Fantasy Football Rankings 2011: Running Backs 2.0
*We have recently updated our rankings, they can be found here. (8/25/2011)
There will officially be football played this year, which means your fantasy football draft is coming up sooner than later. It’s time to get your fantasy football rankings together, and we at The Sports Cannon are doing our best to help you bring home that league championship. We’re on our second run of fantasy football positional rankings now, and although some names remain the same, others have risen and fallen in the rankings. You can see each player’s previous ranking next to their current rank.
How we rank ‘em: There are a number of factors that go in to our fantasy football rankings. We have to look at coaching schemes, the supporting cast, strength of schedules and injury concerns.
The whirlwind that will be free agency will surely change the dynamic of the NFL and Fantasy Football season. For now, we can only speculate that certain players will re-sign with their current teams. Most, however, are bound for a new city and fresh game plans. We can’t sufficiently predict their 2011 value without knowing who they are playing for, so their current rankings are based solely on their athletic capabilities paired with their previous fantasy successes.
So without further ado, we present the “Thank God There Is Football” Fantasy Football Rankings 2.0.
1 (1) Adrian Peterson, MIN
No change here; AP is arguably the best running back in football and is in the prime of his career. We love a guy in his contract year, and AP will be playing for an unprecedented running back contract next season. Add the fact that the Vikings may lose Sidney Rice via free agency, and the offense will likely have to rely on an untested quarterback, and you've got a serious work horse.
2 (2) Chris Johnson, TEN
Johnson is in the same boat as AP this year, and like the Minnesota back, CJ2K has an easier fantasy schedule against the run. We're a little worried about CJ's small frame; we're not gonna lie. He is undoubtedly the work horse in Nashville, but suffered some injury lapses last season. Were not all that worried, though. This could be an interesting year with AP and CJ racing for the rushing crown.
3 (4) Arian Foster, HOU
Last year's fantasy gem will have a bit more of a crowded backfield this year, so you may be risking some by taking him high. Gary Kubiak has switched starting running backs three times in the last three years, and there are some talented backs on the roster. Ben Tate will get an opportunity to play large minutes, although he is still behind Derrick Ward on the roster. The team is confident in all three backs, but were more confident in Foster.
4 (3) Jamaal Charles, KC
Charles had an unbelievable YPC average last season and recorded over 1,450 yards rushing. His only downside was that he just didn't see the end zone enough, There is no way that Charles only records five rushing touchdowns again this year, but Thomas Jones is still on the roster, so don't expect him to break the TD record in 2011.
5 (10) LeSean McCoy, PHL
McCoy is the beneficiary of a very talented offense. His rushing yardage isn't going to be fantastic, but in PPR leagues, he could be one of the best backs in fantasy. McCoy should be able to run for around 10 touchdowns this season, though, which, paired with his receptions and yardage, should be huge.
6 (11) Ray Rice, BAL
Rice was one of fantasy's best backs in 2009, but not because he was the league's best runner. It was the added yardage and receptions out of the backfield that propelled Ray Rice to the fantasy leader boards. Last year, the Ravens couldn't find an offensive identity. Some speculate now that team will return to a run first offense considering that their third receiver, Torrey Smith, will need time to develop. Rice has yet to record more than seven rushing touchdowns but also was sharing some carries with Willis Mcgahee. This year, he will be on his own with only LeRon McClain to share with. There is still a chance McClain steals goal line touches, however.
7 (7) Maurice Jones-Drew, JAX
Jones-Drew is one the few remaining feature backs in the league, and he is one of the best. Jones-Drew would have posted back-to-back 300 carry season had he not been injured at season's end, which makes us a little worrisome on whether he can finish a full 16-game season or not. We like his chances, however, since the Jaguars will likely lose Mike Sims-Walker to free agency and may rely on rookie Blaine Gabbert at year's end. Looks like another 300 carry season for MJD.
8 (6) Michael Turner, ATL
Turner is the early favorite for TSC's top fantasy sleeper. Right now, Turner's average draft position is around the late second round, making him a huge steal. We could see Turner end the year as one of fantasy's best simply because of his touchdown count. We know the Falcons have a great receiver in Roddy White, a talented QB in Matt Ryan and some serious playmakers in Tony Gonzalez and Julio Jones, but all of those players have tough fantasy SOS. We like Turner because he has the easiest SOS of any running back, and the fact his passing game is good enough to get him in position to score all game.
So why the drop? Turner fluctuates healthy season for injury riddled season, and his 334 carries last year could play a toll on his longevity this season. Still, a risk worth taking.
9 (9) Frank Gore, SF
Gore is the new Fred Taylor in that he could be the league's best year in and year out but just can't stay healthy. Gore again had his routine breakdown at the end of the season, but it wasn't all that impressive of a season to begin with. Gore finished with only three rushing touchdowns in 2011, mostly thanks to a poorly run offense. This year, Gore will playing for a new contract and will have to do his best to remind potential suitors of the Frank Gore that could be. We like his chances up until around Week 12 or so.
10 (8) Darren McFadden, OAK
Run DMC finally had his breakout season last year, ending with a 5.2 YPC average. His seven touchdowns weren't great, mostly thanks to Michael Bush, but the Raiders will focus their gameplan around McFadden even more now that he has proven his worth. McFadden also had a productive year as a receiver, notching over 500 yards with three scores. McFadden is a definite up and coming back, but his value isn't what it should be as long as the Raiders keep their running back carousel going.
Nick Sero is a fantasy football writer for TheSportsCannon.com. You can get all of your news, rankings, cheat sheets and more at TSC, or receive up-to-the-minute news by following us on Facebook and Twitter for up to the minute NFL Free Agency updates.
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