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FANTASY FOOTBALL DRAFT KIT

2010 Player Rankings: Running Backs
Updated: September 9, 2010   Print this page Print 
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Tier 1
Adrian Peterson - MIN YEAR TM GMS TYD TTD CAR RYD YPC RTD CAT CYD CTD
Huddle Rank: 1
Keeper: 1
Auction 10: 36%
Auction 12: 40%
2007 MIN 14 1609 13 238 1341 5.6 12 19 268 1
2008 MIN 16 1885 10 363 1760 4.8 10 21 125  
2009 MIN 16 1819 18 314 1383 4.4 18 43 436  
Avg   15 1771 14 305 1495 4.9 13 28 276 0
Proj MIN   2020 15   1550   13 45 470 2

In Peterson’s three NFL seasons he’s ranked third, third, and second in fantasy scoring among running backs. He’s posted double-digit touchdowns each of the past three years, and only LaDainian Tomlinson’s 42 scores since 2007 exceed All Day’s total of 41. And you’re concerned about the fumbles? Sure, they’ve come at some brutally inopportune moments for the Vikings, but even if you were to lose two fantasy points for each of his seven miscues last year he still outscored Maurice Jones-Drew (who fumbled six times in 2008, by the way). So what if Peterson puts the ball on the ground once every 50 or so touches; he’s the focal point of an offense that will either a) draw attention away from him with the passing passing of Brett Favre (in which case he’ll put up numbers similar to last year) or b) be forced to rely on him because of their lack of talent at quarterback (in which case he’ll put up numbers similar to 2008). He was second in the league in stuffs (with 37), but third in the league in rushes of 10 or more yards (38). Again, where’s the downside here?

Peterson should also see a slight uptick in receptions as he takes over at least some of Chester Taylor’s third down work, though Percy Harvin and Toby Gerhart also factor into that mix. You could have some mild concern over Gerhart stealing the occasional goal line look, but it’s not as if the Vikings are going to totally replace AP at the stripe. After all, Peterson converted nine one-yard scores last year and had as many TDs from the 10 and in as any other back had total rushing scores. He also ranked sixth in both attempts converted into touchdowns from the three and in (59 percent) and the 10 and in (38 percent). We’ve already seen the worst-case scenario for Peterson, in which the Minnesota offense is shackled with Tarvaris Jackson at quarterback and another back steals a half-dozen scores off his plate: that’s exactly what happened in 2008, and AP was still the third most productive fantasy back in the league. If that’s as bad as it gets, imagine how good the good could be.

Chris Johnson - NYJ YEAR TM GMS TYD TTD CAR RYD YPC RTD CAT CYD CTD
Huddle Rank: 2
Keeper: 2
Auction 10: 36%
Auction 12: 40%
2007                      
2008 TEN 15 1488 10 251 1228 4.9 9 43 260 1
2009 TEN 16 2509 16 358 2006 5.6 14 50 503 2
Avg   16 1999 13 305 1617 5.3 12 47 382 2
Proj NYJ   2060 14   1550   12 50 510 2

What’s not to like about a runner who ranked #1 with 358 carries, 2006 rush yards, 408 touches, 2509 total yards and was tied for #2 with 16 total touchdowns. Johnson experienced a rather successful season overall. Breaking the 2000 yard barrier for only the sixth time in NFL history alone indicates what a season it was. He was a devastating runner but did have 358 carries to get there and the team intends on somehow using him less. He was a key receiver who led his own team with 50 receptions. Johnson was “the man” last year and by such a margin that even falling a good bit still results in him being the #1 runner again. His schedule is even roughly the same strength as last year.

The Titans also did not bring in anyone to compete for carries with him so consider Javon Ringer as nothing more than whatever Johnson doesn’t want (or is allowed by coaches). But the big problem – at least potentially – is that Chris Johnson just reeled off one of the greatest rushing seasons in NFL history and yet is slated to earn only $550,000. That is maybe a tenth or even less of what he should be making. The projections are assuming that he does either sign or agree to play the season out with gusto but could change depending on Johnson. It is going to be a worry to anyone holding the first pick in their fantasy draft until Johnson's situation is resolved.

Maurice Jones-Drew - OAK YEAR TM GMS TYD TTD CAR RYD YPC RTD CAT CYD CTD
Huddle Rank: 3
Keeper: 3
Auction 10: 35%
Auction 12: 38%
2007 JAC 15 1175 9 167 768 4.6 9 40 407  
2008 JAC 16 1389 14 197 824 4.2 12 62 565 2
2009 JAC 16 1765 16 312 1391 4.5 15 53 374 1
Avg   16 1443 13 225 994 4.4 12 52 449 1
Proj OAK   1770 16   1420   15 48 350 1

Jones-Drew only ranked 5th in the league with 312 carries and 1391 rush yards but he was tied for second with 16 overall touchdowns and his 1765 yards from scrimmage was fourth best. Jones-Drew was one of the first backs drafted last summer in every league and he rewarded his owner for the pick. Jones made the most of his first season as the unquestioned starter and increased his workload from around 195 carries in 2008 up to 383 carries for 1391 yards last year. His role as a receiver remained static with a typical 53 catches for 374 yards and one more touchdown.

Jones-Drew is only 25 years old and now entering the absolute prime of his career. Consider him as the focus of the Jaguars offense again this season since they added no new players of note to the offense.

Tier 2
Ray Rice - BAL YEAR TM GMS TYD TTD CAR RYD YPC RTD CAT CYD CTD
Huddle Rank: 4
Keeper: 5
Auction 10: 30%
Auction 12: 32%
2007                      
2008 BAL 13 727   107 454 4.2   33 273  
2009 BAL 16 2041 8 254 1339 5.3 7 78 702 1
Avg   15 1384 4 181 897 4.8 4 56 488 1
Proj BAL   1880 11   1400   9 60 480 2

The Ravens were 4th best in the NFL with 2080 rush yards by running backs and were #1 in the NFL among all running backs with 21 rushing touchdowns, 151 catches for 932 yards and overall produced 3012 total yards. That was largely due to the breakout season of Rice who ranked 6th in touches (332) and second in total yards (2041) and #1 with 78 receptions – 15 more than any other running back. But Rice averaged 5.3 yards on his 254 carries and only had three games with more than 20 carries. Rice was a delight in reception point leagues where he became a top back. He only scored seven rushing touchdown thanks to McGahee supplying a goal line role but 702 yards and another score via receptions thrusts Rice into the elite fantasy back status.

Rice has a bad rushing schedule as he did last year and that is one reason for all the receptions. The addition of Anquan Boldin should cut into Rice’s catches but regardless, Rice is a consistent fantasy scorer and a dual threat.

Frank Gore - SFO YEAR TM GMS TYD TTD CAR RYD YPC RTD CAT CYD CTD
Huddle Rank: 5
Keeper: 4
Auction 10: 30%
Auction 12: 32%
2007 SFO 15 1538 6 260 1102 4.2 5 53 436 1
2008 SFO 14 1409 8 240 1036 4.3 6 43 373 2
2009 SFO 14 1526 13 229 1120 4.9 10 52 406 3
Avg   14 1491 9 243 1086 4.5 7 49 405 2
Proj SFO   1720 13   1320   12 45 400 1

(+Upside) Gore comes off one of his better seasons when he gained 1120 yards on 229 carries and scored a career best ten rushing touchdowns. He also added 52 receptions for 406 yards and three more scores. Gore has averaged 52 catches per year over the last four seasons. He struggled with a poked eye and a injured toe that limited him to four games but at least Gore gets nearly all the carries that are available. The 49ers ranked 29th in rushing attempts by running backs (329) and Gore had 229 in 14 games. The 49ers did not add any players to directly compete or share with Gore, so he should have a big workload once again figuring in his role as a receiver as well.

Gore is going high in most drafts and appropriately so. He is a risk to miss a few games since he had only once managed the full 16 but he has never played less than 14 games. He is the rare back who gets all the action from first down to goal line and figures in prominently as a receiver. Throw in a softer schedule than most and Gore makes a fine pick in your draft.

