Fantasy Football Rankings: The Ten Best Running Back Duos
The NFL season is about to begin, and for you last minute fantasy football players, you need a quick guide to your draft.
Teams are no longer playing just one running back, and loading him with over 300 carries.
Most teams have realized that in order to succeed, you need to have two established starting backs.
This may lead to splitting carries, but the guys on this list do not need to be the primary back to warrant fantasy ownership.
So who is the best running back duo in the NFL?
Here are some guys to target in your upcoming fantasy draft.
# 10 Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw
B-Jake broke out in 2008 with 1,089 yards and 15 touchdowns. He failed to impress last season, though, only rushing for 835 yards and five TDs.
In Jacobs' absence, Bradshaw filled in, and rushed for 778 yards and seven touchdowns.
Neither of these players should go anywhere higher than the fifth round. However, both deserve to be a mid-round selection.
They both can hit 1,000 yards and score 10 touchdowns. On the other hand, if Eli Manning throws for over 4,000 yards again, you can expect seasons like 2009 from the Giants duo.
#9 Pierre Thomas and Reggie Bush
In my draft last week, Thomas went in the second round. Needless to say, the selection drew a lot of criticism.
However, now that he is the featured back in the Saints explosive offense, he could easily rush for 1,200 yards and 11 touchdowns. On only 147 carries last season, Thomas ran for almost 800 yards.
Bush become increasingly valuable in PPR leagues, and a pure stud in a league that rewards return yards. In 2009, he caught 47 passes and had 5.6 yards per carry. On every play, it is a definite possibility that Bush breaks for a long run and scores a touchdown.
#8 Jahvid Best and Kevin Smith
The rookie Best has been the sexy preseason pick for Offensive Rookie of the Year. He has shown flashes of Barry Sanders in the preseason and training camp so far. I'm not saying he is the next Barry, but he shows similar traits to the legend.
Smith is trying to recover from a torn ACL last season, but has a bit more competition than he is used to. Best is, without a doubt, the best running back Smith has been paired with since his arrival in Detroit.
Best is going in the mid-round of fantasy drafts, with Smith either being a late-round pick or waiver pick up. Even though they are going later in drafts, these two have the chance to become one of the best duos in the league by the end of the year.
#7 Beanie Wells and Tim Hightower
Wells had a breakout rookie campaign in 2009, rushing for almost 800 yards and scoring seven touchdowns. He also finished his season with TDs in three of his last four games. Wells looks to carry more of the load this season, but it won't be as easy as some expect.
Hightower is still the goal-line back in the 'Zona. He ran for just under 600 yards and scored eight touchdowns. What makes him even more valuable is his catching ability. He hauled in 63 catches last season, which was second of all running backs.
The Arizona duo will be hampered by the loss of All-Pro quarterback Kurt Warner. He took a lot of the pressure off of the running game by throwing for 300 yards almost every week. If Matt Leinart can even close to where Warner left off, look for this duo to continue its success.
#6 Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams
Brown was primed for his best season of his short career, but the injury bug bit again. He finished with 648 yards in just nine games, with eight touchdowns. In his five seasons in the NFL, he has only topped 1,000 yards once. He has the potential to be a top-10 running back, if only he can stay healthy.
When Brown went down, Williams ran wild. He accumulated over 1,100 yards and scored 11 touchdowns in 2009. He has been spectacular since he returned from his sudden retirement and suspension. Expect these number to carry over to 2010.
What can help the Dolphins duo out even more is the arrival of Brandon Marshall to the passing game. Cannon-armed Chad Henne will look to hook up with Marshall on the deep balls, opening holes for the running game.
#5 Ray Rice and Willis McGahee
The duo of Rice and McGahee were perfect complements to each other in 2009. Rice ran for 1,339 yards and scored seven touchdowns in his second season in the NFL. He also led all running backs with 78 catches. Even in non-PPR leagues, he is considered to be a top four pick.
McGahee, on the other hand, ran for only 544 yards, but scored an incredible 12 touchdowns. He had his only 100-yard contest in the final week of the season, where he rushed for 167 yards and scored three TDs.
Look for Rice's carries to increase, while McGahee's decrease. He still might get the bulk of the goal-line carries, but owners should expect his yardage total to be in the 400s. The addition of Anquan Boldin will also open up the defense with Baltimore's first stud receiver in recent memory.
#4 Felix Jones and Marion Barber
Jones and Barber may have switched places in the scheme for the Cowboys. Jones, the speedy back, has gained weight, while the bruiser Barber has lost some pounds. Regardless, they both deserve a high to mid round selection in drafts.
Jones went in the fourth round, while Barber went in the sixth round of my fantasy draft. Jones had almost 700 yards, but only managed to find the end zone three times.
Barber, on the other hand, ran for over 900 yards and scored seven touchdowns. Fantasy owners can expect the yardage to switch, as Jones is quietly becoming the primary back. Barber will still have his fair share of touchdowns, but he is becoming the secondary back in Dallas.
#3 Shonn Greene and LaDanian Tomlinson
Greene had a couple of very strong games in his rookie season, but he is being selected way to high in fantasy drafts. He is currently going in the second round of most drafts. Greene has plenty of potential, but he only had 540 yards and two touchdowns last season.
The Jets backfield quickly became uncrowded with the departures of Thomas Jones and Leon Washington, and then crowded again with the arrival of LaDanian Tomlinson. He is going so late in drafts, one expert said "Remember, LT is not dead". He had 730 yards and 12 scores in 2009, and will be a steal for any owner taking him in the middle of their draft.
#2 Jamaal Charles and Thomas Jones
Charles was the second best running back in the NFL over the last half of the season. Take a look at these numbers. In his final four games, he rushed for 143, 154, 102, and 259 yards with four touchdowns. To think that an aging Jones will be the starter in Kansas City is just stupid.
But just like LT, Jones is not dead yet. He ran for 1,402 yards and 14 touchdowns with the Jets last year. Here's the kicker, though. He carried the ball 331 times. Statistics show a 30-year-old running back, who carries the ball over 300 times will most likely slow down.
Expect Jones to get somewhere between 800 and 900 yards, with eight or so touchdowns. Charles, on the other hand, could have a breakout year and become a top-five running back.
#1 DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart
Oh, Smash and Dash. The Panthers duo was been the best pairing in the NFL last season, and they are showing now signs of slowing down. If anything, they should be gaining steam with the increased workload of Stewart.
Williams rushed for 1,117 yards and seven touchdowns. Pretty good, right? Well what if I told you he only had 19 carries in the final five games. He had four 100 yard efforts, and topped 149 yards in three of those games.
Stewart is evening out the carries in Carolina, and is slowing catching up to Williams in the coach's game plan. He ran for over 100 yards in four of his final five contests, and scored 10 touchdowns over the entire season.
Williams and Stewart will both likely rush for over 1,000 yards again, and continue to show the rest of the league how to correctly split up carries. Williams will likely go in the late first round of drafts, and Stewart will go in the second round.