Positional Rankings: Running Back
No position is more important in fantasy football than running back and landing a superstar RB is one of the safest ways to get to the winner's circle in your league. Teams that have been fortunate enough to land one of the top picks always seem to have an advantage because a player like LaDainian Tomlinson is almost impossible to duplicate. But the good news this year is that the RB position is very deep this year and talent can be found more easily in the fourth and fifth rounds than in years past.
Tomlinson was one of six RBs who had 10 or more rushing TDs in 2008 and he was one of 17 RBs who topped 1,000 yards rushing last season. He's the consensus No. 1 pick again in 2008 and in Point Per Reception leagues he has even more value as his 60 receptions ranked third among all RBs.
Below are the top 70 backs ranked in order of preference for Draft Day:
1. LaDainian Tomlinson, San Diego
Tomlinson's production declined in 2007 after his MVP season of 2006 when he set a new NFL record with 28 rushing TDs and 31 total TDs. Still, LT2 led the NFL with 15 rushing TDs and 18 total TDs, while rushing for 1,474 yards and finishing with 1,949 total yards. His 60 receptions were also a career-best, but the wear and tear is starting to get the best of this seven-year pro. He's the consensus No. 1 pick, but he missed the playoffs with a knee injury, which is a concern. Project a season of 1,500 yards, 400 yards receiving, 18 TDs and pray you get the No. 1 pick out of the hat.
2. Adrian Peterson, Minnesota
AP was the NFL's Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2007 as he took the NFL by storm, finishing with 1,341 yards rushing and 12 TDs, while setting a new single-game NFL rushing record with 296 yards. He missed two games with a knee injury and then finished with only 144 yards in his last four games, but he's still too good to be true. His lone faults are a time-share with Chester Taylor and the fact that he's not an option in the passing game (only 19 receptions last year). But he's too good to pass up with the No. 2 pick as he will finish with 1,400+ yards rushing and 15 total TDs.
3. Brian Westbrook, Philadelphia
Westbrook still scares owners because of his durability issues, but he's played 15 games in each of the last two seasons and is a monster in PPR leagues. He had his best season of his career in 2007, setting career highs in rushing yards (1,333), attempts (278), receptions (90), receiving yards (771) and TDs (12). He had six 100-yard rushing games and finished second among all RBs in scoring. Grab him third in the upcoming draft and project a season of 1,200+ rushing yards, 600+ receiving yards and 11 TDs.
4. Steven Jackson, St. Louis
Jackson suffered through an injury-riddled season in 2007 and missed four games with a back and a groin injury, but still managed to top 1,000 yards for the third straight season. Still, he finished with only five rushing TDs, only 38 receptions and just one receiving TD. The Rams were a mess last year, but the offensive line should be better this year, so project a much improved season for Jackson of 1,300+ rushing yards, 300+ receiving yards and 12 TDs.
5. Joseph Addai, Indianapolis
Addai assumed the starting RB job last year for Indianapolis and topped 1,000 yards (1.072) for the second straight year while scoring 15 total TDs. He had at least one TD in 10 games, but struggled down the stretch, averaging just 42.3 yards rushing per game from Weeks 13-16. Still, he's a dynamite Top 5 back who will once again deliver a season of 1,100+ yards rushing, 350+ yards receiving and 15 TDs.
6. Frank Gore, San Francisco
With the 49ers unable to mount a solid passing attack last year, defenses loaded up the line of scrimmage and took Gore out of the game. He also suffered a lingering ankle injury that limited him to 15 games, 1,102 yards rushing and 6 total TDs. He did add 53 receptions as he finished ninth among RBs in scoring. Now with Mike Martz on board as offensive coordinator, there's a chance that Gore will be part of a more vibrant offense and will finish with better overall numbers. He certainly has the talent to do it, so project a better season of 1,300+ yards, 50+ receptions and 8 TDs.
7. Clinton Portis, Washington
Portis is fast moving up the RB charts this off-season as he had a bustout season with Washington last year. After missing eight games to injury in 2006, Portis played all 16 games last year and finished with 1,262 yards, 11 TDs and 47 receptions. He had four 100-yard games and scored a TD in nine different games. The Redskins are expected to use Portis even more this year, so project a season of 1,200+ yards, 40 receptions and 10 TDs.
8. Marion Barber, Dallas
Barber finished seventh in RB scoring last year despite sharing time with Julius Jones. Now with Jones in Seattle, Barber will maintain the No. 1 role, while Felix Jones takes over the backup job. Barber has an aggressive running style that may not hold up for a full season, but last year he was stellar as he finished with 975 yards, 12 total TDs and 44 receptions. If he can stay healthy, he will finish with 1,000+ yards, 40 receptions and 12 TDs.
9. Ryan Grant, Green Bay
The Packers were expected to sign Grant to a long-term contract soon after he went from obscurity to stardom last year. Grant took over the starting job in Week 6 and never looked back, collecting five 100-yard games in 10 starts and finishing with 956 yards. He finished with eight TDs as he scored at least one TD in seven different games. This offense will be a work in progress under Aaron Rodgers, but Grant will still come through with 1,200+ yards, 40+ receptions and 12 total TDs.
10. Marshawn Lynch, Buffalo
Lynch was the second best offensive rookie last year as he led Buffalo with 1,115 yards rushing and seven TDs despite missing three games with an ankle injury. He had three 100-yard performances, but doesn't factor into the passing game much as he was limited to 18 receptions last year. That's one detriment to drafting Lynch, but this physical back is tough to stop and he will finish with 1,300+ yards and nine TDs in 2008.