DeAngelo Williams - CAR YEAR TM GMS TYD TTD CAR RYD YPC RTD CAT CYD CTD
Huddle Rank: 6
Keeper: 7
Auction 10: 28%
Auction 12: 30%
2007 CAR 16 892 5 144 717 5.0 4 23 175 1
2008 CAR 16 1636 20 273 1515 5.5 18 22 121 2
2009 CAR 13 1369 7 216 1117 5.2 7 29 252  
Avg   15 1299 11 211 1116 5.2 10 25 183 1
Proj CAR   1510 14   1270   13 28 240 1

Williams enters the final year of his rookie contract and he’s been caught by the 30% rule and will play out the season at roughly $2.1 million which is rather underpaid for a starter. Williams underwent ankle surgery back in February and was hampered later in the season with that and foot injuries. He ended the season with 216 carries for 1117 yards and seven scores and still had a 5.2 yard average. He also added 29 catches for 252 yards. It was a decent showing but far less than the 1515 yards and 18 touchdowns of 2008.

Williams will go against a slightly lighter schedule in 2010 with only a week 16 game in Pittsburgh as a fantasy problem. The emergence of Jonathan Stewart has now prompted the Panthers to use the duo at a 1:1 ratio unlike 2008 when Stewart had 184 carries to 273 for Williams. And Stewart has been nursing a bad foot for two years now. Expect a bounceback year from Williams but the sharing with Stewart will prevent any big stats. This is a running team and will rack up the points. Both Williams and Stewart have fantasy value as starters, but either would become a top stud if the other is injured. Williams is okay with sharing but this is a contract year for him – expect him to play for a much bigger and more fair contract.

Michael Turner - FA YEAR TM GMS TYD TTD CAR RYD YPC RTD CAT CYD CTD
Huddle Rank: 7
Keeper: 8
Auction 10: 24%
Auction 12: 26%
2007 ATL 16 332 1 71 316 4.5 1 4 16  
2008 ATL 16 1740 17 376 1699 4.5 17 6 41  
2009 ATL 11 906 10 178 871 4.9 10 5 35  
Avg   14 993 9 208 962 4.6 9 5 31 0
Proj FA   1350 15   1300   14 8 50 1

Turner has reported as 100% healthy this spring after suffering a high ankle sprain and other dings that made him miss five games and limited him in others last season. After a breakout year of 1699 yards and 17 touchdowns in 2008, Turner dropped to just 871 yards and ten scores last year. Turner admitted to not keeping up with his conditioning in the offseason after running the ball 376 times the previous year. He has also dropped some weight and should be much better prepared to withstand the rigors of the season.

That all said, the coaches want to limit Turner’s carries this year and he is okay with it. Jason Snelling was effective as a replacement and will be worked into the mix along with Jerious Norwood in the hopes that Turner remains at 300 carries or less this year. Turner also has almost no role as a receiver with just 11 catches over two years. Turner will not gain as much yardage as he did in 2008 but he should bounce back from his disastrous 2009 season and he remains a tremendous goal line weapon playing in a somewhat easier schedule this year.

Ryan Grant - FA YEAR TM GMS TYD TTD CAR RYD YPC RTD CAT CYD CTD
Huddle Rank: 8
Keeper: 11
Auction 10: 24%
Auction 12: 24%
2007 GBP 15 1101 8 188 956 5.1 8 30 145  
2008 GBP 16 1319 5 312 1203 3.9 4 18 116 1
2009 GBP 16 1450 11 282 1253 4.4 11 25 197  
Avg   16 1290 8 261 1137 4.5 8 24 153 0
Proj FA   1450 13   1200   11 33 250 2

When you start listing your top 10 fantasy running backs, it may take you a while to get to Grant. Sure, he’s been a solid fantasy RB2 since taking over for Ahman Green, but... Top 10? So you may be surprised to learn that Grant’s numbers in 2009 ranked him firmly in eighth place among fantasy backs, ahead of Steve Jackson, De Angelo Williams, Jamaal Charles, LaDainian Tomlinson... you get the picture. Fluke, right? After clocking in at #22 in 2007 and #17 in 2008, Grant’s lofty perch came only because everybody else got hurt or something.

But aside from Grant’s TD drought in 2008, his numbers have stayed remarkably consistent; in fact, his yardage per game has been on a steady incline from 73 in ’07 to 82 in ’08 to 90 last year. And it’s not as if Brandon Jackson or sixth- round pick James Starks are threatening to reduce Grant’s workload, which was actually down a little more than one touch per game from the previous year. So: unchallenged feature back with steady touches on a dynamic offense with an elite passing game and an improving line; where’s the downside again?

Rashard Mendenhall - FA YEAR TM GMS TYD TTD CAR RYD YPC RTD CAT CYD CTD
Huddle Rank: 9
Keeper: 10
Auction 10: 20%
Auction 12: 24%
2007                      
2008 PIT 4 75   19 58 3.1   2 17  
2009 PIT 16 1369 8 242 1108 4.6 7 25 261 1
Avg   10 722 4 131 583 3.9 4 14 139 1
Proj FA   1580 10   1310   9 24 270 1

Mendenhall became the full-time back starting in week four of last year and ended with 242 carries for 1108 yards and seven touchdowns for a healthy 4.6 yard rushing average. He also added 261 yards and a score on 25 receptions. Oddly enough, he only had three games where he exceeded 100 rushing yards and each were against AFC West opponents he will not meet this year. Mendenhall will have more carries this year but may not be as productive with each one as in 2009. Only two of his eight total touchdowns came against a team he will face again this year. With Roethlisberger out for at least the initial month, no doubt Mendenhall is used more than last season.

Some will look for Mendenhall to have a dramatically better 2010 season and that may be tough given the more challenging schedule this year. But Mendenhall enters his third NFL season at only the age of 23 so he has plenty of room for development and has already become the main threat in the offense. His upside will spawn optimism but regardless he performs well enough to merit a fantasy start in any case.

Steven Jackson - ATL YEAR TM GMS TYD TTD CAR RYD YPC RTD CAT CYD CTD
Huddle Rank: 10
Keeper: 6
Auction 10: 18%
Auction 12: 20%
2007 STL 12 1273 6 237 1002 4.2 5 38 271 1
2008 STL 12 1421 8 253 1042 4.1 7 40 379 1
2009 STL 15 1738 4 324 1416 4.4 4 51 322  
Avg   13 1477 6 271 1153 4.2 5 43 324 1
Proj ATL   1830 5   1380   4 45 450 1

(-Risk) (+Upside) Jackson was supposed to spend the offseason just relaxing his back but when it continued to be a problem, he underwent surgery that relieved the pain and discomfort from his disc area. The Rams also revealed that Jackson has been battling back issues for several seasons now but hopefully this will cure his bulging disc. He is confident that he will be ready for training camp and enters the season in better shape than last year.

Jackson is now three years removed from his last 16 game season though but has played in pain constantly. He has rushed for over 1000 yards in each of the last five years and actually comes off his second best season. In 2009, Jackson rushed for 1416 yards and added 51 catches for 322 yards but only scored four times. The plus to this year is that Jackson gets a very soft rushing schedule and should be healthier if the surgery proves successful. But he also will play with a rookie quarterback and very young wideouts so the Rams as a whole should continue to struggle. The Rams will lean heavily on him but so far Jackson has never held up for every game. He has upside with that schedule and the surgery but he’s also always a risk.

08-10-10 Update: Gets a bump up because he is still coming along in his recovery from offseason back surgery and he has a tremendous schedule. But - his line is questionable as is the rest of the offense and Jackson is always a health risk.

Tier 3
Pierre Thomas - NOS YEAR TM GMS TYD TTD CAR RYD YPC RTD CAT CYD CTD
Huddle Rank: 11
Keeper: 14
Auction 10: 18%
Auction 12: 20%
2007 NOS 12 403 2 52 252 4.8 1 17 151 1
2008 NOS 15 909 12 129 625 4.8 9 31 284 3
2009 NOS 14 1095 8 147 793 5.4 6 39 302 2
Avg   14 802 7 109 557 5.0 5 29 246 2
Proj NOS   1400 12   1100   10 43 300 2

The Saints ranked in the top six in almost every running back category last year and the increase in workload for Thomas is one major reason. The fourth-year player was missed in along with the committee last year and ended with his best year yet – 147 carries for 793 yards and six scores with 39 receptions for 302 yards and two scores as well. Thomas was limited by hamstring and wrist injuries last season and missed two games while playing injured in several others. Thomas has vowed to gain some weight and condition better in the offseason which is what he said last year.

