Howdy do, everybody. Well, it's almost that time again. Training camps start to open in two weeks, and I begin searching for the right players to fill my fantasy rosters. I like most fantasy owners usually pick our starting running back first, because outside the quarterback, this will be the player that brings your team the most fantasy points. I don't rank players. I leave that to you. I am merely going to show you what I'm looking for in a fantasy running back. Yards and touchdowns. I don't care about carries because they don't get you points. Carries are important in the world outside of fantasy football, because that wear and tear will bring a quick downfall to a running backs career. So, if I'm picking in the top 5, these are the 5 running backs I'm aiming to anchor my fantasy team.
Chris Johnson of the Tennessee Titans. Chris Johnson is one fast brother. I love watching him outrun opposing teams. He lead all rushers last year with 2oo6 yards, with an additional 503 receiving yards for a total of 2509 all purpose yards. Remember, in fantasy, all yards count unless they are special teams. Johnson logged in 8 games last year with 130 or more yards, including a monster game against Jacksonville where he racked up 228 rushing and 11 receiving yards. Johnson was also the top fantasy point provider from last year with 321.75 fantasy points. He scored 14 touchdowns and only fumbled the football 3 times in 16 games. He's not perfect. He struggled against Pittsburgh Defense which held him to only 57 rushing yards and Indy who held him to a mere 34 yards in the first game and 113 in the second. As a part of the AFC South, he will face Indy twice this year, as well as, Pittsburgh, and Dallas. That said, I will have a snowballs chance on the equator of getting Johnson, but if by some fluke I get the first pick, I'm going with Johnson all the way.
Adrian Peterson of the Minnesota Vikings. Adrian had a bit of drop off last year in fantasy, mostly because of his attack of fumblitis. That said, Adrian still finished the season 4th in rushing with 1383 yards rushing and 436 yards receiving. Adrian only had 3 game last year where he rushed for over 100 yards. As I said earlier, Adrian has had a bout with the droppsies. He had 7 fumbles last year and lost 6 of them. This is not good in fantasy especially if fumbles are negative point in your league. In his defense, he has been spending the offseason working with a custom football filled with sand to improve his hands. I hope it works for his sake. That's the bad news. The good news is that Adrian lead all rushers with 18 touchdowns and finished the fantasy season with 268.70 points in second place behind Chris Johnson. Even with the fums, I would still make Adrian my first or second pick.
Maurice Jones-Drew of the Jacksonville Jaguars. Jones-Drew has been a darling in the fantasy world for the last couple of years, even drafting himself for his fantasy league. Yeah, I know what he did to Shawne Merriman a few years ago. I was watching the game. Shut up. Anyway, Jones-Drew has no trouble telling fantasy players to pick him. Jones-Drew finished 3rd in rushing last year with 1391 yards and with 374 yards receiving. Jones-Drew also scored 15 touchdowns last year. Jones-Drew only had 2 fumbles last year so he will hold onto the ball. Jones-Drew had five games of 100 or more yards rushing. Jones-Drew finished the Fantasy season with 253.80. Although I dislike him for obvious reasons, I'd have no problem with Jones-Drew as my fantasy rusher.
Frank Gore of the San Francisco 49ers. Frank Gore's numbers were down a bit from last year. He missed two games last season, but still managed 5 games of 100 or more rushing yards, including one game over 200. He finished the season with 1,120 yards rushing and 406 yards receiving. I truly believe if Gore is healthy those numbers will improve this year. Gore scored 10 touchdowns in 2009. He had a total of 210.30 fantasy points. Gore, if healthy, is a solid fantasy starters.
Thomas Jones of the Kansas City Chiefs. I was relunctant to list Thomas Jones. He put up some pretty good numbers last year as a New York Jet. He was third in rushing yards with 1402 and another 48 receiving. Jones also tied for third in rushing touchdowns with 14. He only had 2 fumbles and finished in the fantasy standings with 227.10 points. The problem you ask? He'll be behind the line of my favorite team the Chiefs. Sigh. I don't see him putting up those numbers behind our line. Who knows he may surprise us all...
Other Top 10 Running Backs:
Ray Rice (Baltimore Ravens), Steven Jackson (St. Louis Rams), Ryan Grant (Green Bay Packers), Pierre Thomas (New Orleans Saints), Michael Turner (Atlanta Falcons), and Jonathan Stewart (Carolina Panthers).
Rookie on the Rise: Ryan Mathews of the San Diego Chargers. He was the Chargers first round pick and is hoping to fill the very big shoes left behind by Ladanian Tomlinson. Last year at Fresno State, he rushed for 1808 yards averaging 150 yards per game with 19 touchdowns. Impressive. I don't expect those numbers in the NFL, but he just might be my sleeper for the year.
*Fantasy Tip: Make sure that you are aware of the bye week of your players before you draft them. You only have a limited number of reserves, and if all of your starters are off on the same week, you can call that a loss.
Until next time "Football is easy if you're crazy as hell." ~Bo Jackson
**stats courtesy of NFL.com and FantasyFootballChallenge.com