RankingsJune 22, 2010

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Early Bird 2010 Fantasy Football Rankings: Running Backs - 3 comments

By R.J. White

NASHVILLE, TN - OCTOBER 27:  Chris Johnson #28 of the Tennessee Titans runs with the ball during the NFL game against the Indianapolis Colts at LP Field on October 27, 2008 in Nashville, Tennessee.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Did you like our QB rankings? Don’t get too attached to them, as they’re destined to change throughout training camp. Here you’ll find the golden goose of fantasy rankings, the most dissected, re-sected (if that’s a word), and dissected again position in fantasy football. Yes, it’s the Early Bird Fantasy Football Rankings for running backs.

Thanks go out to bungle613, joejlitz, Dan Lambskin, dream_017, flux, and bazzy_51 for submitting the rankings that were averaged with my own to give you these rankings.

June Running Back Rankings

1. Chris Johnson
2. Adrian Peterson
3. Maurice Jones-Drew
4. Ray Rice

These is your clearly defined top-four overall picks in fantasy drafts this year. CJ2,000 came in first on every ballot, though I’m very close to ranking Peterson ahead for next year. All Day took home all the second-place rankings, while only bazzy was willing to rank Rice over Jones-Drew. On the flip side, dream ranked Rice fifth behind the first player in the next tier.

5. Frank Gore
6. Michael Turner
7. Steven Jackson
8. Rashard Mendenhall
9. DeAngelo Williams
10. Ryan Mathews
11. Ryan Grant
12. Shonn Greene
13. Cedric Benson
14. Jamaal Charles

Gore’s rankings varied from fourth to seventh, while Turner ranked fifth or sixth on every ballot except for that of dream. On second thought, I’m siding with dream here — Turner gets absolutely no play in the passing game, so if he lines up in front of an impossibly-tough rush defense, he’s getting shut down. Both bazzy and I are down on DeAngelo Williams, ranking him 13th and 14th respectively. On the other hand, I’m taking Mathews eighth at the position. He’s the new bell-cow back and primed to win fantasy leagues. Gotta love Greene’s potential this year. Owners that can pair one of the elite backs with Charles and a great WR should have a leg up on the competition this year.

15. Jonathan Stewart
16. Beanie Wells
17. Joseph Addai
18. Knowshon Moreno
19. Pierre Thomas
20. Ronnie Brown
21. Brandon Jacobs
22. Felix Jones
23. LeSean McCoy
24. Jahvid Best
25. Matt Forte

Meet your No. 2 running back class. Beanie Wells is poised for a huge year as the Cardinals move to a more balanced attack in the wake of the Anquan Boldin trade and Kurt Warner retirement. Ditto for Moreno with Brandon Marshall out of town. If Ronnie Brown ever had a clean bill of health, he’d likely be in Tier 1, so if you’re willing to gamble he could pay dividends. McCoy will draw a lot of sleeper love this year, but I really like rookie Jahvid Best. Cut from a Chris Johnson mold, Best should find plenty of room to run with the passing game weapons in Detroit. Even with Forte’s horrible year, he was a top-25 back in Chicago. Any type of a rebound will provide his team positive draft value.

26. Marion Barber
27. Fred Jackson
28. Ricky Williams
29. Michael Bush
30. Jerome Harrison
31. Justin Forsett
32. Clinton Portis
33. Reggie Bush
34. C.J. Spiller

This group provides plenty of potential in the middle rounds of your draft, so if you have your receiving corps locked down and some of these guys are on the board, you may want to grab one or two to provide excellent depth at the most important position in fantasy football. In particular I think Michael Bush could have a breakout year — the Raiders ditched quarterback-turned-offensive lineman-turned-”Before” picture model for weight loss programs, and Justin Fargas has also moved on. Either Bush or Darren McFadden should have a huge year.

35. Ahmad Bradshaw
36. Thomas Jones
37. Ben Tate
38. Carnell Williams
39. LaDainian Tomlinson
40. Darren McFadden
41. Donald Brown
42. Laurence Maroney
43. Montario Hardesty
44. Steve Slaton

Fear not if you’ve struggled to add running back depth by this point of your draft — so many more running backs have value during a 2010 season than they did five years ago. We’re in the 40s and you can still find possible No. 1 running backs (Maroney, McFadden, Hardesty). In fact, with all the depth this year this actually seems a bit high for Tomlinson, a guy that looked completely finished in 2009. Give me any of the four upside plays behind him.

45. Tim Hightower
46. Willis McGahee
47. Chester Taylor
48. Darren Sproles
49. Marshawn Lynch
50. Derrick Ward
51. Correll Buckhalter
52. Arian Foster
53. Larry Johnson
54. Leon Washington

Chester Taylor has great upside in Mike Martz’s offense, and he should be able to carve out a significant role. Foster actually has the highest potential of all three Texan backs to start in Week 1, despite ranking third of the three in our rankings. I’ll take either of those guys as my No. 4 or No. 5 back and be happy.

55. Tashard Choice
56. Julius Jones
57. Sammy Morris
58. Kevin Smith
59. Brian Westbrook
60. Mike Bell
61. Toby Gerhart
62. Bernard Scott
63. Fred Taylor
64. Willie Parker
65. Jason Snelling
66. Kevin Faulk
67. Maurice Morris
68. LenDale White
69. Dexter McCluster
70. Jerious Norwood

Amidst the handcuffs and veterans looking for teams, take a close look at Bernard Scott. The only thing keeping him from being the lead back in an offense that enjoyed over 2,000 rushing yards last season is a perennially banged-up Cedric Benson, who missed 12 games over the last three years.

The Strategist

You obviously want to grab an elite back early, but unlike conventional wisdom may tell you, there’s no need to go RB-RB in the first two rounds of the draft, or even to draft two RBs in the first three or four rounds. Anyone out of that tier of No. 2 backs could be listed at the top. After I grab my first back, I’m likely looking for two WRs or a WR and a great QB value in the next two rounds, unless I can get unbelievable value at the RB position. From there, I’m grabbing two talented backs with upside to duke it out for my No. 2 RB spot. Round it out with two upside backs from the 35-54 range and you should be good to go. What’s your fantasy? Let us know below.

R.J. White is a fantasy blogger at the sports site FanHouse. Check out his work both here and there, and feel free to talk to him in the forums, where he posts under the name daullaz.
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3 Responses to “Early Bird 2010 Fantasy Football Rankings: Running Backs”

  1. User avatar joejlitz says:

    As a Benson owner, I was frustrated when he came back from injury and then had to share time (with LJ?). It will be interesting to see how camp plays out. Benson will start, but how much Scott plays will determine Benson’s value. Scott showed last year that he can put up fantasy numbers.

  2. shmity72 says:

    i was about to say…Scott should be a bit higher.

    otherwise i see eye to eye on about everything you said…i’d like to know more about arian foster though.


  3. bonjovi786 says:

    Will we have updated rankings some time soon.



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