2016 Draft Kit

Dynasty Debate: Top 5 fantasy football running backs for 2011

Some suggest that fantasy football season is over. These people obviously don’t play in dynasty leagues, where the season never really does end.

And for those who play in these types of leagues, it never really is too early to starting thinking ahead. To the 2011 season. We’re already in 2011, for goodness sake. Time’s a-wasting!

And so, here is the first in a four-part series, debating who the top 5 running backs will be in 2011. Feel free to argue my Top 5 in the comments below. Similar posts at QB, WR and TE are coming soon.

1. Chris Johnson, TEN. Coming off a “down season” in 2010 for those silly enough to think he’d top 2,000 yards rushing again, Johnson still produced impressive fantasy stats after a slow start. He’s still the team’s primary ball carrier with no real competition in sight. He personally attributed his lower stats to a lingering thigh injury, one he has plenty of time now to nurse back to health.

2. Maurice Jones-Drew, JAX. Many wrote MJD off after a horrific start to 2010, but he rebounded nicely as the team finally committed to the run and saw plenty of success in doing so. Jack Del Rio returns in 2011. So does David Garrard. And, so do the chances that MJD will get plenty of carries. Two games each against the Colts and Texans should also help, along with a full offseason to heal up after a slew of 2010 injuries.

3. Ray Rice, BAL. Sporadic at times this year, Rice still produced well in PPR leagues despite a shoddy run-blocking O-line. Here’s expecting the Ravens to address that line during the offseason.

4. Adrian Peterson, MIN. The Vikings struggled most of the year behind a carousel of QBs and a slew of off-field issues. Next season, the QB situation will likely still be questionable unless the Vikings can land a proven veteran starter. Peterson will see plenty of defenses stacked to stop him and make whoever is QBing win games. Peterson will get his stats, but it may be tougher than it has been in the past.

5. Arian Foster, HOU. Flip-flopped on this one. Foster was a beast this year, and if Gary Kubiak wasn’t returning, I’d be more suspicious of ranking Foster here. Also, his playing time could be altered somewhat by rookie Ben Tate, who missed the 2010 campaign due to injury, but will be back in 2011.

Honorable Mention: Jamaal Charles, LeSean McCoy, Rashard Mendenhall, Matt Forte, Michael Turner, Darren McFadden

45 Responses to “Dynasty Debate: Top 5 fantasy football running backs for 2011”

  1. Mike

    I meant to type http://www.footballguys.com

  2. Jay-Mo

    If this graph is incorporating runs and receptions longer than 20 yards, then these aren’t red zone stats.

    Again, I wasn’t arguing that Rice is or will be the best back or the most dynamic back. All … I … said … was that it appeared the Ravens were working him more into their red zone and goal line possessions in the last three or so weeks of the season, so I (me personally) feel Baltimore likely will be using Rice more in the red zone than it had before.

    McGahee only score 2 TDs from Week 9 to 17, where Rice (not great fantasy stats but better than McGahee) scored 4 TDs. Hence, I believe that’s better production than the 20.7 percent to 10.7 you’re throwing in my face.

    So, in my opinion, for those who may sour on Rice because they feel he won’t get the red zone touches because the Ravens have been relying on McGahee and McClain for the past two years, I’m saying that may not be the case.

    From what I’ve seen recently Baltimore is making more of a commitment to Rice, whether that translates into Chris Johnson-like 60-yard runs or Jamaal Charles 45-yard screen plays, I dunno. I’m saying Rice should have more of an opportunity to score next year.

  3. Joe

    Haha @Jay-mo, I hardly think that saying you have a man-crush on Ray Rice is name calling. And if you think it is then it is obvious you have never played in a fantasy football league with friends! lol Isn’t that what makes fantasy football so great…busting on someone for their opinion? For example, my one friend who I have been in the same keeper league with for 15 years also has a man-crush on Ray Rice and he traded me Charles and Run DMC for him. Guess which team made it to the playoffs and which team didn’t?

    I just think assuming that Baltimore won’t keep giving Willis the ball or bring in another goal line back is a big assumption. Also, in reference to Charles and DMC having tough schedules, they both play in the AFC West, which tend to lead to high scoring games. DMC is a huge part of that offense and I would highly doubt that the OC who went to DMC before the season and said “what plays would best utilize your talent,” then started actually calling those plays, would suddenly change his mind when he becomes the Head Coach next season.

    And as far as I can tell, Charles has been doing his thing for 25 regular season games. Last year he didn’t have Weis as his OC and he did pretty well in about half a season of work. Actually looking at the numbers, in 2009 without Charlie as his OC he averaged 131.2 yards per game and .89 TDs per game after taking over for LJ week 9, and with Charlie has his OC in 2010 he averaged 120.1 yards per game and .5 TDs per game. Man I can’t wait to see what he can do for an entire season without Charlie being the monkey on his back!

    I guess looking at your list, it kinda makes me think it is more of an early redraft list than a keeper/dynasty list.

    Wow, I just read @Mike’s numbers…those are really telling! Hopefully John Harbaugh doesn’t see those numbers or he will realize that Rice isn’t exactly a huge threat to score inside the red-zone and give him even less looks than before!

