Fantasy Football Week 1 Rankings: Running Backs

Michael WhooleySenior Writer ISeptember 9, 2009

SAN DIEGO - AUGUST 15:  Running back LaDainian Tomlinson #21 of the San Diego Chargers warms up for the game with the Seattle Seahawks on August 15, 2009 at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

“For, lo, the winter is past. The rain is over and gone; The flowers appear on the earth; The time of the singing of birds is come, And the voice of the turtle is heard in our land.”

While this is a poem that the legendary baseball broadcaster of the Detroit Tigers, Ernie Harwell used to describe spring’s arrival and, with it, the game of baseball, in a sense it fits for the arrival of Week 1 of the NFL season as well.

After all, the first kick off of the NFL season is the sport’s spring as hope springs eternal at that moment. With that, I’d like to dedicate this little paragraph to Mr. Harwell who was recently diagnosed with incurable cancer.

Mr. Harwell, I would like to thank you for all of the late nights of great baseball announcing you’ve done and for being one of the inspirations in as I pursue my dream to write about sports. You are in my prayers, and I dedicate the work I do this season to you.

Speaking of prayers, your opponents will not have one against you, Bruno Boys Nation, as you have the Bruno Boys on your side. As I was saying, Week 1 is upon us and with that brings something that has been long anticipated for months now; the start of the fantasy football season.

I (Bruno Boys Ziza) will have the pleasure of once again bringing you the running back weekly rankings. While I don’t want to take credit away from the other positions, there is no position in my mind that is more important in your pursuit of a playoff berth and ultimately the main goal; a championship ring.

I give you my word that I will dedicate myself to making sure that every single one of you has a successful season. With that being said, let’s jump into the Bruno Boys Fantasy Football Week 1 Running Back Rankings.

Key Abbreviations: YPC (Yards Per Carry), YPG (Yards Per Game)

1. Adrian Peterson (Minnesota Vikings) @ Cleveland

How does the highest rated fantasy option improve upon his performance? By spending the off-season trying to improve his playing weight, strength, and pass-catching ability.

That last one is what really could help Peterson in 2009 as his ground game in 2008 was awesome (1,760 yards and 10 touchdowns), while his aerial assault was pretty tame at 125 yards.

In Week 1, Peterson faces a Cleveland rush defense that stinks it up worse than my youngest girl's diapers. And, believe me, that is pretty stinky.

Peterson has never faced the Browns in his career, so it will be interesting to see how much damage he can do this week. We are predicting a ton of yardage and a touchdown.

Point Projections: 20 points

2. LaDainian Tomlinson (San Diego Chargers) @ Oakland

While LaDainian Tomlinson has turned 30, he still remains a solid RB1 in all fantasy formats. And, he will reward those that have taken a chance on him this year by having an outstanding Week 1.

He has owned the Raiders during his career. Even last year, a year that LT played through injuries, he still averaged over 100 all-purpose yards and 1.5 touchdowns a game.

You can sleep well knowing that Tomlinson is a no-brainer start, who will make you look like a genius from draft day. Tomlinson is hands down one of the best plays at any position this week.

Point Projection: 19 points

3. Maurice Jones-Drew (Jacksonville Jaguars) @ Indianapolis

What a year this will be for Maurice Jones-Drew. His backfield mate Fred Taylor was let go, giving Jones-Drew the responsibility of being the primary back in Jacksonville.

Luckily for his fantasy football owners, his Jaguars start the season off against the Colts; a team that Jones-Drew has destroyed in his career.

Last year against his division rival, Jones-Drew averaged 99 yards on the ground and another 65 yards through the air; he also had a touchdown.

The Bruno Boys are very confident that Jones-Drew will start the season out with a bang, making him an easy choice as a running back that you must start.

Point Projection: 18 points

4. Steven Jackson (St. Louis Rams) @ Seattle

During the preseason, Steven Jackson saw very little playing time. Is it because they are looking to dump his contract? Not likely.

