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Fantasy Football Running Back Rankings

Updated on October 28, 2012

Running Backs

My 2009 Rankings of Running Backs

Adrian Peterson

Matt Forte

Steve Slaton

2009 preseason RB Rankings 1-10

  1. Adrian Peterson (Minnesota Vikings) many think of Peterson as THE number one pick,but keep in mind Peterson did not finish as the top fantasy back the last two years. (Side Note-the top fantasy player last year was Drew Brees) The addition of Brett Favre adds a new dimension to this Viking Offense that should increase Peterson's value.
  2. Michael Turner (Atlanta Falcons) finished second in touchdowns last season with a whopping 17 and second in rushing yards with 1,699. His Falcon offense should be better this year with the addition of Tony Gonzalez. This should provide Turner with more touchdown opportunities. Experts point out the only back not to have a down year after having 370 plus carries in a season is LaDainian Tomlinson. Can Turner overcome the curse of 370? He has run so well in the preseason I believe he can.
  3. Matt Forte (Chicago Bears) is one of the few running backs in the league that isn't in a timeshare. His ability to make plays through the air will help his value with the Bears new starting quarterback Jay Cutler. Whether the addition of Cutler will aid Forte or hurt Forte is yet to be seen. If Cutler can jump start the Bears offense, Forte will have greater chances to score.
  4. Maurice Jones Drew (Jacksonville Jaguars)is anywhere in fantasy pre rankings from the number one back to number four running back. Jones Drew managed a massive 12 touchdown campaign last year while receiving as few as 12 carries in most games. He only managed to receive 20 plus carries in five games. Jones Drew is a dynamic and versatile running back that led all NFL RBs in with 565 receiving yards. He also caught a pair of touchdowns finishing the season with 14 touchdowns. Jones Drew is a younger smaller Brian Westbrook type running back that will turn many heads this season. He is all the hype of Reggie Bush with the talent and durability to back it up. With the aging Tory Holt as the Jacksonville Jaguars only proven receiver, Jones Drew may prove to be quite the double threat this season. BE WARNED! It is possible Greg Jones may take over goal line duties in the regular season in order to preserve Jones Drew.
  5. Steven Jackson (St.Louis Rams) has been riddled by injuries the last two seasons. Though with the improvement to the St. Louis offensive line, a healthy Jackson would mean tremendous numbers. Jackson is one of the most dynamic running backs in the NFL. He is the heart and soul of the Rams offense. If you take the risk drafting Jackson who has missed a number games due to injury in the last two seasons, it may pay off huge.
  6. DeAngelo Williams (Carolina Panthers)splits carries and a repeat of his 18 touchdown season is highly unlikely given that Jonathan Stewart is better suited for goal line situations. He was quite impressive last year. If Stewart wasn't there as a safety net and leech, Williams would have much higher value.
  7. Steve Slaton (Houston Texan) should improve during his sophomore season. He finished his rookie season 6th in rushing yards among running backs.
  8. Brandon Jacobs The human wreaking ball! Jacobs is expected to see more carries this year with the departure of Derrick Ward. I predict Jacobs will have at least 1,000 yards and 8 touchdowns this season. Depending on his number of carries and how a Plaxico Burress free Giant offense operates, Jacobs should put up more yards than his 1,089 yard performance during the 2008 season.
  9. Clinton Portis (Washington Redskins) Portis lead fantasy backs for the first 8 weeks of the 2008 season but was riddled with injury during the later part of the season. Portis is one of the few traditional backs remaining in the NFL without a timeshare.
  10. LaDainian Tomlinson (San Diego Chargers) People wonder if he has enough left in the tank. Tomlinson has suffered from the pass heavy Charger offense and his own injuries. Derrick Sproles will likely cut into his load, after signing a lucrative new deal in the off season. Tomlinson was a very reliable back in 2008 despite injuries. Can critics lack of faith in Tomlinson and the emergence of Derrick Sproles threatening his starting job put a fire in him to have a stellar 2009 season?

