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FANTASY FOOTBALL DRAFT KIT

2011 Player Rankings: Running Backs
Updated: September 8, 2011   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: 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.

Frank Gore - SFO YEAR TM GMS TYD TTD CAR RYD YPC RTD CAT CYD CTD
Huddle Rank: 11
Keeper: 9
Auction 10: 18%
Auction 12: 20%
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
2010 SFO 11 1305 5 203 853 4.2 3 46 452 2
Avg   13 1413 9 224 1003 4.5 6 47 410 2
Proj SFO   1640 8   1120   6 60 520 2

Gore missed the final five games of 2009 with a fractured hip that has since fully healed. But Gore is holding out knowing that he is underpaid and at 28 he's only got one last chance at a big contract. Gore has been the lone consistently productive part of the offensive for the last five seasons and would have strung together his fifth straight season of at least 1300 total yards were he not injured. Gore is going to be the workhorse of this offense and a bigger component in the receiving game. He gets little benefit from the offense around him but that has been true for his entire career.

08-01-11 Update: Gore has agreed to end his holdout.

Steven Jackson - ATL YEAR TM GMS TYD TTD CAR RYD YPC RTD CAT CYD CTD
Huddle Rank: 12
Keeper: 12
Auction 10: 18%
Auction 12: 20%
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  
2010 STL 16 1624 6 330 1241 3.8 6 46 383  
Avg   14 1594 6 302 1233 4.1 6 46 361 0
Proj ATL   1580 8   1190   7 44 390 1

Jackson was one of the heaviest worked players in the league last year when he turned in 330 carries and 46 catches. The realistic concern is that the eighth year player needs more help and a lighter load to keep him fresh and healthy. Last season was his first to fall below a 4.0 YPC (3.8) but his yardage and scores remained in line with the past - he just had more carries and catches to get there. It is expected that the Rams will bring in a veteran back to help out but the early days of free agency have not produced anyone and the team did not bother with the position in the NFL draft. That means - intentions or not - Jackson is going to be in line for a heavy workload yet again this year and against a tougher rushing schedule.

Tier 3
Michael Turner - FA YEAR TM GMS TYD TTD CAR RYD YPC RTD CAT CYD CTD
Huddle Rank: 13
Keeper: 16
Auction 10: 18%
Auction 12: 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  
2010 ATL 16 1456 12 334 1371 4.1 12 12 85  
Avg   14 1367 13 296 1314 4.5 13 8 54 0
Proj FA   1380 11   1300   11 10 80  

Turner underwent groin surgery in the offseason and has recovered from the injury that affected him at the end of last year. Turner still had a decent season with 1371 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns. He is 29 years old and carries a big load so durability is a factor but he also is facing one of the best rushing schedules in the league. The Falcons also added receiver help which could mean easier rushing as well.

08-18-11 Update: Turner may lose a slight amount of work to the change of pace rookie Jacquizz Rodgers.

LeGarrette Blount - PIT YEAR TM GMS TYD TTD CAR RYD YPC RTD CAT CYD CTD
Huddle Rank: 14
Keeper: 22
Auction 10: 14%
Auction 12: 16%
2008                      
2009                      
2010 TBB 13 1021 6 201 1007 5.0 6 5 14  
Avg   13 1021 6 201 1007 5.0 6 5 14 0
Proj PIT   1440 10   1290   9 17 150 1

Blount really exploded last year, gaining 1007 rushing yards and yet not really playing until week seven. He racked up four efforts over 100 rush yards but had almost no role as a receiver. He averaged 5.0 yards per carry and managed to make it the entire season without popping anyone in the grill. While there is not a lot of wiggle to him, Blount is a load at 247 pounds and breaks tackles regularly. This is his first season as the starter and there is no other player on the roster remotely as adept at running as he is.

Shonn Greene - TEN YEAR TM GMS TYD TTD CAR RYD YPC RTD CAT CYD CTD
Huddle Rank: 15
Keeper: 18
Auction 10: 14%
Auction 12: 16%
2008                      
2009 NYJ 14 540 2 108 540 5.0 2      
2010 NYJ 15 886 2 185 766 4.1 2 16 120  
Avg   15 713 2 147 653 4.6 2 8 60 0
Proj TEN   1390 10   1310   10 15 80  

Greene had to share with LaDainian Tomlinson last season and it wasn't until the end of the year that he finally assumed the primary role. This season, the plan is to run Greene much more and rely on Tomlinson for a third down role. The schedule is easier this year and Greene was coming on well last year. He has minimal role as a receiver which impacts his fantasy stats but there is no reason why this should not be his first 1000 yard season and a bigger role at the goal line.

