It's that time of year again, football fans.
Most of you are preparing for your upcoming fantasy football drafts, trying to find the diamond in the rough.
I'm sure a lot of you guys are buying the magazines that come out every year, researching the stats and looking at the rankings.
I do the same.
But I'm here to give you guys my first-ever attempt at my fantasy rankings and predictions.
So kick back, have a good read, and enjoy it.
I'll start with running backs.
We all know the Adrian Peterson is the best back in the league, and will most likely go No. 1 in almost every draft this year.
Peterson will put up his numbers and, if he stays healthy, will continue to prove he is the best back in the league.
Peterson will get you your 1,000 yards, and 12 touchdowns. He is a flat out fantasy stud.
After Peterson there's a group of about four guys who can contend to be the best back in the league.
Including Peterson, you get what I call the "Fantasic Five," with a tie at fifth place. The Fantastic Five will be in every posistion article I write in my fantasy preview.
The Fantastic Five is the top five players at their posistion, fantasy wise.
My list goes as follows:
1. Adrian Peterson, Minnesota Vikings.
Peterson is a fantasy monster. Last year he racked up 1,885 total yards. 1,760 of those were rushing. He only finished with 10 touchdowns, but split some time with Chester Taylor.
The thing to worry about with Peterson is fumbles. Last year he fumbled four times, and lost three of them.
Another thing to look at is his receiving production. For as good as a back that Peterson is, he only caught 21 passes for 125 yards and zero touchdowns.
But dont let those stats bring you down.
Peterson is a safe pick for No. 1 overall.
2. Michael "The Burner" Turner, Atlanta Falcons
We new this guy could play. When he got his contract from Atlanta, he showed just that.
Turner put up monster numbers last year. He had 1,699 yards on 376 attempts with 17 touchdowns.
Turner is a workhorse, but that might hurt him.
Getting the ball that much during a season does a lot to a running back. He might not be as good towards the end of the season as he was in the earlier parts of the year.
If Turner puts up those numbers again, he will be a great top-five pick. But can he carry the workload again? I believe he will.
Having Matt Ryan on your team isn't bad either. Ryan may take the pressure off Turner and have the defenses worried about the pass.
Thats when Turner is at his best.
3. Brian Westbrook, Philadelphia Eagles
Westbrook is a fantasy monster. Not only does he put up the yards and touchdowns, but the guy can catch as well.
In fact, last year he had 402 receiving yards on 54 receptions. A nice number for leagues that support the receiving category. Westbrook also notched five receiving touchdowns.
That gave him a grand total of 14 touchdowns.
Westbrook also missed two games last year due to injuries. A knock on him that could hurt his fantasy value.
This year's schedule also favors Westbrook. He only faces one team from the top five rushing defenses last season: the New York Giants.
The Eagles play them twice. So Westbrook could torch up some soft defenses.
4. Matt Forte, Chicago Bears
Forte had a great rookie season. Putting together a nice 1,000 yard season and adding eight touchdowns to boot. Forte was in on a lot of downs for the Bears. You can say he is an every-down back, which is hard to find nowadays in the NFL.
Forte had a good year receiving-wise also. Catching 63 passes for 477 yards and scored four touchdowns.
With the Bears acquiring Jay Cutler and no real threat at the wide receiver position, Fortes' numbers could go up. I expect Cutler to find Forte a lot in the open field.
One thing that worries me about Forte is the workload. Last year he was in on over 93 percent of the Bears' offensive possesions. Thats a lot for a rookie.
The Bears also face three of last years top-five rushing defenses. Pittsburgh, Arizona and Minnesota twice.
If the Bears plan to have a big year from Forte, they need to use him wisely.
T-5. Thomas Jones, New York Jets
Jones had a great rushing year last year. In fact, he lead the AFC in total rushing. Something thats not easy to do.
This is the same Thomas Jones that was a force for Chicago in their 2006 Super Bowl run. But he was traded so that Cedric Benson would be the No. 1 back in Chicago.
How's that move looking?
Jones should put up similiar numbers this year. With rookie Mark Sanchez as the quarterback, the Jets might give Jones the ball to take the pressure off Sanchez.
Jones finished last season with 1,312 yards rushing and 13 touchdowns, and was a force in the backfield.
If Jones can provide those numbers again this year, people might regret passing on him.
T-5. Deangelo Williams, Carolina Pathers
Williams came out of nowhere last year. He split time with Jonathan Stewart, but still managed to put up good numbers.
Williams carried the ball 273 times and finished with 1,515 yards. He also had 18 touchdowns, which is a great number for fantasy football.
Williams found the endzone a lot last year. It might not be a bad pick to take him No, 2 or 3, but remember that he will share carries with Stewart.
Williams also has speed to take it to the house everytime he touches the ball. Something that would be good for fantasy owners.
Theres the Fantastic Five, well in this case six, now lets look at some other backs.
On the outside looking in is Chris Johnson. Johnson had a productive rookie season last year. He is also one of, if not, the fastest running back in the NFL.
The problem is LenDale White. Johnson is part of the "smash N-dash" combo the Titans use, giving the ball to White a lot at the goal line. That limits some of the touchdowns that Johnson could be getting.
Still 1,228 yards and nine touchdowns isnt bad for your team.
Ronnie Brown is also on the brink of making my top five. He put up good fantasy numbers last season, including a monster game. In the debut of the Wildcat, he shined. But teams have seemed to figure that out.
Brown is also injury prone, which is a negative for fantasy owners. Who needs their starting running back out in a pivital playoff run?
Steven Jackson and Ryan Grant also make good cases for the top five. But I'm just not having it. Jackson had a good year last year with 1,042 yards and eight touchdowns, but thats not top five worthy.
Grant put up 1,203 yards which isnt bad. But he had just as many fumbles as touchdowns last year—four. That's not going to get you points for your team.
Now, on to the Sleepers. Ahhh, yes the guys that you hope to steal late in the second round or even later. The guys that you want to brag to your opponents about all year long and rub it in their faces.
My favorite canidate for a sleeper is Steve Slaton. The kid has blazing fast speed, and has a nose for the endzone. Nine touchdowns and over 1,000 yards in fact. Not too many people in your league will notice Slaton. But if he is there in the second or third round, grab him.
Kevin Smith is also on the sleeper list. WOW! Yes, the Lions actually won something last year. A running back than can produce. Too bad the rest of the offense couldn't. Smith had only 976 yards, but he made up for it by finding the endzone nine times.
Smith should be around in the fourth to fifth round.
Now on to the avoid list. These are the guys to avoid and are likely on the downside of their careers.
Let's start off with the most popular running back in football a couple seasons ago, LaDainian Tomilinson. The guy is flat out on his downward slope. He looked so bad at times last year, that people were wondering, "Whats going on?"
Well, except for the guys that do the Madden Rating updates. They still had him in the high 90s throughout the season.
LT did finish with over 1,000 yards and 11 touchdowns. Point is, he did look pretty bad at times last season and injuries are starting to catch up with him. If he struggles early, expect Darren Sproles to take his place.
Larry Johnson was also a good fantasy choice—a couple years ago. But last year showed he was on the downside of his career. He finished with 874 yards and only five touchdowns.
Well that wraps up this edition of my first-ever attempt to do fantasy football rankings.
Some of you may argue and disagree on these rankings, but that's what I wrote the article for.
A good journalist always has people that don't agree, and sparks debate.
Zack Pearson (Zack54attack)
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