1. Adrian Peterson- Minnesota Vikings—AP is hands down the best running back in the league and has been for the past 3 seasons. To go with being the best back in the league, he puts up big time fantasy numbers. Adrian is the number one back on his team and gets the majority of the carries which will turn into fantasy points. He rushed for just under 1,300 yards last season and had 12 touchdowns. With rumors that Donovan McNabb is going to be the quarterback in Minnesota makes Peterson even more of a threat. There’s no doubt in my mind that he is going to run all over the opposing defenses this season. I expect big things from him this year.
Stats Prediction- 1,700 yds rushing, 17 TD’s. 18 rec, 250 rec yds, 3 TD’s
2. Arian Foster- Houston Texans—Arian was the best running back in the league last year putting up some gaudy numbers last year making all of his fantasy owners very happy (he went undrafted in a lot of leagues last year). Still I’m not putting him as the number one back in 2011 because defenses might slow his production down this season. With Matt Schaub looking to have a big season Foster is going to benefit from Schaub’s success. He’s going to catch some more balls out of the backfield and still get the majority of carries which transfer into more fantasy points (especially in points per reception leagues).
Stats Prediction- 1,600 yds rushing, 12 TD’s. 25 rec, 325 rec yds, 2 TD’s
3. Chris Johnson- Tennessee Titans—Johnson’s production last season was good compared to his 2009 campaign as he rushed for 1,300 yards and 11 touchdowns. With the Titans adding Matt Hasselbeck, Chris now has a legitimate quarterback that can open up the Titans running game. Johnson speed is going to tear up opposing defenses and that’s good news for his fantasy owners. I wouldn’t hesitate to draft him with one of your top picks. Johnson is going to get the majority of the carries and start every week, which again will translate into big time fantasy points. I expect him to catch some more balls out of the backfield and break off some big time plays.
Stats Prediction- 1,650 yds rushing, 12 TD’s. 23 rec, 375 rec yds, 5 TD’s.
4. Michael Turner- Atlanta Falcons– The Falcons are loaded on offense and Turner is the number one back who has proved in years past that he can carry the load. His downhill, bruising running style helped him rush from 1,300 yards and 12 touchdowns last season. Turner is not going to slow down this season and I see him benefitting from the weapons that he has around him. Turner’s going to get his carries and make fantasy owners happy if they draft him. Look for him to get around the same amount of receptions as he did last season (12 receptions for 85 yards).
Stats Prediction- 1,575 yds rushing, 14 TD’s. 15 rec, 125 rec yds.
5. Jamaal Charles- Kansas City Chiefs—Charles took over the starting running back position for the Chiefs last season and he made everyone know he can handle being a number one back in the league. The Chiefs offense is young and starting to bloom which is good news if you draft Charles. He’s a speedy runner and once he gets in the open field he can break away for some touchdowns. Jamaal is also a threat catching the ball (45 receptions for 468 receiving yards and 3 touchdowns last season). I’m expecting him to do the same this season as the Chiefs offense is really starting to look like a legitimate offense.
Stats Prediction- 1,600 yds rushing, 7 TD’s. 45 rec, 500 rec yds, 4 TD’s.
6. Ray Rice- Baltimore Ravens—Rice had a nice season last year rushing the ball as he ran for 1,220 yards and 5 touchdowns. With Willis McGahee signing with the Broncos means that Ray is the number one back in Baltimore now. Rice proved in the 2009 season that he can really handle the majority of the carries and if he can do the same this year you will not be disappointed at all if you draft him. Ray is a versatile back as he caught 63 balls out of the back field for 556 yards and 1 touchdown. Rice is a great option at running back in points per reception leagues. Look for the same types of numbers, if not better, this season.
Stats Prediction- 1,400 yds rushing, 8 TD’s. 60 rec, 600 rec yds, 3 TD’s.
7. LeSean McCoy- Philadelphia Eagles—We already know that the Eagles offense is stacked with weapons. McCoy is the weapon that has flown under the radar. This is going to be his year and he is going to produce in the fantasy world. With everyone’s eyes on Michael Vick, McCoy is going to have more room to run the ball and I have a feeling that he’s going to be getting a lot more carries this season (only rushed for 1,080 yards last season). LeSean is going to be a headache to for other defenses and break off some big runs for touchdowns.
Stats Prediction- 1,500 yds rushing, 9 TD’s. 72 rec, 615 rec yds, 3 TD’s
8. Rashard Mendenhall- Pittsburgh Steelers– This is a guy that you want to have on your team this season. The Steelers have always run the ball well and Mendenhall takes their running game to another level. Rashard rushed for 1,273 yards last season and a career high 13 touchdowns. Mendenhall doesn’t catch the ball much out of the backfield and had fumbling issues in the playoffs last season, but that’s not going to be a concern this season. The combination of Mendenhall and Roethlisberger is going to produce a lot of fantasy points this season.
Stats Prediction- 1,400 yds rushing, 12 TD’s. 14 rec, 110 rec yds.
9. Darren McFadden- Oakland Raiders- This is the scenario of a great player on a terrible team which is what I love about Darren McFadden. Last season he made fantasy owners happy as he was their number two running back on their team. This year McFadden is going to be the number one running back on a lot of fantasy teams. Darren is a big time player and makes big time plays. He’s finally blooming into the player everyone knew he was supposed to be. Darren’s versatility to run the ball for big chunks of yards and catch the ball for big chunks of yards makes him a must to have on your team.
Stats Prediction- 1,400 yds rushing, 8 TD’s. 56 rec, 675 yds rec, 4 TD’s.
10. Shonn Greene- New York Jets- Fantasy owners who drafted Greene last year know how much of a disappointment he was (he rushed for 766 yards, 2 touchdowns and caught 16 balls for 120 yards). This year will be different for Shonn though. Shonn has tweaked his running style hoping that it will help him get to the edge of the field where he can run people over. It also helps that Mark Sanchez is starting to become a better quarterback and he’ll be looking to check the ball down to Greene when his receivers aren’t open.
Stats Prediction- 1,250 yds rushing, 10 TD’s. 23 rec, 200 rec yds, 1 TD.