Chris Johnson sixth? Cedric Benson 23rd? Yep, that just happened in these 2010 running back redraft rankings.
1. Maurice Jones Drew - Much like I said in the Chinstrap Ninjas Mock Draft, Jones Drew is the most consistent running back in the league right now. He also is not fumble prone or has not had issues with injuries during his career. He’s a gamer. I like that in my first round pick.
2. Adrian Peterson – I like him even if Brett Favre does not come back. With Favre I like him more. If he didn’t have the fumbling problems and slight injury history, he’d be my #1 overall pick.
3. Ray Rice - Word out of camp he is bench pressing 500 pounds and squatting 450 pounds. That’s some serious torque for a running back. He has looked very impressive in camp again this year. Look for him to eat into Willis McGahee’s goal line carries more in 2010 and become a better value.
4. Frank Gore - I see the 49ers making a serious playoff move in 2010. They finally have the players, the coach and the schedule to excel. Gore will play a major role on this run-first oriented team. Plus Gore has some nice matchups come fantasy playoff time. That’s always a bonus.
5. Michael Turner - Reports are Turner is super healthy and performing at a high level this offseason. He played well in 2008 and in 2009 when he was healthy. I also see the Falcons having a rebound season with Turner being a big goal line beneficiary.
6. Chris Johnson - I know everyone is asking, “how can I have CJ2K ranked so low?” He should be the #1 guy shouldn’t he? Well as was stated several places here at Chinstrap Ninjas, a few of us ninjas feel he cannot repeat his 2009 season in 2010. He had way too many touches in 2009. Plus no running back in the history of the NFL has even rushed for more than 1,500 yards in a season after a 2,000 yard rushing season.
7. Rashard Mendenhall - The primary running back on a team that wants to emphasize the run more in 2010. Mendenhall showed last year he has what it takes to be a bell cow runner. Now he gets a full season to prove his mettle. I think he will be primed and ready.
8. Steven Jackson - Another bell cow runner. If only his team would make more red zone trips. The TDs he gets is what pulls him back on this list.
9. Pierre Thomas - Well the only primary running back left is Cedric Benson. You will see how much confidence I have in him lasting the season by where I have him ranked. Anyway this is the start of the sharing backs. Pierre Thomas is going to be the best of those in 2010. He will scoop up most of the carries Mike Bell’s departure left behind. Plus everyone tends to forget he missed the first 3 games of the season last year and didn’t participate much at the tail end either when the season was wrapped up. He averaged over 5 yards per carry. So even if he just gets 100 of Bell’s carries that would put him at around 1,200 rush yards. Combine that with his receiving yards and you have one heck of a running back.
10. DeAngelo Williams – Willams is the main back in a run first Carolina team. He and Jonathan Stewart make a really nice tandem. The 2 on the team though keeps them out top 5 running back contention.
11. Ryan Grant – Almost forgot about him being the main back in GB. His biggest setback is that he is not involved in the passing game much. He is the main back on a potent offense though with many red zone opportunities.
12. Chris Wells – Beanie should see a significant uptick in carries in 2010 mainly due to the fact Kurt Warner retired and Matt Leinart is now under center. The team figures to become more of a run first team like Ken Whisenhunt and Russ Grimm both love. Wells should be the beneficiary.
13. Ryan Mathews – He may lose some third down work to Darren Sproles, but should still put up some potent numbers in that offense. His fresh young legs have to be better than LaDainian Tomlinson’s worn down legs, right?
14. Joseph Addai – Peyton Manning has said during training camp he would like to get the team more to an even split with run-pass ratio rather than throwing 50 times a game. Addai should be the main benefactor. You have to worry that Donald Brown may eat into his carries some, but it seems Addai is the weapon of choice in the red zone.
15. Ronnie Brown – This guy just puts up stud fantasy numbers every year until the injury bug comes and bites him. This ranking takes that into account. He is in a contract year though. That may motivate him to stay on the field the entire season. If he does you could be looking at a top 10 running back. Make sure you select Ricky Williams as a handcuff later in your draft.
