Top 15 Running Backs For 2011: An Early Look

Let’s continue looking at our early rankings by shifting gears towards running backs.  With a lot of teams going to a two (and maybe even three) headed running attack, getting an every down back is even more pressing.  Let’s take a look at how things currently stand (this will list will definitely be updated and expanded as we get closer to draft day and the offseason begins):

  1. Arian Foster – Houston Texans
  2. Adrian Peterson – Minnesota Vikings
  3. Chris Johnson – Tennessee Titans
  4. Jamaal Charles – Kansas City Chiefs
  5. Ray Rice – Baltimore Orioles
  6. LeSean McCoy – Philadelphia Eagles
  7. Darren McFadden – Oakland Raiders
  8. Michael Turner – Atlanta Falcons
  9. Rashard Mendenhall – Pittsburgh Steelers
  10. Frank Gore – San Francisco 49ers
  11. Maurice Jones-Drew – Jacksonville Jaguars
  12. Jonathan Stewart – Carolina Panthers
  13. Steven Jackson – St. Louis Rams
  14. Shonn Greene – New York Jets
  15. Knowshon Moreno – Denver Broncos


  • If Jamaal Charles were to operate as the feature back, there’s a good chance that he would be considered a Top 3 option headed into 2011.  While he rushed for 1,467 yards in ’10 (not to mention 45 receptions for 468 yards and 3 TD), he managed to score just 5 rushing TD.  That’s what happens when the team insists on giving carries to Thomas Jones.  If they continue to employ the same type of system, his value is likely going to be capped.
  • The Vikings look poised to be going with a rookie quarterback in 2011.  That means that the offensive focus will go back onto Adrian Peterson, which should mean a monster campaign.
  • Michael Turner will enter the season at 29-years old (which is on the older side for an NFL running back) and with just two seasons of at least 1,000 yards.  He also adds nothing in the passing game, which hurts his value a little bit more.  His ability to consistently find the end zone certainly helps, but there are certainly other backs I’d prefer as my workhorse.
  • The big question with Frank Gore is if he can stay healthy for an entire season.  If he could do that, he’d be an absolute steal.  Unfortunately, would it surprise anyone if the 49ers added another back to complement him, limiting his touches in an attempt to keep him healthy?
  • Maurice Jones-Drew is an amazing running back, but can anyone be certain that his knee issues won’t limit his ability in 2011?  It certainly is a huge red flag, and something that should worry owners.  There has been speculation that he could begin sharing more of the workload, which certainly would also limit his value.
  • Ray Rice has tremendous potential, both in the running game (back-to-back seasons of at least 1,200 yards) and the passing game (141 catches for 1,258 yards over the past two seasons).  Of course, the Ravens continue to limit his goal line touches, preferring to go with a bigger back in those situations.  That certainly means fewer TD, and slightly less fantasy appeal.
  • Does anyone trust Darren McFadden off one big season?  It’s certainly a risky proposition, and one that deserves significantly more time discussing.  We’ll take a closer look at him in the near future.

Make sure to check out the rest of Rotoprofessor’s Early Rankings:

Top 10 Tight Ends For 2011: An Early Look
Top 15 Quarterbacks For 2011: An Early Look


  1. Joe says:

    In my PPR league Matt Forte and Ahmad Bradshaw ended the season ranked 9th and 10th respectively. I would take either one of them over mcfadden (1 year wonder on a bad team), Turner (29 going on 39), Stewart (time share with an arguably better back in D williams) and Jackson (28 going on 38). I had Jackson last year and he was outperformed by Forte and Bradshaw.

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