NFL

2010 NFL Fantasy Football: Running Back Preview

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Always the staple of the first round and of your fantasy team, finding the right blend of running backs and having enough depth to maintain a staple force in your fantasy backfield will almost always be the difference between being a possible champ and struggling week to week.

We'll take a look at some "great values", which are guys that should be available past the first four rounds, and some "sleepers", which are guys that likely will fall until the middle to late rounds, but who could be the keys to fantasy success for you this year.

Top Player - Adrian Peterson, Minnesota Vikings
In a battles between he and Chris Johnson from Tennessee, Peterson gets the nod because of the touchdown factor. Peterson is a stronger, more powerful back, and he's a lock to get the red zone carries as the Vikings ride him to six points once inside the 5. In Chris Johnson's case, the team might switch backs or be a little more creative with the dynamic Vince Young at the helm.

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Peterson is poised for another great season, regardless of whether Favre returns or not. His offensive line is built for the run, and he has enough playmakers on the outside to make teams need to resist putting eight in the box.

Great Value - Jonathan Stewart, Carolina Panthers
It's usually tough to judge in an impressive two back system in who will get the majority of the carries. And although it looks like DeAngelo Williams will be the 20-25 carries per game guy, Stewart will still get his fair share of opportunities.

Stewart is a more powerful, aggresive, and durable back than Williams, and what he lacks in deep speed compared to Williams, he makes up for it in tackle breaking ability. He might get a few more red-zone carries than Williams, so that adds to his value, plus if Williams goes down, that run blocking offensive line will be Stewarts to enjoy all by himself.

Great Value - Jahvid Best, Detriot Lions
While Ryan Matthews of San Diego may be the top rookie running back, Jahvid Best may not be too far behind him. The Lions have been utilizing Kevin Smith for the past three seasons now, but he's not a playmaking back who can be a 1,200 yards per year guy.

Best nearly fell out of the first round of the draft because of his concussion history and the need for him to likely change his running style a little bit. But for a back his size, he has devestating speed and cutting ability, and he will likely end the season getting 70-80 percent of the Lions' carries.

Great Value - LaDanion Tomlinson, New York Jets
It wasn't all that long ago when Tomlinson was a lock to be the first pick in the draft in every fantasy league. His power, burst, versatility, and consistency made him one of the best fantasy backs since the games inception. However, it's evident based on the past few years that he has lost a few steps, but I'm not quite ready to call him done.

He won't be the feature back in New York, as Shonn Greene is slated to be their top back and he should have an outstanding season. But Tomlinson will provide the spell back carries, at least 5-10 a game, as well as many 3rd down plays because of his pass catching ability. I wouldn't put him in as a starter, but Tomlinson looks hungry to prove doubters wrong, and his no-nonsense approach this off-season could mean his poised to re-breakout in 2010.

Sleeper - Fred Jackson, Buffalo Bills
A three headed running back situation in Buffalo as of now, it seems that CJ Spiller is the sexiest pick of the group. However, Spiller hasn't shown on film that he's an NFL inside runner, and with Marshawn Lynch deep in the doghouse, Fred Jackson may be the huge beneficiary.

A small school back that the Bills should be most proud of when it comes to scouting, Jackson has done a very solid job being the backup running back and even starting a few games over the past few years. He's not a burner or a load to bring down. He makes good cuts, picks up enough yards, and is consistent. And in fantasy, especially late in drafts, Jackson could be a good move.

Sleeper - Ben Tate, Houston Texans
Another three-pronged running attack, the starter in Houston is still to be determined. Two years ago, their best back was Steve Slaton. Last year, Arian Foster was the best back. Now, second round pick Ben Tate is looking to make it three backs in as many seasons.

Tate is a great fit for the one-cut system Gary Kubiak runs, and is the most complete of the three backs. It's hard to bet again Steve Slaton too much based on his rookie season stats, and Arian Foster will likely be their goal line guy. But it looks like by mid-season, Tate could be the starter and get 60-70 percent of the snaps.

Sleeper - Glen Coffee, San Francisco 49ers
Frank Gore will be the workhorse in San Francisco, but there will be plenty of carries to go around. Mike Singletary has said many times that the 49ers will be a running team, and taking two punishing run blockers in the first round of this year's draft, it seems he's sticking to that plan.

Singletary and 49ers brass really like Coffee as the spell back to Gore, and with Gore's injury history, I wouldn't doubt Coffee is a regular contributor to the run offense. He may have some competition with this year's mid rounder Anthony Dixon from Mississippi State, but Coffee should still be a 5-10 carries a game guy, and could be very valuable if Gore goes down.
 

NFLHouse.com Running Back Rankings
1. Adrian Peterson
2. Chris Johnson
3. Maurice Jones-Drew
4. DeAngelo Williams
5. Frank Gore
6. Micheal Turner
7. Steven Jackson
8. Clinton Portis
9. Ray Rice
10. Joseph Addai
11. Shonn Greene
12. Felix Jones
13. Brandon Jacobs
14. Ryan Matthews
15. Matt Forte
16. Jonathan Stewart
17. Ronnie Brown
18. LeSean McCoy
19. Knowshon Moreno
20. Jamal Charles
21. Rashard Mendenhall
22. Ryan Grant
23. Derrick Ward
24. Jahvid Best
25. Marion Barber
26. Mario Hardesty
27. Reggie Bush
28. Steve Slaton
29. LaDanion Tomlinson
30. Justin Forsett
31. Tim Hightower
32. Darren McFadden
33. Lawrence Maroney
34. Pierre Thomas
35. Chester Taylor
36. Darren Sproles
37. Chester Taylor
38. CJ Spiller
39. Micheal Bush
40. Ben Tate
41. Leon Washington
42. Willis McGahee
43. Fred Jackson
44. Willie Parker
45. Jerious Norwood
46. Fred Taylor
47. Glen Coffee
48. Kevin Smith
49. Ahmad Bradshaw
50. Earnest Graham
51. Brandon Jackson
52. Chris Wells
53. Jerome Harrison
54. Le'Ron McClain
55. Marshawn Lynch
56. Rashad Jennings
57. Dexter McCluster
58. Toby Gerhart
59. Joe McKnight
60. Arian Foster