There will be many more 2010 Fantasy Football Rankings and features in the late spring and summer, including tons of 2010 Fantasy Football Mock Drafts, Player Rankings, Sleepers and Busts. I'll also have an extensive 2010 NFL Fantasy Football Preseason Stock Report.
2010 Fantasy Football Rankings - Top 100 (May 21):
Adrian Peterson, RB, Vikings
Along with almost everyone else, I had Adrian Peterson No. 1 in my overall fantasy rankings (non-PPR) last year. Having said that, I wasn't as convinced as others that he was a sure thing. Brad Childress took away goal-line carries from Peterson and gave them to Chester Taylor in 2008. Peterson also wasn't as much of a factor in the passing game.
I don't know what happened to Childress, but he somehow realized that giving the ball to Peterson was best for his team (until Peterson fumbled 5,000 times in the NFC Championship). Peterson received all of the goal-line work and scored 18 touchdowns. He was also more of a factor in the passing game, as he caught 43 passes (his previous career-high for a season was 21).
With Chester Taylor gone, there's no chance that Childress will inexplicably go back to his former second-stringer. In fact, Peterson may even get more receptions out of the backfield.
Chris Johnson, RB, Titans
Chris Johnson will be the consensus No. 1 fantasy player. He'll be ranked first in most publications. Just not here.
Two things with Johnson:
First, this may not seem like a big deal, but Alge Crumpler signed with the Patriots. Crumpler is no longer the pass-catching tight end he was in Atlanta; instead, he has transformed to a sixth offensive lineman. He was a very good blocker for the Titans, and played three-quarters of the team's snaps in 2009. The offensive line is still stout, but Crumpler will be missed.
Second, and more importantly, the running back to lead the NFL in rushing attempts failed to match his previous season's totals on all but three occasions since 1988. Click the link to see all of the failed attempts. I advised you to stay away from Michael Turner last year. Same thing with Johnson.
You may point out that Johnson is young and this shouldn't be applied to him. A valid argument, and that's why he's No. 2 in my overall rankings and not No. 5-6. But over the past two seasons, Johnson has received a combined 609 carries and 93 receptions. That's a lot of work for a 200-pound running back.
Maurice Jones-Drew, RB, Jaguars
Maurice Jones-Drew is probably the safest pick of the top three. He's going to carry the ball 300 times, rush for about 1,300 yards and catch 50-60 balls.
If someone wants to pick Jones-Drew over Adrian Peterson or Chris Johnson, I can't argue that. Before the 2009 season, Jones-Drew had never garnered more than 200 carries, so his legs are fresh. Also, he had two rookies on his offensive line last year (tackles Eugene Monroe and Eben Britton), so if they improve, Jones-Drew will have greater running lanes at his disposal.
The only downside to picking Jones-Drew is that you'll have to deal with Jack Del Rio's ineptness. Del Rio is the laziest head coach in the NFL and often devises half-baked game plans where he doesn't get Jones-Drew the ball enough. I've complained about this enough last season, and I didn't even have Jones-Drew on any of my six fantasy rosters. Unless Del Rio starts trying hard, which I find unlikely, there will be weeks where you'll be pulling your hair out because Jones-Drew received only 12-18 carries.
Ray Rice, RB, Ravens
Ray Rice rushed for 1,339 yards, and caught 78 passes for 702 receiving yards in 2009. What's scary is that he could be even better in 2010.
The problem with Rice remains the same - Willis McGahee and LeRon McClain will vulture his touchdowns away. However, that really won't matter much if Rice exceeds 2,100 total yards.
Frank Gore, RB, 49ers
Frank Gore played in only 13 games last year (really 14, but was out right away in one of the contests he started), yet he managed to rush for 1,120 yards, and catch 52 passes for 406 more yards. He also scored 13 times.
Gore really came on during the final four games of the season when it seemed apparent that the 49ers wanted to focus more on running the football. In those four games, Gore rushed for 452 yards, caught 11 balls for 135 receiving yards, and scored four touchdowns.
Thanks to two upgrades on the offensive line, San Francisco's offense will be better in 2010, which can only increase Gore's YPC average (4.9 last year).
Michael Turner, RB, Falcons
Atlanta had tons of injuries last year, but if most of the team stays healthy for a change, Michael Turner could have a big season.
I didn't like Turner as a 2009 fantasy prospect because he led the league in carries. He started the year out great and I looked like a bigger fool than Todd McShay, but Turner eventually did what I expected him to do - get hurt. Still though, in eight full games, Turner compiled 720 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns.
Turner will always be limited because he's not a three-down runner, but he makes up for that with all of his goal-line opportunities. If Atlanta's offense is running at full efficiency for most of the year, Turner could exceed 15 touchdowns again, and perhaps break his personal single-season record of 17.
Andre Johnson, WR, Texans
The only receiver in this top 10, Andre Johnson is unquestionably the No. 1 player at his position in the wake of Kurt Warner's retirement.
In the past two years, Andre Johnson has an amazing 3,144 yards and 17 touchdowns. The only time he generated fewer than 60 yards last year was against Darrelle Revis.
Aaron Rodgers, QB, Packers
Most sites and magazines will have Drew Brees as the No. 1 fantasy quarterback. Not this one. Rodgers finished the 2009 season as the top fantasy signal-caller, and I think he'll retain that title in 2010.
Rodgers threw for 4,434 yards, 30 touchdowns and seven interceptions last year despite having abysmal play from his offensive line for half the season. Following a loss to the Buccaneers on Nov. 8, Rodgers eclipsed the 300-yard and three-touchdown barriers four times in nine games. In that nine-game span, he threw just three interceptions.
I'll get to why I'm slightly down on Drew Brees in his capsule. I don't think Brees will struggle much or anything; I just like Rodgers better.
Shonn Greene, RB, Jets
In two playoff games, Shonn Greene showed us exactly why the Jets traded all of their second-day draft picks to get him. Greene tore up the Bengals and Chargers, rushing for 263 yards and two touchdowns.
With Thomas Jones gone, Greene will get all of the first- and second-down carries behind a behemoth offensive line. Jones wasn't even all that good last year, and yet he managed to generate 1,402 rushing yards and 14 touchdowns on a 4.2 YPC average.
I really don't see any reason why Greene can't duplicate or even exceed those numbers. He's younger and better than Jones was in 2009. In the wake of the Leon Washington trade, Greene doesn't really have anyone to share carries with (LaDainian Tomlinson sucks and Joe McKnight is just a third-down back). I'm expecting something close to Michael Turner's 2008 numbers.
Steven Jackson, RB, Rams
I had Steven Jackson ranked fifth on this list before news broke Tuesday night that he went through back surgery this offseason. Though Steve Spagnuolo said it was "minor," any back surgery is enough to set off a red flag for me.
I'm not saying Jackson's going to have a crappy year. He could very well lead the league in rushing. But I'd rather not spend a high or mid first-round fantasy pick on an already injury-prone running back coming off back surgery.