We’re going to start a series of posts ranking the top 25 fantasy players at their respective positions each week. Today, we’re highlighting the most valuable position in all of fantasy football – running back. At Where’s Weems, our team has combined its vast knowledge of the fantasy football to compile this list of the top 25 RBs in fantasy football for the 2010 season. The rankings after the jump.
To start, we’ll be talking about a standard scoring league, 6 pts for a rushing TD, 6 points for a receiving TD, and 1 point for every 10 yards gained (either rushing or receiving). This is a no point per reception league, because, well, getting a point for just a reception is stupid. Scroll down to the bottom to see how each of our rankings looked.
- Chris Johnson (Tennessee)
2009 Stats: 358 carries 2,006 yards (5.6 yards/attempt) 14 rushing TDs, 50 receptions 503 yards (10.1 yards/catch) 2 receiving TDs.
Johnson is easily the most exciting player to watch in the NFL, capable of scoring any time he touches the ball. Without LenDale White even being a threat to steal any touchdowns from Johnson this year, I can’t see how he can’t be considered the number 1 overall pick in any draft.
- Adrian Peterson (Minnesota)
2009 Stats: 315 carries 1,389 yards (5.3 yards/attempt) 7 rushing TDs, 78 receptions 702 yards (9.0 yards/catch) 1 receiving TD.
I love Adrian Peterson, love watching him run, but injuries are always a major concern with ADP thanks to his upright, aggressive running style; this is all not to mention the fact that Peterson only ran for more than 100 yards three times last year. The good part about Peterson is that he really gets all of the rushing TDs for the Vikes, but there’s a potential risk Toby Gerhart may steal some goal line touches.
- Ray Rice (Baltimore) (Tied with Maurice Jones-Drew)
2009 Stats: 254 carries 1,339 yards (5.3 yards/attempt) 7 rushing TDs, 78 receptions 702 yards (9.0 yards/catch) 1 receiving TD. While his 2009 season was somewhat of a breakout year for the former Rutgers star, I’m looking for even bigger things in 2010. What makes Rice so great is his ability to catch passes out of the backfield. Even when he was splitting carries with Willis McGahee or Le’Ron McClain last year, he was still getting receptions. It’s nice to know that even when he’s not having a great day rushing, the receiving yards keeps Ray’s performance pretty stable from week to week. Any time you can count on a reliable 15 points per week from a starter, you take it. With an increased role in the offense, the rushing TD total should come up too.
- Maurice Jones-Drew (Jacksonville) (Tied with Ray Rice)
2009 Stats: 312 carries 1,391 yards (4.5 yards/attempt) 15 rushing TDs, 53 receptions 374 yards (7.1 yards/catch) 1 receiving TD.
The little bowling ball for the Jags can do it all, and if he were on a better team, he’d probably be ranked a little higher. It’s the Jaguars’ anemic offense that really holds him back in my eyes. Regardless, I still think there’s a pretty significant drop between these top 4 and the remainder of the running back class.
- Steven Jackson (St. Louis)
2009 Stats: 324 carries 1,416 yards (4.4 yards/attempt) 4 rushing TDs, 51 receptions 322 yards (6.3 yards/catch) 0 receiving TDs.
#5 is really where a significant drop occurs, where you run into a myriad of questions rather than a reliable RB. I admire Jackson for his ability to produce despite being the only weapon that an opposing defense has to prepare for when playing the Rams. Were he playing on any other team, he’d likely be a top 2 or 3 guy instead of someone who’s considered part of the second tier of fantasy running backs. The major issue facing Jackson is his own offense – he only scored 4 TDs because the Rams were never in the red zone. If they can get there, there’s no question Jackson will be able to put the ball in.
- Frank Gore (San Francisco)
2009 Stats: 229 carries 1,120 yards (4.9 yards/attempt) 10 rushing TDs, 52 receptions 406 yards (7.8 yards/catch) 3 receiving TDs.
