********* this list has been replaced with our TOP 40 Running Back Rankings **************
Even though the players and owners are still trying to figure out the best way to compensate their wallets for the 2011 season and beyond, it's still never too early to take a peak at this season's fantasy football rankings for running backs. Below are my rankings from 1-10 as I see them right now. Keep in mind that once free agency begins, this list will change. Oh boy how it will change. 11-20 coming Monday.
1. Vikings RB Adrian Peterson
Rushing: 283 carries, 1298 yards, 4.6 ypc average, 12 touchdowns
Receiving: 36 receptions, 341 yards, one touchdown
Texans RB Arian Foster will be the "glamor" pick at No. 1 this year, but I would rather take a guy who is not only proven, but is expected to be a huge part of the offense. Whichever quarterback is starting in Minnesota, my money is on All Day.
2. Texans RB Arian Foster
Rushing: 327 carries, 1616 yards, 4.9 ypc average, 16 touchdowns
Receiving: 66 receptions, 604 yards, two touchdowns
With the Titans' offense in flux right now, it was pretty hard for me to consider Chris Johnson here. If Tennessee can land a decent quarterback, and re-signing Kerry Collins is not what I consider decent, then Johnson could climb back to No. 2. But for now, it's hard to discount Foster's ability to continue his progress on such a dynamic offense. Will Ben Tate cut into his carries?
3. Chiefs RB Jamaal Charles
Rushing: 230 carries, 1467 yards, 6.4 ypc average, five touchdowns
Receiving: 45 receptions, 468 yards, three touchdowns
I know I will get a few raised eyebrows putting Charles so high, but how can anyone argue his production while in a timeshare with Thomas Jones? That 6.4 ypc average is just ridiculous. I am hoping Todd Haley gets his head out of his butt and finally realizes that Charles needs to get the ball much more in 2011.
4. Titans RB Chris Johnson
Rushing: 316 carries, 1364 yards, 4.3 ypc average, eleven touchdowns
Receiving: 44 receptions, 245 yards, one touchdown
I really couldn't put Johnson any lower than this spot, even with quarterback questions and a new head coach. If the Titans can land a guy like Matt Hasselbeck, defenses won't be able to key in on CJ as much.
5. Ravens RB Ray Rice
Rushing: 308 carries, 1223 yards, 4.0 ypc average, five touchdowns
Receiving: 63 receptions, 556 yards, one touchdown
A knee injury slowed Rice down during the first half of last season and the run defense wasn't up to par. I can see Rice making a nice bounce-back RB1 this year.
6. Rams RB Steven Jackson
Rushing: 330 carries, 1241 yards, 3.8 ypc average, six touchdowns
Receiving: 46 receptions, 383 yards, zero touchdown
Once the new season officially starts, Jackson will likely be the first player I drop. But for now, I don't see why he can't put up another 1200+ rushing yard season. He's clearly on the decline after taking such a workload in the past, but the offense will still run through him while the receiving game works out it's kinks.
7. Jaguars RB Maurice Jones-Drew
Rushing: 299 carries, 1324 yards, 4.4 ypc average, five touchdowns
Receiving: 34 receptions, 317 yards, two touchdown
MJD is probably the biggest wild card amongst the first-round running backs. Having played through a knee injury in 2010, he may have done more harm than good. I can't see a scenario where I could possibly move Jones-Drew any higher than this spot.
8. Falcons RB Michael Turner
Rushing: 334 carries, 1371 yards, 4.1 ypc average, twelve touchdowns
Receiving: 12 receptions, 85 yards, zero touchdowns
Turner will never come close to the 377 carries he had in his first year as the Falcons' starter in 2008, but a repeat of 2010 is easily attainable. PPR leaguers may want to look elsewhere at this spot as Turner will never be a big asset in the passing game.
9. 49ers RB Frank Gore
Rushing: 203 carries, 853 yards, 4.2 ypc average, three touchdowns
Receiving: 46 receptions, 452 yards, two touchdowns
By now, owners should know what they get from Gore; a guy who is going to give you fantastic numbers when he plays, but an injury-prone target every week. He is expected to be healthy coming off a fractured hip. And head coach Jim Harbaugh made Toby Gerhart a stud at Stanford. Gore owners will definitely want to consider Gore's handcuff, whomever it may be by Week One.
10. Eagles RB LeSean McCoy
Rushing: 207 carries, 1080 yards, 5.2 ypc average, seven touchdowns
Receiving: 78 receptions, 592 yards, two touchdowns
I'll get ripped a little on this one since most will consider my fandom of Philly is the reason why I have McCoy here over guys like Rashard Mendenhall and Darren McFadden, but you can't argue how much of a weapon McCoy is. Depending on what the team does in free agency (There are rumblings that they might sign Reggie Bush), I will gladly take McCoy here and laugh at the doubters.