Sun-Times fantasy football player rankings: running backs

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From the Sun-Times.

1. Adrian Peterson, Minnesota, 24: 1,760 yards and 10 TDs rushing (4.8 yards per carry), 21 catches for 125 yards, 10 100-yard games, 2 multiple-TD games, 3 duds (defined as games under 80 yards and no scores). Everyone picking first in every draft in America is required to take him.


2. Michael Turner, Atlanta, 27: 1,699 yards and 17 TDs rushing (4.5 yards per carry), 6 catches for 41 yards, 6 100-yard games, 2 200-yard games, 4 multiple-TD games, 4 duds. Most every back who carries as many times as Turner did last year flops in a big way the next year. But Turner's legs are awfully fresh from all those years on San Diego's bench.

3. Maurice Jones-Drew, Jacksonville, 24: 824 yards and 12 TDs rushing (4.2 yards per carry), 62 catches for 565 yards and 2 TDs, 3 100-yard games (1 receiving), 4 multiple-TD games, 6 duds. He's scored 38 times from scrimmage in three seasons -- all before he was the featured back.

4. Matt Forte, Chicago, 23: 1,239 yards and 8 TDs rushing (3.9 yards per carry), 63 catches for 477 yards and 4 TDs, 3 100-yard games, 2 multiple-TD games, 5 duds. The lack of receivers in Chicago sends his stock up.

5. DeAngelo Williams, Carolina, 26: 1,515 yards and 18 TDs rushing (5.5 yards per carry), 22 catches for 121 yards and 2 TDs, 8 100-yard games, 5 multiple-TD games, 4 duds. Can he do it again if Jonathan Stewart's completely healthy? (Here's a hint: Stewart's already been hurt in the offseason.)

6. Chris Johnson, Tennessee, 24: 1,228 yards and 9 TDs (4.9 yards per carry), 43 catches for 260 yards and 1 TD, 4 100-yard games, 2 multiple-TD games, 6 duds. Technically he shares time with LenDale White, but he still averaged 20 touches a game. (Beware, though, if your league penalizes for ridiculous TD celebrations.)

7. Steve Slaton, Houston, 23: 1,282 yards and 9 TDs (4.8 yards per carry), 50 catches for 377 yards and 1 TDS, 5 100-yard games, 1 multiple-TD game. Was a monster once the Texans figured out what they had, with 4 100-yard games and 4 scores in his final 7 games.

8. Frank Gore, San Francisco, 26: 1,036 yards and 6 TDs (4.3 yards per carry), 43 catches for 373 yards and 2 TDs, 3 100-yard games, 1 multiple-TD game, 5 duds (including 2 games missed to injury). Lone bright spot in pathetic offense. (How many years have we been saying that?) He's even more buffed than usual, and the 49ers are stressing a power running game.

9. Steven Jackson, St. Louis, 26: 1,042 yards and 7 TDs (4.1 yards per carry), 40 catches for 379 yards and 1 TD, 4 100-yard games, 2 multiple-TD games, 9 duds (including 4 games missed to injury). So good but so fragile. Before he gets hurt, will get plenty of touches behind an improved line.

10. Brandon Jacobs, NY Giants, 27: 1,089 yards and 15 TDs (5.0 yards per carry), 6 catches for 36 yards, 4 100-yard games, 5 multiple-TD games, 5 duds (including 3 games missed to injury). Will he hold up for 16 games? Nope. But he will score a bunch before getting hurt (and have more cool highlights flattening little defensive backs).

11-40, after the jump...

11. Marion Barber, Dallas, 26: 885 yards and 7 TDs (3.7 yards per carry), 52 catches for 417 yards and 2 TDs, 4 100-yard games (1 receiving), 2 multiple-TD games, 7 duds (including 1 game missed to injury). First go as every-down back didn't really pan out, so expect fewer carries. But he's always going to be the guy on the goal line.

12. Clinton Portis, Washington, 28: 1,487 yards and 9 TDs (4.3 yards per carry), 28 catches for 218 yards, 6 100-yard games, 2 multiple-TD games, 4 duds. A little older, but should again be pretty much every option for the offense. (Vanishing act in second half of season worrisome, though.)

