RankingsAugust 15, 2011

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2011 Fantasy Football Rankings: Running Back

By R.J. White

Chris Johnson’s holdout threatens to kill his status as a top-three back, which is where he falls in the Cafe rankings. He’ll be a boom-or-bust player in 2011, either killing a fantasy team with an extended holdout during the season or providing value on his eventual average draft position (ADP), which could sink anywhere from three to ten spots depending on the length of his holdout. I err on the side of caution with first-round picks, so I’m likely to let him pass by me if I have a top-five selection, at least until he’s the owner of a new contract.

More thoughts after the rankings.

QB | RB | WR | TE | PK | DF | IDP

RankRunning BacksTeamAvg
1Adrian PetersonMIN2.00
2Jamaal CharlesKC4.00
3Ray RiceBAL4.75
4Arian FosterHOU1.50
5Chris JohnsonTEN2.88
6LeSean McCoyPHI6.75
7Rashard MendenhallPIT8.00
8Maurice Jones-DrewJAC8.00
9Darren McFaddenOAK8.25
10Frank GoreSF10.25
11Steven JacksonSTL10.88
12Matt ForteCHI12.00
13Michael TurnerATL12.63
14Peyton HillisCLE16.00
15Ahmad BradshawNYG16.88
16DeAngelo WilliamsCAR17.88
17Jahvid BestDET18.13
18LeGarrette BlountTB18.38
19Shonn GreeneNYJ19.50
20Felix JonesDAL23.75
21Cedric BensonCIN22.50
22Knowshon MorenoDEN23.25
23Beanie WellsARI32.50
24Mark IngramNO24.63
25Fred JacksonBUF24.50
26Joseph AddaiIND26.75
27Marshawn LynchSEA27.00
28Ryan GrantGB24.50
29Ryan MathewsSD20.13
30BenJarvus Green-EllisNE30.38
31Mike TolbertSD38.50
32Brandon JacobsNYG32.88
33Reggie BushMIA48.63
34Tim HightowerWAS48.25
35Michael BushOAK38.13
36Daniel ThomasMIA27.75
37Jonathan StewartCAR27.25
38James StarksGB41.38
39C.J. SpillerBUF41.50
40Pierre ThomasNO43.75
41Danny WoodheadNE50.25
42Roy HeluWAS45.88
43LaDainian TomlinsonNYJ45.88
44Willis McGaheeDEN46.50
45Thomas JonesKC46.75
46Rashad JenningsJAC47.13
47Ryan TorainWAS38.00
48Stevan RidleyNEN/A
49Ronnie BrownPHI45.75
50Montario HardestyCLE50.88
51Ricky WilliamsBAL53.25
52Darren SprolesNO55.00
53LaRod Stephens-HowlingARIN/A
54Derrick WardHOU66.88
55Marion BarberCHI57.00
56Ben TateHOU63.88
57Javon RingerTENN/A
58Justin ForsettSEA56.75
59Bernard ScottCIN56.88
60Jason SnellingATL58.50
61Jerome HarrisonDET59.25
62DeMarco MurrayDAL58.50
63Delone CarterIND56.25
64Kendall HunterSF63.75
65Tashard ChoiceDAL64.88
66Jacquizz RodgersATL67.38
67Mike GoodsonCAR67.88
68Ike RedmanPIT68.00
69Cadillac WilliamsSTL68.13
70Taiwan JonesOAKN/A
71Donald BrownIND61.00
72Shane VereenNEP56.63
73Christopher IvoryNO68.25
74Toby GerhartMIN68.25
75Bilal PowellNYJ68.75

Update: The rankings have been updated as of 8/30/11. All updates are mine and mine alone, so I have left the original average rank of each player intact.

There a definitive line in the sand after the top 13 options, with Peyton Hillis at 14 likely to get less run this year as the Browns try to keep him fresh. With the injury to Mikel Leshoure, Jahvid Best looks to be a great value at the third/fourth turn. I’d label him as the most likely guy outside the top 15 to finish as a top-ten back by season’s end. We went a little low on LeGarrette Blount, but if he does work his way onto the field in passing situations he’ll be a steal at his current rank. I’ll also buy Knowshon Moreno and especially Ryan Grant as quality RB2s available later than they should be. I’d caution against selecting Ryan Mathews as a RB2, as it wouldn’t be surprising at all to see Mike Tolbert (an excellent value RB3) finish with more touches.

Moving to potential flex/bench running backs, Jonathan Stewart seems a little too high as a clear backup to the now-paid DeAngelo Williams. Ryan Torain, James Starks, Pierre Thomas, Ronnie Brown and Roy Helu all figure to be true backups, so don’t reach too high for them expecting steady production. A key player ranked much too low is Tim Hightower, who is leading the charge to be the Redskins’ feature back. We have him as the third WAS RB on the board, but at this point you should feel comfortable flipping him and Torain in your draft rankings.

Deeper players with a good shot at returning positive value include Reggie Bush (if he gets double-digit touches per game in MIA), Darren Sproles (perfect for NO and could outplay Bush this year), Shane Vereen (or Stevan Ridley, or any non-descript NE running back), Jerome Harrison (as a potential Leshoure replacement) and Brandon Jackson (could work into a timeshare with Hillis eventually).

R.J. White is the head editor at the Cafe, writes for FanDuel and Razzball and has previously written for FanHouse. Catch up with him in the forums under the name daullaz. Follow him on Twitter; don't follow him in real life.
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