2010 Fantasy Football Rankings: Running Backs 21-40
By Steve Strange
By Steve Strange. Steve Strange, a graduate of Penn State's Center for Sports Journalism in 2006, is currently writing Fantasy is Reality, a book geared around the commissioner aspect of fantasy sports. Steve has been playing fantasy sports of all sorts and sizes since 1997. Feel free to e-mail Steve questions and comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.
These 2010 Fantasy Football Running Back Rankings will be updated often throughout the summer, so make sure you check back from time to time. Also, be sure to check out the other 2010 Fantasy Football articles, which will include sleepers, busts, tons of 2010 Fantasy Football mock drafts and other material.
Steve Strange's 2010 Fantasy Rankings - Running Backs (July 2):
Top 10 | 11-20 | 21-40 | 41-60
Walt's 2010 Fantasy Football Rankings: Running Backs
- Felix Jones, RB, Cowboys. Bye: 4.
Injuries and Marion Barber limited Jones to only 146 carries in his first two seasons, but Jones averaged 6.5 yards per carry. He's a candidate to explode this season.
What to Like: Jones was best on his biggest and most recent stage. He racked up an impressive 7.2 yards per carry, and amassed 269 yards, in the 2009 playoffs.
Concern: Marion Barber is a battering ram that spits energy and effort. He'll be tough to keep off the field.
X-Factor: Don't count out Tashard Choice. Choice sliced his piece of the Cowboys fantasy pie last year with 64 carries and 15 receptions. No reason to think he won't steal some snaps this year.
Jason Garrett has to be smart enough to get Jones the ball. When in doubt, bet on talent.
Projected 2010 Fantasy Stats: 1,000 rushing yards. 22 catches. 140 receiving yards. 7 total TDs.
- Jerome Harrison, RB, Browns. Bye: 8.
Harrison finished 2009 by rushing for 561 yards on 106 carries in three straight Browns victories. Mike Holmgren watched, and kept Eric Mangini. Human nature indicates that Mangini will trust Harrison with the rock this season.
What to Like: Harrison is now 27 years old. He's been in the league five years, but only has 271 carries. He's experienced and fresh.
Concern: The Browns drafted 225-pound Montario Hardesty in the second round of the 2010 NFL Draft. Most expect Hardesty to see work on game days.
X-Factor: Joe Thomas is a beast, Alex Mack is solid and Eric Steinbach could bounce back from a poor season. The offensive line will give Harrison holes to run through.
Some of my best friends are Tennessee fans so I watch a lot of Vols games. I was never overly impressed with Hardesty. I enter fantasy drafts believing that Harrison will see the bulk of the workload.
Projected 2010 Fantasy Stats: 840 rushing yards. 41 catches. 290 receiving yards. 5 total TDs.
- Pierre Thomas, RB, Saints. Bye: 10.
Pierre Thomas had 5.4 yards per carry last season, but his fantasy value was dwarfed by the magnitude of the Saints offensive weaponry.
What to Like: Pierre Thomas is a solid starting NFL running back. He catches, has some burst and runs for short yardage.
Concern: He's hurt by the success of those around him. Reggie Bush catches the majority of backfield receptions, while Marques Colston, Jeremy Shockey, Robert Meachem and Devery Henderson all feast on Drew Brees' greatness. There are only so many fantasy points to go around.
X-Factor: Mike Bell scored five touchdowns for the Saints last year, but he's now an Eagle. Losing the short-yardage back should help Thomas' fantasy value, and could allow him to get back to his 12-touchdown 2008 form.
Including the playoffs, Thomas finished 2009 with eight straight sub-70 yard rushing games. I have trouble trusting him as a week-to-week starter.
Projected 2010 Fantasy Stats: 740 rushing yards. 30 catches. 280 receiving yards. 8 total TDs.
- Matt Forte, RB, Bears. Bye: 8.
Arguably the biggest bust of 2009 had a very busy offseason. Arthroscopic surgery, and the additions of Mike Martz and Chester Taylor, makes it almost impossible to project Forte's true value.
What to Like: From the Rams to Lions to 49ers, Mike Martz specializes in conducting weekly fantasy football parties. He throws the ball all over the place, and running backs are in on the deal.
