Just as we did with quarterbacks recently (click here to view), let’s take an early look at the potential Top 10 running backs for 2009. Obviously, a lot can change between now and draft day, so this list is likely to change (and be expanded) as we get closer.
- Adrian Peterson, Minnesota Vikings. Do I really need to say anything to explain this pick? I don’t think so.
- Michael Turner, Atlanta Falcons. The addition of Tony Gonzalez might limit his touchdown chances, but does anyone actually expect him to duplicate his 17 touchdowns from 2008? The move will help keep teams from keying on the run, opening up a few more lanes for him to burst through.
- LaDainian Tomlinson, San Diego Chargers. I don’t care what anyone says, he is still one of the best backs in the game. Look for him to rebound from a “down” year when he only rushed for 1,110 yards and 11 touchdowns.
- Brian Westbrook, Philadelphia Eagles. The team selected LeSean McCoy in the second round, which you would think would hinder his value. On the contrary, a second useful back will help keep Westbrook healthy, hopefully allowing him to stay on the field the entire season.
- Frank Gore, San Francisco 49ers. The team got a huge gift in Michael Crabtree, which should allow Gore to rebound from a surprisingly disappointing season. Mike Martz is gone, and now they have a passing threat to help open things up. That seems like a good mix to me.
- Maurice Jones-Drew, Jacksonville Jaguars. Fred Taylor is finally gone, so it is time to find out if Jones-Drew can carry the load. He is a risk, but just a mild one.
- Clinton Portis, Washington Redskins. Mr. Consistency, he seemingly gets the job done year in and year out. You pretty much know what you are going to get, but is that a bad thing?
- Ryan Grant, Green Bay Packers. Only four touchdowns? Really? There’s just no possible way that continues in 2009. With added scoring, he has a chance to really shine this season.
- Matt Forte, Chicago Bears. I know, with Jay Cutler in place, the passing game is going to get more focus, but that might actually help Forte. With that threat, teams will not be able to stack eight in the box, opening up a few more running lanes. Also, those December games in Chicago certainly aren’t very conducive to big throws.
- Steve Jackson, St. Louis Rams. He is the Rams' offense, which should allow him to get significant yardage once again this season.
- DeAngelo Williams, Carolina Panthers. I just don’t buy a repeat of his 5.5 yards/carry or 18 touchdowns. He is more of a No. 2 running back in my book, a solid one, but still not the player I want as the focal point of my fantasy team.
- Brandon Jacobs, New York Giants. Even with Derrick Ward gone, the Giants will limit Jacobs’ touches to keep him healthy. They drafted Andre Brown and still have Ahmed Bradshaw, who definitely will get his chance to play.
- Marshawn Lynch, Buffalo Bills. His three-game suspension certainly hurts his potential ranking.
- Thomas Jones, New York Jets. Will Leon Washington get increased touches? He wants big-time money, and the Jets are going to have to find out if he is worth it. Toss in Jones’ own contract concerns and who knows how things will play out.
- Larry Johnson, Kansas City Chiefs. If he can stay healthy, he’ll have the chance to do some major damage. Matt Cassell’s presence gives defenses something else to worry about, opening up some running lanes.
- Willy Parker, Pittsburgh Steelers. He’s an injury risk on a team that has good depth. That means his carries could be limited, but I would still predict a return to being a 1,000-yard back. Unfortunately, he could lose a few goal line carries.
What do you think? Who got left out of the Top 10 that you feel should be included? Who should be removed from the list?
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