Jamaal Charles - KCC YEAR TM GMS TYD TTD CAR RYD YPC RTD CAT CYD CTD
Huddle Rank: 12
Keeper: 9
Auction 10: 18%
Auction 12: 20%
2007                      
2008 KCC 16 629 1 67 357 5.3   27 272 1
2009 KCC 15 1417 8 190 1120 5.9 7 40 297 1
Avg   16 1023 5 129 739 5.6 4 34 285 1
Proj KCC   1690 7   1190   5 46 500 2

Charles had a breakout last year when he was given the starting job in week 10 and then turned in five games over 100 yards including ending the season with 259 yards in Denver. He averaged 121 rushing yards for those eight weeks and scored all eight of his touchdowns. He also served as the third down back with 40 catches for 297 yards. Had Charles sustained that pace for a full 16 game season, he would have gained 1936 rushing yards and 16 touchdowns. Charles owners were richly rewarded just in time for the league playoff run last year.

This year will be interesting because Charles gets an easier schedule than last year and yet will share with Thomas Jones to some extent. Charles missed time in the offseason after a shoulder surgery but is expected to be fine for training camp. Jones is 32 years old and obviously not the future in Kansas City as Charles is. But GM Scott Pioli claims he has no hard and fast plans for either runner other than the best players will play. With Charles coming off a shoulder injury, the safest assumption here is that Jones gets short yardage and goal line duty but that the younger Charles holds on to his role as the primary runner and receiver. Jones can help preserve Charles without cashing in too much on his production.

08-20-10 Update: Slips another notch not because he is not looking good and not because Thomas Jones has been another more than mediocre, but because HC Todd Haley doesn't seem to care enough not to let Jones take a role of some significance even though Charles is the clearly better runner.

Ryan Mathews - SDC YEAR TM GMS TYD TTD CAR RYD YPC RTD CAT CYD CTD
Huddle Rank: 13
Keeper: 12
Auction 10: 18%
Auction 12: 20%
2007                      
2008                      
2009                      
Avg   0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Proj SDC   1420 10   1240   10 20 180  

(+Upside) The Chargers traded up to grab Mathews with the 1.28 pick and crowed how they drafted the most complete back in the draft. Mathews comes out as a junior from Fresno State though he is already 23 years of age. He is heir to all that was LaDainian Tomlinson came into his last year when he led the nation with 1808 yards and 19 touchdowns on 276 carries (6.6 YPC). He is a north/south runner with enough size to move the pile and speed to break away. The plan is for Mathews to start right away and for Darren Sproles to maintain his third down role. And if Sproles were to be injured, Mathews would likely take all his work as well since he is already an accomplished receiver and pass blocker. Mathews has more fantasy upside than any other player from the draft in both redraft and dyastly league. HC Norv Turner sees Mathews are a 250 carry or so player that translates into a 1000 yard season – at worst.

This is a great offense and the schedule is lighter than most. Mathews has an opportunity to have a big rookie season but it will be optimistic to consider him more than an RB2 just because half of all rookies flop. But if Mathews shows up well in a preseason game or two, he may be hard to get as a RB2 in larger leagues.

Shonn Greene - TEN YEAR TM GMS TYD TTD CAR RYD YPC RTD CAT CYD CTD
Huddle Rank: 14
Keeper: 15
Auction 10: 14%
Auction 12: 16%
2007                      
2008                      
2009 NYJ 14 540 2 108 540 5.0 2      
Avg   14 540 2 108 540 5.0 2 0 0 0
Proj TEN   1370 10   1300   10 10 70  

Shonn Greene has recovered from the torn rib cartilage he suffered in the playoffs last year and already taken part of some offseason activities. He comes off a rookie season where he only had 108 carries for 540 yards and two scores even though he played on the team that ranked #1 in running back carries (518) and rush yards (2321). Greene did not get playing time as a third down back since the Jets really don’t use one. They ranked dead last in targets and catches by running backs. Greene rarely topped ten carries in games until the playoffs when he took over and gained over 125 yards in the first two games with a score in each. Those playoff games sent Thomas Jones packing this year and Green into the limelight.

Now the question is how many carries does he get? He had over 20 in those first two playoff games but LaDainian Tomlinson has been added and will be a part of the backfield. The coaching staff also wants to throw more and have a better balanced attack. Replacing Jones has plenty of fantasy potential since he ranked #3 with 14 rushing touchdowns last year. There have already been conflicting reports about the share between Greene and Tomlinson which some have as even and others – probably most – expect a clear primary role for Greene and more of a supportive and pass catching role for Tomlinson.

Greene is a big runner at almost 230 pounds and can move the line better than Tomlinson. Barring more info from training camp, expect Greene to take the clear lead in carries and scores and Tomlinson to play a more supportive role. This is a heavy run offense and even a claim by HC Rex Ryan that they will pass more will not change the fact this is a big defense/ball control offense that will still have plenty of carries to divvy up. One important note – the Jets have a terrible schedule for running backs that is light only during mid-season and that ends with games @NE, MIA, @PIT and @CHI.

Cedric Benson - FA YEAR TM GMS TYD TTD CAR RYD YPC RTD CAT CYD CTD
Huddle Rank: 15
Keeper: 16
Auction 10: 14%
Auction 12: 16%
2007 CHI 11 797 4 196 674 3.4 4 17 123  
2008 CIN 12 932 2 214 747 3.5 2 20 185  
2009 CIN 13 1362 6 301 1251 4.2 6 17 111  
Avg   12 1030 4 237 891 3.7 4 18 140 0
Proj FA   1500 7   1380   7 21 120  

Benson finally enjoyed the breakout season he had been waiting for since he was the 1.04 pick of the 2005 draft and embarked on one of the most ill-conceived holdouts in recent history. After an encouraging 2008 season with the Bengals, Benson returned to post 1251 yards on 301 carries and score six times in 13 games. Unfortunately, he missed a few games with a hip injury and only further perpetuated that he has durability issues and never has played in all 16 games for a season. That has led the Bengals to hold off on a new contract for Benson who needs to string together a productive full season to reap the reward. Benson also has almost no role as a receiver with just 17 catches for 111 yards last year. Benson doesn’t score much – his career high was only six touchdowns – and he adds no reception points but he offers fairly consistent rush yards each week that he is healthy.

Joseph Addai - FA YEAR TM GMS TYD TTD CAR RYD YPC RTD CAT CYD CTD
Huddle Rank: 16
Keeper: 19
Auction 10: 12%
Auction 12: 14%
2007 IND 15 1436 15 261 1072 4.1 12 41 364 3
2008 IND 12 750 7 155 544 3.5 5 25 206 2
2009 IND 15 1164 13 219 828 3.8 10 51 336 3
Avg   14 1117 12 212 815 3.8 9 39 302 3
Proj FA   1190 12   800   10 38 390 2

Despite the fervent wishes of many fantasy owners, Donald Brown did not unseat Joseph Addai last year and Addai actually ended with one of his better seasons. He rushed for only 828 yards on 219 carries (3.8 YPC) but added 51 catches for 336 yards and scored a total of 13 touchdowns. The Colts as a team ranked only 30th in the league with 1281 rushing yards by running backs. The passing game by Manning has taken over and judging by their preseason success, there is no reason to change anything.

There is some speculation that Addai will not be back next year when he turns into a free agent but there is even fewer scouts and coaches who believe Donald Brown will be anything more than what he is. That means that Addai will share the ball this year but he’ll also likely be drafted as a bargain since he is lasting in drafts. This is a contract year for Addai and his role as a receiver and goal line scorer alone makes him a fantasy starter.

Knowshon Moreno - MIA YEAR TM GMS TYD TTD CAR RYD YPC RTD CAT CYD CTD
Huddle Rank: 17
Keeper: 13
Auction 10: 12%
Auction 12: 12%
2007                      
2008                      
2009 DEN 16 1160 9 247 947 3.8 7 28 213 2
Avg   16 1160 9 247 947 3.8 7 28 213 2
Proj MIA   1360 9   1100   8 27 260 1

(+Upside) Moreno’s rookie season was a decent success, rushing 247 times for 947 yards and seven scores and adding 28 catches for 213 yards and two more scores. But Moreno wore down at the season’s end and never rushed for more than 63 yards in his last four games. He ended with a 3.8 yard per carry average but has attended all voluntary workouts and is doing everything he can to improve his conditioning. He’s now looking sharper after a full year of work and is finally running more on instincts than having to think about what he is doing. Moreno was not a superstar by any means but should have a chance for a definite step up in 2010.

Along with greater comfort in the offense and better conditioning, Moreno gets a nice upgrade to his schedule versus last year. He actually has one of the lightest rushing schedules in the NFL and down the stretch starting in week 12, Moreno faces STL, KC, ARI, OAK and HOU. He will continue to share with Correll Buckhalter but look for Moreno to get more work and to do more with those carries.

