Thursday, August 6, 2009

2009 Fantasy Football Cheat Sheet - RB

Other cheat sheets:
QB | WR | RB | TE
  1. Adrian Peterson, Minnesota Vikings - I've closed the gap between #1 and #2, but I've still got Peterson at the top. The advantage of Peterson is that we've seen him be productive with the full-time starter job now, and he was still fantastic. Favre would've probably helped Peterson's production, but either way, he's my #1.
  2. Maurice Jones-Drew, Jacksonville Jaguars - Jones-Drew could be the best player in fantasy football when the year comes to a close. By the end of last year, he was already looking like a surefire top 5 pick this season, and that was with the assumption that he still wasn't going to get full-time carries. With Fred Taylor ring-hunting in New England, MJD looks like a good bet to explode.
  3. Michael Turner, Atlanta Falcons - What I like about Turner is what we all used to like about Rudi Johnson. He doesn't have bad games, he scores a lot, gets a lot of yards. Turner seems a lot faster than Johnson was, though, and he's on a team that seems headed in the right direction.
  4. DeAngelo Williams, Carolina Panthers - I read somewhere that a 60/40 time share with Jonathan Stewart will hurt Williams' ability to produce this year. Last year, while Williams was destroying defenses, the ratio was 273/184, or 59.7/40.3. You'll have to excuse me if I don't think Stewart's presence will cause that much damage.
  5. LaDainian Tomlinson, San Diego Chargers - Tomlinson is in the most precarious position he's seen in nearly a decade. His production has slipped a little in the past couple of years, and his backup (Darren Sproles) was slapped with a franchise tag. News flash: You don't pay a true backup running back $7 million. Sproles will cut into Tomlinson's playing time. How much will depend on Tomlinson.
  6. Matt Forte, Chicago Bears - The part of Forte's game that is most impressive is his ability to produce as a receiver. While swapping out Kyle Orton for Jay Cutler will likely result in more of a downfield passing attack, stretching the field should give Forte more room to run. I expect a marginal decline in receiving yards, but a pleasant uptick in his ground attack.
  7. Steven Jackson, St. Louis Rams - Jackson has frustrated owners for several years now, with amazing production but inconsistent health. If he can stay on the field all season, both he and the Rams could see a revival. If not, he'll just be another running back who under-produced.
  8. Brandon Jacobs, New York Giants - Jacobs makes opposing defenses cringe when he comes barreling out of the backfield. He's as big as a defensive end, but he's got surprising speed as well. He'll pile up touchdowns and get solid yardage, and just generally make you happy you drafted him.
  9. Frank Gore, San Francisco 49ers - Gore was a solid if unspectacular option at running back. But in 2007, he was all spectacle. Between the two seasons, he's shown he can be both reliable and explosive. I like that combination.
  10. Brian Westbrook, Philadelphia Eagles - He's never been the model of consistency, and he's getting older now. People say, "He didn't get that many carries early on." True, but he still walked around and lived his life, and he practiced as much as his oft-injured body would allow. He's got enough miles and enough unpredictability that he'll never end up on my team.
  11. Marion Barber, Dallas Cowboys - Barber technically played in 15 games last year, but in the last five games he was too banged up to factor into the offense. He's a touchdown hawk, and a punishing runner. Barber is also a nice contributor in the passing game, giving him another way to grab you a few bonus points.
  12. Steve Slaton, Houston Texans - Slaton was a late season surprise, posting six games of 100+ combined rushing/receiving yards in the second half. He figures to be the featured back from week one this year, which at least gives him the opportunity to excel. He also works well in the passing game, catching at least four passes in five different games.
  13. Chris Johnson, Tennessee Titans - Johnson was explosive in a time share with LenDale White last season, reaching 160 total yards in three different games. He averaged 4.9 yards per carry, a number that figures to drop a bit this year as he gets more consistent carries. Even so, he'll likely be a great producer, and he's got top 5 upside.
  14. Clinton Portis, Washington Redskins - Portis started the season on fire, including five straight weeks of 120+ rushing yards. His second half was a different story, though, averaging 68 yards per game and scoring just two TDs. He's also invisible in the passing game. Portis is a reliable starter without any legitimate competition behind him, so draft him like he's Deuce McAllister of yore.