Concern: Chester Taylor, in my opinion, is the better running back. The Bears didn't sign him to a 4-year $12.5 million contract for the fun of it.
X-Factor: Forte only averaged 3.6 yards per rush last season, and some questioned the offensive line. The Bears waited until the seventh round to draft their first lineman (J'Marcus Webb of West Texas A&M) and committed $84 million to Julius Peppers. The Bears actions point the blame to Forte.
Forte is a projected starting pass-catcher for Mike Martz.
Projected 2010 Fantasy Stats: 800 rushing yards. 31 catches. 260 receiving yards. 7 total TDs.
- Jahvid Best, RB, Lions. Bye: 7.
Lions Coach Jim Schwartz in the May 3, 2010 edition of Sports Illustrated: "Some people watch adult videos on their computer. I go to YouTube and watch Jahvid Best highlight clips. That's what gets me aroused.” Sounds like a pretty good endorsement to me.
What to Like: Best is a burner whom the Lions drafted in the first round. Kevin Smith is still recovering from major knee surgery.
Concern: Smith had a down 2009, but was good in 2008. He's familiar with the team, and is sure to eat some carries. Like all RBBC situations, keep an eye on the preseason.
X-Factor: Jahvid Best's time at Cal was disrupted by surgeries and a concussion. People hit hard in the NFL.
Why not draft some upside at this point?
Projected 2010 Fantasy Stats: 740 rushing yards. 39 catches. 340 receiving yards. 5 total TDs.
- Chester Taylor, RB, Bears. Bye: 8.
Chester Taylor was one of the best running backs in the league in 2006. Then, in the 2007 NFL Draft, teams like the Buccaneers, Cardinals and Redskins drafted the late Gaines Adams, Levi Brown and LaRon Landry over Adrian Peterson. The Vikings were forced to take the second coming of Jim Brown, and Taylor was stuck on vulture duty for the last three years.
What to Like: Chester Taylor has had over 40 receptions (in limited duty) four times over the past five seasons. Now he's joined with pass-happy Mike Martz.
Concern: Even in Taylor's best case scenario, the bigger Forte likely handles goal-line duties.
X-Factor: Historically, Mike Martz doesn't like to pass to the tight end, and the Bears have no big-time receivers. With Martz giving gunslinger Jay Cutler the green light, somebody is going to get a ton of catches in this offense. Why can't it be Taylor?
Offensive line coach Mike Tice is employing a new run-blocking scheme that is energizing the team. I have Taylor ranked higher than most, but how can't you love his upside?
Projected 2010 Fantasy Stats: 650 rushing yards. 42 catches. 370 receiving yards. 5 total TDs.
- Brandon Jacobs, RB, Giants. Bye: 8.
Jacobs ran for five yards per carry and had 15 touchdowns in 2008. He had 3.7 yards per rush and scored six touchdowns last year. He's 28, and it's time to find out who Brandon Jacobs really is.
What to Like: It's hard to stop an angry 256 pounds at the goal line.
Concern: Ahmad Bradshaw runs hard. He outshined Jacobs last season.
X-Factor: Guard Chris Snee and center Shaun O'Hara are still first-rate interior blockers.
Jacobs gets hurt a lot and doesn't catch many passes. He needs to get all the short-yardage rushing touchdowns to live up to his true fantasy value.
Projected 2010 Fantasy Stats: 910 rushing yards. 10 catches. 80 receiving yards. 11 total TDs.
- Cadillac Williams, RB, Buccaneers. Bye: 4.
I'll never forget Caddy's 2005 rookie season when he rushed for 1,178 yards. John Gruden loved Cadillac. He was supposed to be a stud for years to come, but injuries limited him to just 10 games in 2007 and 2008.
What to Like: Williams has fought his way from injury death to fantasy relevance. He had 210 carries last year as Tampa Bay's starting running back.
Concern: Derrick Ward still has a nice contract, and Earnest Graham never truly goes away. Even if Cadillac remains the starter, his carries and receptions will get gobbled up.
X-Factor: The Buccaneers are a bad team. The 2009 Bucs had five rushing touchdowns, and similar results are projected for this year's squad.
Cadillac Williams runs so hard he hurts himself. Even if Williams stays injury-free, he's still a part-time starter on a bad team.
Projected 2010 Fantasy Stats: 810 rushing yards. 30 catches. 230 receiving yards. 7 total TDs.
