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FANTASY FOOTBALL DRAFT KIT

2011 Player Rankings: Running Backs
Updated: September 8, 2011
Top 10's:        
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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: 34%
Auction 12: 38%
2008 MIN 16 1885 10 363 1760 4.8 10 21 125  
2009 MIN 16 1819 18 314 1383 4.4 18 43 436  
2010 MIN 15 1639 13 283 1298 4.6 12 36 341 1
Avg   16 1781 14 320 1480 4.6 13 33 301 0
Proj MIN   1970 18   1610   16 38 360 2

Peterson will once again be the centerpiece of the Minnesota offense, and the new coaching staff won't be afraid to push him towards the 363 carries he had in 2008. He's still a work in progress in the passing game, but AP is a lock for double-digit touchdowns and should challenge for the league's total yardage crown.

Ray Rice - BAL YEAR TM GMS TYD TTD CAR RYD YPC RTD CAT CYD CTD
Huddle Rank: 2
Keeper: 4
Auction 10: 34%
Auction 12: 38%
2008 BAL 13 727   107 454 4.2   33 273  
2009 BAL 16 2041 8 254 1339 5.3 7 78 702 1
2010 BAL 16 1776 6 307 1220 4.0 5 63 556 1
Avg   15 1515 5 223 1004 4.5 4 58 510 1
Proj BAL   2100 13   1500   10 65 600 3

Rice had one of the better fantasy offseasons: goal line vulture and touch stealer Willis McGahee is gone, and disgruntled fullback Le'Ron McClain was replaced by premier lead blocker Vonta Leach. Oh, and the Ravens plan to rededicate themselves to the running game. 400 touches, 2,000 yards from scrimmage, and double-digit touchdowns--all benchmarks of a stud fantasy back--are on the radar.

Arian Foster - HOU YEAR TM GMS TYD TTD CAR RYD YPC RTD CAT CYD CTD
Huddle Rank: 3
Keeper: 3
Auction 10: 32%
Auction 12: 36%
2008                      
2009 HOU 6 350 3 54 257 4.8 3 8 93  
2010 HOU 16 2220 18 327 1616 4.9 16 66 604 2
Avg   11 1285 11 191 937 4.9 10 37 349 1
Proj HOU   1970 14   1460   12 55 510 2

(-Risk) Foster revealed that he played most of 2010 with a torn meniscus in his knee. Not bad for leading the entire league with 1616 rushing yards. Foster also is only being paid the third year minimum of $480,000 so he has tremendous motivation to have a big season and stop being the most underpaid player in the NFL. Foster has lost his lead blocker Vonte Leach but Foster already led the league in broken tackles anyway. Throw in that he's a great receiver and there is no cause for concern. Ben Tate has been impressive but he'll remain just the primary backup.

09-01-11 Update: Foster's knee has been a celebrity in its own right for a day but Foster claims it is an non-issue and he will play in week one. Still... makes you wonder.

Chris Johnson - NYJ YEAR TM GMS TYD TTD CAR RYD YPC RTD CAT CYD CTD
Huddle Rank: 4
Keeper: 2
Auction 10: 32%
Auction 12: 36%
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
2010 TEN 16 1609 12 316 1364 4.3 11 44 245 1
Avg   16 1869 13 308 1533 4.9 11 46 336 1
Proj NYJ   1840 12   1480   11 50 360 1

Johnson is holding out and wants to be paid like the super- star back that he is. Problem is that he won't report to camp without a new contract and the Titans GM Mike Reinfeldt won't negotiate until he is in camp. Johnson really needs no training camp to hit the ground running for the season so unless this extends into game one, the assumption is that the Titans get the franchise back into camp and happy. In his first three seasons, he has never had less than 1488 total yards and ten scores.

08-25-11 Update: The scariest holdout ever continues with every draft watching Johnson start to slide until someone has to take the plunge. Problem is that it looks like this could extend into the season and even when he reports, he will be eased back into a fulltime role.

09-01-11 Update: The holdout ended quickly and Johnson will be ready for week one. Expect him to not start out with the full load and need a couple of weeks to get back into playing shape.

Jamaal Charles - KCC YEAR TM GMS TYD TTD CAR RYD YPC RTD CAT CYD CTD
Huddle Rank: 5
Keeper: 5
Auction 10: 32%
Auction 12: 34%
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
2010 KCC 16 1935 8 230 1467 6.4 5 45 468 3
Avg   16 1327 6 162 981 5.9 4 37 346 2
Proj KCC   1950 10   1480   8 48 470 2

(+Upside) This could be a monster year for Charles who is slated to get more workload. Last year he only had 230 carries but gained 1467 yards and added 45 receptions for 468 yards. He lacks in TDs (8) compared to others but any increase in workload is going to be magic for his numbers. Charles will face one of the toughest rushing schedules in the league this year but he's a dual threat and can prop up every game stats with receptions as well. Bottom line - Charles never had a bad game in 2010. Not one.