Peyton Hillis - NYG YEAR TM GMS TYD TTD CAR RYD YPC RTD CAT CYD CTD
Huddle Rank: 16
Keeper: 11
Auction 10: 14%
Auction 12: 16%
2008 DEN 12 522 6 68 343 5.0 5 14 179 1
2009 DEN 14 73 1 13 54 4.2 1 4 19  
2010 CLE 16 1654 13 270 1177 4.4 11 61 477 2
Avg   14 750 7 117 525 4.5 6 26 225 1
Proj NYG   1380 10   980   9 58 400 1

The Madden cover boy buckled under the weight of carrying Cleveland's offense, as he failed to score after Week 12 and averaged just 67 yards from scrimmage over the final five games. With Montario Hardesty healthy and Brandon Jackson added, Hillis should stay fresher longer; the reduction in touches might hurt some--especially in PPR leagues--but he's still essentially playing the role of Steven Jackson in new coach Pat Shurmur's offense.

Mark Ingram - NOS YEAR TM GMS TYD TTD CAR RYD YPC RTD CAT CYD CTD
Huddle Rank: 17
Keeper: 13
Auction 10: 12%
Auction 12: 14%
2008                      
2009                      
2010                      
Avg   0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Proj NOS   1300 11   1100   10 25 200 1

(+Upside) Ingram brings a complete package to one of the most powerful offenses in the NFL. He is both built like and draws comparisons to Emmitt Smith. Expectations are that he will emerge from camp as the primary back and the Saints want to pound the ball more this year after a disastrous time in 2009 when injuries ravaged the backfield. Ingram can block, run and catch and should be a great fit for the offense for many years. His fantasy value will depends on the ratio of touches he is given and while that remains to be seen, Ingram is the first back you want to draft from this scoring machine of a team.

Jahvid Best - FA YEAR TM GMS TYD TTD CAR RYD YPC RTD CAT CYD CTD
Huddle Rank: 18
Keeper: 20
Auction 10: 8%
Auction 12: 8%
2008                      
2009                      
2010 DET 16 1042 6 171 555 3.2 4 58 487 2
Avg   16 1042 6 171 555 3.2 4 58 487 2
Proj FA   1320 9   750   6 50 570 3

Best shockingly lasted all 16 games last season, though he lost some of his explosiveness to a toe injury in Week 2 and was never at full go the rest of the way. Best can focus on what he does best: take 12-18 touches outside and leave defenders in the dust with video game moves. His rushing total will be dampened, but his value in PPR leagues is positively Westbrookian.

Ahmad Bradshaw - IND YEAR TM GMS TYD TTD CAR RYD YPC RTD CAT CYD CTD
Huddle Rank: 19
Keeper: 15
Auction 10: 8%
Auction 12: 8%
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  
2010 NYG 16 1549 8 276 1235 4.5 8 47 314  
Avg   15 977 6 169 789 4.9 5 24 188 0
Proj IND   1420 7   1060   7 43 360  

Bradshaw has improved his stats every season and comes off a career best mark of 1235 rush yards and 314 yards on 47 catches with eight scores. He's trying out the market as a free agent but has not been offered a deal any better than what the Giants are offering. Barring a later signing, Bradshaw is most likely back with the Giants in a familiar offense and role.

08-01-11 Update: Re-signed with Giants.

DeAngelo Williams - CAR YEAR TM GMS TYD TTD CAR RYD YPC RTD CAT CYD CTD
Huddle Rank: 20
Keeper: 19
Auction 10: 8%
Auction 12: 8%
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  
2010 CAR 6 422 1 87 361 4.1 1 11 61  
Avg   12 1142 9 192 998 4.9 9 21 145 1
Proj CAR   1390 7   1150   7 26 240  

Williams missed ten games last year because of his foot injury but he is healthy again and newly re-signed by the Panthers for a hefty $43 million for five years with $21 million guaranteed. To all Jonathan Stewart owners - sorry. the Panthers want to concentrate on their running game to reduce the need for Cam Newton to throw so even the sharing scenario still gives both runners fantasy value. If either are injured, then you own a gold mine.

