May 122012
 

 

Updated 9/3/10 

This top 30 list also happens to be the same list as my “list of guys who if you have anyone else as your RB1 or RB2 you’re screwed list” (name pending). No offense to running backs 30+, but if you’re in a 10 or 12 team league, you don’t want the 31st or 32nd best running backs as your RB2. The players have been broken up into tiers to show which players will have similar production to the player above them and which will not.

 

Tier 1

1. Adrian Peterson

A lot of places will have Chris Johnson here, but I don’t think that a 200 pound running back coming off of a 358 carry is a safe bet, even though he’s young, and I don’t like taking guys who aren’t safe bets with the first pick. Chris Johnson had never had more than 251 carries on either the collegiate or pro level before last year and you could see him hitting a bit of a wall late in the season. He didn’t surpass 4.2 YPC in 5 of his last 6 weeks last year. Peterson, on the other hand, has shown the ability to handle large running loads and with Chester Taylor gone and Toby Gerhart in, Peterson will be used more on passing downs and should surpass the 43 catches he had last year. Peterson won’t get any more carries this year because Gerhart is still a talented back, but if he gets the 310-320 carries he’s used to, he should be able to get the 1400 yards and 18 touchdowns he had last year, as well as close to 500 receiving yards.

2. Chris Johnson

That being said, CJ is not too far off in terms of a 2nd back. After all, we are talking about a guy who had 2500 all purpose yards for his team last year and is clearly his team’s feature back with LenDale White gone. I don’t think he’ll keep up the 5.6 YPC he had last year because of the wear and tear on his body from a 350 carry season and it remains to be seen whether or not a bigger back like LeGarrette Blount will vulture away some touchdowns as a goal line back.

3. Ray Rice

Ray Rice is the last of the elite running backs this year. He was a 2000+ yard player last year, but a few things are holding him back from being a top 3 pick. Willie McGahee and Le’Ron McClain will still be there to vulture some carries, especially near the goal line, and I don’t think he catches 70 passes next year again. The Ravens didn’t trade for Anquan Boldin, sign Donte Stallworth, draft Dennis Pitta, Ed Dickson, and David Reed to throw screen passes all year again. Rice is a great pass catcher, but I don’t see him getting 700 receiving yards again. However, with only 361 career carries, he’s still fresh, and with the addition of a formidable passing attack to take the pressure off of him, as well as the addition of Anquan Boldin as a downfield blocker, he could actually see his YPC of 5.3 from last year go up.

4. Maurice Jones Drew

9/2/10: MJD has knee soreness, but insists that he’ll be ready for the season opener. I also expect him to be ready for the opener, but I won’t have him in my top 3 as long as there’s a chance his missing a game or is slowed down by a knee injury. 

If you end up with the 3rd pick in your fantasy draft, don’t fret. MJD is pretty close to CJ and AP this year. He’s their goal line threat and he can catch out of the backfield. He should be close to 2000+ yards yet again this year.

Tier 2

5. Frank Gore

Frank Gore seems like someone who could be a top tier running back. He was an elite running back last year with 1526 total yards and 13 total touchdowns, despite missing 2 games with injury (really three because he left week 3 after 1 carry). The Niners actually had one of the worst run blocking lines in the league last year and with the addition of the powerful Anthony Davis and Mike Iupati in the first round, that will change. Also, the Niners are probably going to run more this year. You don’t draft 2 big run blocking lineman in the first to run the shotgun offense. In the 13 games he was healthy for, he averaged 17.5 carries a game. Bump that up to about 19-20 a game in a more run heavy offense, and if he plays a full year, he looks like a 300 carry guy again. Bump up his YPC from 4.9 to 5.1-5.2 behind a better line and keep his receiving stats the same and he looks like a potential 2000+ total yarder. The problem? Gore has only had one full season in his 5 year career. Gore is not a goal line threat. Last year was the first year of his career where he had 10+ touchdowns and the Niners drafted a goal line type back in Anthony Dixon in the 5th round this year, who could vulture some scores. Also, Gore was painfully inconsistent last year. 207, 104, 167, 107, 107 are good rushing totals in weeks 2, 10, 14, 15, and 17 respectively. But 30, 32, 33, and 25 in weeks 1, 7, 12, and 13 respectively are pretty ugly. I’m the type of fantasy owner who wants consistent production I can count on out of at least my first round pick, especially if it’s a guy I’m drafting in the top half of the 1st. I also like when my first round pick backs play an entire season and can get me double digit touchdowns. There’s a lot to love about him, but there’s a lot to make you worry, although not as much as there is to worry about the next few guys.

