Fantasy Football Top 40 Running Backs for 2011: Arian Foster, Chris Johnson More
Arian Foster’s hamstring has definitely sent fantasy owners scrambling, trying to come up with an alternative game plan for the start of the season. There is no doubt that he suffered an injury to his hamstring, the question is if it will keep him on the sidelines for not only the final preseason game, but at least Week 1 of the regular season (if not more). Regardless, there is suddenly a huge risk attached to selecting him first overall.
On the other side of the fence, Chris Johnson finally ended his lengthy holdout and signed on the dotted line. How does that affect his ranking? Let’s take a look:
- Adrian Peterson – Minnesota Vikings
- Chris Johnson – Tennessee Titans
- Arian Foster – Houston Texans
- Jamaal Charles – Kansas City Chiefs
- Ray Rice – Baltimore Ravens
- LeSean McCoy – Philadelphia Eagles
- Darren McFadden – Oakland Raiders
- Michael Turner – Atlanta Falcons
- Rashard Mendenhall – Pittsburgh Steelers
- Frank Gore – San Francisco 49ers
- Maurice Jones-Drew – Jacksonville Jaguars
- Steven Jackson – St. Louis Rams
- Matt Forte – Chicago Bears
- Shonn Greene – New York Jets
- LeGarrette Blount – Tampa Bay Buccaneers
- Peyton Hillis – Cleveland Browns
- Knowshon Moreno – Denver Broncos
- Jahvid Best – Detroit Lions
- Beanie Wells – Arizona Cardinals
- Felix Jones – Dallas Cowboys
- Ahmad Bradshaw – New York Giants
- DeAngelo Williams – Carolina Panthers
- Cedric Benson – Cincinnati Bengals
- Tim Hightower – Washington Redskins
- Mark Ingram – New Orleans Saints
- Ryan Mathews – San Diego Chargers
- Fred Jackson – Buffalo Bills
- Jonathan Stewart – Carolina Panthers
- Joseph Addai – Indianapolis Colts
- Reggie Bush – Miami Dolphins
- Daniel Thomas – Miami Dolphins
- BenJarvus Green-Ellis – New England Patriots
- James Starks – Green Bay Packers
- Ryan Grant – Green Bay Packers
- Mike Tolbert – San Diego Chargers
- Brandon Jacobs – New York Giants
- Marshawn Lynch – Seattle Seahawks
- C.J. Spiller – Buffalo Bills
- Pierre Thomas – New Orleans Saints
- Bernard Scott – Cincinnati Bengals
- I can’t move Foster down too far, but there is no doubt that he no longer can sit atop these rankings. Assuming he his ready for Week 2 (if he doesn’t play Week 1), the loss in value just isn’t great enough to send him in a freefall. If he is going to be miss more than one game, than things definitely would change.
- It almost feels like Johnson signed earlier than expected, doesn’t it? He now has over a week to practice with teammates and prepare himself for the regular season. There’s still a small risk involved in taking him, having missed the entire preseason, but not enough to avoid him at this point. If he slipped in your draft and you got him in the middle of the first round, you really got a steal. He’s one of the elite in the league and should be considered as such.
- As I’ve mentioned here recently, the potential value of Ahmad Bradshaw continues to slip with each passing week. With the split between Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs looking to be closer to 50/50, and Jacobs likely being the goal line back, Bradshaw’s upside is a lot less appealing. He’s still the better back, but he’s now more of a low-end RB2.
- The time has officially come to rank James Starks ahead of Ryan Grant, though it’s not by much. Similar to the setup with the Giants, you may never really know which back is going to dominate the carries in any given game (and it could rotate from week-to-week). There is plenty of potential value, but consider them both depth options and not starters for now.
- It certainly appears that the Redskins backfield is for real, with Tim Hightower currently leading the charge. Will that last all season long? Time will tell, but for now he is looking like a very good depth option/low-end RB2. For more on the current setup in Washington, click here. If you are going to roll the dice on Hightower, I’d definitely handcuff yourself with Roy Helu later in your draft.
- I know a lot of people want to believe in Mark Ingram, but at this point I wouldn’t trust him as a starting option. The notion of rookie running backs falling flat has become way to commonplace and the Saints have numerous options who will likely cut into Ingram’s touches (i.e. Pierre Thomas). Think of his as a FLEX/RB3 at this point.
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