Fantasy Football Dynasty Debate: Top 5 Running Backs for 2011

John ZaktanskyCorrespondent IJanuary 14, 2011

Chris Johnson didn't top 2,000 yards rushing once again in 2010, but who realistically expected that? He should be an elite option in 2011 and beyond.
Chris Johnson didn't top 2,000 yards rushing once again in 2010, but who realistically expected that? He should be an elite option in 2011 and beyond.Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Some suggest that fantasy football season is over. These people obviously don’t play in dynasty leagues, where the season never really does end.

And for those who play in these types of leagues, it never really is too early to starting thinking ahead. To the 2011 season. We’re already in 2011, for goodness sake. Time’s a-wasting!

And so, here is the first in a four-part series, debating who the top 5 running backs will be in 2011. Feel free to argue my Top 5 in the comments below. Similar posts at QB, WR and TE are coming soon.

1. Chris Johnson, TEN. Coming off a “down season” in 2010 for those silly enough to think he’d top 2,000 yards rushing again, Johnson still produced impressive fantasy stats after a slow start. He’s still the team’s primary ball carrier with no real competition in sight. He personally attributed his lower stats to a lingering thigh injury, one he has plenty of time now to nurse back to health.

2. Maurice Jones-Drew, JAX. Many wrote MJD off after a horrific start to 2010, but he rebounded nicely as the team finally committed to the run and saw plenty of success in doing so. Jack Del Rio returns in 2011. So does David Garrard. And, so do the chances that MJD will get plenty of carries. Two games each against the Colts and Texans should also help, along with a full offseason to heal up after a slew of 2010 injuries.

3. Ray Rice, BAL. Sporadic at times this year, Rice still produced well in PPR leagues despite a shoddy run-blocking O-line. He's expecting the Ravens to address that line during the offseason.

4. Adrian Peterson, MIN. The Vikings struggled most of the year behind a carousel of QBs and a slew of off-field issues. Next season, the QB situation will likely still be questionable unless the Vikings can land a proven veteran starter. Peterson will see plenty of defenses stacked to stop him and make whoever is QBing win games. Peterson will get his stats, but it may be tougher than it has been in the past.

5. Arian Foster, HOU. Flip-flopped on this one. Foster was a beast this year, and if Gary Kubiak wasn’t returning, I’d be more suspicious of ranking Foster here. Also, his playing time could be altered somewhat by rookie Ben Tate, who missed the 2010 campaign due to injury, but will be back in 2011.

The debate is already raging on the list, with nearly 40 comments stong here.

Check out my list of honorable mention backs here.

My Top 5 quarterbacks for 2011 and beyond include ...

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