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The Big 10: Workhorse Runningbacks

1.
Chris Johnson, Tennessee – This Tasmanian devil ran for more than 2,000 yards last year and caught the ball out of the backfield better than anyone. It’s hard to defend him because he can sneak through the smallest holes and break away from the best defenders with his 4.24 speed. He has absolutely no competition for touches and will carry the rock just as much as he did last year. Expect the Tennessee Titans to run him into the ground and watch him pick up a handful of touchdowns this fall. Feel safe drafting him No. 1 overall.

2.


Adrian Peterson

,
Minnesota

– Peterson, although plagued with fumble problems last year, is arguably the most athletic player the league. Last year was a wake up call, and expect him to not lose the pigskin much this year.

Minnesota
’s offense loves to run, and he is an every down back. Peterson should post better numbers this year, and expect him to run like a train this upcoming season. He should be drafted second or third in all leagues.

3.
Frank Gore,

San Francisco
– Shocker, huh? Well for me not exactly, this is why. Coach Mike Singletary has committed to running a lot this year,

San Francisco
drafted two big and beefy lineman in the first round, and the 49ers play in a division where defense doesn’t exist. Reports have also come in that Gore looks extremely explosive at organized team activities, and if Alex Smith can get his act together and throw for a few yards, the defenses will open up and Gore will do big things. Expect great numbers in 2010.

4.
Maurice Jones-Drew, Jacksonville – The Jacksonville Jaguars haven’t done or said anything this offseason that have pointed to helping Jones-Drew run the ball this year. He is an unbelievable athlete and will continue to run like Hercules over the next few years. He also catches the ball like nobody else in the league. Expect consistent, solid numbers this year. A guy you can count on week in and week out. Draft him between picks three and six.


5.
Steven Jackson,

St. Louis
– Call me crazy, but actually do it cause I’m here to prove you wrong. This guy had the second-most running yards in the NFL last year, and he had Marc Bulger and Keith Null helping him out that whole time. That being said, teams were relentless stacking the box and making him scrape together yards week in and week out. If Sam Bradford can put up reasonable numbers for the Rams, there is no reason why he can’t post 1,600 yards this year, especially talking about how unbelievable this guy is. He has literally been carrying a dead team on his back for the past two or three years. Maybe that is why he needed back surgery this offseason.

6.
Michael Turner, Atlanta– Turner was overlooked last year because of his late season ankle issues. He was running with the best until a fluke ankle tweek ended his burner status. In that game he had already run for 120 yards on 13 carries in the first half. People started to doubt him this year but I don’t see what the fuss is all about. He is a beast, a bruiser, and he plays on a team who shares the ball enough to keep defenses honest. Expect a big rebound this year.

7.
Ray Rice, Baltimore – You may ask why this guy is ranked seventh when on most sites he is sitting pretty at fourth. Well I’m just not completely sold on this runner. He is still giving up carries to Willis McGahee, and his offense will begin to throw the ball more this year with the acquisition of Pro Bowl wide receiver Anquan Boldin. He will still run well and catch well, but not enough to break the bank like he did last year. Expect much less production than last year, but enough to keep him a solid option.

8.
Ryan Mathews, San Diego– Oh, daddy! Here we go again: rookie stud running backs! This guy has it all to be great on the

Golden
Coast
. He was quoted as saying that he wants to be as productive as LaDainian Tomilnson, and now he has the chance. Although, losing minimal touches to Darren Sproles, he will do mostly all the work for the Chargers on the ground. He is a bulky bruiser, something all coaches love. Expect him to go late first round, early second round, and expect him to produce like Rashard Mendenhall did last year.

9.
Rashard Mendenhall,

Pittsburgh
– There is not much to say here. The Pittsburgh Steelers have quarterback problems which might lead them to running the ball more, so that means more carries for the future of

Pittsburgh
in Mendenhall. He is a hard runner, he gets a ton of carries, and he is a rising star in the league. Expect solid numbers and look to draft him as a steal in the second round.

10.
Ryan Grant,
Green Bay


Green Bay
is a pass-first offense. They do, however, run Grant a lot. Even though he is No. 10 in my list, he is still a good fantasy option as he catches the ball well and gets goal line touches. Expect average yardage totals and many touchdowns because Aaron Rodgers’ offense is meant to score and score a lot! This means a lot of touches and a lot of opportunities.

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