08-29-10 Update: Moreno has been out since August 1st because of a hamstring strain and there is speculation that he has a potential tear since he has been slow to heal so far. He is not expected to see any action in the last preseason game so he could be a risk to use in week one. HC Josh McDaniels comes from the Patriots where injury news is always hard to rely on and potentially misleading.

Jonathan Stewart - CAR YEAR TM GMS TYD TTD CAR RYD YPC RTD CAT CYD CTD
Huddle Rank: 18
Keeper: 18
Auction 10: 12%
Auction 12: 14%
2007                      
2008 CAR 16 883 10 184 836 4.5 10 8 47  
2009 CAR 16 1272 11 221 1133 5.1 10 18 139 1
Avg   16 1078 11 203 985 4.8 10 13 93 1
Proj CAR   1300 10   1160   10 17 140  

Stewart had surgery in January to remove a bone spur from pressing into his Achilles' tendon to relieve bursitis and tendonitis. He expects to be released to run in June and should be ready for the start of training camp. Stewart has displayed a very high pain threshold playing with serious foot problems for both seasons and still gaining 1133 yards last year with a 5.1 yard per carry average. Stewart added ten rushing scores and one via a reception. Stewart has proved to be a warrior that gives the Panthers one of the best 1-2 punches at running back along with DeAngelo Williams.

Stewart should be good to go for training camp and the season. He’ll once again share with Williams in both carries and scoring and his schedule is better this year. Fortunately both he and Williams are productive in an offense predicated on the run since they will split carries. Stewart should make a decent RB2 with the occasional big game not unlike Williams.

Beanie Wells - FA YEAR TM GMS TYD TTD CAR RYD YPC RTD CAT CYD CTD
Huddle Rank: 19
Keeper: 17
Auction 10: 8%
Auction 12: 10%
2007                      
2008                      
2009 ARI 16 936 7 176 793 4.5 7 12 143  
Avg   16 936 7 176 793 4.5 7 12 143 0
Proj FA   1300 9   1140   9 15 160  

(+Upside) Wells had an encouraging rookie season when he rushed for 793 yards on 176 carries and scored seven times. He also added 12 catches for 283 yards. The expectations by most are that he will see an exponential increase in stats this year and that could happen. Wells goes against one of the lighter rushing schedules in the league and he assumed a bigger share of the rushing load last year. The Cardinals are also planning on a more run-intensive attack now that Kurt Warner, Anquan Boldin and Jerheme Urban are gone. Wells has also lost seven pounds from his playing weight of 228 last year. Those are all positive reasons why Wells will be and should be considered a “sleeper” this year (or at least in line for a significant jump in production).

That is all true and should be considered. It should also be at least slightly tempered with a few other facets to Wells. He has almost no role as a receiver and in his final six games of last year only included four catches. He drops in value in reception point leagues. He will remain in a committee with Tim Hightower where his bigger share may not exceed 250 carries which would probably land him slightly north of 1000 yards with little to add as a receiver. Wells has never had more than 17 carries in any game and will likely tend towards having bigger games against soft or home opponents and then falling off in matchups where the Cards are losing and need to throw which places Hightower on the field for those formations. Consider too that Wells had a 4.5 YPC last year in the #2 passing attack in the league. Warner/Fitzgerald/Warner kept defenses on their heels. What will Leinart/Fitzgerald/Breaston do? Wells is still undeniably looking at a better season, but how much better will run against several factors.

Tier 4
Jahvid Best - FA YEAR TM GMS TYD TTD CAR RYD YPC RTD CAT CYD CTD
Huddle Rank: 20
Keeper: 20
Auction 10: 8%
Auction 12: 8%
2007                      
2008                      
2009                      
Avg   0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Proj FA   1270 8   820   6 50 450 2

(+Upside) You don’t throw Barry Sanders comparisons around lightly, especially in Detroit. However, after Lions coach Jim Schwartz admitted that when he’s alone with his computer late at night he bypasses Mr. Skin and goes right for the Jahvid Best videos to get him excited... well, all bets were off. Best brings a Sanders-like running style to the NFL, complete with the quick stops, even quicker restarts, and a trail of would-be tacklers left grasping at nothing. Detroit traded back into the first round to get Best, and with Kevin Smith still working his way back from a torn ACL the rookie will see significant touches from the get-go. Best’s injury track record, including a serious neck and head injury that prematurely ended his Heisman campaign last year, has some worried he won’t be able to stand up to a full NFL workload. But even if his workload is somewhat limited as he adjusts to the NFL, he’s a legitimate threat to go the distance every time he touches the ball. Don’t be surprised if the Lions start out giving Smith or Maurice Morris a handful of between-the-tackles totes at the start of the season while Best gets his feet wet with third-down duties and a dozen or so carries out of the backfield. But sooner rather than later, the Lions will come to the conclusion that Best needs to be on the field as frequently as possible. An offensive line that ranked 25th in the league in yards per carry doesn’t project to give the rookie much help, but using Best as a receiver should help circumvent that problem; besides, getting Best the ball in space is a recipe for success. And it certainly doesn’t hurt that, unlike the backs Detroit has had since Barry retired in 1998, all Best needs is a crack and 60 yards later he’s in the end zone.

08-22-10 Update: Best has looked very sharp in camp and preseason games. With a passing game that has spawned more optimism this year, the speedy and elusive Best could be a nice surprise.

LeSean McCoy - PHI YEAR TM GMS TYD TTD CAR RYD YPC RTD CAT CYD CTD
Huddle Rank: 21
Keeper: 22
Auction 10: 8%
Auction 12: 8%
2007                      
2008                      
2009 PHI 16 945 4 155 637 4.1 4 40 308  
Avg   16 945 4 155 637 4.1 4 40 308 0
Proj PHI   1380 6   890   6 51 490  

The Eagles are casting their lot with McCoy this year after releasing Brian Westbrook and doing little in the draft or free agency to bring in a challenger. McCoy only produced 637 rushing yards last year on 155 carries for a 4.1 yard average. He ran in four scores and also factored in as a receiver with 40 catches for 308 yards. McCoy is the new Westbrook, the question is how well he will resemble him. Offensive coordinator Marty Morinwheg has glowed about McCoy’s progress in the offseason and is confident in him as a starter this season.

A notable factor that should be considered is what happened in those two games with Kolb as a starter. Against the Saints he had to share with Westbrook and only ran 5 times for 18 yards and added four catches for 37 yards. The next week against the Chiefs, McCoy carried the full load with 20 runs for 84 yards and a score but only one catch for nine yards of the 327 yards passed by McCoy. But those were only two home games and now McCoy needs to step up even more.

So far all you can assume is that McCoy is a Westbrook-lite but with reception points counted could be a viable fantasy starter. He’ll also wind down the season in weeks 14 and 15 with road trips to Dallas and New York for divisional matchups. Those could depress his stats right when you needed him most. The Eagles have also been on a four year decline for passing to the running backs and had only 80 catches for 629 yards and three scores among all backs. Westbrook is his prime resulted in nearly double those numbers and Kolb already has thrown well to both Brent Celek and DeSean Jackson.

08-19-10 Update: McCoy has been outstanding in camp and showing progress from last year. Mike Bell missing time has only served to let McCoy show his stuff even more including a surprising iimprovement in his inside running.

Arian Foster - HOU YEAR TM GMS TYD TTD CAR RYD YPC RTD CAT CYD CTD
Huddle Rank: 22
Keeper: 27
Auction 10: 8%
Auction 12: 8%
2007                      
2008                      
2009 HOU 6 350 3 54 257 4.8 3 8 93  
Avg   6 350 3 54 257 4.8 3 8 93 0
Proj HOU   1240 8   860   7 35 380 1

(+Upside) The undrafted rookie from Tennessee only had two games of note last year but he ended the regular season with 97 yards on 19 carries and a score in Miami and then 119 yards on 20 runs with two scores against the visiting Patriots. With Steve Slaton still on the mend from his neck injury and potentially no more a factor, Foster is in the running to be the primary back in this offense. He will need to beat out the rookie Ben Tate but at least he was working with the first team in the OTA’s. Tate’s hamstring strain in the offseason also gave Foster even more activity in minicamp. Foster has been impressive this spring and may hold onto his starting job. The worst that could happen – and it is a definite possibility – is that Foster, Tate and even Slaton are all used and that Tate shows up better at the end of the season and takes more work from Foster.

There is obvious risk with Foster and a good chance he has a low ceiling this year but he is worth the risk given how deeply he is taken in drafts. The Texans still ranked in the middle for running backs last year including being a top ten team for throwing to the backs. This should unwind a bit in the preseason and Foster is a definite camp watch.

