Thursday - Jan 28, 2021
Home / Draft / The New #1 – Running Backs

The New #1 – Running Backs

Several running backs this season will go from the backup to main role.

  Here’s a list of 6 of those backs, along with their chances for success.


Michael Turner – 

Atlanta Falcons

2007 stats: 71 ATT, 316 YDS, 4.5 AVG, 1 TD, 4 REC, 16 YDS, 0 TD


Probably the most talked about new starter is Turner.

  As a career backup to LaDainian Tomlinson in

San Diego, he still managed to somewhat make a name for himself.

  As you can tell by his stats, playing time was few and far between, with obvious reason.


His biggest game last year came in Week 5 at

Denver when he ran for 174 yards on 10 carries, including a 74-yard TD run.

  The playoffs were a surprise, as he amassed 43 carries for 164 yards, a 3.8 AVG.

  He was given the ball when Tomlinson went down with a bruised left knee, and had modest results.

  Still, not too bad for a guy that was a backup the whole year.


Here’s a big part of his game to like – he rarely fumbles.

  I’m talking only 2 times in 228 carries.

  That’s pretty darn good.

  He also has a 5.5 career AVG, another outstanding number.

  Those numbers are what sold

Atlanta on a 6-year, $34.5 million contract.


The most obvious downside is that he’s no longer in

San Diego, and no longer around a great line to block for him.

  He goes to

Atlanta, an organization that is trying to clear up the mess from last year.

  Expecting him to reach his 5.5 AVG is expecting too much.

  He also only has 11 career receptions in 59 games – very low.

  If he can be a bigger threat catching the ball (something he’ll need to do considering the Falcons have lousy receivers), then his value will be high.


DeAngelo Williams –

Carolina Panthers

2007 stats: 144 ATT, 717 YDS, 5.0 AVG, 4 TD, 23 REC, 175 YDS, 1 TD


DeShaun Foster is no longer in town, but that does not mean Williams is the clear-cut favorite for all the carries.

  Rather, the drafting of Jonathan Stewart from

Oregon could signal more split carries for Williams.

  For now, Williams is the starter.

  As the season wears on, who knows.


Last year’s numbers were better than his rookie year, as all of his major rushing stats shot up.

  His 5.0 AVG was very sweet.

  But, it’s hard to look at his numbers and be completely satisfied with his young career thus far.

  I think people were expected more in his second year than 727 yards and 5 total touchdowns.

  Perhaps he was overvalued coming out of college.


Williams will be out to prove this year that he’s up for the hype.

  Look at it this way – there’s no way Stewart will command 247 ATT like Foster did.

  Plus, Jake Delhomme is back from injury this year, so that will hopefully open up the field for more room to run.


I like Williams’ chances this season to put it all together.

  The only area of concern is around the goal line.

  Stewart is the better choice for carries based on size alone.

  Still, if Williams can get some area to run, he’ll put on a show.


Matt Forte –

Chicago Bears

Rookie (Tulane)


Picking a #1 running back for

Chicago is no easy task.

  Their team averaged a pathetic 83.1 yards a game last season, nearly dead last in the NFL.

  Cedric Benson, last year’s top back, only gained 674 yards, and pretty much drank his way out of town.

  Watching the Bears’ offense was much like watching Andruw Jones try to hit – ugly.


Forte finds himself in pretty much a no lose situation.

  Think about it – nobody knows about him, nobody cares about him, and certainly nobody expects the Bears to be relevant on offense.

  If he fails, he’s supposed to.

  If he succeeds, he’s the talk of the league.


Judging by his stats last year as a senior at Tulane, he can have big games.

  After a ho-hum first couple of games, he exploded for 100+ in 9 or his last 10 games.

  In there, he had 303 yards vs. Southeastern Louisiana, 342 at Southern Methodist, and 278 vs.


  Granted, those are not exactly juggernaut teams, but those are still impressive numbers.


