2010 Running Back Outlook

By Steve DeAngelo

Running back is the most important position on a Fantasy team. Since the inception of fantasy football this position has been the biggest difference between a Championship team and a team that falls short. As many of you remember, we used to go RB early and often and rely on that guy to be the only one on his team to get the touches. However, we all know times have changed. Now we have the age of 2 back systems and sometimes 3 back systems. Gone are the days of just having one main back (although there are some exceptions today with Chris Johnson, & Steven Jackson). This change has shifted the focus of fantasy owners to start taking QB’s and WR’s earlier rather than the traditional RB, RB format. However, I still believe owners must have a solid running back nucleus and have solid depth in case of injury and to play match-ups.

This year, whether in a fantasy draft or auction, guys like Chris Johnson, Adrian Peterson, MJD, Ray  and Rice, of course, are no brainers.  There is plenty of depth at the running back position so those of you who are not fortunate enough to be in the top 5 in your draft need not worry. This also means that there’s a light at the end of the tunnel for people who find themselves in a keeper league auction without enough money to spend or these particular players are being bid too high for your liking.  You can stack solid depth at the RB position which is very important especially this year regardless if you end up getting one of those 4 Studs in the aforementioned text. Also, your going to have other big name guys like Frank Gore, Steven Jackson, DeAngelo Williams go early in your draft or be high-priced in your auction.  If that is the  case don’t worry and let them go high-priced. Don’t fear, there is plenty of RB depth and upside this year in fantasy.

Tier 1 Rock Solid Selections and Investments

Chris Johnson, Ray Rice, Adrian Peterson, Maurice Jones Drew

Of course all these guys are no brainers. If you’re not in a Fantasy Keeper league then these are the main guys to target unless of course these guys are somehow available. The consensus #1 is Chris Johnson and rightfully so. The guy is a beast with unreal speed and agility. Also he possesses solid receiving skills and doesn’t have any other backs breathing down his neck. Will he repeat last year’s numbers? As you’ve probably seen, the history doesn’t suggest it as all the backs who ran for 2,000 the year before had significant drop-offs the next year. However, Chris Johnson will still have a great year even if he doesn’t match last years numbers. With this talent he could match last years numbers although defensive coordinators will be heavily focused on him this year.

Then you have Adrian Peterson the consensus #1 last year but not anymore after what Chris Johnson did. Do you think that makes AP mad? He isn’t the best in the league anymore according to the majority so he is out to prove that he should be. I wouldn’t worry about the fumbling issue. He also did seem to wear down towards the end year a bit but he is still a horse and easily could take back the #1 spot this year.

MJD and Rice are similar in that they are both strong, short, and compact backs with huge Rhino legs that helps them churn yards and break off defenders. They both can catch as well. They both will be rock solid again this year and after CJ and AP they are the 3rd and 4th best backs in the league. Be a little Wary of Jones-Drew knee issues but he should be fine.

” Last years consensus 2nd Tier”

(Steven Jackson, Frank Gore, DeAngelo Williams, Michael Turner, Matt Forte)

These were pretty much the specific backs that were grouped in the 2nd tier last year, although some of them probably were grouped with the 1st tier guys. Again, this year I believe most owners would consider these guys to be the Tier 2 guys. I believe some of these guys are overvalued and will go to high in drafts and be bid up too much in Auctions.

Steven Jackson is an animal. He runs hard, and can catch as well. He has had some injury concerns: 12 games in 2007 and 12 games in 2008. But has been solid in total yards and receptions. However, in the TD department he has been lacking: 5 rushing in 2007, 7 in 2008 and just 4 last year. The main reason for this is  that his team stinks. Torry Holt and Issac Bruce began to age and Marc Bulger started to show his true colors. As his offensive line depleted and the rams other offensive weapons were non-existent it hurt Jackson’s TD production. This year isn’t much different with a AJ Feeley and Sam Bradford behind center with a questionable offensive line with really no other offensive weapons besides Jackson. If Jackson was on a team with a good QB and had some other legit play-makers as well as a good defense then he would have double-digit TD’s easy. So for this reason I suggest to pass on Jackson because you need Touchdowns. Obviously if he falls to the late 2nd round or you can get him for under $30 in fantasy then he represents solid value. Otherwise I feel he will be overvalued and like I have been mentioning there is a lot of depth at Fantasy RB this season so no need to go crazy on Jackson.