08-19-10 Update: Foster keeps scratching his way up the board and is now, finally, getting the praise and confidence of the coaching staff.

08-31-10 Update: Foster continues to rise on draft boards and the recent injury to Steve Slaton will only make Foster even more heavily relied on early in the season. It is an explosive offense adn Foster is sitting in a very good place right now.

Matt Forte - CHI YEAR TM GMS TYD TTD CAR RYD YPC RTD CAT CYD CTD
Huddle Rank: 23
Keeper: 24
Auction 10: 8%
Auction 12: 8%
2007                      
2008 CHI 16 1715 12 316 1238 3.9 8 63 477 4
2009 CHI 16 1400 4 258 929 3.6 4 57 471  
Avg   16 1558 8 287 1084 3.8 6 60 474 2
Proj CHI   1230 8   910   7 40 320 1

Much to the chagrin of fantasy owners who spent a top-five pick on him, Forte succumbed to a sophomore slump that saw him slide from the #4 fantasy back in 2008 to the #18 producer at his position last year. Not only did Forte average three-plus carries a game fewer than his rookie campaign, he was less productive (3.6 yards per carry, compared to 3.9 in 2008) with the carries he got. He also saw fewer looks out of the backfield, but the biggest reason for his precipitous drop was an inability to find the end zone. It’s tough to see Forte’s numbers bounce back significantly in 2010. For starters, Mike Martz wasn’t hired to kick-start the ground game; his offenses have ranked 20th or lower in rushing attempts six of the past seven seasons, broken only by a mediocre 15th the year he had both Marshall Faulk and Steven Jackson in St. Louis. He inherits a running game that finished in the bottom six in the league in attempts, yards, and touchdowns, ranking Chicago running backs 31st in fantasy scoring at that position. The Bears also threw $12.5 million at Chester Taylor, who could take anywhere from one-third to one-half of the backfield touches in Chicago. Finally, with no significant changes up front it would be folly to expect Forte—a classic take-what-is-blocked back—to suddenly improve on two seasons of sub-4.0 yards per carry work. As the only show in town last year Forte was a fringe fantasy starter, not to mention a huge disappointment to those who dramatically overvalued him heading into the season. With Taylor siphoning carries and the offense all about Jay Cutler and the passing game, Forte is falling even further away from that fringe.

08-19-10 Update: Forte is showing some of the burst of his rookie season and is past his knee and hamstring issues of last year. He merits a small bump.

C.J. Spiller - BUF YEAR TM GMS TYD TTD CAR RYD YPC RTD CAT CYD CTD
Huddle Rank: 24
Keeper: 21
Auction 10: 6%
Auction 12: 8%
2007                      
2008                      
2009                      
Avg   0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Proj BUF   1260 6   790   4 45 470 2

If you missed out on Chris Johnson in your dynasty league draft a couple years back, here’s your do-over. While Spiller didn’t match Johnson’s 40 time at the Combine, he was faster over 100 meters. There is no question he packs just as much speed and explosiveness as the most recent member of the 2,000-yard club. To wit: 21 of his 51 career touchdowns covered 50 yards or more. Is that Johnsonesque enough for you?

The problem for Spiller is that he landed in Buffalo where the Bills have one of the worst offenses in the league with marginal if any reasons to expect an improvement over 2009. Spiller will be used in the return game, as a receiver in the slot and out of the backfield and some work as a rusher but he’ll be used more like Reggie Bush in this offense than the everydown running back that Chris Johnson turned into in Tennessee. Spiller is an electric player to be sure and will help the offense but he’s not going to be a 300 carry savior here. He’ll l likely get drafted too early in most redraft leagues since the Bills are largely devoid of other offensive weapons and their passing attack looks to be one of the worst yet again, but within that consider Spiller earlier in reception point leagues. He’s a great weapon that will be used in a variety of ways but that may hurt owners in leagues that do not reward for return yards and scores or receptions. Chan Gailey attempts to fit the offense to his players and that will serve Spiller for years to come.

Ronnie Brown - HOU YEAR TM GMS TYD TTD CAR RYD YPC RTD CAT CYD CTD
Huddle Rank: 25
Keeper: 26
Auction 10: 6%
Auction 12: 8%
2007 MIA 7 991 5 119 602 5.1 4 39 389 1
2008 MIA 16 1170 10 214 916 4.3 10 33 254  
2009 MIA 9 746 8 147 648 4.4 8 14 98  
Avg   11 969 8 160 722 4.6 7 29 247 0
Proj HOU   1090 8   890   8 32 200  

(-Risk) Ronnie Brown has been busy in the offseason getting surgery on his Lis Franc surgery to his right foot and being arrested for DUI. He has shown up for some offseason workouts but has yet to be a full participant and his status until training camp. He has been on pace to be ready for training camp and was not traded as was rumored. Brown has been too injury prone to attractive much trade attention and he turns 29 in December which further reduces his long-term value.

The Fins did not bring in a free agent back or draft one in April so the same crew returns from 2009. That will mean a committee backfield only with even more risk until Brown’s health can be certain and even then – how long will he last? He’s never had more than 241 carries in any season and makes for a risky RB2 for a fantasy team. The Dolphins still ranked 3rd best in the league in 2009 with 455 carries to divide up and their 20 rushing touchdowns by running backs were 2nd best. If Brown can stay healthy, he has fantasy value but remains as an ever-present risk as well.

Felix Jones - FA YEAR TM GMS TYD TTD CAR RYD YPC RTD CAT CYD CTD
Huddle Rank: 26
Keeper: 23
Auction 10: 5%
Auction 12: 6%
2007                      
2008 DAL 6 276 3 30 266 8.9 3 2 10  
2009 DAL 14 804 3 116 685 5.9 3 19 119  
Avg   10 540 3 73 476 7.4 3 11 65 0
Proj FA   1080 8   890   7 25 190 1

Jones is certain to get more work this season as long as he can hold up. After being injured for much of his rookie year, Jones was a factor in home games during the regular season in 2009. He rushed only 116 times but gained 685 yards for a 5.9 yard average. But his effectiveness was almost exclusively while playing at home. Including the two playoff games, Jones ran for only 229 yards on 57 carries in road games for an average of 4.0 yards per carry. While at Cowboys Stadium, he gained 673 yards on 89 carries for a 7.6 yard average. All four of his touchdowns came at home.

If nothing else, it makes a case for Jones being effective only on carpet and not on real grass. He was given over ten carries in each of his final six games and even stepped up even more to run about 15 times per game in the final three matchups. The expectation is that Jones gets a bigger role this year and Barber relinquishes some carries. Jones was able to remain largely healthy last year though he missed two weeks early in the season. There will be fantasy value in the Dallas backfield this year but who and how much could be a changing situation as the season progresses. Jones is the most attractive back to grab in your drafts but so far he’s really been limited to being a homegame phenomena and he will share to some measure with Barber and Tashard Choice.

08-29-10 Update: Not to overstate a single preseason game, but Jones looked horrible against the Texans in week three and along with the rest of the Dallas rushing attack has not looked sharp in the preseason. For a team already committed to a rotation in the backfield, the fantasy value is only looking worse here.

Ahmad Bradshaw - IND YEAR TM GMS TYD TTD CAR RYD YPC RTD CAT CYD CTD
Huddle Rank: 27
Keeper: 29
Auction 10: 5%
Auction 12: 6%
2007 NYG 12 202 1 23 190 8.3 1 2 12  
2008 NYG 15 397 2 67 355 5.3 1 5 42 1
2009 NYG 15 985 7 163 778 4.8 7 21 207  
Avg   14 528 3 84 441 6.1 3 9 87 0
Proj IND   490     860   7 32 280  

Bradshaw played injured for almost all of 2009 and yet still had a career best year with 163 rushes for 778 yards and a 4.8 yard per carry average. He scored seven rushing touchdowns after never scoring more than twice in any season. Bradshaw enters his four season and yet is only 24 years of age. The 7.40 pick in the 2007 NFL draft was given a much larger role last year and played well considering his injuries. Bradhsaw required offseason surgery to both feet and his right ankle. He has screws implanted in his feet after having his ankle cleaned out of debris. HC Tom Coughlin expected Bradshaw to be over his stress fractures and bone spurs and be 100% ready for the season.

Question is – how long will he last? He is the smaller half of the backfield tandem and his only heavy use resulted in multiple injuries. Unless he really impresses in training camp and/or Jacobs appears to need more help this year, consider Bradshaw as just the less productive part of the Giants backfield. Bradshaw did not even catch much, ending with 21 receptions for 207 yards and no scores last year. He stepped up to having around three catches per game for the final month which is slightly encouraging.

