Fantasy Football: Arian Foster and 2011's Top 10 Fantasy Running Backs

Jake WinieckiCorrespondent IIIJuly 4, 2011

Fantasy Football: Arian Foster and 2011's Top 10 Fantasy Running Backs

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    Even though the NFL lockout is still going on, that is no reason for us not to speculate about the upcoming fantasy football season. 

    Everyone knows running backs are the most desired players in fantasy football; in most of this year's projections, the top four players overall are running backs. 

    But who is No. 1 this year? 

    The consensus as of now seems to be Adrian Peterson, who seems to be No. 1 or No. 2 every year. Last year it was Texans RB Arian Foster, who finished as the top back, and of course Titans RB Chris Johnson was tops two years ago after his record-breaking season.

    I have my opinion on the matter of who should be No. 1, but of course that doesn't mean it's right. Please feel free to discuss and give your opinion on who the top backs are for this upcoming fantasy season.

10. Ray Rice, Baltimore Ravens

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    Ray Rice was one of the top running backs heading into last season after he gained more than 2,000 total yards in 2009. 

    He regressed a little bit last year though, rushing for 1,220 yards and five TD's. His receiving numbers also declined from 78 catches for 702 yards to 63 catches for 556 yards. Rice's yards per carry average also dropped from 5.3 to 4.0. 

    Despite that, Rice is still a dynamic player and only 24 years old. He should have a bigger impact than he did last year, but I don't know if he can duplicate what he did in 2009.

9. Darren McFadden, Oakland Raiders

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    Darren McFadden was starting to look like a bust after his first two seasons in the NFL, totaling only 856 rushing yards and five TD's.

    Many of us thought if the Raiders finally got any sort of QB to take the pressure off the running game that McFadden could explode, and that's just what he did. 

    He rushed for 1,157 yards and seven TD's in only 13 games and on only 223 carries. He also caught 47 passes for 507 yards and three more TD's. 

    McFadden finally showed he can be one of the most explosive players in the game. If he can stay healthy this year, he should be able to top those already impressive stats from last year.

8. Michael Turner, Atlanta Falcons

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    First off, some people are turned off by the fact that Michael Turner is 29 years old and could drop off. 

    To put things in perspective, he has fewer carries than Adrian Peterson—that's because he was a backup in San Diego for four years and never got more than 80 carries in a season. 

    Since coming to Atlanta he has become one of the best pure rushers in the league.

    Last year, Turner had 1,371 yards and 12 TD's.  He has three straight seasons of at least 10 TD's, but also his career-high in receiving yards in a season is only 85, which came last year; Turner has never caught a TD in his career.

7. Rashard Mendenhall, Pittsburgh Steelers

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    Rashard Mendenhall is only 24 years old and has great upside. 

    Last year he rushed for 1,273 and 13 TD's—pretty impressive numbers, but he also only had 3.9 yards per carry. 

    That number should improve this year, but if it doesn't, it will mean fewer yards if his carries go down from the 324 he had last year—which is very likely. 

    Despite that, his talent and production are too much to ignore.

6. LeSean McCoy, Philadelphia Eagles

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    McCoy rushed for 1,080 yards and seven TD's last year on a 5.2 yards per carry average.  To add to those numbers, he caught a whopping 78 passes for 592 yards and two TD's. 

    Oh yeah, and he'll only be 23 to start he season. 

    McCoy has the potential to be one of the best offensive threats in the NFL, and he might be already. His carries should go up this year, so his stats should follow suit.

5. Maurice Jones-Drew, Jacksonville Jaguars

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    Despite a career-low five TD's last year, Jones-Drew has 54 TD's in five seasons, along with at least 300 receiving yards in each season and back-to-back 1,300-yard rushing seasons. 

    A knee injury slowed Jones-Drew down a tad last year, and it isn't quite 100 percent yet. He should have another big season this year though, as he is only 26 and isn't slowing down anytime soon.

4. Adrian Peterson, Minnesota Vikings

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    Before I'm burned at the stake for putting AP at No. 4, let me first say that having no QB is NOT going to benefit Peterson. 

    Some people have been saying this because they think it'll force the Vikings to give him the ball more often, but if anything, it is going to allow defenses to focus more on him and not someone like Brett Favre

    Peterson's carries have gone down each of the last three seasons, and last year he posted a career-low 1,298 yards.

    Pretty impressive for a career low, but it still was. 

    He is basically a lock for 10 TD's, but I think Peterson's yards could dip a little bit. I could be wrong here, and Peterson could be the No. 1 back this year like most are projecting.

    But I just don't see it this year, not with this team.

3. Jamaal Charles, Kansas City Chiefs

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    Whenever someone puts up an NFL record like rushing for 6.4 yards per carry in a season, it usually translates to fantasy success. 

    In fact, Jamaal Charles has now averaged 6.0 yards per carry for his career.

    He was second in the league last season with 1,467 rushing yards and also 468 receiving yards to add to that. Charles could absolutely explode to post a 2009 Chris Johnson-type season if he could just get more carries—Thomas Jones actually led the Chiefs in carries last season, not Charles. 

    Thankfully for you fantasy folk, Jones is getting older, and Charles should undoubtedly get more carries, which should mean even more yards and more TD's. Jones was the primary goal line back last year, so more red zone carries for Charles would be a huge boost; he only scored five rushing TD's last year, as well as three TD catches. 

2. Chris Johnson, Tennessee Titans

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    As expected, Chris Johnson's numbers went down last year from his monster 2,000-yards 2009 season. 

    With that being said though, he still managed to put up 1,364 rushing yards and 11 TD's. 

    Johnson seems like a lock for at least 1,200 or 1,300 yards and 10 TD's for this year, and we all know he has the potential to put up even better stats than those (even though those stats would land him near the top of the league in fantasy points). 

    Johnson also has QB issues on his team, but I trust the Titans' offensive line much more than I trust the Vikings' line.

1. Arian Foster, Houston Texans

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    Arian Foster exploded on to the fantasy football scene last year in a big way. 

    He rushed for a league-leading 1,616 rushing yards and 16 rushing TD's on 4.9 yards per carry.

    If those numbers weren't enough, he also caught 66 passes for 604 yards and another two TD's.  

    Foster seems to be the perfect fit for the Texans' zone-blocking run scheme and meshes really well with All-Pro FB Vonta Leach. You can expect Foster's numbers to dip somewhat, but at only 24, he still has a lot of potential and room to grow. 

    Foster's all-around dominant stats, age, team and the fact that he plays in the AFC South make him the No. 1 RB in fantasy football this season. 

    Please feel free to comment and share your opinion.