16. Jonathan Stewart – Stewart is another part-time back that makes some significant contributions in Carolina’s run first offense. He tends to be the go to guy in the red zone for the Panthers. He will probably have more TDs than DeAngelo Williams, but amass less yards. If you are in a TD-heavy league I would flip flop his ranking with DeAngelo.
17. Shonn Greene – Being a Jet fan I love me some Shonn Greene. Only problem for 2010 is that LT will be the third down back of choice. I could also see a scenario where LT gets some goal line and short yardage carries as well. That tempers my feelings on Greene for 2010 just a bit.
18. Felix Jones – Jones has bulked up this offseason to the point he is actually bigger than Marion Barber now. Word out of camp though is that has not affected his speed at all. That could make him a real threat. I am sure owner Jerry Jones would love to have a featured back that comes from his own alma mater (Arkansas) playing for him.
19. LeSean McCoy – McCoy should get the bulk of the carries in Philly. The problem is with Philly throwing the football so much, that only amounts to 16-18 carries per game. Maybe with new man Kevin Kolb under center Andy Reid will run the ball more. Nah I don’t foresee that happening.
20. Clinton Portis – I am shocked that NO ONE is talking about this guy as a sleeper RB candidate in 2010. He is only one year removed from an almost 1,500-yard 10-TD season. Plus he returns to Mike Shanahan’s offensive scheme that made him a 1,500-yard 14-TD runner in Denver. I could easily see a bounce back year in the works for Portis. Plus the addition of McNabb means teams can’t just hone in on stopping the run.
21. Jahvid Best – I really like Best. I felt going into the 2009 College Football season, he was the best back out there. I still feel confident in his abilities despite his injury concerns. The only thing I think that ranks him this low is playing for Detroit. Possibly once Matthew Stafford comes into his own at QB, Matthew Stafford, Jahvid Best and Calvin Johnson can form Detroit’s version of the Triplets. Speaking of the Triplets, congratulations goes out to Emmitt Smith being recently inducted in the Hall of Fame. We loved you in fantasy football circles Emmitt.
22. Arian Foster – Here is another guy that might surprise a lot of people in 2010. He was a beast towards the end of last season subbing for the injured Steve Slaton. Not only can he run between the tackles, he also can catch the ball out of the backfield as well. I originally thought Ben Tate would be the guy here. Tate’s injury and Foster’s stellar play this offseason has vaulted him into the lead role. I look for Foster to not relinquish that spot.
23. Cedric Benson – I am sorry I am just not a big Ced Ben fan. A guy that averages less than 4.0 yards per carry and has scored only 6 TDs in his BEST season is just not that appealing to me. Plus it seems every year he runs out of gas 2/3 of the way through the season. Make sure you handcuff him with Bernard Scott if you take him.
24. Jamaal Charles – Another guy that many would feel is ranked too low. He is a better option in PPR leagues. I just fear that Thomas Jones will see the bulk of the red zone carries and Jamaal won’t make many TD trips in 2010. That really brings his ranking down.
25. Knowshon Moreno – His capsule seems like it could be similarly written to the one of Cedric Benson’s. That’s why he is ranked about the same spot. His preseason hamstring injury status drops him below Benson.
26. Chester Taylor – Here is another pick many are probably wondering, what the heck is this guy thinking. Well here is and interesting tidbit on the Chicago situation. Matt Forte ran for just a hair over 2.0 yards per carry in single back sets in 2009. What does Mike Martz run the vast majority of the time? Single back sets. I look for Taylor to beat out Forte and excel somewhat in the Mike Martz system. A Marshall Faulk he is not, but he still may produce some sneaky numbers.
27. Michael Bush – Bush I think will find himself in the starting role in 2010. It appears McFadden has bust written all over him. Bush would even be a better play if he weren’t with the Raiders.