Felix Jones - FA YEAR TM GMS TYD TTD CAR RYD YPC RTD CAT CYD CTD
Huddle Rank: 21
Keeper: 26
Auction 10: 8%
Auction 12: 8%
2008 DAL 6 276 3 30 266 8.9 3 2 10  
2009 DAL 14 804 3 116 685 5.9 3 19 119  
2010 DAL 16 1250 2 185 800 4.3 1 48 450 1
Avg   12 777 3 110 584 6.4 2 23 193 0
Proj FA   1390 7   920   6 49 470 1

Jones rushed for only 800 yards last year despite playing all 16 games and he only ran in one score. The loss of Marion Barber does not change anything as Jones already took over to marginal results in 2010. The Cowboys are committed to a rotation of three backs and Jones will never carry a heavy load there.

Joseph Addai - FA YEAR TM GMS TYD TTD CAR RYD YPC RTD CAT CYD CTD
Huddle Rank: 22
Keeper: 21
Auction 10: 8%
Auction 12: 8%
Movement:
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
2010 IND 8 619 4 116 495 4.3 4 19 124  
Avg   12 844 8 163 622 3.9 6 32 222 2
Proj FA   1330 8   850   7 45 480 1

Addai's new contract is worth $14 million over three years and that ensures offensive continuity for this high-powered points machine called the Colts. Addai missed half of last season because of a neck injury even though he turned in a 4.3 YPC. Addai typically ends up as an RB2 sort of fantasy player since he has the consistency of every week points, but he almost never has a big game. He has only managed three games over 100 rush yards over the last three seasons. He's a safe pick but never one that wins your league.

Tier 4
Cedric Benson - FA YEAR TM GMS TYD TTD CAR RYD YPC RTD CAT CYD CTD
Huddle Rank: 23
Keeper: 27
Auction 10: 8%
Auction 12: 8%
2008 CIN 12 932 2 214 747 3.5 2 20 185  
2009 CIN 13 1362 6 301 1251 4.2 6 17 111  
2010 CIN 16 1289 8 321 1111 3.5 7 28 178 1
Avg   14 1194 5 279 1036 3.7 5 22 158 0
Proj FA   1310 8   1180   7 25 130 1

The Bengals brought Benson back as the cornerstone of their offense while they developed the young pitch/catch combination of Andy Dalton to A.J. Green. No reason to expect much of an uptick from what you've seen from Ced the past couple of seasons--but no reason to expect much of a dropoff, either. Plus his 20-plus carries each week into your lineup as a solid RB2 option.

Ryan Mathews - SDC YEAR TM GMS TYD TTD CAR RYD YPC RTD CAT CYD CTD
Huddle Rank: 24
Keeper: 17
Auction 10: 6%
Auction 12: 6%
2008                      
2009                      
2010 SDC 12 823 7 158 678 4.3 7 22 145  
Avg   12 823 7 158 678 4.3 7 22 145 0
Proj SDC   1240 9   880   8 38 360 1

(-Risk) (+Upside) It was a mostly disappointing rookie season for Mathews who suffered a high ankle sprain, injured elbow and had a wrist surgery in January. The first RB picked in the draft only managed 158 carries for 678 yards and seven scores that were greatly slanted in week 17 when he gained 120 yards and three scores against the Broncos. Otherwise, Mathews was a fantasy bust of major proportions. You still cannot write him off completely but he's a risk to consider anything more than part of a rotation - and maybe not the best part.

Fred Jackson - BUF YEAR TM GMS TYD TTD CAR RYD YPC RTD CAT CYD CTD
Huddle Rank: 25
Keeper: 24
Auction 10: 6%
Auction 12: 6%
2008 BUF 16 888 3 130 571 4.4 3 37 317  
2009 BUF 16 1433 4 237 1062 4.5 2 46 371 2
2010 BUF 16 1142 7 222 927 4.2 5 31 215 2
Avg   16 1154 5 196 853 4.4 3 38 301 1
Proj BUF   1400 6   1100   4 40 300 2

Jackson turns 30 years old but he should avoid "the wall" since he has been so sparingly used in his five seasons in the league. Jackson has been a solid part of the running game and has turned in 4.2 YPC or better in every season. He'll have to share some with the potential flop C.J. Spiller but Jackson will continue to shoulder the bigger part of the load.

