Field Your Fantasy: Top 10 Fantasy Football Running Backs

Brandon KirschContributor IAugust 30, 2010

Field Your Fantasy: Top 10 Fantasy Football Running Backs

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    In fantasy football, the running back position is often viewed as the most important.

    A wide receiver may catch the ball 6-8 times in a game. A starting running back will have between 10-30 carries and can haul in six catches in game as well.

    These 10 running backs will be the top RB options for your fantasy team.

    For each one of these players I will tell you when to to target them in your draft and I will predict their 2010 stats.

    I hope you find this countdown worth while. Enjoy!

Number 10: Cedric Benson

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    Okay we are off and running with Cedric Benson as my number 10 fantasy running back.

    Benson resurrected his career in Cincinnati last season proving to everyone he is a top NFL back. Last season he ran the ball 301 times for 1,251 yards and six TD's even though he missed three games due to injury.

    He is a big powerful runner and has a great run-blocking offensive line in front of him, but he just can't find a way to remain healthy. I'm especially scared to draft Cedric Benson in the upcoming season because he has never rushed more than 300 times and I don't think his legs can take that again.

    The Bengals offense improved greatly over the offseason with the addition of Terrell Owens and Jermaine Gresham. With those added threats Benson will not have to face the seven or eight players in the box that he was facing last season.

    If he remains healthy for the entire season Benson will have around 1,100 yards and nine TD's, but it is very unlikely he can endure that again.

    I would draft Benson at the end of the third round as a No.1 RB or a high-end No. 2 RB.

Number 9: Ryan Grant

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    Ryan Grant is the starting RB on what will likely be one of the NFL's most prolific offenses led by Aaron Rodgers.

    After a disappointing fantasy season in 2008, Grant redeemed himself in 2009. Last year number 25 was a one-man show. He amassed 1,253 yards, rushed for 11 TD's and caught 25 balls for 197 yards.

    There was no one behind him to threaten the amount of carries he had then and there still is no serious threat to his touch total this year either. 

    Ryan Grant is good for 300+ carries and double digit TD's once again in the 2010 season and should have wide open rushing lanes since the Packers are a pass first team.

    Target Grant between the second and third round as a low-end No.1 RB.

Number 8: Rashard Mendenhall

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    Last season, Rashard Mendenhall started 12 games for the Steelers splitting carries with Willie Parker for most of the season. "Fast" Willie Parker has been shipped away to Washington, so now like Ryan Grant, there is no one behind him to take touches away.

    Pittsburgh has come out saying they want to run the ball more and get back to old Steelers football so Mendenhall's carries will increase in 2010.

    Along with that increased productivity Ben Roethlisberger is suspended the first four games of the season. With Big Ben out Pittsburgh is going to lean on their run game to carry them through those games.

    With all that in mind Rashard Mendenhall will have 280+ carries, over 1,100 yards, around eight rushing TD's and I think he can catch between 30-40 balls for 300 yards and one or two more TD's.

    I would draft Mendenhall at any time in the second round.

Number 7: Frank Gore

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    Frank Gore is no doubt a top 10 fantasy running back, but the guy is damaged goods. Gore hasn't remained healthy for a whole season since his second year in the NFL.

    The University of Miami graduate had a stellar fantasy season last year. Gore was able to last for 14 games in 2009, in which he ran for 1,120 yards with 10 TD's and he caught the ball 52 times for 406 yards and three more TD's.

    We all know Gore is capable of great things if he can remain healthy for a whole season, but the odds of that happening is very slim.

    As of now Frank Gore has the injury prone label embedded with his name in all fantasy team owners minds. Don't be afraid to draft him because even if he misses two or three games he still will give you top fantasy points.

    Gore is no doubt a first round talent, but I wouldn't take him until pick eight or nine.

Number 6: Steven Jackson

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    You look up the definition of workhorse back and there's a picture of Rams RB Steven Jackson.

    Throughout Steven Jackson's career he has been one of the most consistent players in the National Football League. Every year he rushes for a minimum of 1,000 yards and catches 45 passes for at least 250 yards.

    Jackson is the best player on the worst team in the NFL. He puts up top five running back numbers, but he is the only player defenses have to game plan for on St. Louis. 

    Last year he only had four total TD's which in fantasy football just doesn't cut it. He is one of the last running backs not sharing carries with anyone and he has an improving offense around him so his total amount of TD's will improve.

    He can easily move up this list by midseason and I expect he will.

    Jackson's 2010 stats will likely be 1,300-1,400 yards, 8-11 Total TD's, and 275 receiving yards.

