If you have the No. 1 overall draft pick in your fantasy league this year, the selection is easy.
You select Adrian Peterson.
Peterson rushed for 1,700 yards and 10 touchdowns last year. Peterson is a threat to reach 2,000 yards and double-digit touchdowns this year. He is the smart pick at No. 1.
This year, there has been a big change in the top running backs. Names like LT, Brian Westbrook, Clinton Portis, Joesph Addai, and Steven Jackson have fallen far on most projection sheets.
This year names like Michael Turner, DeAngelo Williams, Maurice Jones-Drew and Matt Forte are top this year.
So, which one do you take after Peterson?
(Note: The rankings of these players are not my opinion. Nor are they necessarily in the order I would rank them.
I took a projection sheet from a popular Web site. I chose a Web site that many will use in this year's fantasy draft. I felt that this method better fit this article.)
Michael Turner rushed for 1,699 yards and 17 touchdowns last year, which is only 61 yards less and seven more touchdowns than Adrian Peterson.
Let's take a closer look at last year: Turner only faced four defenses that ranked better than 15th against the run last year.
In those four games he had only one touchdown, which was against Minnesota (ranked first). In those same four games, Turner also only had one game of over 100 yards, which came against his old team the San Diego Chargers (ranked 11th).
The other two teams on that list, Turner faces again. The Chicago Bears will play in Atlanta in week six. The Philadelphia Eagles will also play in Atlanta in week 13.
Last Year the Bears were ranked fifth against the run and Turner only had 54 yards against them. The Eagles were ranked fourth and again, Turner had just under 60 yards (58).
This year, Turner will also face the Miami Dolphins, Washington Redskins, New York Giants, and New York Jets. All of these teams, along with the Eagles and Bears, were ranked in the top 10 against the run last year.
Last year, Turner faced nine teams that were ranked worse than 15th against the run. The highest was Tampa Bay, at 17th. Against these nine teams, Turner racked up 1,397 yards and 16 touchdowns.
This year, outside of the NFC South, Turner only faced one defense ranked worse than 15th last year against the run. In Week 16, the Falcons play the Bills (ranked 22nd) at Atlanta.
The NFC South also consists of Tampa Bay, Carolina, and New Orleans.
This year, in Weeks Two and 10, Turner will face the Carolina Panthers. Last year, the Panthers were ranked 19th against the run. In the first game against Carolina, Turner rushed for a 56 yards and one touchdown. In the second game, he rushed for 117 yards and four touchdowns.
In Weeks Eight and 14, the Falcons will play the New Orleans Saints. The Saints were ranked 17th against the run last year. In the first game last year, Turner rushed for 96 yards and one touchdown. In the second game, Turner rushed for 61 yards and one touchdown.
In Weeks 12 and 17, the Falcons will play against Tampa Bay this year. In the first game, which was at Tampa Bay last year, Turner only rushed for 42 yards. In the second game at Atlanta, Turner rushed for 152 yards and scored a touchdown.
Maurice Jones-Drew totaled 1,389 yards and 14 touchdowns last year. Jones-Drew had 824 yards rushing with 12 touchdowns and 565 yards receiving with two touchdowns.
MJD has never had less than 1,100 total yards and nine touchdowns in a season. Up until this season, he had been second on the depth chart behind Fred Taylor.
After last season, Jack Del Rio and the Jaguars decided to release Taylor. This move was made to give Jones-Drew more of a featured role.
Jones-Drew will be constantly getting more carries per game than he did last year. Let's take a look at all of the games from last year that he had 15-plus carries:
The first time was Week Three at Indianapolis. Last year, the Colts ranked 24th against the rush on defense. In that game, Jones-Drew had 19 carries for 107 yards and one touchdown.
Week Six was against the Denver Broncos. The Broncos' defense was ranked 27th against the rush last year. Jones-Drew carried the ball 22 times and had 125 yards and two touchdowns.
Week 11 was against the Tennessee Titans. Jones-Drew had 17 carries for 66 yards and two touchdowns. The Titans were ranked sixth against the rush last year.