Matt Forte had an impressive rookie season and many were extremely high on him last year.  However, Forte disappointed last season. He suffered mainly because instead of little dump offs to him that he was getting from Kyle Orton Cutler was throwing down-field with his big arm. Forte isn’t the most talented back but he’s decently agile for his size. Also what hurt Forte was the Bears defense not keeping them in games and of course the Cutler interceptions didn’t help either. This year, the Bears brought in Mike Martz to help Cutler and the offense. Could this mean more production for Forte ala Marshall Faulk and all those catches? Maybe, but Forte isn’t Faulk and I think what can happen with Martz is he tends to get unbalanced which will only hurt Forte and Cutler. Maybe he has realized this; however, I think the Martz factor is overrated. Forte is another guy that will be overvalued in auctions and drafts. I  don’t like Forte all that much and would just avoid him altogether plus the presence of Chester Taylor doesn’t help.

Frank Gore to me is probably the safest pick out of this group. He is on an emerging team with nice offensive weapons in Davis and Crabtree and Alex Smith has improved his play a bit even though he’s still pretty bad. Gore also has receiving skills. Glen Coffee recently retired which helps although rookie Anthony Dixon is still there and has some potential but gore is the mainstay. Also recently the 49ers signed Brian Westbrook. Not sure how much of an impact Westbrook will have but I guess it hurts Gore some. Gore has had some injury problems in the past and that is a concern but managed to play 14 games last year. He still could be drafted too high or could be bid up too much so be careful because as I will get to shortly there is value in the running back department to help you.

Michael Turner had a great year in 08 Rushing for 1700 yards and 17 TD’s. Last year he started slow and then got hurt only playing 11 games. Did those 376 carries wear him down a bit from 08? He still had put up pretty decent numbers before he went down with 10 Tds and 900 yards rushing in 11 games so Turner could resort back to his 08 numbers.  Again because people know him as a big name with the likes of Jackson, Forte they will draft early and spend high. Turner could bounce back and come close to his 08 numbers so if you can get him in the 2nd round/3rd round or for under $30 then he represents good value. Otherwise I would stay away. .

DeAngelo Williams has Jonathan Stewart surrounding him so to me he is no longer a Tier 2 Running back. DeAngelo is very talented but so is his partner Stewart although Stewart does have injury issues. Rather than spending big money or drafting Williams too high I will let some other owner do that.

Overall to me these guys are old news and there are new fresh faces that I like this year that excite me. I don’t want to be stuck in the past with some of these guys even though some of them do have solid potential but most to me are ? marks with the exception of Gore. Jackson maybe too but again his team is just so bad I don’t want to be sitting there Week 14 in the fantasy playoffs and Jackson’s team is down 28 because Sam Bradford threw 3 picks and his defense couldn’t stop a snail from entering the white house. Also knowing that I spent $30+ on him or took him in the 1st round when I could have saved some money or drafted a top Wr there or a different running back. Again keep in mind I am keeping both auction and draft leagues into account. In the upcoming Tiers I will focus on the guys that I think you should get with pretty fair value whether in a draft or auction. I feel it is better to go after these guys and build depth with these running backs than overpay for the backs I mentioned in Tier 2.

