Now that you have gotten your quarterback situation under control today we are going to discuss the beasts of the fantasy draft. That’s right we are talking running backs. While you are looking for a running back there are three things to keep in mind. First of all do they score touchdowns? The reason is touchdowns are worth 6 points in most leagues. That is the most points you can get on any one play in fantasy on offense. Secondly do they gain a lot of yards per game? In fantasy football you get 1 point per 10 yards rushed for so you want to make sure that your runner gets close to a hundred yards per game.
The goal is to get a minimum of 10 points per game from your running back. Finally is your guy versatile. Versatility is key here because it gives you options. If your running back will be involved in the passing game, or even the return game, it is a plus. Touchdowns are touchdowns and any way your guy can score them you should take it.
Below I have compiled a list of the top 20 running backs to grab in the fantasy draft.
Backs You Want To Get In the First Round
1 – Adrian Peterson – Minnesota Vikings – AP is the staple of what a fantasy runner is supposed to be. He is a big play waiting to happen and he doesn’t come out of the game near the goal line. If he were more involved in the passing game, he would be the number one back on everyones list.
2 - Arian Foster - Houston Texans - Foster is a stretch at this point in the draft and even taking him this early you will be the laughing stock of your fantasy league. By the end of the year though the people who didn't pick him here will be eating their words. He finished last season with over 250 yards in the last two games and made it look easy.
3 – Chris Johnson – Tennessee Titans – Johnson proves to be the most versatile back to give you bang for the buck in fantasy. He is a big part of what the Titans do in the running and receiving game. It doesn’t hurt that he rushed for over 2000 yards last season. Buyer beware though very few backs have repeated anything close to that feat the year after they accomplished it.
4 – Maurice Jones Drew – Jacksonville Jaguars – MJD is by far the most complete back in the league. Unfortunately he plays for one of the worst teams in the league. He does it all from running and receiving. The only downside is he won’t be able to score as many touchdowns as the first two because of a limited offense.
5 – Ray Rice – Baltimore Ravens – Rice is another do it all back. The only reason he slipped to number 4 on this list is because he will probably come out on the goal line as Willis McGahee has bulked up to become the goal line back for the Ravens.
6 – Frank Gore – San Francisco 49ers – Gore is a monster but an injury or two keeps him out of the lineup in the crucial middle weeks of the season. When Gore is healthy he piles up the fantasy points for his owners. His only problem is that he is rarely healthy.
7 – Steven Jackson – Saint Louis Rams – No doubt in my mind that if Jackson was on any other team in the league he would be the number one back in the league. He is like a combination of the first 3 backs on the list, but because he plays for the Rams, his opportunities to score are almost always limited. He makes up for his non scoring with yards but he has only gotten double digit touchdowns in one of his 5 NFL seasons.
8 – Cedric Benson – Cincinnati Bengals – Benson has gone from bust to beast since making his move to Cincinnati. Expect more of the same this year as teams have to compensate for the new speed that the Bengals have amassed at wide receiver.
9 – Michael Turner – Atlanta Falcons – Turner has fell down the list quite a bit from last year but I suspect that he will regain his form and move back towards the top. That high ankle sprain limited him last year but when he was healthy, he was as good as anyone in the league.
10 – Rashard Mendenhall – Pittsburgh Steelers – Mendenhall burst on the scene last year and never looked back. He is a monster and expect Pittsburgh to run early and often as they wait for Big Ben to return to their lineup after serving suspension.
11 – Darren McFadden - This year is make or break for McFadden. I don't doubt his ability but I do doubt him staying injured. This year will be different as he will finally get it right. Hopefully he plays to his potential and he shakes that bust status.
Second Round Runners
12 – Ryan Mathews – San Diego Chargers – Believe me when I tell you this kid is a beast. Last year, as I was evaluating talent for the draft, this kid kept my mouth open as he did things that most runners in college don’t posses the ability to do. He will make the Chargers look smart in their decision on LT.
13. – Jonathan Stewart – Carolina Panthers – Very rarely do you see two running backs from the same team in the top 20. The Panthers are the exception to this rule since they have a young quarterback and John Fox just likes to pound the ball and play defense. It doesn’t hurt to have two runners that would start on any team in the league either.
14 – Peyton Hillis - Cleveland Browns - People are really going to laugh at you when you take him this early. Thing is you will be the one laughing in the end. Hillis was on a terror last season when in the lineup. Ironically Josh McDaniels shut him down and no one really knows why. Lets just say it was probably more off the field than on the field because on the field all he has done in the pre-season is open eyes.
15 – Ahmad Bradshaw – New York Giants – I know you are thinking why isn’t the Giants bruiser Brandon Jacobs listed here instead of Bradshaw. Honestly Bradshaw is better and I think the Giants are finally realizing it. Plus Bradshaw gives you a possible extra 6 points a game in the return game.
16 – Ronnie Brown – Miami Dolphins – If it weren’t for being injured last season Brown was on a pace to break every fantasy owner’s heart with the points he was racking up. That’s the problem though. He is often injured. But if you can grab a guy like this in the second round, then it is a no brainer.
Third Round Runners
17 – DeAngelo Williams – Carolina Panthers – DeAngelo is an interesting pick because he piles up yardage in a dual role at tailback. Although he splits time, he finds his way to the end zone on long runs pretty frequently.
18 – Thomas Jones – Kansas City Chiefs – Jones is a staple on the list and every year he makes fantasy owners wish they would have grabbed him earlier. This year will be no exception.
19 – Knowshon Moreno – Denver Broncos – Knowshon is a monster just waiting to be unleashed. When healthy this kid is as good as they come. He would be a steal in the third round.
20 – Pierre Thomas – New Orleans Saints – Thomas would be higher if it were not for the fact that he shares carries with Reggie Bush. Thomas is explosive but he came out of the game a lot last season as the Saints got near the goal line.
The Best of the Rest
Justin Forsett – Seattle Seahawks
Clinton Portis - Washington Redskins
C.J. Spiller - Buffalo Bills
Marshawn Lynch - Buffalo Bills
Jamaal Charles – Kansas City Chiefs
LeShawn McKoy - Philadelphia Eagles
Felix Jones – Dallas Cowboys
Michael Bush - Oakland Raiders
Brandon Jacobs - NY Giants
Joseph Addai - Indianapolis Colts