6. Michael Turner

Turner the Burner says he’s healthy, but what’s he going to say, I’m still out of shape. When healthy he’s amazing with 1740 total yards and 17 scores in 2008. However, last year he was hurt for most of the season half of the season and only managed 906 total yards and 10 total scores on a mere 178 carries. What’s amazing is that his YPC actually went up last year, but he just couldn’t get onto the field. He’s talented and if Gore’s inconsistencies scare you off too much and you want to take a chance on a 28 year old coming off an injury plagued season in the top 5, I say go ahead, but I would be at least very nervous about taking him in the top 5.

7. Rashard Mendenhall

9/3/10: Just bumping all up the Steelers with Ben playing 2 more games. More Ben means less 8 man boxes and more red zone trips. He’s one of the few true feature backs in the NFL today. 

8/10/10: Mendenhall is receiving almost all of the goal line reps in camp now, after goal line specialists like Jonathan Dwyer and Isaac Redman failed to impress. We’ll have to see if this continues in games, but this makes Mendenhall one of the few running backs in the NFL to be an every down back. His line has issues and when Big Ben’s out, they’ll be able to load the box against him with ease, but he is still a good first round pick. 

There’s a lot to like about Mendenhall. He was the 14th rated fantasy back last year despite not playing much in the first 3 games. However, with Big Ben gone, he won’t get as many holes to run in, as he’ll likely be facing more 8 man boxes. Also, his offensive coordinator said he’ll have to win the goal line and short yardage job, with Isaac Redman and Jonathan Dwyer also competing with him. Mendenhall is also extremely fumble prone and has been for a while. If Tomlin gets sick of his fumbling, he could very well use talented rookie Jonathan Dwyer more often. We’ve certainly seen NFL coaches switch backs quickly after fumbles before

8. Steven Jackson

While Turner at least might be healthy, Jackson we know isn’t after having offseason back surgery. Jackson became one of my favorite players last season carrying the ball 25-30 times a game late last year for the 1 win Rams, despite having major back issues, out of pure love for the game. I feel sorry for him that this soon to be 27 year old back will probably spend the rest of his prime for a team that won’t make the playoffs. That being said, I can’t feel completely safe with Jackson. Back surgery is no small deal and this is a guy who already has 1500+ carries in his career and has already had some serious injury problems in the past. When healthy, this is a guy who is a workhorse and the only back on his team capable of carrying the ball, making him very clearly a guy who could get 300+ carries and 1300+ yards, especially for a team with a revamped front line and an upgrade at quarterback. However, I don’t think he has much more upside than Michael Turner, and he’s a guy who has a much greater chance of being a non-factor than Turner.

Tier 3

8. Shonn Greene

He’ll have to split carries with two other backs, LT and Joe McKnight, but that shouldn’t be a huge issue for him. He’s the lead back and his team ran the ball 607 times last year. The passing game should be better this year, but I don’t think they’ll run substantially less this year. Thomas Jones managed 331 carries last year despite splitting carries in NY with Greene and Washington. I think Greene should be able to get about 300, if not more, this year, and behind this line, with his size, he should be able to get some serious yards and touchdowns for you.