    I would take Steven Jackson with the seventh pick overall in your fantasy draft.

Number 5: Michael Turner

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    This year the 5'10''—244 pounder is back and ready to roll through defenses just like he did in 2008.

    Michael Turner broke a lot of fantasy owners hearts last season after going down with injury in week 11. With five more games left to play Turner had already rushed for 871 yards and 10 TD's, so if you drafted him he still produced for your team.

    I think now that Turner is at 100 percent he is going to be a fantasy beast.

    He has an easy schedule in the upcoming season and the rest of the offense around him will only get better. Only downside is he is a non factor in the passing game, but with Matt Ryan maturing that could change. 

    Michael Turner is a lock for at least 1,400 yards, 13 rushing TD's if he can stay healthy for the whole season. Look to draft him at pick five overall.

Number 4: Ray Rice

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    The best pass catching running back in the National Football League is Ray Rice and in fantasy that means big points.

    Last season Rice took over the starting role for Baltimore and he never looked back.

    Rice ran for 1,339 yards on just 254 carries and caught the ball an astounding 78 times for another 702 yards. He had only eight total TD's (seven Rush—one Rec) due in large part to Willis McGahee who was stealing goal line touches last season. With a third year QB in Joe Flacco and newly acquired WR Anquan Boldin he should find the end zone more.

    Ray Rice is not only a top 10 fantasy running back, he is a top 10 fantasy player period. I love him going into the 2010 season and expect at least 1,200 yards,  nine TD's rushing and 60 catches for 550 yards with two more TD's.

    I would take Ray Rice with the fourth overall pick in your fantasy draft.

Number 3: Maurice Jones-Drew

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    I like to call Maurice Jones-Drew the mini wrecking ball. At a mere 5-7 208 pounds this guy can run over players 60 pounds bigger than him with ease.

    Last season MJD took over as the featured back in Jacksonville after his mentor, Fred Taylor was signed by New England. As many expected he played exceptionally well as "the guy" in 2009.

    Jones-Drew ran for 1,391 yards on 312 carries; rushing for 15 TD's and he recorded 53 receptions for 374 yards and another score.

    Maurice Jones-Drew is ready to do it all again in 2010. He looks guaranteed to have 300+ carries, 12 rushing TD's, 1,200 yards and he is a great pass catcher so 55 receptions for 350 yards and two more TD's is very possible.

    Jones-Drew isn't as spectacular as the next two running backs, but he will be a top fantasy scorer at the end of the season.

    Take Maurice Jones-Drew with the third overall pick in your fantasy draft.

Number 2: Adrian Peterson

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    No. 2 on my fantasy countdown is none other than Adrian "All Day" Peterson.

    I'm not to sure if his nickname is stating that he runs over people "All Day" or fumbles "All Day".

    Peterson does a lot of both unfortunately, last season he ran the ball 314 times for 1,383 yards and a league leading 18 rushing TD's. He also caught the ball 43 times for 436 yards the most in his career. With those top fantasy stats he also fumbled the ball seven times.

    Along with the fumbling problem the Vikings are going to be without Sidney Rice for half the year, so Peterson is going to have to carry the entire offense.

    AP is an unbelievable talent; he plays exceptionally well year in and year out, but the fumbling issue is the only thing holding him back from top player in the NFL status.

    Adrian Peterson is going to have another amazing fantasy season in 2010. He is guaranteed at least 300 carries, 1,400 yards, and 13+ TD's. Also he is going to be more involved in the passing game so 50 receptions for 450 yards and 1-2 more TD's is entirely possible.

    Draft Adrian Peterson with the number two pick overall in your fantasy football draft.

Number 1: Chris Johnson

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    Chris Johnson is the winner! Not only is he my top fantasy running back, but he also is the player I would take with the No. 1 overall pick in all fantasy drafts.

    Johnson had the single greatest season by a running back ever in the NFL with a total of 2,509 yards from scrimmage.

    He had an astounding 358 carries, rushing for 2,006 yards and scored 14 times on the ground with another 50 receptions for 503 yards with two more TD's.

    CJ2K is the best running back in the National Football League and he will live up to that in the 2010 season.

    I expect less carries in 2010, but still at least 300 for 1,600 yards and 14 TD's once again. Johnson's catches may also take a slight dip due to the growth of Tennessee's wide receivers, but 40 receptions for 450 yards with another TD would be a fair expectation.

    Chris Johnson will be the first pick in more than 75 percent of all fantasy drafts and that is where you should take him.