This is the second article in a series looking at the fantasy impact of the 2010 NFL Draft Class. In this segment we look at the running back position.
Ryan Mathews — San Diego Chargers
If he is not projected to be the top rookie fantasy back by everyone I would be thoroughly surprised. Mathews is a big physical runner that brings some fresh legs at running back for San Diego. With the high powered offense the Chargers possess, Mathews should see ample opportunities to put the ball in the end zone in 2010.
Jahvid Best — Detroit Lions
My personal feeling coming into the 2009 college football season was that Jahvid Best would be the No. 1 back coming out in the 2010 draft. A freak head and back injury he suffered while leaping into the end zone for a touchdown cost him the remainder of his final season at Cal. Best should see most of the carries in 2010 in Detroit. His main competition is Kevin Smith who is still recovering from a nasty knee injury that he suffered toward the end of the 2009 season. Even when Smith comes back, I look for Best to maintain his starting role in Detroit.
CJ Spiller — Buffalo Bills
Spiller joins a crowded backfield in Buffalo. However Marshawn Lynch appears to be in the doghouse with the current regime. While Fred Jackson makes for a decent option at running back, he lacks the dynamic running and breakaway speed that Spiller possesses. I look for Spiller to be worked in slowly, but by the end of the season he could turn into a stud running back.
Ben Tate — Houston Texans
The Texans are another team with a crowded backfield. However the organization is very high on Tate and he figures to at least get the first- and second-down carries for the team. For how potent Houston’s offense is, that may make Tate a decent RB2 option for 2010 and beyond.
Montario Hardesty — Cleveland Browns
Hardesty also enters a crowded backfield situation in Cleveland. Jerome Harrison showed some flashes last year against some weaker competition. Is he ready to be the full time back? I doubt it. James Davis is also there and he had an outstanding preseason before an early season injury curtailed his rookie year. Hardesty figures to be in the running back mix somehow as you have to remember they did draft him prior to drafting Colt McCoy, their future quarterback. He must fit somewhere in Holmgren’s grand scheme.
The remaining running backs of this draft class only figure to play complimentary or fantasy handcuff roles for their respective teams in 2010. The list of these backs includes:
- Toby Gerhart — Minnesota Vikings
- Joe McKnight — New York Jets
- Jonathan Dwyer — Pittsburgh Steelers
- James Starks — Green Bay Packers
- Charles Scott — Philadelphia Eagles
- Anthony Dixon — San Francisco 49ers (if he can beat out Glen Coffee)
Be sure to visit all of the content on our 2010 NFL Draft page.