10. Ryan Grant

He may not be flashy, but he’s going to get the job done. Grant was actually the 8th rated fantasy back last year and while rookie James Starks could cut into his carries a bit more than Brandon Jackson could, but if you take his stats from the last 8 weeks of last year (with Chad Clifton and Mark Tauscher) and spread them over a 16 game season, you get 270 carries for 1298 yards and 14 scores. Clifton and Tauscher didn’t just help Rodgers. With Bryan Bulaga coming in, you can be sure Grant will get solid run blocking all year, even if someone on the line gets hurt (remember Bulaga can also start and be an upgrade at guard for them next year too if they choose to use him in that way).

11. Jamaal Charles

8/15/10: Charles was so much better than Thomas Jones in his first preseason game, albeit in limited action. Jones looked old on his two carries, managing 2 yards. Charles rushed for 37 yards on 4 carries and looked as good as he did to end last season, showing no signs of an lingering effects from his offseason shoulder injury. I literally cannot fathom how Todd Haley would start Jones over him. 

8/10/10: Thomas Jones is taking the first team reps in camp and is listed as first on the Chiefs’ depth chart. If Todd Haley starts Thomas Jones, who is 32 and had a YPC of 4.2 behind the best run blocking offensive line in football last year, over Charles who had 1417 total yards last year despite not receiving double digit carries until week 10, he is an idiot, but, even though he is the same Todd Haley who started Larry Johnson has his 2.7 YPC for 7 weeks over Charles, and then allowed Kolby Smith to steal carries from him late, I think Charles will still be the starter going into this year. Haley can’t be that stupid. Charles may just be being eased in after a shoulder injury or maybe Haley just likes to give veterans the first crack at the starting job. However, this is not great news for Chiefs fans or Jamaal Charles owners and I do have to knock him down some. 

I would have had Jamaal Charles as my #5 back if it weren’t for the Thomas Jones signing. Charles didn’t even take over as a feature back until week 9 and didn’t get significant carries until week 10, yet still managed 1417 total yards and 8 total touchdowns last year. If given 300+ carries, he would have been an elite fantasy back. However, if Todd Haley was willing to give Larry Johnson and his 2.7 YPC more carries over Charles, and willing to give freaking Kolby Smith some carries over him late in the season, I could see Haley giving Thomas Jones 150-200 carries next year. That and Charles’ small size at 199 pounds over a full season give me some reason to worry about Charles.

12. Cedric Benson

8/10/10: Almost forgot to upgrade Benson when TO was signed. TO gives the Bengals a legitimate deep threat so all those 8 man boxes Benson saw last year should be significantly less this year. He’s motivated in a contract year and cleared after his run in with the law earlier this offseason so if he can stay healthy and play 15-16 games, he should be a top 10 running back this year. 

7/30/10: Benson reportedly will not be suspended by the league following his recent arrest. This is a big surprise for me, but nonetheless it does move Benson back up my board. He’s still an injury risk, but he’s a talented running back, motivated in a contract year. 

6/29/10: Cedric Benson is officially a true Bengal. Benson was arrested on charges of assault in Texas. As someone who thought he had his life back on track, this was a major facepalm moment for me. However, this is not a good sign for his fantasy prospects. Roger Goddell does not look kindly on repeat offenders so a suspension could very well be looming and, if history is any indication, it’ll be about 4 games. If you draft this guy in the first or second round and he gets suspended for 4 games, that’s about 1/3 of your fantasy regular season that you’ll be missing him for. That’s a good way to lose your league. Wait for someone else to snatch him early until this situation gets sorted out.

He may not be flashy, but he is the feature back for his team, he’s healthy, and he’ll be motivated in his contract year, and he’s talented and I think that’s enough to make him a borderline first round pick in a 12 team league. In case you haven’t noticed, this isn’t a great year for running backs. Despite missing 2 and a half games with an injury last year, he managed 301 carries last year. If close to fully healthy all year, he’s a 320-340 carry back at about 4.4-4.6 YPC (thanks to a revamped receiving corps). The only issues, he only got into the end zone 6 times last year and he’s not a pass catching threat.