Brandon Jacobs - FA YEAR TM GMS TYD TTD CAR RYD YPC RTD CAT CYD CTD
Huddle Rank: 26
Keeper: 31
Auction 10: 5%
Auction 12: 6%
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
2010 NYG 16 882 9 147 823 5.6 9 7 59  
Avg   15 1009 10 197 916 4.8 10 10 93 0
Proj FA   1120 9   980   9 16 140  

After a bad showing in 2009, Jacobs has rejuvenated his role with the Giants by rushing for 823 yards on 147 carries (5.6 ypc) last year and scoring nine times. Jacobs agreed to restructure his contract to help keep Ahmad Bradshaw around. That remains the likely scenario but a loss of Bradshaw would actually benefit Jacobs given the fewer options the Giants would have.

Knowshon Moreno - MIA YEAR TM GMS TYD TTD CAR RYD YPC RTD CAT CYD CTD
Huddle Rank: 27
Keeper: 23
Auction 10: 5%
Auction 12: 6%
2008                      
2009 DEN 16 1160 9 247 947 3.8 7 28 213 2
2010 DEN 13 1151 8 182 779 4.3 5 37 372 3
Avg   15 1156 9 215 863 4.1 6 33 293 3
Proj MIA   1330 5   1020   4 30 310 1

Moreno enters his third season and barring a veteran RB free agent showing up in camp, he will be the primary back this year. While his rushing totals decreased thanks to missing three games, Moreno had a better time later in the season and recorded two 100+ yard games even if both were against the Chiefs. He also came on much better as a receiver with 37 catches for 372 yards. But what is concerning is that he went from 4 or 5 catches per game to only one reception in each of the three games that Tebow started. His rushing totals also dropped though he was nursing bruised ribs. Moreno gets a third chance to make good on his high draft pick and there may not be a fourth try. Worse yet - Denver has one of the toughest rushing schedules this season.

Reggie Bush - DET YEAR TM GMS TYD TTD CAR RYD YPC RTD CAT CYD CTD
Huddle Rank: 28
Keeper: 25
Auction 10: 5%
Auction 12: 6%
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
2010 NOS 8 358 1 36 150 4.2   34 208 1
Avg   11 642 5 71 315 4.5 2 44 328 3
Proj DET   1170 7   700   5 65 470 2

(-Risk) (+Upside) Bush leaves the high-powered Saints offense for Miami and signed a two-year deal worth $9.7 million. The natural assumption is that Bush will be the third down complement to the rookie Daniel Thomas given that Bush has played that role his entire five year career. But Bush says he is looking for 15 touches per game and that HC Tony Sparano has expressed a belief that Bush could play on early downs. The notion that Bush could be a featured back seems practical to at least Bush and his agent but never was born out in New Orleans who gave him every opportunity to do more. This is a run-first offense now and Bush should see more use than in New Orleans. The rookie Thomas is a pounder and Bush makes a nice complement. Bush is also always an injury risk.

08-26-11 Update: Have to consider Bush as better if only because the rookie Daniel Thomas has not looked good and Bush has been impressive. Still hard to buy into Bush shouldering a big load for long, but to start he will be the primary back.

Beanie Wells - FA YEAR TM GMS TYD TTD CAR RYD YPC RTD CAT CYD CTD
Huddle Rank: 29
Keeper: 43
Auction 10: 5%
Auction 12: 6%
2008                      
2009 ARI 16 936 7 176 793 4.5 7 12 143  
2010 ARI 13 471 2 116 397 3.4 2 5 74  
Avg   15 704 5 146 595 4.0 5 9 109 0
Proj FA   960 7   850   7 14 110  

(-Risk) Wells was hampered by a knee injury for almost the entire 2010 season and turned in putrid numbers with a 3.4 YPC on only 116 carries and just two scores. Not to blame all of 2010 on his knee, Wells was only marginally better in 2009 and that was back when Kurt Warner, Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin were terrorizing defenses. An upgrade to Kolb this year helps the passing but this is not going to be much of rushing attack anyway. The Cards drafted Ryan Williams in the second round and there will always be a committee in Arizona. Wells also faces one of the worst rushing schedules. Wells claims to be ready to finally breakout but most backs do not need three seasons to get there.

08-20-11 Update: Now that the rookie Ryan Williams is out for the season, there is no question that Wells is going to be as good as it gets in Arizona this year. That still doesn't look like much with a bad offensive line.

