First look at the RBs

As the draft quickly approaches, we’re trying to bang out as much of the magazine writeups as we possibly can, and I’ve just completed about the top-50 RBs. Of course, the draft will change a lot of things, so it’s hard to rank any player for certain. We have also not yet plugged in projections, which can change things once you see the raw numbers. But I do have some rankings and comments on the top-50 guys now, and I’m pretty comfortable with this list, knowing it’s very early.

So here’s what I got at this early stage.

1. Adrian Peterson, MIN – Has to be top dog this year given youth and talent but more action in the passing game would be nice.

2. Michael Turner, ATL – Carried the load all season with great effectiveness in run-heavy offense and was money near the goal so a no-brainer.

3. Maurice Drew, JAC – Major jump in receptions key for 3rd straight strong season and now he truly carries the load plus Holt will help their shaky team.

4. Matt Forte, CHI – Addition of Cutler should help them move the ball and create more opportunities for the slick and productive runner and receiver.

5. LaDainian Tomlinson, SD – Concerns about age are legit but offense is too strong to ignore and as bad as he was playing with a bad toe he was still 7th in PPG.

6. Steven Jackson, STL – He’s a horse and they are building offense around him but weak supporting cast won’t do him any favors and creates downside.

7. Chris Johnson, TEN – A special player who commands a healthy number of touches and seriously challenges defenses so the production will continue in run-based offense.

8. Brandon Jacobs, NYG – Injuries always a concern but he was okay last year and his 19 goal line carries were a great sign and no reason to believe he won’t continue to rack of TDs so a very solid starter.

9. Joseph Addai, IND – Colt line and overall offense should be better off plus depth behind him is poor so he will likely bounce back with plenty of touches.

10. Brian Westbrook, PHI – Still very dangerous and Eagle OL beefed up, which helps but should split time more this year and durability is always a major issue.

11. Clinton Portis, WAS – Age and wear and tear are big concerns but he always finds a way to produce and always gets the rock a ton.

12. DeAngelo Williams, CAR – Insanely productive and dynamic last year but numbers are bound to go with the stud-like Stewart commanding a healthy number of touches.

13. Marion Barber, DAL – Too many other qualities backs here but Barber’s role as their bruiser and goal line back is secure so 10+ TDs will be in order.

14. Frank Gore, SF – An elite talent but the production hasn’t been there on a bad team but a terrific #2 back in an offense that will be centered around him and the running game.

15. Reggie Bush, NO – His limitations are clear but was very productive in 2007 when he played and if healthy should be ready to take full advantage of his skills and favorable situation.

16. Steve Slaton, HOU – Texans won’t over-expose him but he’s too versatile and dangerous to keep off the field so a nice #2 back in potentially a potent offense.

17. Ryan Grant, GB – Not a special talent and lack of action in the passing game but good overall offense and he can be the workhorse, so a nice #2.

18. Thomas Jones, NYJ – His OL is solid and he will get the rock a ton, but he’s beyond 30 and with no Favre he’s bound to fall well short of last year’s production.

19. Ronnie Brown, MIA – Should be in better shape two years removed from knee injury and total yardage and TDs should slot him in the top-15 if he can stay healthy despite timeshare.

20. Pierre Thomas, NO – Not a stud and Bush will take away catches but a quality player in a good situation as long as they don’t add another bigger back.

21. Willis McGahee, BAL – Last year was a train wreck but expected to move back into more of a lead role and a good situation under Cameron on a good team.

22. Marshawn Lynch, BUF – Suspended three games for now and RBs Rhodes and Jackson are quality players, but the offense is bound to improve

23. Jonathan Stewart, CAR – Not someone you can count on as a starter but a high-end talent in a good spot so a good bet to finish in the top-25 this year.

24. Darren McFadden, OAK – Still shaky as a runner and an RBBC situation but he will get plenty of touches as runner and receiver and will have upside compared to the others in this range.

