Fantasy Football: Second-Tier RB's Who Will Help You Make the Playoffs

James Hatfield Correspondent IIIAugust 19, 2010

ASHBURN, VA - JULY 29:  Running back Clinton Portis #26 of the Washington Redskins carries the ball during drills on the first day of training camp July 29, 2010 in Ashburn, Virginia.  (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
Win McNamee/Getty Images

As everyone starts to get amped up for their drafts, which will ensue over the next couple of weeks, we are working to provide coverage on as many key players as possible. From sleepers, potential busts, solid selections, and who to reach for and when, we are very diligent in giving our readers the players we feel are going to have the biggest impact in 2010.

With that being said, I wanted to highlight a few players to keep an eye on. You can view them as sleepers, no-brainers, or however you would like, and of course, their value is going to differ based on your league’s point setup. I am going to start a series focused on each position and the players outside of the top-tiered guys who you should focus on, and more importantly, what round(s) you need to be looking to scoop them up.

We will start with the most hallowed of all fantasy football positions—the running back. Now if you need help in determining whether to draft Adrian Peterson or Chris Johnson, this article may not be for you. This will focus on those backs who most consider your No. 2 or potential flex player, if not a solid bye week filler.

Jonathan Stewart

Carolina is in a tough position this year. They have a head coach in the last year of a contract and essentially a rookie QB. The one thing they do have is a solid offensive line and two absolute studs at RB.

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Deangelo will go off the board in the first round as he should. If you get Deangelo, getting Stewart in rounds five or six is essential. Stewart, because he is a backup, usually drops down boards, but keep in mind he had 1100 yards and 10 TD’s last season.

He had offseason surgery to correct some nagging injuries from 2009, which limited his numbers. Limited to 1100 yards and 10 TD’s? Be sure to read that twice if you need to.

He also had a 5.1 YPC average, which was up there with the best of the best. Additionally, Deangelo has some injury concerns, and when Stewart started, he went off to the tune of 130 yards and a TD per game.

Ryan Matthews

I would never recommend hanging your No. 1 spot on a rookie, but Matthews is going to have the potential to be a huge fantasy star this year. He has the tools, and in SD’s offense, he will get opportunities galore.

In PPR leagues, he is a great catch to backup or be a third starter. If you are a dynasty owner, he should definitely be at the top of your list as well.

Don’t expect anything huge early on, but Matthews will get the bulk of goal line opportunities. He will share the load with Darren Sproles, but expect Matthews to become the primary back, with Sproles becoming a change of pace option for the Chargers when the run game does sputter.

In rookie drafts or keeper leagues, he is a first round option. In other leagues, look for him in rounds three-to-five, depending on how fast RB’s are flying off the board.

Matt Forte

I mentioned him in my last article, and again, I am extremely high on Forte having a great bounce back year. In most rankings, I have seen him in the 30-40 range from a rankings perspective.

Forte is young and the Bears put some pieces in place this year to shore up the defense, which means the offense isn’t playing from behind nearly as much this season, so the Bears won’t always be pushed into a pass first, run second scenario.

If Forte is there in Round three or four, take him. He will once again be a solid No. 2, and don’t be shocked if by season’s end he isn’t someone back in the Top 10 for next year, from a fantasy perspective. He can catch passes as well and offers a great option for PPR leagues.

Ronnie Brown

Yes he is injury prone, but he offers a great option as a No. 2 or No. 3 back. He will be healthy, and the Dolphins will still be a run/wildcat focused team.

The big difference-maker here is that Chad Henne now has a legit top WR to throw to. Kyle Orton looked amazing at times last year, and part of that was due to Brandon Marshall. As Marshall helps extend the field for the Dolphins, opposing defenses won’t be able to stack the box and just focus on the Wildcat. Even out of the Wildcat, Brown will put up solid numbers in conjunction with Ricky “Sticky Icky” Williams.

Look for Brown in Rounds four-to-six if you have only one RB by that time.

Clinton Portis

Well he is low on draft boards and I can understand why, to some degree. Last season was a major disappointment, but let me outline a few things as to why it wasn’t just Clinton Portis.

The Skins O-Line was likely the worst in the league. Jason Campbell was beaten to a pulp and shipped off to Oakland, and Portis tried to be the normal workhorse, but finally had to put a hold on things due to injuries.

Portis essentially chose not to play towards the end of the season, for risk of a larger injury. The Skins were crumbling, and I think this was the best decision for him and the organization

Fast forward to 2010, and you see Portis as a big risk, and there certainly is some risk. However, if you can get Portis as your third RB for a Flex or as a bye week filler, you will be at the top of your league.

McNabb will give the Redskins a legit arm who can get the ball to speedster Santana Moss and the TE's, which will make defenses back off the box. Portis regularly faced eight-man fronts and defenses which blitzed 60 percent of the time against the Skins.

When you have a terrible O-line and a QB with no confidence, there is not much any RB can do. The Skins have made major improvements in both of these areas, and the new

coaching staff and player additions will spark life into their players.

Those are just a few names to keep an eye on for draft day. I am always available for our readers via email at and always welcome emails, whether it is for trades, draft strategy, lineup questions, etc. I am looking forward to helping our readers win more this year and feel free to contact me with anything fantasy football related.

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