I was going to do something else, but when I saw Benson, Bradshaw, and DeAngelo Williams situations get resolved (They all stayed put) I decided it was time to address Running Backs for the last time before fantasy drafts start in a couple of weeks. Not a lot of changes here (moreso in the receiver list to come) but "bear" with me as we once again review 2011's fantasy football expectations for RBs...
First things first, you can look at the last article here to get a feel for where I was at (and where ESPN and CBS were at) back in June. 12 team leagues are assumed (meaning 12 players per round of the draft, not 10).
Second things second, I will put an asterisk (*) next to guys I feel have more value in PPR leagues.
Third things third, here is the meat of the article:
1st Round Running Backs, in my order of preference: Chris Johnson, Jamaal Charles*, Adrian Peterson, Ray Rice*, Michael Turner, Maurice Jones-Drew*, Arian Foster*
2nd Round RBs: Frank Gore, Ahmad Bradshaw*, Matt Forte*, Rashard Mendenhall, Steven Jackson
3rd Round RBs: DeAngelo Williams, Darren McFadden, LeSean McCoy*, Knowshon Moreno, Jonathan Stewart, Peyton Hillis*
4th Round RBs: Shonn Green, Felix Jones*, LeGarrette Blount, Cedric Benson, Jahvid Best*
5th Round RBs: Cedric Benson, Fred Jackson*, Ryan Grant
6th-7th Round RBs: Chris "Beanie" Wells, Marshawn Lynch, Mark Ingram, Ryan Matthews, Joseph Addai, Ronnie Brown, Brandon Jacobs,
Late Selections: James Starks, Mikel LeShoure, LaDainian Tomlinson*, Michael Bush, Reggie Bush*, Ryan Torrain, Daniel Thomas, Ryan Williams, Kendal Hunter, Thomas Jones, Tashard Choice, all the Patriot RBs, Pierre Thomas, Darren Sproles*, Marion Barber, Ben Tate
Sleepers: Mike Tolbert, Montario Hardesty, Rashad Jennings, C.J. Spiller*, Jerome Harrison, Roy Helu
Some Thoughts: I dropped Ryan Matthews even more after he showed up to camp out of shape, and I'll be passing on him this year. Hillis and Benson are both on my "people who will be over drafted" list. A number of rookies (Williams, Hunter) made my list because I don't trust the guy in front of them and think coaches will turn to them because of injury or performance...and you could argue to watch more (Jacquizz Rodgers, DeMarco Murray). Roy Helu made the sleeper list because of his coach and Torrain's injury history. Who knows where Michael Bush and James Harrison play this year, but if they are on a team they will be in the mix. While Michael Turner rates a 1st round grade, he is not a receiving back and had a LOT of touches last year...I won't be drafting him this season. I think this years class of Rookie Running Backs may be more like 2008 than 2009/2010; i.e., they will see the field. I fear the frailty of the Eagles RB McCoy and won't be swayed into ranking him higher despite his ability.