28. Brandon Jacobs – The injuries last year really temper my feelings on Jacobs. He has the potential to move up on this list. I just don’t see it happening though as Eli Manning has now developed a decent passing game in New York with the young receivers he has.
29. Montario Hardesty – Despite the early training camp injury, I believe upper management of this team (Mike Holmgren) believes Hardesty is the answer for them at running back. I foresee him being given every opportunity to carve out the starting role in Cleveland.
30. Fred Jackson – Despite the presence of C.J. Spiller and Marshawn Lynch, I foresee Jackson getting the bulk of the Buffalo carries. The problem with that is the offense is horrible and won’t visit the end zone much in 2010. I foresee Jake Locker as a number 1 draft pick in 2011 for Buffalo.
31. Ahmad Bradshaw – The Giants figure to keep an even split in carries between Jacobs and Bradshaw. Bradshaw will get the receptions though and actually is probably the better value in PPR leagues over Jacobs.
32. Marion Barber – He has trimmed down to gain more speed. I think that is a mistake on his part. He is better off serving the role as the punishing runner toward the end of the game. Barber should still get some touches in 2010, but I can soon see an exit sign for Barber from Dallas in his future.
33. Justin Forsett – Forsett is the main back in Seattle for now. Rumor has it they are still looking for a bulkier running back for short yardage and goal line. Why didn’t they keep LenDale White? Doesn’t make sense to me. Forsett moves up a couple notches in PPR leagues.
34. Reggie Bush – Bush does fairly well with the 10-12 touches he generally sees per game. Actually visits the end zone more than other backs ranked down here. He will only ever be a complimentary back though so draft him as such.
35. Carnell Williams – Tampa doesn’t offer much in terms of fantasy production, but Williams posted some decent RB3 numbers. Only way I could see him starting for you is in flex position leagues.
36. Ricky Williams – Ricky is a nice compliment to Ronnie Brown. I highly recommend that you handcuff Brown by picking up Ricky later in your draft.
37. Thomas Jones – I have a feeling he is going to play a more Jerome Bettis type short yardage and goal line role in Kansas City. He gets a big bump up in TD only leagues. In leagues that give points for yardage he should be ranked down here.
38. Laurence Maroney – Maroney vows to end the fumbling woes that plagued him in 2009. He says they were simply mental mistakes that he can easily correct. If he does he may carve out a nice role starting in NE and should bump up a little higher on this list if that happens.
39. Jerome Harrison – He was a fantasy stud at the end of 2009 against some pretty weak defenses. He will battle Hardesty for playing time, but Hardesty has the edge in management’s eye since they were the ones that selected him in the 2010 draft. As long as Hardesty is healthy he will play. Hardesty does have past history with injuries at Tennessee though. Harrison might surprise at some point.
40. Matt Forte – Yes I realize it is possible that Forte and Taylor could possibly be flip flopped on this list. I just don’t think Forte fits Martz’s scheme that well and Taylor will win out.
41. LaDainian Tomlinson - A third down specialist that may actually get some goal line work. If he does see goal line touches, he should be ranked higher than McFadden.
42. Darren McFadden - He has an outside chance at being the starter for the Raiders. I foresee him simply as a third down change of pace option.
43. C.J. Spiller – He will be the poor man’s Reggie Bush in 2010. Buffalo just doesn’t present itself to be a hotbed of fantasy production in 2010.
44. Ben Tate – Even though I am really high on Arian Foster currently, you might want to also grab Tate just on the slim chance he sees some playing time.
45. Fred Taylor – In the last year of his deal in NE, he may challenge Maroney for first and second down back touches.
46. Donald Brown – The Colts may work Brown in more to become the eventual successor. But Addai will be the main threat still in 2010.
47. Willis McGahee – McGahee’s goal line work may get cut into this year by a stronger and more powerful version of Ray Rice. Look for McGahee to be out of Baltimore soon.
48. Bernard Scott – The must have handcuff for Benson for when he runs out of gas toward the end of the season.