Ranking the Rookies

  1. Donald Brown - (Indianapolis Colts) Will be sharing carries with Addai. Feel free to start him as a flex. 
  2. Chris Wells - (Arizona Cardinals) Someone to watch! 
  3. Lesean McCoy (Philadelphia Eagles) Once Westbrook gets hurt, McCoy will be gold. Until them nothing more than a flex if that.
  4. Knowshon Moreno (Denver Broncos) How many Denver backs were on the IR last year? I know he is the likely starter but I'm too  superstitious to draft him. (He has missed most of preseason due to injury.)
  5. Bernard Scott (Cincinnati Bengals) - a few sub par games from Benson and Scott could emerge as the lead back in Cincy.

2009 preseason RB Rankings 11-20

Chris Johnson (Tennessee Titans)or the self-proclaimed “every coaches dream” may lose touchdowns to Lendale White but is a speed demon that will rack up points this fantasy season.

Kevin Smith (Detroit Lions) had a pretty solid rookie season despite playing for a 0-16 team. Personally feel he is a steal at an ADP of 33.5. I am banking in on a big year.

Pierre Thomas (New Orleans Saints) being on a high-powered offense gives Thomas plenty of chances to score. Thomas is now the lead back in New Orleans and could very easily become the number 1 fantasy back this season.He averaged a whopping 18 fantasy points a games in his last 6 games of 2008. That is 4 more points than Adrian Peterson averaged on the season. Saints

Thomas Jones (New York Jets) Can his capitalize on his 2008 success in 2009?

Frank Gore (San Francisco 49ers) as most of you know I am not very fond of him. A got a loaded trade last year involving Gore. He became my every week back, only to collapse near the end of the season when it counts.( Also, note Marion Barber is not on my top 20. Why? 3 points in the final 4 games of the seasons. What a playoff bust! With Jones and Choice in Dallas, I am cautious about taking a 2nd round pick for the guy.)

Brian Westbrook (Philadelphia Eagles) needs to be healthy to be productive. Coming off an ankle injury, drafting this 30 year old back is a risk. Westbrook is a beast no doubt. He has rushed for 1,400 total yards and 10 touchdowns for three straight seasons. He has also never played all 16 games in a season, and his team was 22nd in rushing attempts. If you have two solid backs, go ahead take Westbrook! If not it is probably better to look else where for running backs.

Ryan Grant (Green Bay Packers) was absolutely horrible last season. However, keep in mind Grant battled injury throughout the season. A guy who doesn't share carries is a plus and Grant was 5th overall in rushing attempts so expect to see plenty of action in 2008.

Jonathan Stewart (Carolina Panthers) scored ten touchdowns in his rookie debut. Keep in mind he is the second running back on Carolina’s roster.

LenDale White (Tennessee Titans) is a superstar goal line back. His value depends on touchdowns. A nice guy to have on your bench or as a flex.


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    • Enigmatic Me profile image

      8 years ago from East Coast Canada

      I would have with Forte, and gambled in all 6 of my leagues to pick him off the wire or trade for him... he saved 5 of my 6 league teams!

    • Drew Breezzy profile image

      Drew Breezzy 8 years ago from somewhere in my mind

      Jackson is beast! He played only 12 games last season and still posted 1,042 yards rushing, 379 receiving and 8 TDs. A huge liability taking a first round pick for a guy who has only played 24 of 32 games in two seasons. Assuming he plays all 16 he will easily be a top ten back. He finished 13 overall last year in ESPN standard leagues. Yes preseason rankings. Who would have put Williams, Forte, Jones or Slaton in a top ten list at the beginning of last season?

      It will be interesting to see who surprises us all.

    • Enigmatic Me profile image

      8 years ago from East Coast Canada

      And Stephen Jackson as a Top 10 is laughable. But hey that's what pre-rankings are for... theorizing.