13. LaDainian Tomlinson, San Diego, 30: 1,110 yards and 10 TDs (3.8 yards per carry), 52 catches for 426 yards and 1 TD, 2 100-yard games, 3 multiple-TD games, 5 duds. He'll get plenty of touches for as long as he holds up. He's 30, but trying hard to prove it's not true that backs typically fall apart at that age.

14. Brian Westbrook, Philadelphia, 30: 936 yards and 9 TDs (4.0 yards per carry), 54 catches for 402 yards and 5 TDs, 3 100-yard games, 5 multiple-TD games, 9 duds (including 2 games missed to injury). Shockingly low ranking due to big red flags: He's 30, had 2 offseason surgeries, has never played a full 16 games, and the Eagles drafted a back with their second pick. He his practicing again, though.

15. Ronnie Brown, Miami, 27: 916 yards and 10 TDs rushing (4.3 yards per carry), 1 TD pass, 33 catches for 254 yards, 3 100-yard games, 1 multiple-TD game, 8 duds. Vanished at the end of the season, going scoreless in 6 of his final 7 games.

16. Ryan Grant, Green Bay, 26: 1,203 yards and 4 TDs (3.9 yards per carry), 18 catches for 116 yards and 1 TD, 4 100-yard games, 6 duds. Recovered last year from early season injury woes. Surely he'll score more than 4 times this year.

17. Kevin Smith, Detroit, 22: 976 yards and 8 TDs rushing (4.1 yards per carry), 39 catches for 286 yards, 2 100-yard games, 6 duds. It took the Lions about half the season to realize they should give the ball to a good running back. Had 100 yards or a score in 4 of 6 games when he got 20 carries.

18. Pierre Thomas, New Orleans, 24: 625 yards and 9 TDs rushing (4.8 yards per carry), 31 catches for 281 yards and 3 TDs, 1 100-yard game, 4 multiple-TD games, 6 duds. Thomas scored 9 times in his final 7 games. Should get plenty of carries, even with Reggie Bush also getting a lot of touches before his next injury.

19. Larry Johnson, Kansas City, 29: 874 yards and 5 TDs (4.5 yards per carry), 12 catches for 74 yards, 3 100-yard games, 1 multiple-TD games 11 duds, including 4 games lost to injury. Despite health problems, high mileage, legal woes and general surliness, has looked great in camp so far.

20. Willie Parker, Pittsburgh, 28: 791 yards and 5 TDs (3.8 yards per carry), 3 catches for 13 yards, 4 100-yard games, 1 multiple-TD game, 9 duds (including 5 games missed to injury). Yards per carry have dropped for four straight years and he'll lose some carries to Rashard Mendenhall. But the top back for the Steelers is always money.

21. Marshawn Lynch, Buffalo, 23: 1,036 yards and 8 TDs (4.1 yards per carry), 47 catches for 300 yards and 1 TD, 3 100-yard games, 1 multiple-TD game, 6 duds (including 1 game lost to injury). Don't forget he won't be joining us until the fourth game, thanks to gun-related suspension. And he shares with Fred Jackson a bit too much.

22. Jonathan Stewart, Carolina, 22: 836 yards and 10 TDs (4.5 yards per carry), 8 catches for 47 yards, 2 100-yard games, 2 multiple-TD games, 8 duds. He scores a lot for a guy who never starts, and plays a lot for a guy who seems to be injured a lot.

23. Joseph Addai, Indianapolis, 26: 544 yards and 5 TDs (3.5 yards per carry), 25 catches for 206 yards and 2 TDs, 1 100-yard game, 2 multiple-TD games, 11 duds (including 4 games missed to injury). Can be a TD machine when healthy, it's just that he's never healthy. Will be sharing carries with rookie Donald Brown.

24. LenDale White, Tennessee, 24: 773 yards and 15 TDs rushing (3.9 yards per carry), 5 catches for 16 yards, 2 100-yard games, 4 multiple-TD games, 6 duds. He gave way to Johnson as the season wore on, but he'll still barrel into the end zone plenty.

25. Knowshon Moreno, Denver, 22: Rookie. Broncos took a break from signing journeyman backs in the offseason long enough to spend a first-round pick on Moreno. I give up trying to guess who gets the most carries in Denver, though it should be Moreno eventually. (Keep an eye on his injury situation.)