- Clinton Portis, RB, Redskins. Bye: 9.
Portis is only 28 years old, and has been named Mike Shanahan's starting running back. You can make an argument he should be higher on this list.
What to Like: For all the injury concerns, Portis had played in 41 straight games until missing the final eight contests of last season with concussion issues. Portis had 1,487 rushing yards in 2008.
Concern: The Redskins offensive line is expected to be bad in 2010. Chris Samuels retired, and first-round pick Trent Williams should endure an adjustment period.
X-Factor: The Redskins backfield is crowded. Larry Johnson is a major threat to win the starting job, and Willie Parker may steal some carries. Brian Westbrook might sign with Washington, and that would be a knockout blow to Portis' fantasy value.
There are so many major plusses and minuses that clash together in trying to rank Portis. Mike Shanahan made backs like Olandis Gary and Tatum Bell huge fantasy factors. If Portis hangs on to the job, he has serious value. Embed your eyeballs to the Redskins running back situation for the next eight months.
Projected 2010 Fantasy Stats: 990 rushing yards. 18 catches. 130 receiving yards. 5 total TDs.
- Marion Barber, RB, Cowboys. Bye: 4.
Barber has been a steady source of consistent fantasy play for the last three seasons.
What to Like: Even if Felix Jones takes the majority of carries, Barber is still a beast at the goal line. Jones gets hurt a lot, so Barber has that going for him as well.
Concern: They only play NFL games with one football. Jason Witten and Tony Romo are still BFFs, Dez Bryant was added in the 2010 NFL Draft, Miles Austin isn't going anywhere, and Roy Williams is comparing himself to Jerry Rice.
X-Factor: Flozell Adams was cut, and Marc Colombo allowed three sacks in the playoff loss to Minnesota. The Cowboys offensive line needs to quickly gel, and provide some consistency in 2010.
Barber should be steady, but unspectacular. He's a good bye week fill-in or flex option in deeper leagues.
Projected 2010 Fantasy Stats: 700 rushing yards. 25 catches. 220 receiving yards. 7 total TDs.
- Reggie Bush, RB, Saints. Bye: 10.
Bush was a key factor in the Saints Super Bowl run, and is carrying a lot of positive NFL momentum into 2010.
What to Like: In 2009, Bush's carries and receptions decreased, but he was explosive when he touched the ball. Bush never averaged more than four yards per carry in a season until racking up 5.6 per rush last year.
Concern: Bush is a running back who doesn't carry the ball that much. It's been 15 games since Bush has hit double-digit rush attempts.
X-Factor: How will Bush react to destroying USC's program? Is he determined to vindicate his image with superb on-field play? Or do the distractions hurt his mind?
Bush is an electrifying 25-year-old on a really good offense. He's somebody to be aware of.
Projected 2010 Fantasy Stats: 450 rushing yards. 50 catches. 360 receiving yards. 6 total TDs.
- Ricky Williams, RB, Dolphins. Bye: 5.
Williams drew venom usually reserved for those who organize dog fights or shoot themselves when he retired in August of 2004. Williams seemed to anger people by simply stepping away from a game he no longer had passion for. In 2009, Williams officially completed one of the greatest comeback performances of all time. He ran for 1,121 yards, and perennial doubters were silenced.
What to Like: Williams' hiatus lengthened his career by limiting abuse absorbed. Williams sounds happy with the state of the Dolphins. He's a fresh, excited 33-year-old.
Concern: The reality is that 2009 was Ricky Williams' best season since 2003. Everything in between was filled with drugs and introspection.
X-Factor: Ronnie Brown is still the man, and Brandon Marshall might not mesh with the Wildcat. Who would have thought the main question mark surrounding Ricky Williams would be playing time?
Miami is married to the Wildcat which keeps Williams on the field. He showed last season that he's still dynamic.
Projected 2010 Fantasy Stats: 750 rushing yards. 30 catches. 225 receiving yards. 5 total TDs.
- Ben Tate, RB, Texans. Bye: 7.
It seems the 220-pound second-round pick is the favorite to win the starting gig.
What to Like: Tate rushed for 1,362 yards as an Auburn Tiger in 2009, with the bulk of his carries coming against hard-hitting SEC defenses.