  4. Mike

    Jamal charles had 7 redzone TD’s…Ray Rice had 6. Still a HUGE percentage more. Just sayin’

    Your main point was Rice is top 3 because it looked like he was being used more in the redzone and therefore he will be used more next year. You have backed up with nothing other than “it seems to me”. Tr to devalue the numbers I posted all you want. In doing so you are just intentionally ignoring something that is very telling. That’s the simple fact that Ray Rice does not score at anywhere near the level of other NFL backs given equal opportunity. Give me something other than “I think” or “it seems like” if you care to argue that point.

  5. Jay-Mo

    No … my point wasn’t “Rice is top 3 because it looked like he was being used more in the redzone and therefore he will be used more next year.”

    My point was “the perceived red flag on Rice may not be such a red flag next year.” How can I offer stats on something that hasn’t happened yet? The evidence came from recent games I watched and having watched numerous Ravens games over the years. I didn’t chart the games, didn’t think I needed to. I just wanted to offer a short “opinion/perception.” Wasn’t thinking I needed to spend two days defending my opinion.

    I’m not stupid, there are more factors as to why I would draft Rice at No. 3 in PPR leagues. One being he is a key player in the passing game, is the starting running back and another is the Ravens are a good team that moves the ball offensively, which would give Rice more opportunities to generate yards on the ground and in the passing game. I’m guessing he needs those opportunities to keep pace, but I wasn’t arguing that.

    I don’t have time to compile stats upon stats and comparison data, flow charts and excel sheets. I don’t need to argue a point you and @Joe are hammering at me when it’s not the point I was making.

  6. Mike

    @ JayMo: You go into detail about your “charting” of ONE playoff game, cite percentages and claim inefficiency of McGahee based on one carry. After that, you say:

    “And yes, if Rice is there at No 3 on draft boards I’d take him, especially over two three RBs with basically only one year of great production”

    So your point isn’t that Rice is top 3? OK. I’ll take you at your word. Just understand how the construction of your post and your word choice could make it seem quite differently for someone reading it.

  7. Mike

    Here is a fact just for general information for readers, not to further any arguments. Jamal Charles and Ray Rice both have 3 years in the league.

    Rice: 668-3013-12 4.5 174-1531-2 8.8 538.4
    Charles: 487-2944-12 6.0 112-1037-5 9.3 500.1

    Rice: 842 touches 538.4 points .639 points/touch
    Charles: 599 touches 500.1 points .835 points/touch

    Just something for readers to consider heading into their fantasy drafts next season! Read into them what you want.

  8. jzak

    @Mike: I want to point out first and foremost that I own Arian Foster in a dynasty league and hope that he is a long-term stud in the league. Again, I’m ranking him fifth instead of first overall. I’m not saying he won’t be a solid fantasy back, just that at the moment, I personally feel more confident in some other backs.

    In terms of my debate here is MJD. I agree that any stud running back with a knee injury is bad news. But this wasn’t some unknown knee injury. Not like his ACL, MCL or other major ligament was ruptured or in danger. He had a torn meniscus. I had a severe torn meniscus in my left knee after a tree fell on me while cutting it down on the side of a steep hill. It was a “bucket handle” meniscus tear, one of the worst versions in that it really impedes mobility and causes lots of pain. After a very short non-invasive scoping, I was on the road to recovery. A week later, I had no pain whatsoever. Full mobility. I was running around playing baskertball and tackle football shortly thereafter.

    At least we know what slowed MJD. We know that he didn’t do long-term damage from all reports I’ve seen out of Jacksonville (I was told by doctor that it is hard to cause long-term damage with meniscus tear). In spite of playing on a team that had no legitimate consistent passing attack, and despite playing with a painful knee ailment, MJD finished the season with 1,324 rushing yards and a 4.4 average. Not typical MJD numbers, but look at his production as the season went on. He actually got better instead of worse. Even with Rashard Jennings taking away carries and TDs, MJD ran for well over five yards per carry over the final six weeks that he played a full game (Weeks 8 through 14).

    There is no reason to expect MJD not to return next season at full health. If he can produce numbers like he did with Jennings emerging and his knee out of whack and the passing game more anemic than Barney Fife on a hunger strike, than imagine what he’ll do when healthy and if the Jags can improve their passing game even slightly during the offseason.

    I still feel MJD is safer than Arian Foster, but this may be more a personal opinion than anything else.

  9. Joe

    @jzak: I’m just curious…in the dynasty league you are in, if someone offered you MJD or Ray Rice straight up for Arian Foster, would you do it? I would bet the team that owns either of those would do it in a heartbeat!

  10. Mike

    A doctor told you it’s hard to cause long term damage from a meniscus tear? A weakened meniscus can put strain on articular cartilage, which is the cartilage that leads to arthritic problems in the knee when damaged. I really wouldn’t use your own personal experience to judge MJD’s injury either. If you were playing basketball in a week, your surgery probably cut out a section of the meniscus. If you had an actual meniscus repair, your recovery time would be closer to 6 months from the information I’ve seen. the plus side for MJD is the fact that he had the actual repair done on his meniscus, not just getting the team cut out. I do worry about what other damage could be in the knee from playing most of the season with the injury. Information I’ve found about sports related meniscus injuries is that there can be articular cartilage damage and bone bruising. Now, it pretty clear we really don’t and most likely won’t know any of the specifics of his knee injury. Information available on his surgery is very general and vague, so we probably won’t get any more. I’ll agree to disagree on whether or not we should take his knee into consideration going forward.