Rashard Mendenhall - FA YEAR TM GMS TYD TTD CAR RYD YPC RTD CAT CYD CTD
Huddle Rank: 6
Keeper: 7
Auction 10: 28%
Auction 12: 30%
2008 PIT 4 75   19 58 3.1   2 17  
2009 PIT 16 1369 8 242 1108 4.6 7 25 261 1
2010 PIT 16 1440 13 324 1273 3.9 13 23 167  
Avg   12 961 7 195 813 3.9 7 17 148 0
Proj FA   1610 14   1340   13 33 270 1

Mendenhall closed last year with a six-game scoring streak including all three playoff tilts, establishing himself as a top-tier fantasy back. There's no one to threaten his 300- plus carries in Pittsburgh, so he's a bankable commodity heading into 2011. Just don't sign up for his Twitter feed.

Tier 2
LeSean McCoy - PHI YEAR TM GMS TYD TTD CAR RYD YPC RTD CAT CYD CTD
Huddle Rank: 7
Keeper: 6
Auction 10: 26%
Auction 12: 26%
2008                      
2009 PHI 16 945 4 155 637 4.1 4 40 308  
2010 PHI 15 1672 9 207 1080 5.2 7 78 592 2
Avg   16 1309 7 181 859 4.7 6 59 450 1
Proj PHI   1750 10   1100   8 80 650 2

The Eagles did not run that much last year - only 285 RB attempts as a team and just 207 for McCoy who still had the lion's share of work. More important was his role as a receiver with 78 catches for 592 yards and with no new players to challenge that role, McCoy remains a safe bet for moderate production and a hot property in reception point leagues.

Darren McFadden - OAK YEAR TM GMS TYD TTD CAR RYD YPC RTD CAT CYD CTD
Huddle Rank: 8
Keeper: 8
Auction 10: 24%
Auction 12: 26%
2008 OAK 13 784 4 113 499 4.4 4 29 285  
2009 OAK 12 602 1 104 357 3.4 1 21 245  
2010 OAK 13 1664 10 223 1157 5.2 7 47 507 3
Avg   13 1017 5 147 671 4.3 4 32 346 1
Proj OAK   1660 10   1180   7 40 480 3

McFadden had a breakout season in 2010. After two years of marginal play, he exploded for six games over 100 rushing yards and seven touchdowns. The challenge this year is that his biggest games were against STL, ARI, SEA, JAC and DEN twice. Only Denver remains on the schedule and McFadden still had a toe injury later in the year. In fairness, McFadden balanced his rushing with 47 catches for 507 yards and three scores and often showed up better as a receiver in games when his rushing was held in check. McFadden is in great shape this year but he'll have to work harder to equal the totals of last season since he's become the only real weapon on the team. And he only had 32 catches in the 13 games that Campbell was the QB.

Maurice Jones-Drew - OAK YEAR TM GMS TYD TTD CAR RYD YPC RTD CAT CYD CTD
Huddle Rank: 9
Keeper: 14
Auction 10: 18%
Auction 12: 20%
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
2010 JAC 14 1641 7 299 1324 4.4 5 34 317 2
Avg   15 1598 12 269 1180 4.4 11 50 419 2
Proj OAK   1530 10   1170   8 46 360 2

(-Risk) Jones-Drew returns from offseason meniscus surgery on his right knee and has participated in padded practices which is a plus. But the concern is that the heavy workload is too much for his body to handle and there is a plan to use Rashad Jennings more to spell him and keep him fresher and healthier. That often goes to the wayside in the heat of games when MJD is tearing up an opponent but at the least he's now recovering from a knee surgery and has to be considered a health risk. His bad knee did not prevent him from gaining 1324 rushing yards last year but his touchdown totals have fallen to only five rushing scores last year.

08-20-11 Update: Jones-Drew is back to practice though they are taking it easy with him and his knee. He shows speed and cutting ability again. He may be the feast or famine RB in this draft. A steal or an albatross around your neck.

Matt Forte - CHI YEAR TM GMS TYD TTD CAR RYD YPC RTD CAT CYD CTD
Huddle Rank: 10
Keeper: 10
Auction 10: 22%
Auction 12: 22%
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  
2010 CHI 16 1616 9 237 1069 4.5 6 51 547 3
Avg   16 1577 8 270 1079 4.0 6 57 498 2
Proj CHI   1640 8   1100   6 55 540 2

Forte is playing for a payday this season, as the Bears have yet to extend his rookie contract. He's carving out a niche as a poor man's Marshall Faulk in the Mike Martz offense, but he may have to share more touches with Marion Barber than he did Chester Taylor. Questions about Chicago's offensive line also make Forte a risk, but his value as a pass-catcher keeps at least some of that risk at bay.

   
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