Fantasy Top 10: Running Backs
This is an early look at the top 10 running backs for fantasy football in the upcoming 2010 season. Running backs are becoming harder to judge nowadays as many teams are using multiple backs, making those guys who carry the entire load for their team much more valuable. Running Backs are probably the most important position in fantasy football, and these are the top ten.
10. Jamaal Charles
Charles ran for over 1,100 yards and 7 touchdowns last year, with an astounding 5.9 yards per carry average. Even with the addition of Thomas Jones, he should still see more than 190 carries this year. Though the Chiefs' offensive line is suspect, Charles proved last year that he could put up big numbers. Expect his stats to be around the same as last year—maybe a little higher—but the potential for a huge season is there as well.
9. Ryan Grant
Grant posted career bests in yards and touchdowns last year with his second straight 1,200 yards season and 11 touchdowns. If the offensive line improves this year, which it should, Grant can see a slight increase in numbers. The one big thing he has working for him is that he is one of the few remaining feature backs left in the league. Look for Grant to carry the load for Green Bay this season and post similar numbers to last year.
8. Steven Jackson
Despite playing for the Rams, Steven Jackson has posted five straight 1,000 yard seasons. Last year's 1,400 yard campaign was the second highest of his career. However, he tied a career low with only four touchdowns. As the Rams slowly improve, look for Jackson's numbers to do so as well. He will get all of the carries in St. Louis this year, and look for him to post similar stats in terms of rushing yards and an increase in his touchdowns. He should also post his usual 300 receiving yards.
7. Michael Turner
The curse of 370 struck Turner last year as Turner missed five games do to injury. His numbers last year still put him on pace for a big season, and he is back to 100 percent this year. He will likely post over 1,000 yards and around 15 touchdowns. Don't be scared off by last year. I expect him to have a big fantasy season in 2010.
6. Cedric Benson
Benson had a long-overdue breakout season last year. He rushed for over 1,200 yards in only 13 games. Expect him to carry the load again for the Bengals and rack up around 1,400 yards this year. The only concern fantasy-wise is that he only had six touchdowns last season. That will likely improve to around 10.
5. Frank Gore
Despite only 229 carries, Frank Gore rushed for over 1,100 yards and a career-high 10 touchdowns last season. He also racked up an impressive 406 receiving yards on 52 receptions. Those receiving numbers should be similar this year; he puts up those type of numbers each year. His rushing stats should improve because he should see much more than 229 carries. The 49ers tried to be a passing team last year, but it appears that they finally realized that they have a bad quarterback and one of the best running backs in the league. Look for Gore to be one of the top backs next year.
4. Ray Rice
Last season Ray Rice gained over 2,000 yards from scrimmage, proving that he can rack up fantasy points in many different ways. His receiving numbers could decrease this year with the addition of Anquan Boldin, but his touchdown numbers should improve now that he is becoming the featured back in Baltimore and with Willis McGahee's role decreasing. Rice should be a top back this season.
Jones-Drew had a breakout year last year, with almost 1,400 yards and a whopping 15 touchdowns. "Pocket Hercules" didn't break down from the heavy workload he had last year and I don't expect him to this year. His rushing numbers should be similar to last year, but his receiving numbers should improve to where they were in the past, which should elevate his fantasy status. He should be one of three elite fantasy backs this year.
2. Adrain Peterson
Peterson had a down year in terms of yards, but he racked up 18 touchdowns in the process. Expect his yards to improve this year and his touchdowns to decrease somewhat. The only thing you shouldn't expect is for him to hold on to the ball.
1. Chris Johnson
Chris Johnson's stats could decrease dramatically this year and still be the top fantasy scorer among running backs. He had an NFL record 2,508 yards from scrimmage last year and 16 touchdowns. He's the main focus of Tennessee's offense and could easily lead the league in rushing. He's the most exciting player in the NFL and the easy choice for No. 1 on this list.