  15. Pierre Thomas, New Orleans Saints - Speaking of Deuce, here's the guy replacing him. Thomas only got substantial carries in seven games last year, and he averaged over 5 yards a carry in those games. He also scored nine touchdowns in those games. While the Saints continue to be a pass-happy squad, Thomas is the featured back in the most potent offense in the NFL. I'm buying.
  16. Kevin Smith, Detroit Lions - It's been years since a Lion has been a big time fantasy factor at running back, but Kevin Smith (not that Kevin Smith) looks like he's changing all that. Once he got consistent carries last season, he was productive. While Detroit is still a ways off from being an offense you want to invest in, Smith will fall backwards into a thousand yards, and could be quite a bit better.
  17. Ryan Grant, Green Bay Packers - The big time surprise from 2007 was less explosive but still solid in 2008. You wish he were a bigger part of such a potent passing attack, but consistent, solid rushing yards have their value as well. He's not an exciting pick, but he could be good value if he sniffs the end zone a little more ("sniffs" is the metaphor there, not "end zone").
  18. Thomas Jones, New York Jets - Who has two thumbs and was in the top five in both rushing yards and rushing touchdowns last season? This guy. You're right not to expect the same kind of production this year, with the Jets' passing game in a sad state, but you'd be wrong to avoid Jones altogether. It's obvious he can produce.
  19. Ronnie Brown, Miami Dolphins - Brown wasn't particularly good in 2008, outside of a couple of games, but he was coming off of a knee injury that may have made him tentative. After getting through all 16 games last season, Brown should be more confident, leading to more productivity.
  20. Larry Johnson, Kansas City Chiefs - The Chiefs are looking at a new QB, new coach, and their first season in over a decade without Tony Gonzalez. In a situation like that, you have to think that they'd like to be able to rely on the ground game. If Johnson can avoid the injury bug, this is a great opportunity for him to bounce back in a big way.
  21. Joseph Addai, Indianapolis Colts - Addai was one of the bigger disappointments last season, due both to injury and unspectacular play. Fantasy football owners have always liked what Addai can bring to the table, but the Colts drafted Donald Brown in the first round, so he'll clearly play. Addai could muscle Brown into a minimal role, but more likely is a time share that hurts both players' values.
  22. Reggie Bush, New Orleans Saints - Bush was fairly productive last season before getting hurt in week 7, specifically in the passing game. He had four 60+ receiving yard games and three receiving touchdowns. In the Saints' offense, Bush translates to a 30-40% share of the RB play plus a third wide receiver. The sum is a pretty productive RB2.
  23. Jonathan Stewart, Carolina Panthers - I've heard a lot of talk about the Panthers' running backs and how one will take carries away from the other. But people forget that neither back really got going until they both did. There's little doubt in my mind that both will be productive this season. The only person likely to suffer is Muhsin Muhammad.
  24. Marshawn Lynch, Buffalo Bills - Lynch is suspended for the first four games of this season for a hit-and-run he perpetrated last year and a gun charge in February. He isn't a stud, and doesn't appear to have that makeup in him. But adding Terrell Owens to an offense does tend to open up the running game, so Lynch could be lining up for the best 12 games of his career.
  25. Darren McFadden, Oakland Raiders - You think I like this? I hate recommending any Raiders player at any point. But the reality is that McFadden is four healthy months from being the next big thing. If he can get consistent carries and stay off the shelf, I absolutely believe that he can become a legitimate starting running back.
  26. Willie Parker, Pittsburgh Steelers - There's no doubt that the Steelers will be looking to get Rashard Mendenhall involved in the offense, probably to a fairly large extent. But Parker's the man now, and he's shown what he can do with sufficient opportunity.
  27. Derrick Ward, Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Ward was phenomenal working alongside (and occasionally in place of) Brandon Jacobs. While Tampa still likes Carnell Williams, they didn't bring Ward in to let him ride the pine. He'll get his shots, and should be solid.
