A Peterson, LT, Westbrook, SJax, Addai
These are the five running backs who, under a PPR format, can legitimately lay claim to the # 1 fantasy football running back spot for 2008. LT is a no brainer. ADP is the next coming. Westbrook is a yardage monster every time he steps on the field and he finished with nearly 300 more receiving yards than the next best running back. SJax is in the worst situation but is a beast when healthy plus he’s playing for a contract this year. Finally, Addai is on the rise in arguably the league’s best offense. He also played hurt for much of last season which shouldn’t be the case this year with Rhodes back to keep him fresh.
These are the only other RB’s who, if everything breaks their way, can finish 1st overall in 2008. Consider them the darkhorses. Gore was very inconsistent last season but just last summer he was going in the top 5 in nearly everyone’s drafts. Portis is a fun back to have on your team, period. He enjoys himself, is in the prime of his career and when he’s sound, can put up numbers with the best of them. Besides, he seems very excited about the offense Jim Zorn has put in place for him.
LJ, MBIII, McGahee
Should be the last tier of bell cow stud running backs available but each has issues that may keep them from achieving the lofty status of the guys above them. They should be considered the last remaining true #1 fantasy running backs on the board. LJ is in a horrible offense with an unproven QB. Teams will continue to load the box to stop him. MBIII is the toughest runner in the league but eventually that could be to his detriment. He also has an exciting rookie breathing down his neck. The offense should run through McGahee in Baltimore so the opportunity is there. How much impact Ogden’s departure has on the offensive line remains to be seen.
Grant, Lewis, Lynch,
Turner, Jacobs, Bush, Graham,
I call this tier the beginning of the great #2 running backs with the potential to perform at the #1 level. A bit wordy but you get the picture. Of these guys, I highlighted Grant, MJD, Turner and Parker as players who could outperform this tier if things go right. Grant proved his worth last season for the Packers but there’s a new sheriff in town running the offense. MJD is bound to take over as the main ball carrier in Jacksonville if this is the year Taylor finally slows down. Turner will be given every opportunity to succeed in Atlanta as the ownership tries to put a new face on the franchise. Parker led the league in rushing last season before his injury but his TD total left something to be desired. I think there was too much working against him last season and with the addition of Mendenhall, he’ll return to his home run hitting TD production.
T. Jones, J.Jones, McFadden,
Serviceable #2 running backs but likely not big scorers because of lack of consistent production, lack of receptions or lack of steady opportunities (RBBC). The three highlighted players have a legitimate shot to jump tiers. Thomas Jones should bounce back after a poor season with the aid of perennial pro-bowler Alan Faneca to pave his way. I love Ronnie Brown and people forget that he was leading all fantasy rushers before getting injured last season. But he is coming off a serious injury and I just think Parcells will give Ricky Williams every opportunity to contribute, both to keep Ronnie Brown fresh and because he loves veterans. From what I’ve read, Stewart will get the first crack to be the lead back in Panther land. Williams has been given a few shots already but lacks the blocking ability to keep his quarterback upright. If Stewart is a quick study, I think he and not DeAngelo Williams will get the starting gig.
Forte, Young, R.Williams,
C.Taylor, J.Jones, McCallister, Mendenhall, F.Taylor, Fargas, D.Williams, Watson/Perry, Green, Bell
I call this the crap shoot tier because many of the guys are either unproven rookies, declining veterans, backups on their team or have had opportunities but have not lived up to their potential. Of this tier, the highlighted players seem to have the best situation to produce but as the tier suggests, it’s anyone’s call. I included Chester Taylor only because if Peterson goes down, Chester will continue to rack up lofty point totals in the Vikings impressive running attack.
Must get one (preferably 2) backs from the top 3 tiers. Ideally I would like my #2 back to come from Tier 4. If not, I will load up on tier 5 and 6 guys liberally with a penchant for rookie runners who have an opportunity to produce (Stewart, Forte, K.Smith).