Sunday, August 23, 2009


**Updated 8/26

1. Adrian Peterson
2. Michael Turner
3. Matt Forte
4. Maurice Jones-Drew
5. Steven Jackson
6. Chris Johnson
7. LaDainian Tomlinson
8. DeAngelo Williams
9. Frank Gore
10. Brandon Jacobs
11. Steve Slaton
12. Clinton Portis
13. Brian Westbrook
14. Marion Barber
15. Ryan Grant
16. Kevin Smith
17. Pierre Thomas
18. Ronnie Brown
19. Derrick Ward
20. Darren McFadden
21. Thomas Jones
22. Joseph Addai
23. Jonathan Stewart
25. Willie Parker
26. Marshawn Lynch
27. Larry Johnson
28. Knowshon Moreno
29. LenDale White
30. Ahmad Bradshaw
31. Jamal Lewis
32. Reggie Bush
33. Ray Rice
34. Cedric Benson
35. Julius Jones
36. Donald Brown
37. Felix Jones
38. Beanie Wells
39. Fred Jackson
40. Earnest Graham
41. Rashard Mendenhall
42. Darren Sproles
43. Leon Washington
44. LeSean McCoy
45. Willis McGahee
46. Tim Hightower
47. Jamaal Charles
48. Ricky Williams
49. Justin Fargas
50. Shonn Green
51. Chester Taylor
52. Jerious Norwood
53. Fred Taylor
54. Michael Bush
55. Tashard Choice
56. Maurice Morris
57. Edgerrin James
58. Kevin Faulk
59. Glen Coffee
60. James Davis

NOTES: Peterson is the clear No. 1 player on the board. Sure, his running style sometimes exposes him to a lot of wear and tear. But he's just 24 years old and has both the size to wear down defenses as well as the speed to break off game-changing runs and put them out of their misery. He led the league in rushing last year and is a good bet to do it again. ...

Turner (much like the Falcons as a team) isn't going to surprise anyone this year, nor is he going to get 376 carries again, only because the human body can't withstand such punishment. But as a career backup before last year, he hasn't taken a lot of abuse, and Atlanta's improved passing game will help keep defenses off him. He's not likely to repeat last year's numbers, but he's the team's unquestioned feature back and will get the first crack at the goal line. ...

I'm having a hard time separating Jones-Drew and Forte at three and four. Both are heavily featured in their teams' passing game, which adds to their value, especially in PPR leagues. I give Forte the nod because the Bears have a better passing attack than the Jags, plus he proved last year he can carry the load all by himself. MJD has been dangerous as a change-of-pace back, but can he still be as effective without Fred Taylor around to soften up defenses for him? ...

After the first four RBs there are plenty of question marks. Steven Jackson's had his last two seasons marred by injuries and awful OL play, but if the Rams stay lucky in those two respects, he has the raw skills to be fantasy's top back. ...

I love Chris Johnson and I think the run-heavy Titans' reported plans to use him more are wise. The presence of White - even the new slim-and-trim version after he cut back on the alcohol - is still cause for concern, but here's hoping more of the goal-line duties go to Johnson. ...

Here's where things really get tricky. I think LT2 can still be effective and I wouldn't mind having him on my team. But I do have a problem spending my first-round pick on a dude who threw up so many red flags last year and is 30 years old. As we've seen before, when a workhorse running back - especially a stud like Tomlinson or Priest Holmes or Shaun Alexander - hits the wall, there's no turning back. I can't build my team around a guy with so much risk, so let someone else reach for him with a top-10 or even top-five pick. ...

DeAngelo Williams also comes with a similar risk, even though he's much younger. Last year's fantasy MVP season was something of a fluke if you really think about it - the Panthers' backfield was supposed to be a timeshare with Williams and Jonathan Stewart, and Williams had been nothing more than mediocre before 2008. His stats last year were incredible - though they were inflated a bit by two four-TD games. And it's another timeshare situation this year as long as Stewart's healthy - and who's to say Stewart doesn't get the hot hand in a couple games and steal some of the glory? Nope, too much risk for me to take Williams that high. If he falls to me in the second round, however, I'd scoop him up for sure ....

I think Gore, Jacobs and Slaton could each become top-five backs if everything breaks right for them this year. Big upside for guys you can probably get in the second round or later. ...

Westbrook always carries a certain amount of drama, as you have to wonder each week if he's healthy enough to play or not. He almost always comes through for his owners, but you have to wonder if this is the year he lets us down, if his age and injuries finally catch up to him. He could really be a bargain if he falls into the late second round or beyond ... or he could really burn you. Big opportunity for rookie backup and Westbrook clone LeSean McCoy to step up. ...

I think Ward can succeed as the Bucs' feature back. Granted, having Brandon Jacobs softening up defenses for him helped him be a superb change-of-pace runner last year for the Giants, who also provided a very good offensive line to run behind. But Tampa Bay's up-and-coming OL won't be too bad, and if Earnest Graham can still get the job done, Ward can be that much more effective. Both are ownable, but Ward moreso because he figures to get more touches. ...

I'd be leery of counting on Thomas Jones too much. He's 31 now, and the Jets drafted Shonn Green for a reason. There will be a lot of running by Gang Green, with an inexperienced QB under center and new coach Rex Ryan leaning toward a back-by-committee approach (see the Ravens last year), and that probably means you can take away about half of Jones' 13 TDs from a year ago and split them up among Green and Leon Washington this year. ...

There are a lot of RBs I'll be looking to grab in the later rounds this year : Bradshaw is a violent and elusive runner who will get all those extra carries that went to Ward last year with the Giants ... I like Donald Brown a lot in Indy and wouldn't be surprised to see him supplant Addai at No. 1 on the Colts' depth chart at some point this year ... Ditto for Mendenhall in Pittsburgh unseating Fast Willie ... Felix Jones, Sproles and Washington are all guys who might not be useable every week but who can put up big points when the matchups are in their teams' favor. ...

Jamaal Charles averaged 5.3 yards a carry last year in limited duty for K.C. He's also one Larry Johnson injury/meltdown/suspension away from being the Chiefs' starter ... Just throwing that out there. ...

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