Ryan Grant - FA YEAR TM GMS TYD TTD CAR RYD YPC RTD CAT CYD CTD
Huddle Rank: 30
Keeper: 30
Auction 10: 5%
Auction 12: 6%
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  
2010 GBP 1 45   8 45 5.6        
Avg   11 938 5 201 834 4.6 5 14 104 0
Proj FA   1080 5   780   4 36 300 1

After back-to-back 1,200-yard seasons, Grant missed the bulk of the Packers' Super Bowl season with an ankle injury. He's expected to compete with James Starks for feature back carries during training camp, and at minimum he should handle some if not all of the third down work while rookie Alex Green learns the system. Even in a best-case scenario Grant isn't likely to return to his gaudy 2009 numbers, but at a minimum he'll be a PPR helper with upside.

Mike Tolbert - CAR YEAR TM GMS TYD TTD CAR RYD YPC RTD CAT CYD CTD
Huddle Rank: 31
Keeper: 29
Auction 10: 5%
Auction 12: 6%
2008 SDC 13 208 1 13 37 2.8   13 171 1
2009 SDC 16 340 4 25 148 5.9 1 17 192 3
2010 SDC 15 951 11 182 735 4.0 11 25 216  
Avg   15 500 5 73 307 4.2 4 18 193 1
Proj CAR   930 6   540   5 46 390 1

The fullback wasn't supposed to take over the #1 spot in the Chargers backfield but Tolbert clearly outperformed the rookie Ryan Mathews last year. Tolbert is in the final year of his contract and comes off a career best 735 rush yards and 11 touchdowns. The Chargers only added a third down back in the draft and Mathews remains the only other competitor for carries. There will be a rotation again this year and Tolbert has commanded the upper end of carries.

Jonathan Stewart - CAR YEAR TM GMS TYD TTD CAR RYD YPC RTD CAT CYD CTD
Huddle Rank: 32
Keeper: 34
Auction 10: 5%
Auction 12: 6%
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
2010 CAR 14 873 3 178 770 4.3 2 8 103 1
Avg   15 1009 8 194 913 4.6 7 11 96 1
Proj CAR   980 5   900   5 14 80  

Stewart came close to being "the man" but $43 million later, DeAngelo Williams is there for five more years. Stewart had a few nice games last year but the entire team was imploding and there was no way he could have done enough to warrant being the primary back this year. Same old, same old in Carolina.

Marshawn Lynch - SEA YEAR TM GMS TYD TTD CAR RYD YPC RTD CAT CYD CTD
Huddle Rank: 33
Keeper: 35
Auction 10: 4%
Auction 12: 5%
2008 BUF 15 1336 9 250 1036 4.1 8 47 300 1
2009 BUF 13 629 2 120 450 3.8 2 28 179  
2010 BUF 16 882 6 202 737 3.6 6 22 145  
Avg   15 949 6 191 741 3.8 5 32 208 0
Proj SEA   840 6   660   5 25 180 1

Lynch came over from Buffalo but last year only gained 3.6 YPC on his 202 carries for 737 yards. He added six rushing touchdowns and caught 22 passes for 145 more yards but this was in a season where the Seahawks had one of the best rushing schedules. He topped 75 rushing yards just three times and now goes against one of the tougher rushing schedules this year. He remains the primary back thanks to his size but there is no reason to expect improvement this year. His schedule may see his regress.

BenJarvus Green-Ellis - CIN YEAR TM GMS TYD TTD CAR RYD YPC RTD CAT CYD CTD
Huddle Rank: 34
Keeper: 39
Auction 10: 3%
Auction 12: 3%
2008 NEP 9 312 5 74 275 3.7 5 3 37  
2009 NEP 12 125   26 114 4.4   2 11  
2010 NEP 16 1093 13 229 1008 4.4 13 12 85  
Avg   12 510 6 110 466 4.2 6 6 44 0
Proj CIN   760 7   700   7 8 60  

After two seasons mostly watching, Green-Ellis got his chance last year and responded in a big way - 1008 yards and 13 touchdowns as the preferred goal line and short yardage player in the offense. This year the Pats spent two high draft picks on more running backs including one that is bigger (225 vs. 215 lbs.), faster and at least a much higher pedigree than the undrafted Green-Ellis. No doubt that Green-Ellis remains involved and he could end up just as busy this year but there was a reason why the Pats spent high picks on two backs and it was not to motivate Green-Ellis.

