Fantasy Football Rankings: Top 15 2011 PPR Running Backs

Zach Greubel@@ZachGreubelCorrespondent IIJanuary 4, 2011

Fantasy Football Rankings: Top 15 2011 PPR Running Backs

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    The 2010 fantasy football season has come to an unfortunate end. Fantasy owners everywhere will soon come to the grim realization that the next fantasy football season is eight months away.

    I, too, have encountered this unwelcoming truth and am attempting to remedy the situation.

    There is no better way to say goodbye to the 2010 season than by looking forward to a promising 2011 season, however far away it may be.

    I am an avid supporter of PPR (point per reception) leagues and have compiled a list of my top 15 PPR running backs for the 2011 fantasy football season. Enjoy.

No. 15: Rashard Mendenhall, Pittsburgh Steelers

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    Mendenhall doesn't have much more value in PPR leagues, but his ability to score touchdowns makes up for his comparable lack of receptions. He was tied for second among running backs with 13 touchdowns and added over 1,200 yards on the ground.

    There is also the risk of injury with Mendenhall, as we have seen in the past.

    Consider him to be a late first-round to early second-round draft pick.

No. 14: Michael Turner, Atlanta Falcons

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    Turner has a lot in common with Mendenhall in that he doesn't catch a lot of balls but still puts up the points. He also scored 12 times on the ground and ran for over 1,300 yards.

    He was tops in the league in carries with 334, so he does get more opportunities than most running backs. Unfortunately, fellow running back Jason Snelling gets most of the attention in the passing game.

    Turner has, nevertheless, proved to be reliable over the past few years. He's one of the safer bets for fantasy owners.

No. 13: Ahmad Bradshaw, New York Giants

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    Bradshaw exploded onto the scene this season, piling up over 1,500 total yards and eight touchdowns, all on the ground.

    Bradshaw is a lot more valuable in PPR leagues. He caught 47 passes for over 300 yards receiving, all of this while splitting time with Brandon Jacobs.

    Don't be afraid to take Bradshaw within the first 15 picks of your draft.

No. 12: Steven Jackson, St. Louis Rams

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    This was kind of an off year for Steven Jackson, as the Rams were trying to find a new identity with rookie quarterback Sam Bradford at the helm. Jackson still managed 1,200 yards and six touchdowns on the ground and 46 catches and 383 yards through the air with no touchdowns.

    Even with this being one of Jackson's down seasons, he was still in the top 15 in scoring for running backs. Consider Jackson to be a top 10-12 pick.

No. 11: Darren McFadden, Oakland Raiders

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    This was a coming-out year for McFadden. He finally lived up to the expectations he was drafted with, as he racked up more than 1,600 total yards and 10 total touchdowns.

    What is especially good for fantasy owners is that 500 of those yards and three of those touchdowns were in the passing game, not to mention he was targeted 61 times.

    If he wasn't giving up some touches to Michael Bush, he might be considered a top five pick in 2011 drafts.

No. 10: Frank Gore, San Francisco 49ers

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    Gore struggled again this season with injuries but, again, made it count for fantasy owners when he did play. He had another solid season in the passing game with 46 catches, 452 receiving yards and two touchdowns. He was targeted 73 times, sixth among running backs.

    Gore still managed 1,300 total yards and five touchdowns despite the injuries.

No. 9: Matt Forte, Chicago Bears

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    This season was a rebound for Forte after disappointing fantasy owners last season. The Bears as a whole seemed to be revived this season, and Forte reminded us of what he did his rookie season.

    PPR owners were especially happy with Forte this season, as he caught 51 balls for 547 yards and three touchdowns and was targeted 62 times. On the ground he added just over 1,000 yards with six touchdowns.

    He is, again, a top 10 pick for fantasy owners next season.

No. 8: Jamaal Charles, Kansas City Chiefs

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    Charles is coming off the best season of his career after exploding onto the scene during the latter part of the 2009 regular season.

    Charles isn’t even a featured back with Thomas Jones taking a lot of touches away. Nevertheless, Charles didn't disappoint with over 1,900 total yards and eight touchdowns.

No. 7: Ray Rice, Baltimore Ravens

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    Ray Rice had another solid season for the Ravens with over 1,700 total yards and six touchdowns. He was again one of the best PPR running backs as he totaled 63 receptions, 556 yards and a touchdown in the receiving game.

    It wasn't the kind of season he had last year but still one of the best for running backs in PPR leagues.

No. 6: Peyton Hillis, Cleveland Browns

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    Hillis took advantage of his first season as a starter in Cleveland. On the ground he had almost 1,200 yards and 11 touchdowns and really impressed in the passing game with 61 catches and 477 receiving yards with two touchdowns. Not too shabby for a first-time starter.

    Consider Hillis a top five pick for next season, even with the injury risks.

No. 5: Adrian Peterson, Minnesota Vikings

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    A.P. could easily be the top running back again next season, but he passed the baton to Arian Foster this season. He still totaled over 1,600 yards and 13 touchdowns. His receiving statistics weren't quite what they were last season but still decent.

    We all know what Peterson can do, and it definitely wouldn't be stupid to take him with the top pick.

No. 4: Maurice Jones-Drew, Jacksonville Jaguars

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    Jones-Drew had an off year of sorts as well, even though he had over 1,600 total yards and seven touchdowns. This year was the first time that he really saw a lot of touches taken away from him, thanks to fellow Jacksonville running back Rashad Jennings and injury problems.

    “Pocket Hercules,” like C2K, is still a top five running back, but the lessened production and the injury problems this season make owners a little wary.

    Nevertheless, Jones-Drew has been one of the most consistent and productive running backs in the NFL throughout his career, and that will continue next season.

No. 3: Chris Johnson, Tennessee Titans

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    This season was a disappointing one for Johnson owners. By no means did Johnson have a terrible season—he’s still a top fantasy running back—but compared to last season Johnson really let owners down. After all, he only managed 200 receiving yards this season but did have 44 catches.

    He also had over 1,300 rushing yards and 11 rushing touchdowns and is still a top five fantasy running back and should not be taken for granted.

No. 2: LeSean McCoy, Philadelphia Eagles

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    McCoy really made a name for himself this season, giving Michael Vick a nice complement in Philadelphia's backfield.

    It didn't take long for McCoy to become Vick's favorite target after Vick became the starting quarterback. He led all running backs in receptions with 78 and added about 600 yards receiving with two receiving touchdowns. On the ground he tallied over 1,000 yards with seven touchdowns.

    McCoy is without a doubt a top three pick in PPR drafts.

No. 1: Arian Foster, Houston Texans

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    Foster took the NFL by storm in the first week of the season and never looked back, putting fantasy teams on his back and carrying a lot of them to the postseason.

    He was the only running back to gain over 2,000 total yards and racked up an astounding 18 total touchdowns, 16 of which were on the ground. Foster was fantastic in the passing game with 66 receptions and over 600 receiving yards.

    If you have the first pick, make a Foster home.