Concern: Steve Slaton is a bona fide home run threat. Slaton's 2009 season was derailed by a neck injury and fumbling problems, but the talent is there. Don't discount him.
X-Factor: Tate might be able to power Slaton into third-down duty submission, but 222-pound Arian Foster had 54 carries in his final four games last season. Every touch Foster gets is a direct blow to Tate's fantasy value.
The Texans run-blocking is questionable, but the offense is explosive. The guy who wins the starting running back job has big value.
Projected 2010 Fantasy Stats: 730 rushing yards. 26 catches. 195 receiving yards. 5 total TDs.
- C.J. Spiller, RB, Bills. Bye: 6.
Spiller had 21 touchdowns last year as a Clemson Tiger. He's a playmaker.
What to Like: The Bills took Spiller with the ninth overall pick. Keep in mind the Bills are a bad team that needed help at most positions. They want him on the field.
Concern: Fred Jackson is a sold all-around back who had 1,062 yards rushing and 46 receptions last season. Spiller needs to electrify often to keep Jackson on the sidelines.
X-Factor: Unhappy Marshawn Lynch is now attending practice. Lynch is a battering ram who can catch, and the Bills need to use his talent if they don't trade him.
Spiller's competing against two proven, talented backs, and the Bills have no passing game. He's not in the best situation. Is his talent enough to overcome it?
Projected 2010 Fantasy Stats: 530 rushing yards. 41 catches. 310 receiving yards. 4 total TDs.
- Laurence Maroney, RB, Patriots. Bye: 5.
Now is the time to buy low on Maroney. If he ever lives up to his potential, you steal a stud. With 34 other running backs down, the value is there.
What to Like: Maroney had nine touchdowns in 2009. He had more carries (194) than Sammy Morris and Fred Taylor combined.
Concern: Maroney has burned a lot of fantasy owners the last couple of seasons. Everyone keeps expecting big things, and Maroney keeps churning out 750-yard rushing seasons.
X-Factor: His most recent memories are bad ones: deactivated in Week 17, and one carry in the wildcard disaster against Baltimore.
Maroney is a talented 25-year-old entering a contract season. He lines up behind Tom Brady in a prolific Patriots offense. Take the calculated risk and envision the upside.
Projected 2010 Fantasy Stats: 800 rushing yards. 9 catches. 80 receiving yards. 9 total TDs.
- Tim Hightower, RB, Cardinals. Bye: 6.
Tim Hightower has shown toughness and pass-catching ability in two impressive NFL seasons.
What to Like: Alan Faneca is a future Hall of Famer, and he'll improve the Cardinals running game.
Concern: Hightower only hit double-digit carries once in his final seven games last season. The Cardinals began grooming Beanie Wells last season, and Hightower is stuck behind him.
X-Factor: Wells gets hurt a lot. While Beanie doesn't miss a lot of games, he's always nicked up. Hightower only needs a small window of opportunity.
At worst, Hightower is a reliable bye week fill-in. At best, Beanie goes down and Timmy explodes.
Projected 2010 Fantasy Stats: 430 rushing yards. 49 catches. 375 receiving yards. 4 total TDs.
- Steve Slaton, RB, Texans. Bye: 7.
Steve Slaton entered 2009 as a fantasy stud, and left with a neck injury and a fumbling problem.
What to Like: Slaton's explosive and young. In 2008 he tore it up (1,282 rushing yards, 50 receptions and 10 touchdowns). He's only 24 years old.
Concern: Steve Slaton owners watched in horror as he was benched in Week 8 against Buffalo after one carry (and one fumble) last season. With Ben Tate in town, and Arian Foster emerging, Slaton has no room for fumbling errors this season.
X-Factor: Slaton has amassed 94 receptions in just two seasons. He's lighter and quicker than Tate and Foster. So at the very worst, Slaton should see work on third downs.
Arian Foster never impressed me as a Tennessee Volunteer. Ben Tate is a rookie, so that makes him a question mark. Slaton is now practicing and his upside is enormous.
Projected 2010 Fantasy Stats: 450 rushing yards. 43 catches. 410 receiving yards. 4 total TDs.
- Darren McFadden, RB, Raiders. Bye: 10.
Run DMC regressed last season. He got injured (again), and only ran for 3.4 yards per rush.