Tier 3A ” The Value and Upside Tier”

(Jamal Charles, Shonn Greene, Rashad Mendenhall, Beanie Wells, CJ Spiller, Ryan Matthews, Jahvid Best)

Here is a group that you can get in 2nd-4th rounds in your drafts and most likely get for under $25 dollars in an auction. In a draft you can afford to Grab a Top wideout if you are left outside the top 5 picks or a Top QB and then start grabbing these running backs in rounds 2-4. In auctions while other owners are spending obscene money on Chris Johnson, Rice, MJD, and Adrian Peterson you can save your money and get value on these guys later when their money is low. Of course if you have a top 5 pick or can get one of those Tier 1 backs for a fairly good price even if you have to go up a bit in price of course do that. I would personally spend $60 bucks on a guy like Johnson or Peterson with a $200 cap but I’m sure some owners will go up to $75 which is crazy in my opinion. Maybe not most years but with the depth at RB this year I think you can pass for that price. These tier 3 backs can also come into play in your keeper leagues where the a lot of the big names at RB are gone. If you are forced into this position or just prefer to save money then I suggest stacking these backs.

Jamal Charles is a back I really like. I love his speed, agility and big play ability. This guy has some Chris Johnson in him. On only 190 carries last year he had 1100 yards good for 6 yards a carry. That YPC will be tough to match but I still think Charles is going to produce big for the Chiefs again this year. Of course Thomas Jones steps into town and that will scare people away. It is somewhat of a concern because Jones most likely will get the goaline carries but Charles is the more talented back and will be a big part of the offense not only rushing but on the receiving side as well.  The Chiefs O-line also performed very well late last year as Charles emerged. Jones now 32 is no bet to play the whole season and isn’t guaranteed goal line carries all the time. Charles is the more talented back and their best playmaker and the Chiefs know this. Some might say but what about the Chiefs defense and quarterback situation aren’t they poor like Steven Jackson? Yes but you can get Charles later in a draft and cheaper in auction not to mention he is a better option for keeper leagues. Also Charles is more of a big play threat then Jackson. Charles represents Value. I would draft and buy with confidence especially in PPR leagues. Check Charles out here and let me know if you don’t see a little Chris Johnson in him. Jamal Charles Highlights.

Shonn Greene is another favorite of mine this year. Playing on a team that wants to pound and with a solid offensive run blocking line he has a lot working for him. Also like MJD and Rice he fits the mold of that short stocky rhino leg back which I love to target. He isn’t the receiver Rice and MJD are but he is a good runner with good burst. Greene lost Jones but gained Tomlinson as his fellow teammate in the backfield. However don’t fear as Rex Ryan has already referred to Greene as his “Cow bell” back meaning Greene will get the majority of the work. Also the Jets run a ton more than any other team in the league last year. LT will most likely be used in passing situations and on some 3rd downs. I think they will split goaline carries but I think Greene has a good chance for double-digit TD’s. The jets will be focused on the run and Greene will be the workhorse. Greene is a good 2nd round pick and is a good buy at around $20-25.

Chris “Beanie” Wells is another back I like a lot this year. Big bruising back with good agility for his size as well. I think this year as Arizona shifts more to a running team the majority of carries will go to Wells over Hightower. Whisenhunt has also recently praised Wells receiving skills which should be a sign that they want to get Wells more involved in the offense. He is the much better runner compared to Hightower and in his 2nd season I believe the Cardinals will showcase his talents even more as they shift their focus from being a passing team to more of a balanced running team. Wells is another back that will provide good value.

Rashad Mendenhall I like but he scares me a bit sometimes. For a powerful back he runs very hesitant sometimes but I give him a pass as he was a rookie last year. With Rothlisberger out the Steelers will run more however this could also hurt Mendenhall as Leftwich is a not a quarterback that scares you. Defenses will focus on stopping the run and with Leftwich not really being able to move the ball Mendenhall’s TD opportunities will be limited. When Ben comes back this should change unless he has a Tiger Woods like return and starts sucking it up. However I think Mendenhall should be Ok especially since he really has nobody behind him. Mewalde Moore and Jonathan Dwyer? If Ben comes back to his old ways and Mendenhall doesn’t run tentatively then he will prove to be a solid value selection or buy.