The questions around Gore are never in regards to his ability – it’s all a matter of whether he can stay healthy. He’s easily the most talented player on the 49ers and in the run-first offense employed by pants-dropper, Mike Singletary, will certainly get the carries. Gore hasn’t played a full season since 2006, when he rushed for nearly 1,700 yards. If you’re not concerned about the injury bug biting Gore, he’s certainly a gamble that could pay out.
- Michael Turner (Atlanta)
2009 Stats: 178 carries 871 yards (4.9 yards/attempt) 10 rushing TDs, 5 catches for 32 yards (7.0 yards/catch) 0 receiving TDs.
A lot to prove this year – youtube would agree, as there’s no Michael Turner highlights from the 2009 season (what you see below is 2008). Granted, if you give Turner the benefit of the doubt and chalk his poor 2009 up to injuries, you could steal him in the late first round. You could also just as easily say Turner isn’t made to withstand the punishment of being a full-time back in the NFL (though it may be a little premature). You should also note that he doesn’t contribute much in the passing game (only 5 receptions in 2009 & 6 in 2008). A definite high risk/high reward pick.
- Rashard Mendenhall (Pittsburgh)
2009 Stats: 242 carries 1,108 yards (4.6 yards/attempt) 7 rushing TDs, 25 receptions 261 yards (10.4 yards/catch) 1 receiving TD.
I really liked him coming out of Illinois. He showed he could hang with the big boys when the Illini were demolished by USC in the Rose Bowl when Mendenhall still looked like the best player on the field. Now that “Not Actually Fast” Willie Parker has joined the 2005 All-Stars in DC, it’s Mendenhall’s time to shine all by himself. There’s just 2 problems here: 1) The Steelers’ O-Line is terrible 2) Ben Rapelisberger is out for the first 6 weeks. That combination may be too much for Mendenhall to overcome, but he’ll definitely get the carries to try.
- DeAngelo Williams (Carolina)
2009 Stats: 216 carries 1,117 yards (5.2 yards/attempt) 7 rushing TDs, 29 receptions 252 yards (8.7 yards/catch) 0 receiving TDs.
We have now officially entered the third tier of running backs — where questions outweigh potential production. There’s a lot of things to like about most of these guys, but there’s also a lot of “if only’s” to go around. With Williams, it’s definitely, he would be a top 5 running back “if only” he didn’t have to split carries with Jonathan Stewart. There’s nothing to dislike about DeAngelo’s talent, just how much he’ll be able to use it.
- Ryan Mathews (San Diego)
2009 College Stats: 276 carries 1,808 yards (6.6 yards/attempt) 18 rushing TDs, 11 receptions 122 yards (11.1 yards/catch) 2 receiving TDs.
Mathews was someone who seemingly came out of nowhere to become the #12 overall pick in April’s draft. Typically, the guys that are super productive at mid-majors or lower levels are saved for the third or fourth round, but after a year leading the nation in rushing and then turning in a great performance at the NFL combine, Mathews vaulted himself into the first round of the draft. He is THE guy in San Diego, and should see the bulk of the carries in an offense that likes to run the ball. Everything is in place for him to have a solid rookie season.
- Shonn Greene (NY Jets)
2009 Stats: 108 carries 540 yards (5.0 yards/attempt) 2 rushing TDs, 0 receptions.
Greene would be a top 5 pick had aging has-been LaDainian “3.3 yds/carry” Tomlinson not decided to join the Jets in the offseason. I’m not sure words can describe how incredibly terrible LDT was last year. He wasn’t quick to the hole, couldn’t make people miss, and had no breakaway speed. Basically, he did nothing well. And now, he’s going to take carries away from Greene, who looked outstanding at the end of last year (to the point where they were able to let Thomas Jones go). At some point, Buddy’s son is going to have to realize this, but until that time, Greene slides to #11.
- Ryan Grant (Green Bay) (Tied with Jamaal Charles)
2009 Stats: 282 carries 1,253 yards (4.4 yards/attempt) 11 rushing TDs, 25 receptions 197 yards (7.9 yards/catch) 0 receiving TDs.