25. LenDale White, TEN – No reason to think he won’t be fed the rock near the goal, so the TDs should be there again but very limited otherwise.

26. Derrick Ward, TB – Brought in as a free agent and he’s bigger and more talented than anyone else here so he should get a healthy number of touches and a pretty decent situation.

27. Kevin Smith, DET – Finds a way to produce despite poor situation and team should be better but Mo Morris hurts his value and Smith lacks special qualities so best a #3 fantasy RB.

28. Larry Johnson, KC – Future up in the air but has to go up the list if he’s here still as he averaged 4.5 YPC in 2008 and this could be a solid situation even as he’s not a great fit for their offense.

29. Jamal Lewis, CLE – His 2008 season was closer to his normal production so don’t expect much from an aging back on a bad team but he will carry the load for sure.

30. Cedric Benson, CIN – Nothing special at all but if he carries the load as expected should be serviceable as Palmer is a major upgrade over last year’s QB.

31. Julius Jones, SEA – Production will be sporadic but worth having around for depth as he’ll likely carry the load with Morris gone.

32. Willie Parker, PIT – Production has decreased four years running and Mendenhall and Moore will limit production but he should still be top back.

33. Tim Hightower, ARI – Value a little up in the air with James status but should be considered a good bet to get at least half the carries and most of the goal line carries.

34. Rashard Mendenhall, PIT – Probably a year away from exploding and Parker should still start but he could be a Parker injury away from exploding.

35. Correll Buckhalter, DEN – Total numbers over his last three seasons are impressive so definitely has a chance to excel and stand out above the rest.

36. Earnest Graham, TB – A solid player but the addition of Ward destroys his value yet he will play and would be a nice starter if Ward got hurt.

37. Darren Sproles, SD – He averaged a TD every 15 touches last year so if he gets 10 touches a game he should be worth starting as a flex.

38. Felix Jones, DAL – Impressive yards per carry (8.9) and a TD every 10.7 touches last year so with more touches this year will come more production.

39. Fred Taylor, NE – Won’t carry the load and may not get the goal line carries so despite the good situation won’t likely do anything special.

40. Jamaal Charles, KC – Should at worst be their top receiver out of the backfield and possibly much more as he’s a good fit for a spread attack.

41. Ricky Williams, MIA – Brown trade rumors do bode well for him as he will at worst get 35-40% of the touches.

42. Leon Washington, NYJ – Coming off his best season he’s a threat o get a TD anytime and his role in the passing game is increasing so a nice depth option.

43. Sammy Morris, NE – Addition of Taylor does hurt a lot but he might still be their top goal line back since Taylor’s not a great one.

44. Chester Taylor, MIN – Keeps plugging along and does well with his touches but really need a Peterson injury to have serious value.

45. Fred Jackson, BUF – Nice player and Lynch suspended for three games but addition of Rhodes throws a monkey wrench into his fantasy plan this year.

46. Jerious Norwood, ATL – Had 5.1 yards per carry and a TD every 22 touches last year so he’s a viable flex starter.

47. Le’Ron McClain, BAL – A fine fall back plan again if McGahee falls off again otherwise won’t likely get nearly as many touches at FB this year.

48. Maurice Morris, DET – Quality player and the new regime did bring him in but he won’t likely get many goal line carries.

49. J.J. Arrington, DEN – Should have a role similar to Kevin Faulk’s for McDaniels and has some upside as a depth option for fantasy.

50. Justin Fargas. OAK – He still managed to rack up 853 yards on 219 carries and he’s back so will continue to get carries.

Category: Fantasy Football

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16 Responses

  1. Brian Snyder says:

    To me, this screams of a directional change (although, I’ve been doing it for a couple years now) in drafting of rb’s. The disparity of value at the top doesn’t seem to be as great as in the past. If I can get guys like Westy, D Williams, Barber, Gore, Slaton and Grant outside the top 10 backs, sign me up. I’ve been going away from rb/rb drafting for a few years now with great results and this just seems to strengthen my case to go rb/wr or even wr/rb.