08-10-10 Update: Bradshaw looks good in camp and chances are best that both he and Brandon Jacobs will be used in true tandem and the hotter hand will take the lead. That only means inconsistency from the backfield and more risk.

Clinton Portis - FA YEAR TM GMS TYD TTD CAR RYD YPC RTD CAT CYD CTD
Huddle Rank: 28
Keeper: 32
Auction 10: 5%
Auction 12: 6%
2007 WAS 16 1651 11 325 1262 3.9 11 47 389  
2008 WAS 16 1705 9 342 1487 4.3 9 28 218  
2009 WAS 8 551 2 124 494 4.0 1 9 57 1
Avg   13 1302 7 264 1081 4.1 7 28 221 0
Proj FA   1200 6   970   6 25 230  

Clinton Portis only played eight games last year thanks largely to a severe concussion but he claims there is no lingering problems from it. He was already having one of his worst seasons with a 4.0 yard per carry average and only two total touchdowns. Notable too is that while Portis is only 29 years old, he came out when he was 21 years old and has actually played the same number of seasons as Brian Westbrook (8) and there are only three active players with more carries (2,176) than Portis – Thomas Jones, Fred Taylor and LaDainian Tomlinson and none of those are expected to be primary backs anymore.

Portis is reunited with Mike Shanahan but there is limited optimism that he will replicate his career best season of 2003. Shanahan has stocked the backfield with Portis, Larry Johnson and Willie Parker. All three were starters as of last year and there will be an open competition for tailback in training camp with three veterans. It is entirely likely that one of the three ends up released before the season but regardless the Redskins will have a viable option to Portis this year. That has never really been the case since Portis arrived in Washington and all three backs are clearly on the downside of their careers. 2009 saw the Redskins rank dead least in the league for rushing yards by running backs.

Further dropping Portis is a much tougher rushing schedule this year that includes weeks 15 and 16 at Dallas and at Jacksonville. Portis may reclaim lost ground and hold off Johnson and Parker from digging too deeply into his workload but there is much more risk on Portis than ever before. He’s been worthy of a first round pick each year but is no longer given the risk from age, a crowded backfield and potential health problems.

Jerome Harrison - DET YEAR TM GMS TYD TTD CAR RYD YPC RTD CAT CYD CTD
Huddle Rank: 29
Keeper: 41
Auction 10: 5%
Auction 12: 6%
2007 CLE 8 161   23 142 6.2   2 19  
2008 CLE 15 362 2 34 246 7.2 1 12 116 1
2009 CLE 14 1082 7 194 862 4.4 5 34 220 2
Avg   12 535 3 84 417 5.9 2 16 118 1
Proj DET   1160 6   780   5 36 380 1

(+Upside) Harrison makes for an interesting pick and one you need to want as a starter because he will be drafted earlier than later by someone. He did little in his first three years with the Browns and even last year had just one nice game and not much else until the final three games. Harrison went nuts, gaining 561 yards and five touchdowns in just those three weeks. Basically, he had more yards and scores in those final three games than he had in the three years and 13 games before it. He gained 286 yards on 34 carries and three scores in a dispirited Kansas City, and then rolled off 39 runs for 148 yards and a score against the Raiders and finally 33 runs for 127 yards and the final touchdown versus the Jaguars. There is no chance he will carry 33 times in any game this year. He is two different players depending if you consider only his hot three games or the bulk of his four years.

Further complicating matters is that the Browns moved up to grab Montario Hardesty in the second round of the draft and they didn’t do it for someone to watch Harrison. The Browns intend to use both runners and then lean towards the hot hand for that game. That means relying on Harrison will be a big risk and most believe that Hardesty will be the better player. Watch the progress in training camp but Harrison is far riskier than what his final three games last year suggests.

09-03-10 Update: With the loss of Montario Hardesty for the year because of a torn ACL, Harrison becomes the clear #1 back for the Browns and will see a heavier load this year.

Reggie Bush - DET YEAR TM GMS TYD TTD CAR RYD YPC RTD CAT CYD CTD
Huddle Rank: 30
Keeper: 28
Auction 10: 5%
Auction 12: 6%
2007 NOS 12 998 6 157 581 3.7 4 73 417 2
2008 NOS 10 844 6 106 404 3.8 2 52 440 4
2009 NOS 14 725 8 70 390 5.6 5 47 335 3
Avg   12 856 7 111 458 4.4 4 57 397 3
Proj DET   990 8   510   5 48 480 3

The Saints only needed four years to decide on how best to use Bush. The former first-round pick from USC comes off some of his lowest career stats and yet he was the most effective he has been. Running only 70 times, he gained 390 yards for a 5.6 yard average and five touchdowns. Three previous seasons had seen him with roughly twice the number of runs and yet he had never produced better than a 3.8 yard rushing average. Bush had lower receiving numbers as well with 47 catches for 335 yards and three scores. Bush also lasted for 14 games instead of only ten or 12 as in previous seasons.

Bush plays a valued role with the Saints but his fantasy value and general stats have taken a hit. Consider Bush as only a bye week replacement player and even then it should only be in a reception point league. He has never shown the ability to remain healthy in any season and the more work he gets, the less likely he is to remain on the field.

Tim Hightower - FA YEAR TM GMS TYD TTD CAR RYD YPC RTD CAT CYD CTD
Huddle Rank: 31
Keeper: 33
Auction 10: 5%
Auction 12: 6%
2007                      
2008 ARI 16 636 10 143 399 2.8 10 34 237  
2009 ARI 16 1026 8 143 598 4.2 8 63 428  
Avg   16 831 9 143 499 3.5 9 49 333 0
Proj FA   990 8   530   7 65 460 1

Hightower enters his third season and comes off a decent showing in 2009 when he rushed for 598 yards on 143 carries with eight touchdowns and added 63 receptions for 428 yards – second only to Ray Rice in receptions. While he allowed Wells to take a large share of the action late last season, Hightower remained good for around ten or so touches per game and remained the goal line back who scored four times in the final five games. Hightower is losing a lot of fantasy ground to Wells this summer but at least some of that is unwarranted. Hightower will remain the pass catcher in the backfield which could be expanded now that Leinart will be the starter and looking for a quick dump-off. Hightower will still score touchdowns at the goal line. He had 143 carries last year (same as 2008) but an increase in workload for Beanie Wells doesn’t necessarily come out of Hightower’s production. The Cards ranked 30th in the NFL with 328 carries by running backs and that number is certain to increase with a greater focus on rushing this year. Hightower could end up with more work than he had in 2009.

Hightower is not the primary back in this offense now but he still carries fantasy value and likely more than most realize. He makes a very nice backup for your squad and could make for a low end starter in reception point leagues.

Justin Forsett - BAL YEAR TM GMS TYD TTD CAR RYD YPC RTD CAT CYD CTD
Huddle Rank: 32
Keeper: 37
Auction 10: 5%
Auction 12: 6%
2007                      
2008 SEA 14                  
2009 SEA 16 969 5 114 619 5.4 4 41 350 1
Avg   15 485 3 57 310 2.7 2 21 175 1
Proj BAL   1030 7   750   6 31 280 1

(+Upside) Forsett enters his third season and is carving out a nice third down niche for himself. In 2009, he ran 114 times for 619 yards (5.4 YPC) with four scores and added 41 receptions for 350 yards and a touchdown. He’ll have to compete with Leon Washington for playing time but Leon is still recovering from a near catastrophic broken leg last year and may not be ready for much work at least early in the season.

Add in the release of LenDale White and Forsett is in line for an increased workload if not being the primary back. Should Washington not bounce back quickly, Forsett makes for a nice sleeper pick.

08-22-10 Update: Unfortunately, Forsett has not been doing much to give the coaching staff a reason not to rely on all three backs this year. Expect a committee approach that is going to devalue all the backs on this team.

08-27-10 Update: Forsett has not been able to lock down any particular role and now Leon Washington appears to be gaining the upper hand in what will be a committee situation anyway.