Ryan Mathews is a guy I had to do my research on. I was kind of skeptical about this kid but after reading scouts reviews, watching highlights and watching interviews of him I came away impressed.  Matthews is a big back and has exceptional speed and agility for his size. The praise on him has been increasing each day. Asked to describe what he likes about rookie Ryan Mathews, GM A.J. Smith responded, “It’s everything about him.”It’s his running style, which is extremely physical,” said Smith. “He can break tackles. He has a very strong straight-arm. He’s power packed in the legs. His instincts are outstanding. His acceleration is second to none. And he has outstanding speed … Plus, he’s six feet tall and weighs 219 pounds, so we’re excited about what he brings to the table.”

Based on these type of praises he could be going up a bit too much so be careful but you should still be able to get him in the 2nd/3rd round of drafts and for around $20-25 in auctions. Like Michael Turner and Shonn Greene Matthews takes a hit a bit in PPR leagues. He didn’t catch a ton of balls in college. Also the Chargers are going to utilize Darren Sproles. Another concern is the Chargers run blocking which wasn’t too impressive last year as the Chargers finished 31st overall in rushing. Maybe Mathews comes in and changes that however. End of the day the kid is big, fast, and has a great Attitude and work ethic.

CJ Spiller, man this guy excites me. Lighting fast, agile, sets up defenders beautifully. Just last night against the colts he schooled 3 colts defenders on his way to the end zone. Simply put, I love CJ Spiller. His backfield is a bit crowded with Jackson and Lynch but I believe he is the most talented back of them all. Also Lynch and Jackson are both banged up and even though they should both be back for Week 1 it gives Spiller a chance to showcase his talents and earn even more playing time. Also Jackson and Lynch’s injuries could easily linger into the season. Spiller will be used in this offense he is their best playmaker. He is a great pick for keeper leagues as he has a ton of upside. I really feel Spiller could be one of the best backs in this league in a year or two. I think Spiller is a great 4th round selection in drafts and I personally would spend $30 dollars on this guy especially in keeper leagues. It may take Spiller a couple of weeks to fully get entrenched but once he is up and running I think he will be solid this year.

Jahvid Best is another exciting rookie back. Like Spiller, Best is agile, lighting quick and has good hands. In Detroit he is in a better situation then Spiller is in Buffalo. He has a nice young QB and WR surrounding him in Stafford and Calvin Johnson and that means teams won’t be able to stack the box against Detroit. Best did have some durability issues in college so that is a bit of a concern. Also Kevin Smith is still there lurking but is coming off a bad ACL injury and Best is the more talented back. Again another solid pick for Keeper leagues. Best another solid 4th-6th round pick and you should be able to get him for around $20 in an Auction. Also like his fellow rookie Spiller, Best probably will be used on Kickoffs or Punts giving you that extra bonus. I love the Rookie Running backs this year. Check out Best.

Tier 3B  Some more value and upside

(Felix Jones, Pierre Thomas, Jonathan Stewart, Reggie Bush, Lesean Mcoy, Arian Foster)

Felix Jones role continues to get bigger and bigger as Marion Barber wears down. Problem with Jones is he has durability issues. When he is on the field though he is dangerous and a big play threat. This could be the year where the Cowboys really start to give him the majority of the carries. Barber still will be the goaline back though and that hurts Jones as well as Tashard Choice being a factor. Still Jones is a good 5th/6th round pick and a good buy at around $20.

Pierre Thomas isn’t a sexy pick, he wasn’t a hyped prospect out of college and he really doesn’t represent the word “upside” but he plays in a great offense and he is a solid player. Thomas runs hard hits the hole and also has some receiving skills. Mike Bell is gone so now it really is just Thomas and Bush. Bush will be the a factor but Thomas will still be getting a lot of touches. Be wary a bit however as Bush did run a lot better in the playoffs last year and could be getting more carries.  Either way Thomas is a pretty safe pick and a solid 3rd/4th round pick. $20 seems like a good price for him in an Auction, I wouldn’t go any more than that.