26. Reggie Bush, New Orleans, 24: 404 yards and 2 TDs (3.8 yards per carry), 52 catches for 440 yards and 4 TDs, 1 100-yard receiving game, 2 multiple-TD games, 11 duds (including 6 games missed to injury). Emergence of Thomas as inside runner allows Bush to get the ball in open space more often. How long till he's hurt again, though?

27. Cedric Benson, Cincinnati, 26: 747 yards and 2 TDs (3.5 yards per carry), 20 catches for 185 yards, 3 100-yard games, 9 duds in 12 games played. Came on strong late and is now center of run-based offense, factors that would make for a higher ranking if he weren't Cedric Benson and his team weren't the Bengals. 28. Thomas Jones, NY Jets, 31: 1,312 yards and 13 TDS (4.8 yards per carry), 36 catches for 207 yards and 2 TDs, 5 100-yard games, 3 multiple-TD games, 5 duds. Defied NFL history by being a good 30-year-old, and I'm too much of a believer in the 30-year-old-dropoff rule to believe he'll repeat at 31. Plus, it looks like he'll share carries.

29. Derrick Ward, Tampa Bay, 29: 1,025 yards and 2 TDs (5.6 yards per carry), 41 catches for 384 yards, 1 100-yard game, 1 200-yard game, 11 duds. Left the Giants' crowded backfield for ... the Bucs' crowded backfield. He's expected to share carries with Earnest Graham.

30. Tim Hightower, Arizona, 23: 399 yards and 10 TDs (2.8 yards per carry), 34 catches for 237 yards, 1 100-yard game, 2 multiple-TD games, 8 duds. All those scores are great, but a run or two over 5 yards would be nice, too. Will be sharing carries with Chris Wells.

31. Ahmad Bradshaw, NY Giants, 23: 355 yards and 1 TD (5.3 yards per carry), 5 catches for 42 yards and 1 TD, 13 duds. Moves into the No. 2 RB spot, which occasionally becomes the No. 1 spot when you play behind Jacobs.

32. Felix Jones, Dallas, 22: 266 yards and 3 TDs (8.9 yards per carry), 2 catches for 10 yards, 14 duds (including 10 games lost to injury.) Explosive, but brittle. 33. LeSean McCoy, Philadelphia, Rookie: Will get touches even before Westbrook gets hurt.

34. Darren McFadden, Oakland, 22: 499 yards and 4 TDs (4.4 yards per carry), 29 catches for 285 yards, 1 100-yard game, 1 multiple-TD game, 13 duds (including 3 games missed to injury). Sorry for last year's suggestion that he'd be good simply because the first back drafted each year usually is. He's in an awfully crowded backfield.

35. Donald Brown, Indianapolis, 22: Rookie. Last year at Connecticut led the nation in rushing with 2,083 yards and scored 18 times. Set to share time with Addai.

36. Chris Wells, Arizona, 20: Rookie. Expect him to share with Hightower once he's totally healthy. Also let's hope he finally shakes the "Beanie" nickname. 37. Jamal Lewis, Cleveland, 30: 1,002 yards and 4 TDs (3.6 yards per carry), 23 catches for 178 yards, 10 duds. He kind of looked like he'd had it last year, team's rotten and now he's 30.

38. Darren Sproles, San Diego, 26: 330 yards and 1 TD (5.4 yards per carry), 29 catches for 342 yards and 5 TDs, 1 100-yard game, 2 multiple-TD games, 12 duds. Explosiveness, big-money contract and slowing LT could spell surprisingly big numbers.

39. Julius Jones, Seattle, 28: 698 yards and 2 TDs (4.4 yards per carry), 14 catches for 66 yards, 2 100-yard games, 14 duds. Expects to flourish in the aggressive running style of Jim Mora's offense. T.J. Duckett getting cut means Jones may find his way into the end zone occasionally, though he'll still share time.

40. Fred Jackson, Buffalo, 28: 571 yards and 3 TDs (4.4 yards per carry), 37 catches for 317 yards, 1 100-yard game, 12 duds. He's a starter for at least the first three games, if his injured thumb is better by the opener.

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