed a four-year contract worth $31 million. To celebrate that, he was arrested on a DUI that could void his new contract. As of this writing, it appears that he may end up with no suspension and all is well (until the next event). The Seahawks drafted Robert Turbin with their 4.11 pick. The power back out of Utah State is the likely backup and the starter if Lynch does end up missing any time from suspension or injury since he has only one healthy season in six years. Lynch will be the starter here in all cases, it just make take a a couple of games into the season to show up.

Worth Watching: Robert Turbin

St. Louis Rams

  Rushing Receiving Total Rank
Year Runs Yards YPC TDs Comp Yards TDs Yards TDs Yards TDs
2009 378 1,652 4.4 4 79 478 0 2,130 4 21 32
2010 389 1414 3.6 8 63 487 1 1901 9 26 27
2011 376 1581 4.2 6 59 467 1 2048 7 22 28

Steven Jackson was rumored to be released or traded if the Rams drafted Trent Richardson but that never happened. Instead, the Rams drafted Isaiah Pead with their 2.18 draft pick as the heir apparent to Jackson. It was a prudent move for a back who is about to turn 30 and has eight seasons as a heavily worked feature back. His 2511 career touches rank #1 among all active running backs. Pead is expected to offer more relief to Jackson than we have seen in the past. A new coaching staff means no strong ties to Jackson though Jeff Fisher is willing to rely on just one back. Chances are Pead has more work than expected and may take over as early as next year. Seeing Pead successful in preseason games would likely buy him more playing time.

Worth Watching: Isaiah Pead

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

  Rushing Receiving Total Rank
Year Runs Yards YPC TDs Comp Yards TDs Yards TDs Yards TDs
2009 345 1,305 3.8 5 67 485 5 1,790 10 32 25
2010 351 1554 4.4 9 69 518 2 2072 11 17 21
2011 272 1160 4.3 5 98 727 0 1887 5 29 30

Here is where all fantasy fans will be looking in preseason games. The Buccaneers drafted Doug Martin with the intention of making him a starter and primary back. LeGarrette Blount fell from favor last year as a locker room problem and he was relatively phased out of the offense for the final five games of last year. Blount had no role as a receiver as well. Martin is an all around back and has already drawn good reviews. Nothing is going to happen in camp to change roles but Martin will be a legitimate heavy use back on a team that should be on the upswing. He's already drafted in the first round of many drafts and if he has a good game or two in the preseason he'll be even hotter this summer.

Worth Watching: Doug Martin

Tennessee Titans

  Rushing Receiving Total Rank
Year Runs Yards YPC TDs Comp Yards TDs Yards TDs Yards TDs
2009 431 2,281 5.3 16 65 596 2 2,877 18 3 9
2010 368 1604 4.4 13 66 389 1 1993 14 23 11
2011 344 1300 3.8 6 101 713 0 2013 6 23 29

Which Chris Johnson do we get this year? The one that scored double digit touchdowns every year and who broke 2000 rushing yards in 2009 or the one that showed up out of shape after a lengthy holdout and not only had just four good games, but they seemed to occur randomly. There are no changes to the backfield coming into this season but seeing Johnson with a new sense of commitment would make drafting him easier.

Washington Redskins

  Rushing Receiving Total Rank
Year Runs Yards YPC TDs Comp Yards TDs Yards TDs Yards TDs
2009 338 1,260 3.7 6 85 811 4 2,071 10 25 24
2010 311 1304 4.2 9 87 761 5 2065 14 18 10
2011 362 1529 4.2 5 91 711 2 2240 7 15 27

As was expected, Mike Shanahan brought his wacky brand of mix and match to the backfield of the Redskins and like most seasons, all the tailbacks were injured at various times. Tim Hightower was the initial starter but suffered a torn ACL in week seven. He is expected back for training camp and even did some individual drills in OTA's. But Hightower won't likely be full strength until later in the year. Roy Helu had the most success as a running back for the Skins and while Hightower may be the named starter it is Helu who is expected to carry the load. Then again - this is a Shanahan team. There will be a committee approach but that should be limited to only Helu and Hightower.

Other Positions:  Quarterbacks  |  Running Backs  |  Receivers


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