Tim Hightower - FA YEAR TM GMS TYD TTD CAR RYD YPC RTD CAT CYD CTD
Huddle Rank: 35
Keeper: 47
Auction 10: 3%
Auction 12: 3%
2008 ARI 16 636 10 143 399 2.8 10 34 237  
2009 ARI 16 1026 8 143 598 4.2 8 63 428  
2010 ARI 16 872 5 153 736 4.8 5 21 136  
Avg   16 845 8 146 578 3.9 8 39 267 0
Proj FA   940 4   680   4 28 260  

Hightower has never supposed to be more than a fullback type that helps out the rushing game. Thanks to Beanie Wells being a flop so far, Hightower has been almost the entire rushing attack. He ran for 736 yards and five scores last year and acts as a receiver as well. In the post-Warner season, his catch total went from 63 down to only 21. Wells is supposedly healthy again and claims he will step up and the Cards drafted Ryan Williams with their second pick. That all means a messy rotation that faces a very tough rushing schedule. There may not be a fantasy starter in this backfield this year.

07-30-11 Update: Forget all of that - Hightower was sent packing to the Redskins where he will join the ever-growing backfield. He is acquired more for his pass catching skills but so far the rotation in Washington suggests getting the right back each week may be impossible.

Tier 5
Daniel Thomas - MIA YEAR TM GMS TYD TTD CAR RYD YPC RTD CAT CYD CTD
Huddle Rank: 36
Keeper: 32
Auction 10: 3%
Auction 12: 3%
2008                      
2009                      
2010                      
Avg   0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Proj MIA   800 6   700   6 16 100  

(-Risk) The Fins grabbed the Kansas State star with the 2.30 pick in the draft with the intention of making him a workhorse in this offense. Thomas has excellent inside ability at 6-0, 230 pounds and yet is also an underrated receiver. The Fins always use a committee system but the addition of Reggie Bush puts the backfield into more of a "Thunder and Lightning" mode as opposed to previous years where Ricky Williams and Ronnie Brown just alternated carries. Thomas lands in a fortuitous spot with an opportunity to have a good rookie year and - if Bush gets injured and with some luck - Thomas may have a great season. The Fins prefer to run.

08-25-11 Update: Thomas has just not been impressive and runs tentatively. At best he is starting very slowly and that means marginal fantasy points early in the season - if not the entire way.

Darren Sproles - PHI YEAR TM GMS TYD TTD CAR RYD YPC RTD CAT CYD CTD
Huddle Rank: 37
Keeper: 33
Auction 10: 2%
Auction 12: 2%
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
2010 SDC 16 787 2 50 267 5.3   59 520 2
Avg   16 766 5 68 313 4.8 1 44 453 4
Proj PHI   740 6   260   2 50 480 4

Reggie Bush is gone but you may not realize it because Sproles will take over his role and should be every bit as good if not better. Historically he has had a higher average run (4.6 vs. 4.0), catch (9.6 vs 7.3) and even better at punt returns. Sproles could produce as a low-end fantasy starter in reception point leagues and comes off a career best 59 receptions in San Diego last season.

Delone Carter - FA YEAR TM GMS TYD TTD CAR RYD YPC RTD CAT CYD CTD
Huddle Rank: 38
Keeper: 41
Auction 10: 2%
Auction 12: 2%
Movement:
2008                      
2009                      
2010                      
Avg   0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Proj FA   550 8   480   8 10 70  

(+Upside) The Syracuse rookie was drafted with the 4.22 pick by the Colts and at 222 pounds, he's a bruiser brought on to address the goal line and short yardage problem. Carter should end up with scores as a rookie to save Addai from up the gut runs at the goal line and he could end up as a surprise since the Colts always have at least a dozen or more rushing scores. He's a watch in camp and an interesting pick very deep in drafts just to see if he does develop into a scoring machine for the offense.

LaDainian Tomlinson - FA YEAR TM GMS TYD TTD CAR RYD YPC RTD CAT CYD CTD
Huddle Rank: 39
Keeper: 64
Auction 10: 2%
Auction 12: 2%
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  
2010 NYJ 15 1282 6 219 914 4.2 6 52 368  
Avg   15 1234 10 245 918 3.8 10 41 316 0
Proj FA   900 2   500   2 53 400  

Tomlinson is 32 years old and that is usually a time of fast descent but his first season in New York went well enough. He rushed for 914 yards and even had 4.2 YPC for his first 4.0+ YPC since 2007. He also added a healthy 52 catches for 368 yards and his touchdown totals were the lowest of his career (6) and there is no reason to expect anything more this season. The intention is to move Tomlinson to more of a third down role this year which would be wise - but he always has a way of ending up with more work.