    • Drew Breezzy profile image

      Drew Breezzy 8 years ago from somewhere in my mind

      Hmm just checked the numbers. Don't know why I was sleeping on Westy. Guess it was because he wasn't ranked in the top 10 on most lists.

    • Drew Breezzy profile image

      Drew Breezzy 8 years ago from somewhere in my mind

      Westbrook is the most favorite back I owned last season. If my team was not so stacked I would have not liked him so much though haha. If he did not have 2 off season surgeries would have ranked him top 10. He is a steal though in most fantasy drafts. I'll readjust 11-20.

    • Enigmatic Me profile image

      8 years ago from East Coast Canada

      Definitely Brian Westbrook. I'm not an Eagles fan by far, but 1400 and 10 touches on average over the last 3 yrs, playing 16 games or not brings him above T Jones and his contract dispute.

      Despite the man being 30 he's still a force to reckon with coming out of the backfield. With McCoy there able to spell him, there's no telling what he'll be capable of in 2009.

    • Drew Breezzy profile image

      Drew Breezzy 8 years ago from somewhere in my mind

      Wells is no longer hurt he rushed for two touchdowns in his preseason debut.

      Jones finished 4th overall last year. Will he put up the same numbers this year? Probably not. However he is a steal in drafts for a third round pick or later.

      At 13 overall I don't feel thats too high for a guy who finished top 5. Who do you feel should be ranked ahead of him?

    • Enigmatic Me profile image

      8 years ago from East Coast Canada

      I don't think T Jones in NYJ is as good as you have him ranked.. beanie wells is injured and not likely to push for Hightowers job (IMHO) despite reports otherwise.

      I agree with the other hubber who mentioned Bradshaw... this is a good year for him to break out.

      As for AP he will have to roll with the Gunslinger... maybe good... maybe not?

    • Drew Breezzy profile image

      Drew Breezzy 8 years ago from somewhere in my mind

      Jbgunn after further evaluation I agree with you about Forte. I will adjust the rankings when I get the time to edit it.

    • Drew Breezzy profile image

      Drew Breezzy 8 years ago from somewhere in my mind

      Thank you for your response jbgunn ! As for Forte he has been drafted 5.8 on average in fantasy drafts. He is ranked behind Williams (who I am not a fan of) and Jacobs because of their goal line scoring. We all know how important touchdowns are in football.

    • jbgunn profile image

      jbgunn 8 years ago

      I think that Forte is a top 5 pick. IMO, AP should be the unanimous number one pick, except for in a PPR league where MJD or Forte could easily be taken first overall. Great article.

    • Drew Breezzy profile image

      Drew Breezzy 8 years ago from somewhere in my mind

      I think I drafted Slaton second round after i drafted Turner.

    • profile image

      Erick Smart 8 years ago

      Many are speculating that Turner will go first in many drafts. I think I would hold out and grab Slaton plus I would look into Moreno in Denver and Barber in Dallas.

    • Drew Breezzy profile image

      Drew Breezzy 8 years ago from somewhere in my mind

      Gotta love those knockout hits Fiery!

    • prasetio30 profile image

      prasetio30 8 years ago from malang-indonesia

      thanks for share, I like American football. I think we have strong body. because the sport is hard. Many football star become success.Great hub. I like it

    • fierycj profile image

      fierycj 8 years ago from The Fiery Heart of Africa

      The only thing I look out for in American football is the bashing at each other. Thats it! :)

    • maven101 profile image

      maven101 8 years ago from Northern Arizona

      Michael Bush with he Oakland Raiders is going to explode on the NFL stat scene this year...Finally healthy, this guy has talent like Gale Sayers, and with the improved offensive line he is going to put up some awesome numbers...

    • dohn121 profile image

      dohn121 8 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York

      I still gotta go with Adrian Peterson and my main man Brandon Jacobs. I'm anxious to see Ahmad Bradshaw's performance this year as well and yeah, I'm biased. Thanks, Drew.