  28. LenDale White, Tennessee Titans - I am not at all crazy about White. He managed a couple of great games, but also laid several eggs (4 games with under 15 total yards). Still, he's got a big body that he's able to plant in the end zone with some consistency, so he's got value.
  29. Knowshon Moreno, Denver Broncos - Mike Shanahan is out of town, which means that this year is the best chance for a single productive running back out of Denver since Terrell Davis. Moreno probably has the best chance at being that guy, but he's no sure thing. The upside is there, though, which makes him worthwhile as an early backup RB.
  30. Willie Parker, Pittsburgh Steelers - Parker's days were numbered the moment the Steelers drafted Rashard Mendenhall in 2008. Fast Willie had a few good games, but even after Mendenhall went out for the season, Parker didn't seem to have the same pep in his step. He's a candidate to bounce back, but he's also a candidate to vanish altogether.
  31. Chris Wells, Arizona Cardinals - "Beanie" Wells had a nice career at Ohio State, and the Cardinals acquired him as their replacement for Edgerrin James. He'll split time with Tim Hightower, who may steal goal line carries. It's one of those situations that pretty much demand that you draft both guys, and I hate those situations.
  32. Jamal Lewis, Cleveland Browns - Lewis notched his seventh career 1,000 yard season, but scored only four touchdowns. Part of that can be attributed to the Browns' anemic passing game, but there aren't many reasons to think it'll be any better this year. If you draft Lewis, you're sort of investing in Brady Quinn turning around the passing attack, as well.
  33. Cedric Benson, Cincinnati Bengals - By the end of the season, Benson was looking more and more like a normal running back. He averaged 100 yards a game in those games in which he received 20 or more carries, which suggest he could be solid. There's no one of considerable quality behind him, so he'll be given the chance to succeed.
  34. Julius Jones, Seattle Seahawks - Jones is the starter in Seattle, but that's really all there is to be excited about with him. He averaged just 46 yards per game last year, and this year T.J. Duckett figures to again vulture goal-line carries. Houshmandzadeh's impact on this offense won't be that profound.
  35. Darren Sproles, San Diego Chargers - As I said, no way the Chargers are paying a return guy $7 million this year. Sproles is going to get some legitimate playing time, and if something happens to LT, Sproles immediately becomes a top 20 running back, at least. A vital handcuff for Tomlinson owners.
  36. Le'Ron McClain and Willis McGahee, Baltimore Ravens - I'm putting these guys together because you simply cannot draft them seperately. That means that these guys really only make sense if you've got a wrap-around pick in a snake draft. Otherwise, you're making a foolish move, as it's a true 40/40 chance on who starts (with Ray Rice accounting for the other 20 percent).
  37. Donald Brown, Indianapolis Colts - Brown was a first-round pick for the Colts, so you know they like him. There's a chance he ends up in a full timeshare with Addai, which means Brown isn't too bad as a bye week replacement. And of course, if Addai goes down, Brown is the inevitable beneficiary. Another important handcuff.
  38. Rashard Mendenhall, Pittsburgh Steelers - Mendenhall just seems like a Steelers running back. Strong, hard-nosed, and after losing the year due to injury against Baltimore, he's got sufficient disdain for the Ravens. Parker should start the season as the #1, but I get the feeling that any slip-up and the Steelers will go with Mendenhall.
  39. Tim Hightower, Arizona Cardinals - While he's not likely to get many yards, he's a threat for a touchdown every week. He also had 34 catches last year, and being a productive receiver will get you in the game when you're a Cardinal. Don't get too attached, though. Wells is the future in Arizona.
  40. Ricky Williams, Miami Dolphins - Williams has made Ronnie Brown owners crazy over the past couple of years, with retirements and returns. He's not young, and it's obvious that Brown is more talented, but Williams could steal just enough carries to be a nuisance. That's also the number of carries to make him worth stashing on your bench.

No comments:

Top 500 Songs - Dave Matthews Band

This was always going to be the hardest of my band lists, because I like so many of DMB's songs, and have liked them so differently over...