13. Jonathan Stewart

Jonathan Stewart and DeAngelo Williams were actually both in the top 13 in terms of running back fantasy points, despite Carolina’s terrible play at quarterback and the fact that they were splitting carries. Carolina is almost surely going to have better quarterback play this year than last, either with Matt Moore, or rookie Jimmy Clausen if he beats him out. This means a higher YPC for both of these guys against fewer 8 man boxes, as well as more drives ending in scores, which means more touchdowns for both. In the 5 games Moore started last year, Carolina had rushing totals of 157, 126, 124, 247, and 178, an average of 166.4 yards per game, despite the fact that DeAngelo Williams missed some time with injury, as opposed to their 151.5 per game in their first 11 with Delhomme. If both are healthy for the entire year, expect them both to increase upon their fantasy output from last year. I just have Stewart ranked here because he’s the youngest, the freshest, the most likely to get the greater amount of carries, and probably their main goal line back.

14. DeAngelo Williams

See above.

15. Ryan Matthews

8/12/10: In addition to being a solid pass protector, McNeill at 6-7 336 is a hell of a run blocker. On a Chargers line that already struggles to run block, his potential absence when the season starts is going to hurt rookie Ryan Matthews, the Chargers’ primary between the tackles runner. 

He’s a rookie, but he should also be a top-24 fantasy pick. LT was the 20th rated fantasy back last year despite having a YPC of 3.3 because he got carries and scored 1-yard touchdowns. I don’t think you can argue that LT in his advanced football age is better than Ryan Matthews, even if you weren’t the biggest fan of Matthews coming out. If Ryan Matthews gets the 223 carries LT had last year, he’s probably going to approach 1000 yards and 12-14 touchdowns (LT had 12 last year). I would argue that Matthews is probably going to get more carries, somewhere in the 240-260 range, but even my low estimate for him is not bad.

 

Tier 4

16. Knowshon Moreno

8/10/10: Moreno is hurt once again in training camp and will likely miss the entire preseason. Moreno is talented, but he’s starting to strike me as the type of guy who can’t stay healthy. Plus, after the way he ended last year and considering he still is somewhat unproven, I needed to see him run well in the preseason to be fully confident in him as a strong RB2. Lastly, it is a hamstring injury and those tend to linger, especially slight tears as this is being described as. It could hurt him during the season, causing him to miss games and sap his explosiveness. Just ask Marion Barber circa 2009. 

Moreno sucked in the last few weeks last season because hit a rookie wall. Every one is admitting it, down to Knowshon himself, that he wasn’t prepared physically for a 16 game season. What I like about him admitting it is that it’s a safe sign that he’s going to do something about it. I would be surprised if he sucked as much down the stretch this year as last year. Take out those last 4 games and he had 774 yards on 182 carries. Stretch that across a 16 game season and you get 1032 yards on 242 carries. I think he’ll be in better shape this year and that, because of that and backup Corell Buckhalter’s advanced football age, he’ll get 250-270 carries this year. Also consider that the Broncos’ run defense is going to be a little better thanks to some solid, but not spectacular additions upfront, which means their offense won’t have to throw as much to stay in games. The issue with him is his offense. Demaryius Thomas is their best deep threat and he’s an unproven rookie. Unless someone steps up as a true elite deep threat, Moreno is going to face a lot of 8 man boxes. The problem with a short pass based offense like the Broncos’ is that a defense can come out in an 8 man box and still effectively cover a passing attack. Still, I would be surprised if Moreno, barring injury or a sophomore wall, didn’t get 1000+ yards. He’s also a threat through the air as well as a part of that short passing game.

17. Pierre Thomas

8/31/10: If Payton has fallen in love with Ivory the way he did with Mike Bell, Thomas could sadly once again struggle to get 200 carries and thus struggle to get more than 1000 yards.