There needs to be a little said for the consistency of Grant, even if he produces his yards and TDs in pretty unspectacular fashion. A couple of surprising things to note…1) Ryan Grant was 7th in the NFL last year in rushing yards and 2) He was 8th in fantasy points for RBs last year. It’s certainly not a sexy pick, but Grant is a guy that you can count on every week for points.
- Jamaal Charles (Kansas City) (Tied with Ryan Grant)
2009 Stats: 190 carries 1,120 yards (5.9 yards/attempt) 7 rushing TDs, 40 receptions 297 yards (7.4 yards/catch) 1 receiving TD.
Charles is an interesting play, as I’d imagine he won a lot of leagues for a number of people last year (in weeks 10-17, he averaged 19.75 points per game). The knock on Charles is his size (he’s 5’11″ 199 lbs) and whether he can stand up to the beating of the pounding of being the full-time running back for the Chefs. Apparently, Kansas City felt the same way as they went out and added the surprisingly-effective Thomas Jones. If this is a split-the-carries situation, you’d want no part of Charles, but the second half of last year potential is there.
- Chris “Beanie” Wells (Arizona)
2009 Stats: 176 carries 793 yards (4.5 yards/attempt) 7 rushing TDs, 12 receptions 143 yards (11.9 yards/catch) 0 receiving TDs.
Loved the talent he showed last year when he was given a chance; hated the fact that his issues fumbling the football (had 4, lost 2 in only 176 carries) lost him a substantial number of carries. He’s clearly more talented than Tim Hightower and with Matt Lienart at the helm for a Ken Wisenhunt offense, Arizona will likely rely heavily on the rushing game this season.
- Cedric Benson (Cincinnati)
2009 Stats: 301 carries 1,251 yards (4.2 yards/attempt) 6 rushing TDs, 17 receptions 111 yards (6.5 yards/catch) 0 receiving TDs.
It’s hard to know what to think of CedBen; he had a high pedigree coming out of both high school and college, was the fourth overall pick in the 2005 draft, and was a complete bust in Chicago. In Cincinnati last year, Benson showed signs of life, posting his best single season rushing total despite missing a couple of games with injuries. It’s still too early to tell whether the success Benson had last year was an anomaly or a harbinger of good things to come for the 2010 season.
- Pierre Thomas (New Orleans) (Tied with Jonathan Stewart)
2009 Stats: 147 carries 793 yards (5.4 yards/attempt) 6 rushing TDs, 39 receptions 302 yards (7.7 yards/catch) 2 receiving TDs.
Like most skill players outside of Drew Brees for New Orleans, it’s hard to recommend drafting any one of them too high in a draft considering how much the ball is spread around in that offense. While he won’t have to deal with Mike Bell anymore, there are still touches that need to be given to Reggie Bush. Still, a starting RB in the NFL has a good deal of value.
- Jonathan Stewart (Carolina) (Tied with Pierre Thomas)
2009 Stats: 221 carries 1,133 yards (5.1 yards/attempt) 10 rushing TDs, 18 receptions 139 yards (7.7 yards/catch) 1 receiving TD. See Williams, DeAngelo, and then ask yourself why these guys have to be on the same team.
- LeSean McCoy (Philadelphia)
2009 Stats: 155 carries 637 yards (4.1 yards/attempt) 4 rushing TDs, 40 receptions 308 yards (7.7 yards/catch) 0 receiving TDs.
A shifty running back who once again will have to split carries with Leonard Weaver and Mike Bell in an offense that doesn’t like to run the ball a tremendous amount. His ability to catch passes out of the backfield could get him more time on the field and more touches in the offense, but his weak blocking could also keep him off of the field. Between Weaver, Bell, Charles Scott, and Eldra Buckley, I can’t imagine McCoy will get too many touches around the goal line. All that being said, he’s a talented runner who could have a big impact on the Birds’ offense this year.
- Matt Forte (Chicago)
2009 Stats: 258 carries 929 yards (3.6 yards/attempt) 4 rushing TDs, 57 receptions 471 yards (8.3 yards/catch) 0 receiving TDs.