With the main competition being the other Adrian Peterson (who has never gained over 510 yards in a season), Forte should have plenty of chances to shine.

  The Bears may as well roll the dice with him and see if they’ve found lightning in a bottle.


Marion Barber –

Dallas Cowboys

2007 stats: 204 ATT, 975 YDS, 4.8 AVG, 10 TD, 44 REC, 282 YDS, 2 TD


It may be a little bit of a stretch to consider Barber the #2 back last season, but Julius Jones still had his fair share of carries (164 ATT, 588 YDS, 2 TD).

  But Jones has bolted to be the man in

Seattle (more on that later), so Barber is now the undisputed starting back.


In only 3 years, he was clearly one of the top backups in the NFL.

  He nearly broke the 1,000 yard mark despite sharing many carries with Jones.

  With a career 4.5 AVG and 29 TD’s, he has a knack for putting the ball in the endzone.

  The last 2 seasons have seen double-digit TD totals.


What should not be ignored is that he is a bruising back, which brings about plenty of punishment.

  In that respect, he’s very much like Brandon Jacobs of the Giants.

  They both want to run through you, which is very effective as a backup, but maybe not so much as a starter.



The Cowboys did draft Felix Jones from

Arkansas, who made plenty of noise despite playing with Darren McFadden.

  I’m sure Jones will see a decent amount of carries, but Barber will finally get to see what he can do with the treatment of a starter.

  In that high-octane offense, I’m sure he’ll do plenty of damage.


Selvin Young –

Denver Broncos

2007 stats: 140 ATT, 729 YDS, 5.2 AVG, 1 TD, 35 REC, 231 YDS, 0 TD


Ah, the

Denver running back situation.

  About the hardest position to predict in all of fantasy sports.

  And I’m not talking about just football, I mean fantasy sports as a whole.

  From one game to the next, there’s about 3 choices for who could get the ball.

  For any owner of a

Denver back, it can be feast-or-famine experience.


Last season, Travis Henry came in and was expected to dominate.

  Instead, he only gained 691 YDS, 4.1 AVG, 4 TD.

  Now that he’s chosen the Ricky Williams lifestyle of health and wellness, he’s out of there.


Young came out of nowhere (you know, just like every other Denver RB) and posted pretty decent numbers.

  Just as importantly, he showed the ability to grab passes out of the backfield, only furthering his ability to be a constant treat.

  It was a very encouraging sign then, and even more so now that he’s the #1 man.


So now the question will be how long he’ll last as the main guy running the ball.

  With Mike Shanahan in control, that fluctuates weekly.

  But if he continues to post over 5 yards a carry and catch balls from the backfield, the decision should be an easy one to leave him in there.


Julius Jones –

Seattle Seahawks

2007 stats: 164 ATT, 588 YDS, 3.6 AVG, 2 TD, 23 REC, 203 YDS, 2 TD


The offseason for both Jones and the Seahawks have been quite interesting.

  Jones was once the future back for the Cowboys, as he gained over 1,000 yards in 2006 and was within 7 yards of doing the same in 2005.

  But, Marion Barber’s role became bigger and bigger, and Jones was expendable.

  Over in

Seattle, Shawn Alexander’s star became dimmer, and he was forced out of town.

  Looking for a replacement, Jones came aboard.


Jones definitely has something to prove this season, as his last year as a Cowboy did not go nearly as well as he would have hoped.

  He posted career lows in all major rushing categories as Barber stole his carries.

  Now, he comes to a team that is consistently in the playoff hunt, but longing for a big running game again.


While he has motivation on his side, what he does not have is a strong offensive line or nobody else to compete with.

  Rather, T.J. Duckett will most certainly take goal line chances, and Maurice Morris will see time as well.

  If Jones is to prove his worth, he’ll have to make the most of his time on the field.

  Slow starts will spell doom for him.

About Fantasy Sharks launched in 2003, disseminating fantasy football content on the web for free. It is (or has been) home to some of the most talented and respected writers and content creators in fantasy football.