Compiling a list of the five best running backs in the AFC is a little more involved than doing the same in the NFC.
The American Football Conference is stronger at the position.
In predicting this season's performance I, of course, take into account past performance. I also consider the changes around a specific player that will effect him positively or negatively in 2009.
This is not limited to just offensive line changes, or quarterback moves for that matter.
One of the most important moves I look at is coaching changes, as this may signal philosophical changes within an organization.
An example of this analysis is the Indianapolis Colts, where both Tony Dungy and Tom Moore are gone.
The question is whether Indy will be more dedicated to the run this season with a new head coach and offensive coordinator.
In this case, probably not. The replacements for both of these coaches comes from within the organization.
Jim Caldwell served as both assistant and associate head coach before getting the top job. He started with Indianapolis as their quarterbacks coach.
Similarly, Clyde Christensen was previously the receivers coach.
With this information, we can surmise that there will be more of the same this year from Peyton and company.
For this reason, the very talented Joseph Addai (pictured above), does not make my top five.
These are the crucial tidbits that separate successful fantasy owners from the rest of the pack.
With that, here are the top five running backs coming out of the AFC in 2009.
It is well known the kind of monster numbers Larry Johnson is capable of putting up.
Despite missing four games in 2008, he accumulated 874 yards and five touchdowns.
I anticipate a much stronger year in 2009.
Lendale White is a touchdown machine, with 15 of them last season.
He would be ranked higher if he was not sharing carries with Chris Johnson.
In this case, take the bruiser of the duo—ideally as a second running back.
2008 was a down year for LaDainian Tomlison. He only had 1,110 yards rushing and 11 touchdowns, coupled with 426 receiving yards receiving and another score in the passing game.
Never in his career has LT had less than 10 touchdowns in a season.
Darren Sproles may be the future of the Chargers, but, don't turn your attention from Tomlinson just yet.
The Jets upgraded their line with rookie acquisition Robert Turner from the University of New Mexico.
This could mean Thomas Jones will improve on his season from a year ago.
A season in which he ran for over 1,300 yards and had 13 touchdowns.
With Fred Taylor in New England, Maurice Jones-Drew is the man in Jacksonville.
Look for Jones- Drew too add to his 824 yards and 12 touchdowns from a year ago.
He will shine bright this year—I expect no less than 1300 yards and 14 touchdowns for the De La Salle high school graduate.
Maurice Jones-Drew will be one of the five most productive fantasy players, regardless of position, in 2009.