Forte is an interesting case considering how much success he had as a rookie compared to how much of a letdown his sophomore season was. A lot can be chalked up to the Bears’ offensive line being nothing short of atrocious last year, but perhaps we should have noticed Forte only averaged 3.9 yards/carry his rookie season despite the good overall numbers. One redeeming quality about Forte is his ability to catch the ball – he averaged 60 catches and 470 yards receiving in his first 2 seasons.
- Felix Jones (Dallas)
2009 Stats: 116 carries 685 yards (5.9 yards/attempt) 3 rushing TDs, 19 receptions 119 yards (6.3 yards/catch) 0 receiving TDs.
According to most reports coming out of Dallas, Jones is going to see more and more touches this year despite having to share the backfield with Marion Barber. Jones is a home run threat every time he touches the ball as evidenced by his 5.9 yards/carry and 4 runs of 40 yards or longer. That being said, Jones will still have to split carries with Barber and, the fact remains, he’s never been able to stay healthy for an entire season.
- Knowshon Moreno (Denver)
2009 Stats: 247 carries 947 yards (3.8 yards/attempt) 7 rushing TDs, 28 receptions 213 yards (7.6 yards/catch) 2 receiving TDs.
We’d planned on slotting Moreno here prior to his injury. He’s got the talent (though I still think he’s not as good as Beanie Wells) to be a productive runner, but he still has to share the ball with Correll Buckhalter (assuming he’s healthy too). The latest reports have Moreno with a potentially torn hamstring — if that’s the case, he immediately drops out of these (and your) rankings.
- Ronnie Brown (Miami)
2009 Stats: 147 carries 648 yards (4.4 yards/attempt) 8 rushing TDs, 14 receptions 98 yards (7.0 yards/catch) 0 receiving TDs.
He’s always productive when he’s on the field, but apparently, his knees are held together with scotch tape. He could present good late round value, but if he’s got to share the rock with Ricky Williams (who was pretty damn effective last year), he’s nothing more than a gamble at this point.
- Joseph Addai (Indianapolis) (Tied with Best & Jacobs)
2009 Stats: 219 carries 828 yards (3.8 yards/attempt) 10 rushing TDs, 51 receptions 336 yards (6.6 yards/catch) 3 receiving TDs.
Very productive around the goal line last year, scoring a total of 13 TDs despite seeing just a little over have the touches of a typical #1 RB. Addai was never really the greatest running back in the world, but he does have a nose for the end zone. There’s a lot to be unsure of here with Addai having to give up even more of his carries to second year man (and first round pick) Donald Brown.
- Jahvid Best (Detroit) (Tied with Addai & Jacobs)
2009 College Stats: 141 carries 867 yards (6.1 yards/attempt) 12 rushing TDs, 22 receptions 213 yards (9.7 yards/catch) 4 receiving TDs.
Best was the most electrifying RB coming out of college last year, a home run threat who could score whenever he touched the ball. While he did have a scary injury during his last season at Cal, he’s been pretty durable despite his slight frame. At this point, I’m pretty sure that the only thing that can possibly slow him down is the Lions’ terrible offense. If you’re in a keeper league however, I think this may be the rookie that you target.
- Brandon Jacobs (New York Giants) (Tied with Addai & Best)
2009 Stats: 224 carries 835 yards (3.7 yards/attempt) 5 rushing TDs, 18 receptions 184 yards (10.2 yards/catch) 1 receiving TD. It always makes me feel good to take a dump on the Giants, so I would have loved to leave Jacobs off of this list entirely, but the rest of the Where’s Weems family disagrees. Jacobs was a slow and plodding runner last year, frequently a step slow to the hole and never running with the power he once possessed. As an Eagles’ fan, for the first time in years, I was excited any time Jacobs got the ball because it was pretty much a guaranteed 2 yard gain every time. Jacobs will still see the bulk of the Giants carries, so there’s that, I just think his running style has aged him much more quickly than most NFL RBs.