    However, I think the bigger issue is Rashad Jennings. Jennings has cut into two of MJD’s main point scoring strengths….goal line and receiving. Jennings also established himself as a strong back that could probably carry the load by himself quite nicely. I own MJD in a couple of dynasty leagues, and it does concern me the time and the situations he lost opportunity to Jennings this year. Also, knowing MJD will be coming off his knee-surgery, knowing he was very productive as part of a two-back scheme in the past, I think there is a very realistic possibility that the coaching staff uses Jennings more to help take some of the load off of MJD going forward and try to preserve his health.

    I don’t think MJD will fall to a RB2, but I see him landing more in that 6-8 range overall given all of the factors that could negatively impact him. He’s still going to be productive, I just like Foster’s opportunities in a much better offense over MJD at this point.

  11. Joe

    Another thing not really being talked about in terms of MJD is Jack Del Rio will be back. With the exception of last year (and parts of this year), Del Rio has always liked having a RBBC situation (especially when the starter is injury prone). Look at what he did with Fred Taylor and MJD from 2006-2008. With Jennings becoming a viable option I can see the Jags using them as a RBBC to save additional wear and tear on MJD’s knee.

  12. jzak

    @Joe: I would.

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  14. Sean

    I have to add a name. Maybe I am bias because he won me a championship as a 7 th round pick but my man…jamal charles. He had 88 against baltimore on 9 carries. It didnt get away til late, shoulda been used more. He was second only to foster and didnt start most the year. Teams played the run against them. Few are better receivers and his team will just get better. nd he plays im the west. He is damn good and a better option in rbbc than all but a few rbs including many main options. His 2009 was no fluke.

  15. Joe

    @Sean: absolutely agree 100%. Anyone who thinks Charles will be adversely affected by a change in OC need to look at the numbers I posted a few comments ago!

  16. Joe

    @jzak: any openings in any of your dynasty leagues??? lol Dude you should seriously offer Foster to those teams that have MJD or Rice! I bet you could get one of the RBs and even something on top of that!

  17. LackeyVonBarron

    Every year there are a new 4 or 5 new top 10 NFL runningbacks. It is your job to guess who they are going to be and not draft the 4 or 5 that fall out of the top 10. Who is about to break out? Who is this seasons Peyton Hillis and Jamal Charles? I hate worthless preseason FF rankings that go by last years stat’s.

    Here are my top guys that need serious considerations for 2011 breakout player in no real order.

    1.) LaGarrett Blount: This guy is huge and will be top 10 easily. Watch if offseason habits and if he shows to camp mature and in shape then jump on him in the mid to late first round without a doubt.

    2.) Tashard Choice: Dallas should let go of Marion Barber and this kid needs his change to shine. Watch the off season and if Barber is gone then target this guy. Don’t worry about Felix Jones. He will be used on long 3rd downs only.

    3.) Jonathan Stewart: De. Williams will most likely leave and this guy will shine. Coach Rivera is a hardnose guy who will run the ball. Don’t pass on this guy and Goodson will keep him fresh.

    4.) James Starks: Watch him during the playoffs. No way he does not keep rolling into next year. Ryan Grant is not as good, not as powerful and not as fast. This kid is primed to shine.

    5.) Ryan Torain: Clinton Portis is done. Torain will be ready to take over and continue his success in Washington. Shannanhan has always had a great system for RB to flurish and Torain will get his oppurtunity.

    6.) Ryan Mathews: This kid can play. He should get healthy and wiser then offseason and be ready. Tolbert might steal some goal line carries but the Chargers will feed him the ball and he won’t see many men in the box on D.

    7.) Ben Jarvis Green-Ellis: If the Pat’s don’t pick up someone in the offseason then this guy is good to go. Look at his production in a limited role. Belicheck has never has a great back and might not address the issue again. Don’t worry about Danny Woodhead. He will be used on 3rd downs and lightly. He is just too small to stand up to 20 carries a game.

    Good Luck.

  18. LackeyVonBarron

    @Krause: I think Ryan Grant will be taken over for a younger, faster and healthier James Starks. Watch closely in the playoffs and offseason and see how is plays out but that is my prediction.

    Good Luck.

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  20. Mike

    Just wanted to add this little blurb that came out today about MJD’s knee. According to Jones Drew himself, his injury was “bone on bone in the back of my knee at the end of the season”. This certainly would suggest more than a simple arthroscopic surgery to repair a torn meniscus. Bone on bone in the knee isn’t good for an NFL RB. If you have talked yourself out of sufficient hesitation towards him going into next season so far, do yourself a favor and give it another thought. The yellow flag was already up, but it looks like it’s turning red. Be forewarned…

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