In fact, Jackson being released is not at all likely. The Rams want to keep their star running back healthy and for a good reason; he IS the Rams offense.

The workload will be there during Week 1 as Jackson gets to face a Seahawks team who is only average against the run.

There is no denying Jackson’s fantasy value when he is healthy enough to be on the field.

In his last three meetings against the Seahawks, Jackson has averaged just shy of 100 total yards and 1 touchdown. We expect more of the same.

Point Projection: 16 points

5. Frank Gore (San Francisco 49ers) @ Arizona

After putting together another solid season in 2008, big things are expected from Frank Gore this season. Catapulting back into a true RB1 status for this fantasy draft season, Gore showed little in the preseason as he was trumped by his backup, Glen Coffee.

That is nothing to be too concerned with, though, as the offense in San Francisco will be run through Gore.

His first task at hand is the Cardinals defense, a team he destroyed last year, averaging a total of 128 yards; he also threw in a touchdown during those two games.

Look for a continuation of dominance, as Gore is a must-start in all fantasy formats.

Point Projection: 16 points

6. Kevin Smith (Detroit Lions) @ New Orleans

The Lions’ Kevin Smith enjoyed a heck of a rookie season once he grabbed the starting gig permanently from Rudi Johnson. He finished with over 1,250 all purpose yards and 8 touchdowns; normally an outstanding season for a rookie, but last year’s rookie crop was amazing.

Nonetheless, Smith ranks as a solid RB2 this year and someone that you definitely want to have on your team come Week 1. Last year against the Saints, Smith went for 111 rushing yards and a touchdown.

With the Lions undoubtedly wanting to control the time clock come game time to keep the Saints offense off the field as much as possible, Smith should see plenty of action early.

This is a put up or shut up play, though, as if the game gets out of hand, the Lions will have to pass, pass, pass.

Point Projection: 16 points

7. Michael Turner (Atlanta Falcons) vs. Miami

There was not a bigger free agent acquisition last year than the Falcons locking up Michael Turner long-term. At first people, including myself, whispered that they had overpaid for LaDainian Tomlinson’s backup, but lo and behold, we were wrong.

Not only did he rush for 1,699 yards, but he also reached pay dirt a remarkable 17 times. During the off-season, the Falcons brought in tight end Tony Gonzalez to spread opposing defenses even more.

In Week 1, Turner faces a lack luster Miami rush defense. Big things are in store for Turner in 2009, and the success will start this week.

Point Projection: 16 points

8. Ronnie Brown (Miami Dolphins) @ Atlanta

After dealing with injuries from the 2007 season, 2008 was expected to be a quiet year for Ronnie Brown, but he bounced back much quicker than expected and started in 13 of the 16 games he played. He had 10 touchdowns and over 1,150 all-purpose yards.

To start the 2009 season, he faces an Atlanta rush defense that is well below average. Brown should continue where he left off last year and have a great start to this season.

Point Projection: 16 points

9. DeAngelo Williams (Carolina Panthers) vs. Philadelphia

DeAngelo Williams led the list of excellent running backs last season as he totaled 1,636 all purpose yards while accumulating 20 touchdowns.

What made it even more eye opening is that his partner, Jonathan Stewart, also had a heck of a rookie year.

While Williams never faced the Eagles defense during the regular season last year, the Bruno Boys are still very confident he will get the best of this tough Eagles rush defense. Play Williams with confidence in Week 1.

Point Projection: 15 points

10. Matt Forte (Chicago Bears) @ Green Bay

The Bears’ Matt Forte enjoyed an excellent rookie campaign last year as he went for over 1,700 total yards and 12 touchdowns. Will he continue that success this season?

The Bruno Boys believe that he will and his first obstacle is facing a below average Green Bay rush defense. Forte enjoyed success last season against this division rival and went for over 100 total yards the game that he played at Green Bay.

With Jay Cutler now under center, the yardage may dip a little, but we expect Forte to punch one in this week. Forte is a very solid start for Week 1.

Point Projection: 14 points




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