Carnell Williams - FA* YEAR TM GMS TYD TTD CAR RYD YPC RTD CAT CYD CTD
Huddle Rank: 33
Keeper: 30
Auction 10: 5%
Auction 12: 6%
2007 TBB 4 225 3 54 208 3.9 3 3 17  
2008 TBB 6 276 4 63 233 3.7 4 7 43  
2009 TBB 16 1040 7 211 823 3.9 4 28 217 3
Avg   9 514 5 109 421 3.8 4 13 92 1
Proj FA*   1050 6   850   5 25 200 1

Cadillac was re-signed to a one-year contract but the Bucs are just saving a bundle by giving their primary running back only $2.2 million this year. The most amazing part about Williams is that the Buccaneers are standing pat this season and relying on him yet again. They took no rushers in the draft and stayed out of the meager free agent market. Williams has averaged less than four yards per carry since his rookie season in 2005 when he blew out his knee. Williams ran 211 times for 823 yards and four scores last year and he did add 28 catches for 217 yards with three scores. He has an easier schedule this year as well and the Bucs plan to feature the run more. That should all spell good things for Williams but he’s hardly proven to be up to the task. The Bucs are oddly happy with a set of running backs that ranked 29th in rush yards and 30th in rush touchdowns.

Marion Barber - FA YEAR TM GMS TYD TTD CAR RYD YPC RTD CAT CYD CTD
Huddle Rank: 34
Keeper: 31
Auction 10: 5%
Auction 12: 5%
2007 DAL 16 1257 12 204 975 4.8 10 44 282 2
2008 DAL 15 1302 9 238 885 3.7 7 52 417 2
2009 DAL 15 1153 7 214 932 4.4 7 26 221  
Avg   15 1237 9 219 931 4.3 8 41 307 1
Proj FA   850 9   640   8 18 210 1

Barber made it past the NFL draft without being part of trade so barring a team suddenly needing a tailback due to injury, the Cowboys will stand pat with the 6th year running back. The development of Felix Jones has allowed him to become the primary back and Barber is no longer considered the workhorse he once was. Barber had a solid enough season in 2009 with 932 rushing yards and seven scores but he was banged up much of the last two seasons and has been reduced in both the rushing and receiving game. The Cowboys picked up his $4 million roster bonus in March and in an uncapped year can his $8 million salary is not as high as it seems. Barber is signed through 2014 and would be due $24 million in those final three years which is highly unlikely.

Barber remains a part of the backfield but he’ll still share with the other two backs and will need to draw most of his fantasy value scoring touchdowns. Barber should remain the goal line option in the offense and is still expected to get around ten carries each week.

Brandon Jacobs - FA YEAR TM GMS TYD TTD CAR RYD YPC RTD CAT CYD CTD
Huddle Rank: 35
Keeper: 34
Auction 10: 4%
Auction 12: 5%
2007 NYG 11 1183 6 202 1009 5.0 4 23 174 2
2008 NYG 13 1125 15 219 1089 5.0 15 6 36  
2009 NYG 15 1019 6 224 835 3.7 5 18 184 1
Avg   13 1109 9 215 978 4.6 8 16 131 1
Proj FA   1050 7   800   6 20 160 1

Jacobs comes off the worst season of his career when he only gained 835 yards on 224 carries for just a 3.7 yard average and only five touchdowns. Jacobs had spent 2007 and 2008 gaining over 1000 rushing yards and averaging right at five yards per carry. He even scored a career best 15 touchdowns in 2008. But it was revealed in the offseason that Jacobs injured his left knee in the season opener and played all year with the injury. He had his knee scoped in the spring and repaired a torn meniscus. He is expected to be healthy for training camp and he claims to want a bounce back year. Before buying into that, realize that the Giants offensive line has been aging and is no longer the dominant unit of a couple of years ago. Jacobs also has never been much of a receiver and has never had more than 23 receptions in any season. He also has to contend with Ahmad Bradshaw who was injured last season as well but who should also be looking for a “bounce back”.

Jacobs is less attractive than he has been in the past and not just from coming off a bad year. The team is different around him and the blocking is not as good. This schedule is actually tougher compared to last year so make Jacobs nothing more than your RB2 and value him lower in leagues that use reception points.

Ricky Williams - FA YEAR TM GMS TYD TTD CAR RYD YPC RTD CAT CYD CTD
Huddle Rank: 36
Keeper: 46
Auction 10: 4%
Auction 12: 5%
2007 MIA 1 15   6 15 2.5        
2008 MIA 16 878 5 160 659 4.1 4 29 219 1
2009 MIA 16 1385 13 241 1121 4.7 11 35 264 2
Avg   11 759 6 136 598 3.8 5 21 161 1
Proj FA   940 7   720   6 30 220 1

Ricky Williams enters his tenth NFL season and is already 33 years of age – that is almost unprecedented for any back let alone one who weighs around 230 pounds. He remains under contract through 2010 and has only 900 rushing yards left to break Larry Csonka’s franchise record. Williams suffered a shoulder injury last year but did not miss a game. He had 1121 yards on 241 carries and 11 touchdowns for his best year since 2003 thanks in large part to Ronnie Brown being lost for the season. By design, his workload should be more like 2008 when he rushed for 659 yards on 160 carries and scored twice with 29 receptions producing 219 yards.

Much of Williams’ value rides on how well Ronnie Brown returns from his Lis Franc injury. The entire backfield for the Fins looks risky this year.

Michael Bush - FA YEAR TM GMS TYD TTD CAR RYD YPC RTD CAT CYD CTD
Huddle Rank: 37
Keeper: 25
Auction 10: 4%
Auction 12: 5%
2007                      
2008 OAK 15 583 3 95 421 4.4 3 19 162  
2009 OAK 16 694 3 123 589 4.8 3 17 105  
Avg   16 639 3 109 505 4.6 3 18 134 0
Proj FA   1030 5   800   5 22 230  

(+Upside) Bush has worked with the first team this spring and since Justin Fargas left, he has become the starting tailback with Darren McFadden still trying to figure out why he was drafted so highly. Bush enters his fourth season and comes 123 carries for 589 yards and three scores last year. That’s a 4.8 yard average against a measly 3.4 by McFadden. Having a new (AKA “real”) quarterback in Oakland should have a tremendous effect on the running game since it becomes more likely that defenses have to defend against the pass. The schedule is lighter than most and thus far McFadden is nothing more than a pricey draft bust that the Raiders still think might be something in the future. Bush already is and is ready for fulltime duty. Bush won’t approach big numbers in this offense but he could be a nice surprise particularly for a player that you can likely draft as a backup.

08-29-10 Update: Bush has fractured his thumb and will miss an unknown amount of time. He's still worth owning but only as running back depth you can access later in the season.

Tier 5
Leon Washington - TEN YEAR TM GMS TYD TTD CAR RYD YPC RTD CAT CYD CTD
Huddle Rank: 38
Keeper: 39
Auction 10: 2%
Auction 12: 2%
2007 NYJ 16 566 3 71 353 5.0 3 36 213  
2008 NYJ 16 803 8 76 448 5.9 6 47 355 2
2009 NYJ 7 462   72 331 4.6   15 131  
Avg   13 610 4 73 377 5.2 3 33 233 1
Proj TEN   960 6   660   5 28 300 1

(+Upside) The Seahawks acquired Washington in exchange for the Seattle fifth round pick. The Jets also gave up a seventh round pick as well. Washington ended his 2009 season after only seven games when he had a compound fracture in his tibia and fibia. He has recovered to the point of being able to practice but the jury is still out if this won’t have long-term effects to the 28-year-old player who relied on his speed and shiftiness. The Jets staff admitted they were unsure if Washington would be fully ready by the start of the season.

Until he shows that he has recovered and will play a significant role for the Seahawks, he’s a risk to expect anything worthy of a fantasy start this year. Washington should start out behind Justin Forsett on the depth chart. He only cost a fifth round pick and the Seahawks picked up an extra seventh. Unfortunately someone else will draft him and likely too early so there won’t be a chance to sit back and see what happens. Let it happen with someone else.

08-20-10 Update: As much as Justin Forsett seems like a nice sleeper type, Leon Washington is looking better and scored in the last preseason game. Both Forsett and Julius Jones have looked only average. This will be a committee backfield and HC Pete Carroll is more than fine with that.

08-27-10 Update: Washington is starting for week three of the preseason and has apparently taken the lead in what will be a committee backfield.