What to Like: This is the same guy who had 17 touchdowns and ran for 1,830 yards as an Arkansas Razorback in 2007. McFadden is hiding that talent and burst somewhere.
Concern: Justin Fargas is gone, but Michael Bush is still plowing in Silver and Black. Bush was the Raiders best running back last season, averaging 4.8 yards per rush.
X-Factor: The Raiders offensive line is inconsistent and underachieving. If Tom Cable really is a good offensive line coach, now is the time to prove it.
McFadden and Bush are staring at a dead-even timeshare. You might as well gamble on the upside of the highly paid former fourth-overall pick.
Projected 2010 Fantasy Stats: 625 rushing yards. 30 catches. 300 receiving yards. 4 total TDs.
- Justin Forsett, RB, Seahawks. Bye: 5.
Jim Mora Jr. was probably one of the few people in America who thought Julius Jones deserved more carries than Justin Forsett last season.
What to Like: In 2009, Forsett averaged 5.4 yards per rush, and had 41 receptions in limited field time.
Concern: OK, LenDale White is gone. Now Forsett just needs to beat out Leon Washington, Quinton Ganther and Jones for carries. It's always hard to tell if Pete Carroll's telling the truth, but he's claiming the starting running back spot is wide open.
X-Factor: The Seahawks waited until the last possible minute to fill Walter Jones' left tackle spot, selecting Russell Okung with the sixth-overall pick. Okung needs to quickly adjust to the NFL game.
Seattle's running back situation is a mess, but the smart money is on Forsett.
Projected 2010 Fantasy Stats: 630 rushing yards. 31 catches. 310 receiving yards. 3 total TDs.
- Ahmad Bradshaw, RB, Giants. Bye: 8.
Bradshaw enters 2010 in a race with Brandon Jacobs to see who can get injured first.
What to Like: Bradshaw runs at 5.2 YPC career clip. He certainly has explosion and quickness (two attributes that Jacobs lacks).
Concern: Bradshaw only has 28 career regular season receptions in three NFL seasons. A back of Bradshaw's speedy nature needs to catch the ball more.
X-Factor: Andre Brown missed his entire rookie season with a ruptured Achilles tendon. It sounds like he's fully recovered, and some are labeling Brown as a sleeper. If Browns steals snaps, it kills Bradshaw's fantasy value.
Bradshaw is fun to watch, but he doesn't touch the ball enough to truly help your fantasy team.
Projected 2010 Fantasy Stats: 690 rushing yards. 22 catches. 215 receiving yards. 5 total TDs.
Steve Strange's 2010 Fantasy Rankings - Running Backs (July 2):
Top 10 | 11-20 | 21-40 | 41-60
Walt's 2010 Fantasy Football Rankings: Running Backs
More 2010 Fantasy Football Articles:
2010 Fantasy Football: Home
2010 Fantasy Football Rankings:
2010 Fantasy Football Playoff Rankings - 1/5 (Walt)
2010 Fantasy Football: Week 17 Fantasy Rankings - 1/2 (Walt)
2010 Fantasy Football Rankings: Quarterbacks - 8/31 (Walt)
2010 Fantasy Football Rankings: Quarterbacks - 6/6 (Steve)
2010 Fantasy Football Rankings: Running Backs - 9/6 (Walt)
2010 Fantasy Football Rankings: Running Backs - 7/3 (Steve)
2010 Fantasy Football Rankings: Wide Receivers - 9/7 (Walt)
2010 Fantasy Football Rankings: Wide Receivers - 7/14 (Steve)
2010 Fantasy Football Rankings: Tight Ends - 8/31 (Walt)
2010 Fantasy Football Rankings: Tight Ends - 7/20 (Steve)
2010 Fantasy Football Rankings: Kickers - 6/10 (Walt)
