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Matt Forte (Chicago - 25 - $600,000.) Low Risk. Complete back that can do it all. Young, healthy and in his prime. He will be a coveted free agent in the open market.
Ray Rice (Baltimore - 24 - $600,000). Low Risk. Consider Forte 1A and Rice 1B. They are both highly desirable free agents. Another complete back, young and in his prime. Good attitude.
Arian Foster (Houston - 25 - $525,000). Low Risk. The injury this year is a slight red flag, but the committee approach with Ben Tate, but if anything, it will keep Foster fresher going forward. Foster is young, talented and is the only restricted free-agent running back on our list.
Michael Bush (Oakland - 27 - $2.61 Million). Moderate Risk. The injury to Darren McFadden has allowed Bush to remain in the spotlight, and he has demonstrated that he can carry the load as a featured back. This will make him more attractive in free agency. Not as young as our three studs up above him.
Marshawn Lynch (Seattle - 25 - $1.14 Million). Moderate Risk. Lynch will amaze you with some runs like the playoff touchdown against New Orleans, and then, he'll disappear for weeks at a time. Physical style suggests he won't last as long as some of the other backs on the list.
Cedric Benson (Cincinnati - 28 - $3.0 Million). Higher Risk. Benson's ability to get into trouble continues to follow him and will force teams to shy away. Talented but can you always count on him? Not sure.
Ryan Grant (Green Bay - 28 - $2.5 Million). Higher Risk. Ability to start but has been losing reps to James Starks. Getting up there in age and the injury history makes me think he is needing to take a pay cut.
Peyton Hillis (Cleveland - 25 - $600,000). Higher Risk. All kinds of question marks coming out of Cleveland on Hillis this year. Attitude, Madden cover jinx, effectiveness, ability to play hurt.
LaDainian Tomlinson (32 - $1.125 Million). Highest Risk. Reduced now to third-down back. Age and limited reps make him questionable going forward. 2012 could be his last year in the NFL.
Thomas Jones (33 - $1.9 Million). Highest Risk. Like Tomlinson, Jones is up there in years and is winding down a productive NFL career.