by Inside the Redzone staff – JF and Bill Seng
1. Adrian Peterson, MN – We’ve got him number one on our draft rankings, but mostly because of his gold standard consistency. Most likely to live up to his ADP, when all the smoke clears. Peterson should be getting a lot of carries, think Michael Turner 2007. The two tight end offense Bill Musgrave is bringing is a physical, run emphasis offense.
2. Arian Foster, Hou. – Hopefully won’t be a 1 year wonder. With Schaub and Andre Johnson keeping the opposing defenses honest, Foster should be able to see plenty of room and carries this year. The biggest question mark is, Brandon Tate going to take carries away from Foster?
3. Chris Johnson, Ten – When is the holdout going to end? With a new coaching staff on hand, they should be focused on giving Johnson as many touches as possible. But first he has to come in – then learn / practice the playbook. And there is that little thing called “getting caught up to game speed”.
4. Jamaal Charles, KC – Charles is a home run hitter and had over a 6 YPC, ranking second on the all time single season mark. Charles will be the focal point with Thomas Jones getting older and not being used as much. Look for Charles to have his touches increase throughout the year.
5. LeSean McCoy, Phi – Look for McCoy to become more of a focal point in the Eagles offense this year. Teams are more focused on containing Vick and the two big play WR’s (Maclin & Jackson), which helps McCoy in the receiving game as well.
6. Ray Rice, Bal – Rice is finally the main man in Baltimore. Despite a few press clippings, it’s still unclear if he’ll be the bell cow at the goal line. The Ravens released one veteran back, Willis McGahee, but turned around and signed Ricky Williams, who has 64-career touchdowns. Rice should get more redzone carries but how many?
7. Maurice Jones-Drew, Jac – MJD’s total yards were there in the 2010 season, it was the career low in touchdowns that disappointed fantasy football owners. MJD went from 16 total touchdowns in ’09 to 7 in ’10 (in 14 games). Look for MJD to rebound from a sub-par ’10 campaign.
8. Rashard Mendenhall, Pit – Mendenhall will again be the focus point in the Steelers run heavy offense. Out of the 13 rushing touchdowns last year 9 of them came within a few yards of the goal line. Steelers will need to fix some issues in the offensive line to help Mendenhall on more explosive plays. He only averaged a Cedric Benson like 3.9 YPC.
9. Michael Turner, Atl – Turner had a productive year in 2010, but slowed in late into the season. That could be a carry over from the heavy workload he’s received since arriving in 2007. Look for some of the running lanes to open a little more this year with the addition of electric deep threat, Julio Jones. The Falcon’s need to sure up the offensive line to help Turner build on his numbers.
10. Frank Gore, SF – Outside of nursing homes, you don’t hear too much about fracture hip injuries. Does this mean the 28-year old Gore is already an old-timer at the running back position? When Gore is healthy he is a Top 10 RB and would even push to be in the Top 5. The other question mark is how will the issue of the contract extension affect his play?
11. Darren McFadden, Oak – DMC was limited his first two years in the league. In 2010, he showed what he can do when healthy. The Raiders offensive line is not that good and arguably lost it’s best lineman (Robert Gallery) in the offseason. If the Raiders can get consistent play out of the quarterback, it will help with the power running game, Hugh Jackson likes to play.
12. Peyton Hillis, Cle – Hillis had a breakout year in 2010 for the Browns but wore down around the fantasy football playoffs, even with getting single digit carries the first couple weeks of the season. Hardesty should be back from a torn ACL to offer some relief for Hillis.
13. LeGarrette Blount, TB – Blount was able to rack up 1,000 yds and 6 TD’s in only 13 games. He really didn’t start to see a lot of carries untill week 8, when he went off for 120 yds at 2 td’s against Arizona. Look for Blount to be the main ball carrier for the Buccaneers and build on his very good rookie season.
14. Steven Jackson, StL – SJax is still one of the better all around RB’s in the league. He has been the focal point of the offense for years and that won’t change. But the Rams finally found a quarterback (Sam Bradford) to take some of that pressure off of Jackson. If Jackson can stay healthy look for his production to increase.
15. DeAngelo Williams, Car –DeAngelo has proven that he can be one of the top running backs in the league when healthy and given the opportunity. The Panthers will look to run early and often in games this year to protect either young starting quarterback of choice. Can the defense keep them in the game so, the Panthers can use the run first mentality?
16. Felix Jones, Dal – will benefit the most of the departure of Marion Barber. Jones will get most of the work and is always a home run threat when he gets the rock. Keep an eye on backups Tashard Choice and rookie DeMarco Murray as his backups.
17. Matt Forte, Chi – Forte rushed for over 1,000 yds and 6 touchdowns last year with a below average offensive line. With Mike Martz’s pass happy offense look for Forte to continue to put up similar production on the ground and maybe increase his receiving stats.
18. Ahmad Bradshaw, NYG – Bradshaw had a breakout 2011 season, by continuing to play through pain and racking up a career high 276 carries and 47 receptions. Look for Bradshaw to continue to be fantasy football’s most rock solid RB2. He should see some decent running rooms with teams more focused on H. Nicks, S. Smith and Manningham.
19. BenJarvus Green-Ellis, NE – Was the first New England running back to produce consistent RB2 fantasy football numbers, since ‘Clock Killing’ Cory Dillon. ‘The Lawfirm’ is not as flashy a guy but he is a downhill runner that produces results at the goal line. Look for the Patriots to continue to pound the ball as the Patriots bring back a more clock killing personality, post Randy Moss.
20. Ryan Mathews, SD – Didn’t live up to the hype he had going heading into his rookie season. He missed 4 games last year and had single digit carries in 5 other games. On the positive side he did put up 675 rushing yds and 7 td’s in limited action. Norv Turner likes to run the ball so look for Mathews to increase his yards, if he can stay healthy. However, if Mathews continues to let dings and dents to slow him down, he will lose his carries to Mike Tolbert.
21. Knowshon Moreno, Den
22. Jonathan Stewart, Car
23. Fred Jackson, Buf
24. Jahvid Best, Det
25. Beanie Wells, Ari
26. Mark Ingram, NO
27. Daniel Thomas, Mia
28. Ryan Grant, G.B.
29. Shonn Greene, NYJ
30. Marshawn Lynch, Sea.
31. Cedric Benson, Cin.
32. Pierre Thomas, N.O.
33. Joseph Addai, Ind
34. Michael Bush, Oak
35. Mike Tolbert, S.D.
36. Brandon Jacobs, NYG
37. James Stark, G.B.
38. Ryan Torain, Wash.
39. C.J. Spiller, Buf.
40. LaDainian Tomlinson, NYJ
41. Jermone Harrison, Det.
42. Rashard Jennings, Jac.
43. Tim Hightower, Wash.
44. Willis McGhee, Den.
45. Ricky Williams, Bal.
46. Ronnie Brown, Phi
47. Reggie Bush, Mia.
48. Montario Hardesty, Cle.
49. Brandon Tate, Hou.
50. Danny Woodhead, N.E.