I’ve already ranked the Top 15 running backs, which I am not changing at this point. I’ll include them on the list here, but if you want details as to why they are ranked as they are, click here.
- Adrian Peterson – Minnesota Vikings
- Michael Turner – Atlanta Falcons
- LaDanian Tomlinson – San Diego Chargers
- Matt Forte – Chicago Bears
- Maurice Jones-Drew – Jacksonville Jaguars
- Steven Jackson – St. Louis Rams
- Clinton Portis – Washington Redskins
- Frank Gore – San Francisco Giants
- Chris Johnson – Tennessee Titans
- Brian Westbrook – Philadelphia Eagles
- Steve Slaton – Houston Texans
- Marion Barber – Dallas Cowboys
- Ryan Grant – Green Bay Packers
- Brandon Jacobs – New York Giants
- DeAngelo Williams – Carolina Panthers
- Kevin Smith – Detroit Lions - There were limited bright spots for the Lions in 2008, but their rookie running back was one of them. He was on the cusp of a 1,000-yard season, with 976 yards. Imagine what he would have been able to do if he hadn’t had games of 3, 4, and 8 carries early on in the season.
- Thomas Jones – New York Jets - He was fifth in the league in rushing with 1,312 yards despite the presence of Brett Favre. It is likely that Mark Sanchez will be QBing the team this season, meaning the Jets are likely to give Jones even more opportunity as they try to limit the pressure on their new golden boy. Of course, the presence of Leon Washington and trading up to get Shonn Greene, gives the Jets other options and will limit the number of carries Jones gets.
- Darren McFadden – Oakland Raiders - He was disappointing in his rookie campaign, battling injuries. He was limited to just 113 rushes for 499 yards on the season. The thing is, having average 4.4 yards per carry, he was very solid when he was able to be on the field. If he can stay healthy he will get the bulk of the carries and could easily surpass 1,000 yards on the season. He’s a bit of a risk, but he’s one that I think is well worth taking.
- Knowshown Moreno – Denver Broncos - The Broncos always seems to produce backs from the most unlikeliest of sources. Moreno, the team’s #1 draft pick (#12 overall), is not an unlikely option at all. Granted, with Mike Shanahan no longer running the show, there is no guarantee that they will be able to produce backs like they once did, but with his ability, there is little to worry about.
- Ronnie Brown – Miami Dolphins - The Wildcat formation helped to resurrect his career. He was over 900-yards for the third time, as well as reaching double-digit TDs for the first time. With the success they had last season and having added Pat White to the mix, there’s little doubt that we will continue to see the team incorporate it into their offense. With it, Brown should see continued success.
- Willie Parker – Pittsburgh Steelers - His streak of three straight 1,000+ yard seasons was broken, but only because of injury. He was limited to 11 games, rushing for 791 yards. He had one huge TD season in 2006 (13 rushing, 3 receiving), but only 7 total over the past two seasons. The presence of Rashard Mendenhall & Mewelde Moore will continue to limit his value.
- Chris Wells – Arizona Cardinals - The 31st overall pick in the 2009 draft, Wells could potentially enter the season as the #2 back behind Tim Hightower, but it should be just a matter of time before he becomes the main back. While Hightower can finish drives, with 10 TD last season, he had just 399 yards on 143 carries (2.8 yards/carry). Wells has the potential to be so much more than that.
- Marshawn Lynch – Buffalo Bills - If he was going to be around for the entire season, he would be significantly higher up on this list. Being suspended for the first four games of the season, however, sends him hurtling down and more of a fringe option at this point.
- Reggie Bush – New Orleans Saints - It’s obvious that he has not lived up to the expectations of being the #2 overall draft pick a few years ago. Will he ever? Honestly, I have no clue at this point, but we all do know the talent that he possesses. He’s worth gambling on, though with Pierre Thomas likely to share carries, you likely want to handcuff him, just in case.
- Joseph Addai – Indianapolis Colts – Over the last three weeks of the season he had just 1 carry for 4 yards. Even prior to that, he was hardly impressive. He rushed for 80 yards in a game just once, picking up just 544 yards and 5 TD. Considering he was over 1,000 yards in each of his first two seasons, you have to believe that there’s more in the tank for him this season. Of course, the addition of Donald Brown in the first round certainly have people wondering if Addai’s days as the feature back are already over. It certainly makes sense to draft both of them to protect yourself.
What do you think? Who got left out of the Top 15 that you feel should be included? Who should be removed from the list?
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