Week 16 was against the Colts in Jacksonville. Jones-Drew had 20 carries for 90 yards but also failed to score a touchdown.
Jones-Drew also failed to score against the Ravens in Week 17 last season.
This year, like last year, Jones-Drew will face five teams that are ranked 15th or lower against the run. He will also face eight teams that are ranked above 15th, the same as last year.
Outside of their division, the teams Jacksonville will play ranked worse than 15th against the run are Arizona (ranked 16th), Seattle (ranked 18th), St. Louis (ranked 29th), Kansas City (ranked 30th), Buffalo (ranked 22nd), and Cleveland (ranked 28th).
The bad news about the Cleveland game is it takes place during Week 17.
The teams the Jags will play ranked 15th or better outside their division are, the New York Jets (ranked seventh), San Fransisco (ranked 13th), Miami (ranked 10th) and New England (ranked 15th).
The Jaguars play in the AFC South, which consists of the Indianapolis Colts (ranked 24th), the Houston Texans (ranked 23rd) and the Tennessee Titans (ranked sixth).
As a rookie, Matt Forte finished last season with 1,238 rushing yards and eight touchdowns. He also had 63 receptions for 477 yards. He totaled 12 touchdowns, eight rushing and four receiving.
This offseason, the Bears acquired Jay Cutler in a trade from the Denver Broncos. Matt Forte is one of the players who should receive a boost in his stats this year due to Cutler's presence.
Last season, Forte had only three games in which he rushed for over 100 yards. The best rush defense he achieved this against was the Colts (ranked 24th). The other two teams were the Rams (ranked 29th) and the Lions (ranked 32nd).
Forte did manage to reach over 100 yards of total offense in eight games. Two of theses games were against top-five defenses against the rush.
In Week 10 against Tennessee (ranked sixth), he rushed for 72 yards and had 54 yards receiving. Then, in Week 13 against Minnesota (ranked first), Forte had 96 yards rushing and 29 yards receiving.
Not bad for a rookie rusher.
This year, Forte plays against five teams with rush defenses ranked better than 15th. These teams are Pittsburgh (ranked third), San Francisco (ranked 13th), Philadelphia (ranked fourth), Minnesota (ranked first), and Baltimore (ranked third).
Last season, Forte did well against Minnesota. He also totaled 85 yards against Philadelphia.
Favorable matchups against weak rush defenses include St. Louis (ranked 29th), Atlanta (ranked 25th), Cincinnati (ranked 21st), Cleveland (ranked 28th), and Detroit (ranked 32nd).
However, during a normal fantasy football season, Forte will only face Detroit once. This is due to the fact that the Bears play Detroit for the second time in Week 17.
DeAngelo Williams finished last year with 1,515 rushing yards and 18 rushing touchdowns. He also added 121 receiving yards and two receiving touchdowns.
DeAngelo was quiet until Week Five against the Chiefs. He rushed for 123 yards and had one touchdown. The Chiefs were ranked 30th overall last year in rushing defense.
Three out of the four games before the Chiefs were against tough run defenses. They played San Diego (ranked 11th), Chicago (ranked fifth), and Minnesota (ranked first).
DeAngelo also had big games against Oakland (ranked 31st), Detroit (ranked 32nd), Green Bay (ranked 26th), Arizona (ranked 16th), and Tampa Bay (ranked 17th).
The toughest defense that Willams had an incredible game against was in Week 16 against the New York Giants (ranked ninth). In that game, DeAngelo rushed for 108 yards and four touchdowns.
This year's schedule is a little bit tougher. The Panthers play six out of the top-10 rush defenses: Philadelphia (ranked fourth), Washington (ranked eighth), Miami (ranked 10th), New York Jets (ranked seventh), Minnesota (ranked first), and a Week 16 rematch against the New York Giants are those teams.
Williams will also face the Arizona Cardinals again this year, against whom he rushed for 108 yards and one TD last season.
Atlanta is the lowest ranked rush defense Williams will face. The Falcons were ranked 25th in the NFL last season. Buffalo, who was ranked 22nd, would be the second-lowest rush defense.