8/12/10: The chances that the Saints cut into Thomas’ carries with a random running back got a lot slimmer when Hamilton’s ACL tore. There’s now a good chance the Saints make him a true feature back and give him 250 carries, which would mean, unless he gets hurt significantly, we would see 1000+ rushing yards, 300+ receiving yards, and 10+ total touchdowns from Thomas easily in the Saints’ high octane offense. 

A lot to like here and a lot not to like. He’s a great runner who runs very aggressively and breaks tackles. However, I don’t know he can run the ball 200+ times, without breaking down and struggling. His career high is 147 and the way he runs, at his size, is not exactly the safest for a guy of his size. I don’t know his coach is going to let him run the ball 200+ times. Sean Payton loves to use a bunch of different backs and probably will, even with Mike Bell gone. That being said, I would not be surprised if he got 1000+ yards, as well as 300-350 yards through the air, and close to 10 touchdowns. Those are not bad RB2 numbers

 

18. LeSean McCoy

He’s the Eagles lead back, for what that’s worth. Andy Reid hates to run. McCoy was the lead back late last year too and still only received 32 carries in the last 5 games. Good things are being said about McCoy from Eagles’ camp, but at the same time, they’ve signed Mike Bell through free agency and drafted Charles Scott. Why would a team that hates to run bring in two more running backs if they were solid on McCoy as the feature back? He should surpass his 2009 stats, but I don’t think he’ll be a 1000+ yard rusher.

19. Jahvid Best

A big risk here because you don’t know about his health, or the health of Kevin Smith, who could challenge him for carries. If Best and is healthy and Smith is not, Best is an explosive back capable of 1000-1200 rushing yards as well as 200-300 yards through the air. He won’t get into the endzone a ton at his size and in Detroit’s offense (unless Stafford makes major strides), but he has a lot of upside as a rusher.

Tier 5 

20. Joseph Addai

8/31/10: Addai looked better in his 3rd preseason game than he has since his rookie year. He had a gain of 49 that was more than twice as long as any gain he has had on the ground since his rookie year. 

Addai was actually a very productive fantasy back with 1164 total yards and 13 total touchdowns last year and if he’s the lead back again in Indy’s offense, he can certainly do that and maybe a little more again. That being said, the Colts didn’t draft Donald Brown in the first in 2009 to sit on the bench. If Brown is healthy, he could really challenge Addai for carries. Addai’s 3.8 YPC is nothing special and the fact that his longest run was 21 yards last year and he hasn’t broken a 30 yard run since 2006 is a bit troubling as well.

21. Marion Barber

8/24/10: For the 2nd straight week, Barber has been the first string back for the Cowboys. It appears that despite rumors than Felix Jones was their guy and Barber was trade bait, Barber and Jones have had no change in their roles from last year. Expect Barber to match his 2009 stats and likely surpass them as he did play most of 2009 with a lingering hammy problem. 

Felix Jones is presumably the main guy in Dallas, but Jones hasn’t had more than 154 carries in a season since college. There’s no telling how he’ll handle the load and the Cowboys would be smart to use Barber on at least 40% of the snaps, if not more. Barber is still a talented guy remember. That’s why he hasn’t been flat out cut despite the fact that the Cowboys’ attempts to trade him failed. He had a YPC of 4.4 last year despite playing most of the 2nd half with a hamstring problem. He also helps through the air and one would expect him, at 225 pounds, to be the goal line back. Consider him a RB3 or RB4 guy with the potential to be an RB2 if Jones gets hurt or if Barber beats Jones out in camp, still a possibility.

22. Arian Foster

8/31/10: Foster definitely looks like a strong starting running back after rushing for 110 yards on 18 carries in nhis 3rd preseason game. He definitely looks talented enough to be their starter all year.

8/15/10: If Foster was in good position to start the season as Houston’s #1 back before, when Tate went down I think that sealed it. He might have to worry about Steve Slaton taking away some of his carries, but not enough to hurt him significantly. Foster is a great RB2, RB3, or flex option now.

