Fantasy Football Top 40 Running Backs for 2011: Arian Foster, Chris Johnson More

Eric StashinSenior Writer ISeptember 2, 2011

NASHVILLE, TN - DECEMBER 09:  Chris Johnson #28 of the Tennessee Titans runs with the ball against the Indianapolis Colts during the NFL game at LP Field on December 9, 2010 in Nashville, Tennessee.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

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:

  1. Adrian Peterson – Minnesota Vikings
  2. Chris Johnson – Tennessee Titans
  3. Arian Foster – Houston Texans
  4. Jamaal Charles – Kansas City Chiefs
  5. Ray Rice – Baltimore Ravens
  6. LeSean McCoy – Philadelphia Eagles
  7. Darren McFadden – Oakland Raiders
  8. Michael Turner – Atlanta Falcons
  9. Rashard Mendenhall – Pittsburgh Steelers
  10. Frank Gore – San Francisco 49ers
  11. Maurice Jones-Drew – Jacksonville Jaguars
  12. Steven Jackson – St. Louis Rams
  13. Matt Forte – Chicago Bears
  14. Shonn Greene – New York Jets
  15. LeGarrette Blount – Tampa Bay Buccaneers
  16. Peyton Hillis – Cleveland Browns
  17. Knowshon Moreno – Denver Broncos
  18. Jahvid Best – Detroit Lions
  19. Beanie Wells – Arizona Cardinals
  20. Felix Jones – Dallas Cowboys
  21. Ahmad Bradshaw – New York Giants
  22. DeAngelo Williams – Carolina Panthers
  23. Cedric Benson – Cincinnati Bengals
  24. Tim Hightower – Washington Redskins
  25. Mark Ingram – New Orleans Saints
  26. Ryan Mathews – San Diego Chargers
  27. Fred Jackson – Buffalo Bills
  28. Jonathan Stewart – Carolina Panthers
  29. Joseph Addai – Indianapolis Colts
  30. Reggie Bush – Miami Dolphins
  31. Daniel Thomas – Miami Dolphins
  32. BenJarvus Green-Ellis – New England Patriots
  33. James Starks – Green Bay Packers
  34. Ryan Grant – Green Bay Packers
  35. Mike Tolbert – San Diego Chargers
  36. Brandon Jacobs – New York Giants
  37. Marshawn Lynch – Seattle Seahawks
  38. C.J. Spiller – Buffalo Bills
  39. Pierre Thomas – New Orleans Saints
  40. 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.

Make sure to check out all of the rankings from Rotoprofessor:

Top 30 Quarterbacks

Top 50 Wide Receivers

Top 20 Tight Ends

Top 15 Kickers

Top 15 Defenses