Willis McGahee - FA YEAR TM GMS TYD TTD CAR RYD YPC RTD CAT CYD CTD
Huddle Rank: 40
Keeper: 45
Auction 10: 2%
Auction 12: 2%
2008 BAL 13 844 7 170 671 3.9 7 24 173  
2009 BAL 16 629 14 109 544 5.0 12 15 85 2
2010 BAL 15 435 6 100 380 3.8 5 14 55 1
Avg   15 636 9 126 532 4.2 8 18 104 1
Proj FA   550 7   480   7 10 70  

The Broncos acquired the 30-year old McGahee and signed him to a four-year contract worth $10 million. But the aging back is not there to compete for the primary job and should end up more as a goal line back. At 6-0 and 235, he will reprise the role he had in Baltimore when he would steal the easy scores away from Ray Rice. There is still a chance another back is brought into Denver but regardless, McGahee is a very good goal line back and should get work regardless. Just not enough to make him a safe fantasy start.

C.J. Spiller - BUF YEAR TM GMS TYD TTD CAR RYD YPC RTD CAT CYD CTD
Huddle Rank: 41
Keeper: 38
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
2008                      
2009                      
2010 BUF 14 440 1 74 283 3.8   24 157 1
Avg   14 440 1 74 283 3.8 0 24 157 1
Proj BUF   780 3   500   2 38 280 1

The 9th overall pick in the 2010 NFL draft, Spiller has done little to justify his selection. As a rookie, he only averaged 3.8 yards per carry and scored only once. The intention is to get Spiller more work this year and hope that he can fill a "Reggie Bush" sort of role but so far Spiller has been a waste of a pick.

Justin Forsett - BAL YEAR TM GMS TYD TTD CAR RYD YPC RTD CAT CYD CTD
Huddle Rank: 42
Keeper: 36
Auction 10: 2%
Auction 12: 2%
2008 SEA 14                  
2009 SEA 16 969 5 114 619 5.4 4 41 350 1
2010 SEA 16 775 2 118 523 4.4 2 33 252  
Avg   15 581 2 77 381 3.3 2 25 201 0
Proj BAL   820 2   500   2 40 320  

Forsett is still the best back in Seattle though his size limits him to only about 120 carries per season. With receiving yardage figured in he makes a decent bye week replacement but rarely posts stats that merit a fantasy start. The Seahawks are committed to a rotation of mediocre runners.

Michael Bush - FA YEAR TM GMS TYD TTD CAR RYD YPC RTD CAT CYD CTD
Huddle Rank: 43
Keeper: 44
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
2008 OAK 15 583 3 95 421 4.4 3 19 162  
2009 OAK 16 694 3 123 589 4.8 3 17 105  
2010 OAK 14 849 8 158 655 4.1 8 18 194  
Avg   15 709 5 125 555 4.4 5 18 154 0
Proj FA   680 4   500   4 20 180  

Bush was hit with being a restricted free agent so he remains a Raider and plays a definite #2 role behind McFadden. Bush isn't nearly productive enough to be a fantasy starter but is a reasonable insurance pick for the injury-prone McFadden.

Jerome Harrison - DET YEAR TM GMS TYD TTD CAR RYD YPC RTD CAT CYD CTD
Huddle Rank: 44
Keeper: 46
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
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
2010 CLE 12 415 1 71 330 4.6 1 12 85  
Avg   14 620 3 100 479 5.4 2 19 140 1
Proj DET   670 4   480   3 24 190 1

Harrison has signed with the Lions to replace the rookie Mihkel LeShoure who is out for the season. Excellent chance that Harrison will be the #2 back in Detroit and suddenly has fantasy value.

Toby Gerhart - JAC YEAR TM GMS TYD TTD CAR RYD YPC RTD CAT CYD CTD
Huddle Rank: 45
Keeper: 42
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
2008                      
2009                      
2010 MIN 15 489 1 81 322 4.0 1 21 167  
Avg   15 489 1 81 322 4.0 1 21 167 0
Proj JAC   670 4   450   3 30 220 1

Gerhart proved worthy of being Adrian Peterson fantasy insurance with 22-76-1 in relief of an injured AP against the Redskins last season. Minnesota's new coaching staff is extremely run-oriented, so don't be surprised if Gerhart squeezes out fringe fantasy value in his own right a la Jason Snelling in Atlanta.

   
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