8/10/10: Foster has been working with the first team during camp. I still expect Ben Tate to start the season. They drafted him in the 2nd round after being clearly discontent with their running game last year so it only makes sense they’d give him the first crack at the job, but Foster did play well in his final 4 games last year with 54 carries for 257 yards, 8 receptions for 93 yards, and 3 scores. His ADP right now is 121 and since he’d be a legitimate fantasy starting running back for a few weeks if he did start the start as starter, that makes him a legitimate fantasy sleeper with upside. 

23. Jerome Harrison

9/3/10: Harrison will be the feature back in Cleveland this year. We all saw what he can do late last season. He looks poised for a huge year. 

7/24/10: Hardesty’s gain is Harrison’s loss as Harrison likely becomes the 2nd stringer, despite his amazing run late last year. In fact, he’s a huge part of the reason why the Browns went 4-1 down the stretch last year and benching him appears absolutely stupid to me. 

Harrison had 106 carries for 561 yards in his last 3 games last year. He almost broke the single game rushing record with 286 week 15. So why isn’t he ranked higher? Harrison had carry totals of 34, 39, and 33 in those last three games respectively. This past April, the 5-11 Browns who had plenty of needs, decided it was important to use a 2nd round pick on another running back to compete with Harrison, arguably their best player. Harrison is not going to see those carry totals again next season. He’ll be lucky if he sees half of that on a weekly basis with Montario Hardesty in town. There’s also a chance that Hardesty beats him out for the starting job. Reports out of Cleveland say that Hardesty is getting the majority of the 1st team snaps. Make what you want out of that, but I’ll be sure to update this and all fantasy relevant positional battles later this offseason. 

24. Ahmad Bradshaw

9/3/10: Bradshaw will be the Giants starting running back this season and Brandon Jacobs will be his backup and likely get the goal line and short yardage carries. 

8/31/10: Bradshaw struggled a bit in his 3rd preseason game and might not be the clear lead back as was previously reported. 

8/24/10: Bradshaw impressed with Jacobs out with 28 yards and a score on 6 carries and appears in line to be the feature back in New York over Brandon Jacobs. 

Bradshaw is probably the more talented back in New York, but he’s not the lead back as of now, and he has his own injury issues, maybe even more so than Jacobs. He’s also not a goal line threat. His stock is on the rise and he might be a smart pickup for Jacobs owners and I think he gets his first 1000+ total yard season next year barring injury, he had 985 yards in 2009, but I can’t guarantee he’ll get much more.

Tier 6 

25. Ronnie Brown

Speaking of unencouraging injury histories, we have Ronnie Brown. Brown gets hurt every year like clockwork. He’s coming off of major surgery again this year. He hasn’t had a 250+ season ever. He’s talented, but not durable. I say, even if he is healthy all year, a big stretch, the most he gets is 250 carries. The Dolphins know his injury past. They want to keep him in the lineup for the playoffs as this is a legitimate playoff contender and they have some solid backups like Ricky Williams. I think there’s a chance he gets 1000+ yards, with about 200 more through the air and 7-9 scores, but I wouldn’t count on it.

26. Michael Bush

8/31/10: Bush broke his thumb in his 3rd preseason game and his status for the Raiders first 1-3 weeks is in doubt. 

8/24/10: Bush has taken advantage of McFadden’s injury and looks in line to win the starting running back job in Oakland. He’s a very talented back and will almost certainly be a 1000 yard guy if given 250+ carries. He also has decent hands and good size near the end zone, provided the Raiders make it to the end zone with more consistency this year than years past. 

Clearly Oakland’s most talented back, averaging 4.8 YPC last year, despite running behind a crappy line with a fat pile of crap at quarterback. With an upgraded line and a drastically upgraded quarterback, Bush should have no problem getting to 1000 yards with enough carries. The enough carries is the hard part. He only got 123 last year and I think he needs at least 90-100 more to get past the 1000 yard mark. The coaching staff is still invested in Darren McFadden because of his salary and is still invested in Justin Fargas for god knows why. Bush is taking all the 1st team snaps in OTAs, which is a good sign, but there’s still a long way to go.