  2. Dan says:

    Nice top 4 but I think C Johnson should be in the mix for top 5. #’s 5, 6, 8, 10, 11 all have issues – whats new but those need an eye kept on.

    From a Pats point of view, Maroney… I’m just tired of it.

  3. Alex says:


    Westbrook is undervalued. That online will be put together and if they can find a decent TE in the draft they could have just enough playmakers to let westbrook loose.


  4. Jason says:

    I’m surprised you have Michael Turner as your #2 overall RB. According to your SOS initial thoughts, Turner has a brutal schedule vs the run with 9 or 10 opponents who are capable of slowing him down. Plus you pointed out that Turner could be limited by a good defense as demonstrated in 2008. So if you are anticipating a bit of a fall back for the Falcons as a whole, how can you rank Turner second overall?

    Other than Turner, which just surprised me more than anything, can’t really argue much with the list. I’d still take Turner in any league.

  5. John Hansen says:

    Jason, I just need someone to step up and show me they should be ranked #2, which could certainly happen. SOS is just one factor out of many, too, and I won’t make dramatic moves because of it. If they get a top TE this weekend that will help their offense a ton and Turner.

    As for Westbrook, I’m anticipating the Eagles taking Donald Brown or Knowshon Moreno, and that they will then actually use their rookie RB.

    I love Johnson as much as anyone, but White’s in good shape in a contract year and will likely score 80% of their short TDs. He could easily move over Jackson, of course, if Jackson has anything negative this summer.

  6. Jason says:

    Actually, the signing of Gonzalez bumped Turner up in my rankings. :)

    And you are like the voice from heaven. Speak! and it shall be so! You say, “If they get a top TE”, the Falcons owner wakes up suddenly from a deep sleep and proceeds to grab Tony Gonzalez that day.

    I have Forte ahead of Turner, and Steven Jackson is nose to nose with Turner after this signing. He’s solidly up in the second tier for me. Of course my newest league is an auction contract league that starts in a week. So I don’t have to rank them so much as try to get any of them at value.

  7. Stretch says:

    I feel T.J. Duckett should have at least crack the top 50. J. Fargas and the Raiders please. Seattle have an above average O-line plus T.J will get all the goal line carries. He will be a lock for 8-10 TDs.

  8. jason tapley says:

    i am goign to tear you up in the fppc if we are in the same league hansen, get ready i hear you joined

  9. John Hansen says:

    I am ready my friend, and all my tips and strategies are on the site for all to see.

  10. jason tapley says:

    your tips helped me finish 3rd overall in the ffpc last year so keep them coming

  11. petenic says:


    Great early RB list! I see a big drop off after the first 10 RB’s (thus RB should be the first draft pick, yet again). Jamaal Charles, Felix Jones, Fred Jackson, L.Washington, & D.Sproles will be screaming value in ’09! Jonathan Stewart & Ronnie Brown will be those 4th round picks, that turn into #1 fantasy studs.

  12. Chris Becker says:

    A lot of questions at RB this year, so to me it’s paramount to get a good one in the 1st round. Suprised to see Gore so low with his stud talent, otherwise the GURU is pretty much on the money as usual. I think Jacobs cracks the top 5 if healthy with ease and R Bush is typical feast or famine.

  13. John Hansen says:

    Jason, give us a testimonial on that one, nice job!

  14. jason tapley says:

    will do, thanks for your help

  15. jason tapley says:

    John, where is the testimonial options? Thanks

  16. Scott Beaudin says:

    The more I read this string on RB’s, I wonder if AP will be the first RB to go over 20 td’s since LT’s 2006 campaign. I know he will most likely put up the yards again, but what kind of TD’s can we expect with all the changes Minn has made in the off season?

    John – I know you will have the specifics when your projections are released, but could you give us a sneak peak on what you expect from AP this year. His first 5 games are ridiculous.

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