Darren McFadden - OAK YEAR TM GMS TYD TTD CAR RYD YPC RTD CAT CYD CTD
Huddle Rank: 39
Keeper: 35
Auction 10: 2%
Auction 12: 2%
2007                      
2008 OAK 13 784 4 113 499 4.4 4 29 285  
2009 OAK 12 602 1 104 357 3.4 1 21 245  
Avg   13 693 3 109 428 3.9 3 25 265 0
Proj OAK   910 5   520   4 38 390 1

(-Risk) The 1.04 pick of 2008 is shaping up to be yet another Oakland bust. He has missed at least three games in both his seasons and last year actually regressed with only 104 carries for 357 yards and one score against, somehow, three lost fumbles. He added 21 receptions for 245 yards but has never caught a touchdown in the NFL yet. The speedy supposed game breaker only managed to gain 3.4 yards per carry last year. Still the Raiders spent so much on him that he gets another disappointing year and it could improve some in 2010 if only because the other Oakland bust Jamarcus Russell is gone. That cannot hurt. But until McFadden can prove he can do anything more than go down whenever touched and then losing a fumble, let someone else in your league dream of the potential that doesn’t really seem to be there anymore.

08-29-10 Update: The injury to Michael Bush will benefit McFadden but there's nothing in McFadden's past that suggests he will do much of anything with it or that he'll remain healthy for more than a small stretch of games. He has missed almost the entire preseason already and is just getting healthy in time for the regular season.

Fred Taylor - FA YEAR TM GMS TYD TTD CAR RYD YPC RTD CAT CYD CTD
Huddle Rank: 40
Keeper: 71
Auction 10: 2%
Auction 12: 2%
2007 JAC 15 1260 5 223 1202 5.4 5 9 58  
2008 JAC 13 654 1 143 556 3.9 1 16 98  
2009 NEP 6 286 4 63 269 4.3 4 2 17  
Avg   11 733 3 143 676 4.5 3 9 58 0
Proj FA   780 6   660   5 14 120 1

Taylor wants to return to the Patriots and is in the second and final year of his contract but that doesn’t guarantee he’ll make it through training camp with the team. Taylor needed ankle surgery last year and only played in six games. He gained a career low 269 yards on 623 carries but scored four times.

The plus is that the Patriots did not acquire any top back and will use the same set of interchangeable parts from last year. Taylor is also going to turn 35 in January so expecting much here is wildly optimistic.

Thomas Jones - FA YEAR TM GMS TYD TTD CAR RYD YPC RTD CAT CYD CTD
Huddle Rank: 41
Keeper: 48
Auction 10: 2%
Auction 12: 2%
2007 NYJ 16 1336 2 310 1119 3.6 1 28 217 1
2008 NYJ 16 1519 15 290 1312 4.5 13 36 207 2
2009 NYJ 16 1460 14 331 1402 4.2 14 10 58  
Avg   16 1438 10 310 1278 4.1 9 25 161 1
Proj FA   710 7   630   7 17 80  

Jones turns 32 in August and comes off four very successful seasons in New York where he averaged 305 carries per season and strung together four straight 1100+ rushing yard seasons. He rushed for 13 and 14 touchdowns in the last two seasons. His age is his downside and the Jets declined a chance to match the Chiefs offer in large part because Jones is getting old. Jones is slated to make $5.8 million this year so he is hardly brought on board just for depth. The Chiefs intend on using Jones, the only question is how much?

Jones claims he doesn’t care how many carries he gets and he’s past being the primary runner at 32 and more importantly Jamaal Charles is already very successful as the starter. Jones should help mentor Charles and at least supply relief, short yardage and goal line work. This could be a nice wind-down for Jones and some help for Charles. Drafting the pair will be difficult but a wide move because should Charles become injured, Jones is back to a 300 carry pace again.

Jason Snelling - FA YEAR TM GMS TYD TTD CAR RYD YPC RTD CAT CYD CTD
Huddle Rank: 42
Keeper: 38
Auction 10: 2%
Auction 12: 2%
2007 ATL 7 43 1 13 43 3.3 1      
2008 ATL 16 151   15 62 4.1   8 89  
2009 ATL 14 872 5 142 613 4.3 4 30 259 1
Avg   12 355 2 57 239 3.9 2 13 116 0
Proj FA   750 6   440   4 33 310 2

Snelling signed a one-year, $1.7 million contract in the offseason and should end up as the #2 behind Michael Turner after gaining 613 yards on 142 carries in relief last year. More importantly, it was a tough schedule and yet Snelling averaged 4.3 yards per carry unlike the 3.3 yards that Norwood managed when he was not injured himself. Snelling is not worth stealing in fantasy leagues because he is not likely to get enough carries to merit consideration but he now becomes the handcuff to Turner.

Darren Sproles - PHI YEAR TM GMS TYD TTD CAR RYD YPC RTD CAT CYD CTD
Huddle Rank: 43
Keeper: 40
Auction 10: 2%
Auction 12: 2%
2007 SDC 15 195 2 37 164 4.4 2 10 31  
2008 SDC 16 672 6 61 330 5.4 1 29 342 5
2009 SDC 16 840 7 93 343 3.7 3 45 497 4
Avg   16 569 5 64 279 4.5 2 28 290 3
Proj PHI   740 6   260   2 45 480 4

Tomlinson is gone and Ryan Mathews has replaced him but Sproles keeps the same third-down role from last year. The Chargers signed Sproles to a one-year, $7.3 million contract. He’s had minimal role as a rusher and has never rushed more than the 93 times last year. Even then, he only gained 343 yards for a 3.7 YPC. Sproles was a good receiver in 2009, turning in 45 receptions for 497 yards and four scores. He had five touchdowns via the pass last year. Sproles is a nice pick for the Mathews owner and in a reception points league, he’ll have least bye week fill-in value but short of an injury to Mathews, Sproles will struggle to have fantasy significance.

Toby Gerhart - JAC YEAR TM GMS TYD TTD CAR RYD YPC RTD CAT CYD CTD
Huddle Rank: 44
Keeper: 43
Auction 10: 2%
Auction 12: 2%
2007                      
2008                      
2009                      
Avg   0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Proj JAC   790 5   490   4 30 300 1

(+Upside) The pre-draft debate around Gerhart centered on whether he was an NFL fullback or that rarest of commodities, a Caucasian tailback. Then the Vikings moved up to add him to their backfield, and now the concern for fantasy owners is: will he steal touchdowns from Adrian Peterson? With 28 touchdowns at Stanford last year there’s no question Gerhart has a nose for the stripe, and his running style suggests that the bulk of the touches he takes off AP’s plate will come between the tackles. He could also siphon a portion of the third down work formerly handled by Chester Taylor; while his receiving resume is lacking he has shown aptitude in that area as well as experience and proficiency as a blocker. As it stands he’s the handcuff to Peterson, with the potential to offer a more sure-handed LenDale White-type option to Peterson at the goal line. It’s extremely unlikely that Gerhart commands the top half of a 15/10 TD split like White did with Chris Johnson and the Titans in 2008, but there is definitely a tangy zip of upside here.

LaDainian Tomlinson - FA YEAR TM GMS TYD TTD CAR RYD YPC RTD CAT CYD CTD
Huddle Rank: 45
Keeper: 45
Auction 10: 2%
Auction 12: 2%
2007 SDC 16 1949 18 315 1474 4.7 15 60 475 3
2008 SDC 16 1536 12 292 1110 3.8 11 52 426 1
2009 SDC 14 884 12 223 730 3.3 12 20 154  
Avg   15 1456 14 277 1105 3.9 13 44 352 1
Proj FA   780 5   580   4 24 200 1

One of the best runners of all-time, Tomlinson now undergoes the obligatory “it ain’t over” move to a new team and his tenure in San Diego did not end well with his blaming the offense and coaches for his decline. After setting all-time records in 2006 with his 28 rushing touchdowns and 1815 rushing yards, LT has been on a decline not only in yardage and scored but in yards per carry. In 2008 he only managed 1110 yards on 292 carries for a 3.8 yard average. Last year it was 223 carries for 730 yards and down to only 3.3 yards. Tomlinson’s ability to gain yards after first contact has almost completely disappeared. Tomlinson turns 31 in June and has the look of a horse trotting out to pasture and grumbling all the while.

Tomlinson finds the youngster Shonn Greene there and will support him. Tomlinson has been an accomplished receiver in years past but even that skill has eroded with only 20 catches last year that only gained 154 yards – a lower average than tight ends. HC Rex Ryan has suggested that LT may get 15 carries a game but that seems wildly optimistic if not antiproductive. And Tomlinson is less likely to be the touchdown hawk in this offense since he gives up at least ten pounds to Greene. There are carries to share in this offense that had 518 rushing attempts last year. Tomlinson makes a risky fantasy pick and yet there is some upside here in this offense. If Greene gets injured, then Tomlinson may step back up to a RB1 level but he’s best on your bench until you are sure what to expect. Problem is that someone will draft him as a starter.

   
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