Friday, July 24, 2009

Karcole's Top Ten: Runningbacks

Within the next week, the Front Row Fantasy Sports team will be releasing a much more expansive and organized player rankings list. Some might call it a draft kit. Until then, I will be previewing my own personal rankings, most of which will be filled with my unlimited supply of wisdom.

1. Adrian Peterson-Minnesota Vikings
I know, I know...what am I thinking? Adrian Peterson...he's horrible. But don't worry, he'll be a stud. Oh, what? Not that AP? Phew.

2. Michael Turner-Atlanta Falcons
He's apart of a talented offense, so he won't be the main focus for the defense. He doesn't have a ton of mileage on him, so you can expect him to still have his legs. He had a terrific season last year in his first year as a starter. There's not much you can't like about Burner Turner.

3. Matt Forte-Chicago Bears

Fantasy analysts argue that Forte benefited from being the focal point of the Bears' offense last season, and showed his low YPC as a sign that he isn't all that great. If anyone can put up a top-five fantasy season with a sub-four YPC in his rookie year, then when he is able to up that YPC, he can only improve. Additionally, Jay Cutler is now behind center, throwing more focus off Forte.

4. Chris Johnson-Tennessee Titans
LenDale White faded from the offense late in the season, but even when his presence was felt in the early weeks, Johnson played well. He showed his big-play ability, which is key in the fantasy world, and proved he can get into the end zone just as efficient as LenDale. I'm not what you call a believer in the "Sophomore Slump", so I expect an almost identical season from CJ.

5. Maurice Jones-Drew-Jacksonville Jaguars
Fred Taylor is no longer sharing the load, David Garrard has Torry Holt, and Jones-Drew bulked up to around 210 pounds. So how in the world is MJD not higher than no. 5? It's simple. A wise man once advised me not to draft Joseph Addai last season. Thank you very much, sir. That same man hinted at his dislike of MJD this year. Is that enough of an explanation?

6. Steve Slaton-Houston Texans
Three sophomore running backs in the same top six, along with a back in his second season as a starter. This must be a record, and is likely too good to be true. Yet somehow, Turner, Johnson, Forte, and Slaton take up 66% of the top six. So why Slaton so high on my rankings? He isn't even the best player on his offense (which is a good thing), so defenses won't be stacking the box, and while he doesn't receive too many goal-line opportunities, he is able to prance into the end zone in other ways. There isn't much downside to his potential.

7. Steven Jackson-St. Louis Rams
Jackson has been poised to finally become the stud in the fantasy football world for two seasons now. Injuries and a horrible -- no, disastrous -- offense along with an even worse quarterback slowed him down. He bounced back decently the last five weeks of the season, but with the same terrible team surrounding him, can Jackson keep himself healthy and be productive? Well, yes. But health is the key.

8. Clinton Portis-Washington Redskins
My skepticism of Portis was at an all-time high earlier in the offseason, but I've eased up on him. He is reaching the age and years of experience that most running backs begin to see their play suffer, so Clinton does have that to worry about. But besides the age factor, he is still due for one or two more consistent seasons.

9. LaDanian Tomlinson-San Diego Chargers
I'm not too fond of LT these days. Injuries, a less important role in the offense, a contract dispute, and a threatening back-up all contributes to my dislike of the former guaranteed no. 1 pick. Philip Rivers is the new sheriff in town, so LT's work will decrease, and Darren Sproles should have his share of carries and receptions. Add to that a healthy Antonio Gates, and you've got yourself a crowded offense. A 30-year old running back with health issues doesn't have a lot of chances to rush with a whole lot of success. But since he's LT, he remains among the top ten.

10. DeAngelo Williams-Carolina Panthers
Rounding out the top ten is DeAngelo Williams, who finished 2008 in dramatic fashion. He achieved over 20 points in six of his last 12 games, didn't have less than 12 runs over his last ten games, and had over 30 points in three of his last six games, all three coming in a span of four weeks. But, Jonathan Stewart somehow managed to keep himself in the mix, as he also improved as the season went on. Stewart's best weeks also came when Williams' came. The talent he brings to the table is too impressive, so the coaching staff in Carolina cannot resist giving him an even bigger role in the offense. That, my friends, is why Williams is as low as ten in my rankings, and most other rankings.

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