2010 Fantasy Football Rankings: Defenses - 6/11 (Walt)
2010 Fantasy Football Auction Values - 9/2 (Walt)
2010 Fantasy Football Rankings: IDP Defensive Linemen - 8/3 (Steve)
2010 Fantasy Football Rankings: IDP Linebackers - 8/7 (Steve)
2010 Fantasy Football Rankings: IDP Defensive Backs - 8/14 (Steve)
2010 Fantasy Football Rankings: Team-by-Team - 6/7 (Walt)
2010 Fantasy Football Rankings: Dynasty Rookie Rankings - 4/30 (Walt)
2010 Fantasy Football Rankings: Rookie Rankings - 4/29 (Walt)
2010 Fantasy Football Cheat Sheets:
2010 Fantasy Football Cheat Sheet: Top 150 Traditional - 9/6 (Walt)
2010 Fantasy Football Cheat Sheet: Top 150 PPR - 9/6 (Walt)
2010 Fantasy Football Cheat Sheet: Top 150 Touchdown League - 9/6 (Walt)
2010 Fantasy Football Rankings: Downloadable Spreadsheets - 9/7 (Walt)
2010 Fantasy Football Mock Drafts:
2010 Fantasy Football Draft: WF.com Free League - 9/7 (Walt)
2010 Fantasy Football Draft: Real Traditional Draft - 9/1 (Walt)
2010 Fantasy Football Draft: Real PPR Draft - 8/26 (Walt)
2010 Fantasy Football Draft: Real PPR Draft - 8/18 (Walt)
2010 Fantasy Football Draft: Real Experts PPR Draft - 8/12 (Walt)
2010 Fantasy Football Experts Mock Draft - 8/12 (Walt)
2010 Fantasy Football Draft: Pros vs. Joes - 7/28 (Walt)
2010 Fantasy Football Mock Draft: PPR Draft with AKA - 7/20 (Walt)
2010 Fantasy Football Mock Draft: Mocking ESPN's Fantasy Mock Draft - 7/7 (Walt)
2010 Fantasy Football Mock Draft: The Four-Man PPR Fantasy Draft - 7/1 (Walt)
2010 Fantasy Football Articles:
2010 Fantasy Football Injury Reports: Week 17 - 1/2 (Walt)
2010 Fantasy Football: Start Em, Sit Em - 12/29 (Walt)
2010 Fantasy Football: Add/Drop - 12/20 (Walt)
2010 Fantasy Football: Stock Index - Week 8 - 10/29 (John)
2010 Fantasy Football Buffet: Week 8 - 10/28 (Steve)
2010 Fantasy Football Stock - 9/7 (Walt)
2010 Fantasy Football Preseason Stock - 9/3 (Walt)
2010 NFL Preseason Recap, Fantasy Football Notes - 9/3 (Walt)
2010 Fantasy Football: High-Upside Late-Round Sleepers - 8/25 (Walt)
2010 Fantasy Football: Top 12 Players to Avoid - 8/25 (Walt)
2010 Fantasy Football: Undervalued Players - 8/13 (John)
2010 Fantasy Football: Buy Low - 8/6 (Walt)
ESPN's 2010 Fantasy Football Magazine Errors - 8/3 (Walt)
2010 Fantasy Football: Defense Strategy - 8/2 (Walt)
2010 Fantasy Football: My Round-by-Round Strategy - 7/27 (Walt)
Lack of 2010 Fantasy Depth: Blame the 2008 NFL Draft Class - 7/26 (John)
2010 Fantasy Football: Why You Should Pass on Chris Johnson - 7/14 (John)
2010 Fantasy Football: Draft Strategies - 7/13 (John)
2010 Fantasy Football: Wide Receiver Scarcity - 6/30 (Walt)
2010 Fantasy Football Sleepers (Late-Round) - 6/2 (Walt)
2010 Fantasy Football Sleepers (Mid-Round) - 6/1 (Walt)
2010 Fantasy Football Busts - 5/31 (Walt)
2010 Fantasy Football Mailbag - 5/29 (Walt)
2010 Fantasy Football: Quarterbacks with New Receivers - 5/1 (Walt)
2010 Fantasy Football: 2010 NFL Draft Stock Up - 4/29 (Walt)
2010 Fantasy Football: 2010 NFL Draft Stock Down - 4/29 (Walt)
2010 Fantasy Football: Free Agency Stock Up - 4/15 (Walt)
2010 Fantasy Football: Free Agency Stock Down - 4/12 (Walt)
Running Backs with Most Carries - 4/10 (Walt)
2013 Fantasy Football Rankings - May 21
2014 NFL Mock Draft - May 21
Charlie's 2014 NFL Mock Draft - May 20
2013 NBA Mock Draft - May 3
NFL Picks - Feb. 3
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