27. Brandon Jacobs

9/3/10: Jacobs is officially Ahmad Bradshaw’s backup. He’ll probably still get a decent chunk of carries and the goal line carries, but Bradshaw is the guy you want in non-touchdown leagues. 

8/31/10: So much for him being Bradshaw’s backup, Jacobs looked like he had a 2nd wind in his 3rd preseason game outpreforming Bradshaw. No official word yet, but it could be a sign that Jacobs and Bradshaw will evenly split carries, rather than Bradshaw being the lead back as ESPN’s Matt Moseley reported.  

8/24/10: So much for being healthy, Jacobs missed the 2nd preseason game with a neck injury and now it is being reportedly by ESPN’s Matt Mosley that Ahmad Bradshaw will be the feature back for the Giants this year and could get up to 2/3rds of the carries. 

We’ve seen Jacobs play like an early 2nd round fantasy pick when healthy. His 1089 yards and 15 scores in 2008 were impressive, but his 835 yards and 5 scores in his injury plagued 2009 were not so much. I think he’ll be somewhere in between this year. He’s talented, but the 5.0 YPC he averaged in 2008 is going to be tough for him to repeat I think, because of how much wear and tear his body takes as a result of his running style. Ahmad Bradshaw as the #2 back is also coming on fast.

28. Matt Forte

8/31/10: After looking great in his 2nd preseason game, he was an absolute dud in his 3rdpreseason game. 

8/24/10: Forte was amazing in his 2nd preseason game going for 109 yards and a score on 5 carries. 89 of those yards were on one carry, but he looked solid the whole night and has looked better than Chester Taylor the entire preseason. Forte will probably win the job in Chicago and if the signing of Taylor has motivated him to get back into shape, he could be a legitimate fantasy sleeper again. 

Still, the lead guy in Chicago, but he’s had a pretty bad offseason. His team switched scheme to the Mike Martz scheme, which will run the ball less. His team didn’t upgrade the o-line at all, with the exception of a 7th rounder on a depth tackle. His team didn’t upgrade the receiving corps to take pressure off of him. His team brought in a running back in Chester Taylor to compete with him for carries. Forte owners should hope that Taylor at least challenges Forte to get back into shape. However, I don’t see Forte being a huge fantasy impact guy on the ground, even as the current lead back. He’s not a goal line back. He’s never had a YPC over 4. He’ll help you through the air some, but overall will be in on less plays this year, even on passing downs. Chester Taylor is a solid pass catcher as well. I’d say he’s in for another statistical drop across the board, 700-800 rushing yards, 300-400 receiving yards, and only 4-6 touchdowns again.

Tier 7

29. Ricky Williams

Ronnie Brown is an injury risk and Ricky Williams did pretty good in Brown’s absence this year. I think the Dolphins are going to be using more of a committee this year, with Williams and Brown and maybe another guy, to keep Brown healthy down the stretch. He’s not going to get the 241 carries he had last year if Browns stays healthy, but 180-200 is not crazy to expect of him. Also, if Brown does get hurt, we all saw what Ricky can do as the lead back. He’d be very valuable.

30. Tim Hightower 

8/31/10: For the 3rd straight week, Hightower was the Cardinals’ starter at running back. Even if he isn’t the starter during the season, in favor of Chris Wells, he should get his fair share of carries because Coach Ken Whisenhunt loves his pass catching and pass blocking skills. Love him as a high upside RB4.

8/24/10: Hightower got the start again but only managed 3 yards on 5 carries. Still, the start is more important for fantasy purposes. 

8/15/10: For his value, Hightower is a solid pickup as he’s going in the 110s on average. I wouldn’t mind having this guy as my RB4 in the 9th or 10th round. Wells is injury prone which means Hightower could get a start or two this season and the Cardinals made it clear in their first preseason game that they plan on using Hightower in some significant form this year. He’s a great pass catcher and Matt Leinart loves to checkdown. 

 

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