Hotdogs or hamburgers? Cats or dogs? Paper or plastic?
Why do people feel the need to debate in twos? Why do fantasy “experts” seem to think that the top overall draft slot belongs to either Chris Johnson or Adrian Peterson? What about Maurice? You know: Mr. Jones-Drew?
As you’ll see in my following redraft running back rankings for 2010, complete with player capsule, I have no problem bucking the norm when it comes to my fantasy backfield expectations…
1. Maurice Jones-Drew, JAX. Seeing his workload increase from 197 carries to 312, and being the only focal point of a team lacking star power, Jones-Drew continues to produce consistently impressive numbers totally under the radar.
Chris Johnson hasn’t proven he can maintain the sick pace he showed us last season. Adrian Peterson has a knack for dropping the pigskin, and rookie Toby Gerhart will take every opportunity he can get to show that he’s the reliable goal-line option when Peterson struggles with more dropsies.
2. Chris Johnson, TEN. The Titans did nothing major to bring in another back to spell Johnson. In fact, they got rid of LenDale White and brought in an even more questionable commodity in rookie LaGarrett Blount. I still worry about him replicating even a part of his amazing 2009 stats, but the upside makes it hard to pass at him at this slot.
3. Ray Rice, BAL. The key to Rice’s coming-out party in 2009 was his excessively impressive offseason work habits. This offseason? The Ravens are saying he’s done even more and is one of the best conditioned backs in the league.
We high school football people know that good conditioning is the best way to avoid injury. Some question whether some of Rice’s receptions will be lost to newcomer Anquan Boldin, but even if he loses some catches, his incredible 9.0 yards per reception and respectable 5.3 yards per carry will keep Rice at the top of the rankings for the foreseeable future.
4. Adrian Peterson, MIN. Not sure why I feel so strongly that Peterson will see a drop in stats…but every time Peterson fumbled, especially in the playoffs, I kept having violent flashbacks to Steve Slaton fumbling away my 2009 fantasy hopes.
Brett Favre’s presence keeps defenses more honest, and Peterson is still worthy of a top pick. I just worry that the fumbles and his bruising style of running will eventually catch up to him. That’s why I suggested, in one post, to consider trading Adrian Peterson in dynasty leagues .
5. Frank Gore, SF. Age and injuries seem to have a better handle on how to slow Gore than opposing defenses. When he plays, he is a home run threat. The Niners have a cupcake schedule, and Gore will be used plenty throughout the season.
6. Michael Turner, ATL. I am not a Turner aficionado from a fantasy standpoint, and this is not a PPR ranking, but it is hard to discount what Turner can do when focused and ready to prove his critics wrong. Reports state that Turner basically lived at the Falcons practice facility this off-season and is in excellent shape. This all combined with what I feel will be a very nice bounce-back season for Matt Ryan and the Atlanta passing game, and Turner shouldn’t slip too far on your draft board.
7. Steven Jackson, STL. There is no reason to think that Jackson won’t continue to produce despite the mediocrity around him. Like Barry Sanders, Jackson makes the most out of his situation and shines. The Rams will be spoon-feeding Sam Bradford as much as possible, meaning a heavy reliance on the running game once again.
8. Rashard Mendenhall, PIT. Young back who could become elite this season, he also has a lot of red flags attached to his fantasy value in 2010. Loss of Big Ben to suspension means that the offense will be feeding the ball a lot to Mendenhall…but it also means that defenses will be keying on him.
Mendenhall had some inconsistency issues from week to week last season, although his final stats were impressive considering he wasn’t starting for the first quarter of the regular season. Still, his potential tied with the Steelers return to run-first football is a combination worth taking a risk on.
9. DeAngelo Williams, CAR. When healthy, Williams is the primary ball carrier for a team that knows how to grind out the rushing stats. Even if he somehow fell behind upstart Jonathan Stewart and became second fiddle, Williams would still produce over 1,000 yards and double-digit TDs. Stewart did just that in the RB2 role last year. Plus, I have a feeling the Panthers run Williams into the ground before losing him to free agency next year. Just a hunch.
10. Pierre Thomas, NO. No, I didn’t forget to take my medicine. Pierre is in the perfect situation to excel this season. Primary back in an massively effective offense. Loss of Mike Bell and lack of other veteran backs being brought in means that Thomas will receive plenty of carries and opportunities.
His 5.4 yards per carry suggest so. The best thing in Pierre’s favor this season was the Saints refusal to sign him to a long-term lucrative contract. He has to play for his supper, so to speak, and has a plenty big chip on his shoulder and plenty to prove. I wouldn’t draft him this early, because he’ll likely fall into your early third round, but backs like Thomas make it much easier to draft receivers and other positions early on draft day.
For the rest of these rankings/capsules (Top 30) along with capsules on RBs who didn't make the list, go here.
Don’t miss my 2010 redraft rankings/player capsules at quarterback, wide receiver, and tight end . Curious about dynasty leagues and running backs? Check out my very early composite dynasty RB rankings.
For all your hard-hitting fantasy football needs, be sure to check out www.chinstrapninjas.com