Jonathan Stewart is a very talented back and tough as he has played through injuries his first two seasons. Last year he ran for 1100 yards on 200 caries and he has 20 rushing Tds in his first two seasons. He is powerful runner with good speed and agility. The problem is he is grouped with another very talented back in DeAngelo Williams. However Carolina is geared towards the run and Stewart will be productive. Both backs are coming off injury this year but both have been reported to be very healthy especially Stewart. Bottomline, for a 5th/6th Round pick Stewart represents pretty solid value and for around $12-16 dollars that is pretty decent price for him.

I am putting Bush here more for his upside than his value because Bush is still being going to be overpaid in auctions and taken to high to high in drafts but honestly I wouldn’t mind spending the extra buck for him especially in ppr leagues. Bush really ran well last year in the postseason and finally showed he could run hard and with confidence in between the tackles. Also you know Bush is going to get his catches. The real thing that has hurt Bush has been injuries as every year he has missed a couple of games besides his rookie year which happened to be his best year overall. With Mike Bell gone, Lydell Hamilton out for the year I think Sean Peyton calls on Bush more this season not only in the passing game but in the running game. Bush is a great weapon and Peyton will be using him more this year. Bush really could be in for his best season as a pro despite the controversy that surrounded him with the situation at USC. So while you may have to draft a little higher and pay a bit more for him Bush really could end up being worth it. Remember, you get the Bonus Tds from Bush with the Punt returns. I would target him but again don’t go nuts.

Lesean Mcoy is now the guy in Philly. He will be getting the majority of the carries and he will also be getting a lot of catches out of the backfield. Kolb in his first starting season might rely on a lot of checkdowns to Mcoy which increases Mcoy’s value.  Leonard Weaver and Mike Bell will probably be a factor around the goaline however Mcoy is the main running back. Injuries are a bit of concern for Mcoy as he’s a smaller back but there is no doubt in Andy Reid’s offense that Mcoy will see a ton of touches. Mcoy is talented and Reid will find ways to utilize his talents. I wasn’t so high on Mcoy but I think he should be Ok and he is probably a pretty decent #2 Rb.

Arian Foster was just recently added to this tier because he is a pretty solid back playing a very potent offense. Also Steve Slaton isn’t really a big factor at this point. Foster looks like he will take on a Pierre Thomas role and he looks like  a pretty safe bet. Only thing is Foster seems to be going kind of high in drafts sometimes in the 2nd round. I wouldn’t take him that high but in the 4th round that is fine.

Tier 4 ” The Old Reliables”

(Marion Barber, Ryan Grant, Ronnie Brown, Ricky Williams, Joseph Addai, Cedric Benson, Ladanian Tomlinson)

These group of backs are no longer sexy and we know to expect from these guys. As long as they are healthy they can all produce and be effective. Are these guys ideal options at #2 RB? Probably not but they do make for solid #3 and #4’s. I’m not crazy about this group but they do help with adding good depth to your backfield and also make solid bye week replacements or to put in at the flex position.

A lot of people like Cedric Benson, personally I’m not crazy about him. I think he is kind of crusty and he bores me. Also I think Bernard Scott takes a bigger role in the offense this year because he is talented. You may like him but I am staying away I rather go with one of the younger backs previously mentioned.

Marion Barber plays on a solid team and will be the goal line back. He also should get around 200 carries and he can still be decently effective in the passing game. I like Barber even though he is slowly declining. I prefer him over Benson. Barber could easily have around 1200 total yards and around 10 tds.

Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams are the older version of DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart. It was pretty amazing to see what Ricky Williams did last year over 1100 yards and 11 tds at 33 years old. Can he produce like that again? Possibly but remember Brown was lost for the year which helped Williams. Ronnie Brown got hurt again? Shocker! This guy is very talented but always gets hurt and those injuries have to be effecting him. However with Brandon Marshall there now it should open up things for Brown as well as Williams. Both these guys can be solid definitely not #2 back material anymore but solid #3 and #4 backs to be used as a flex or bye week replacements. I prefer Brown over Williams personally.

Joe Addai is still  young (27)and has been pretty consistent year in and year out. Last 3 years he’s averaged around 1200 total yards and 12 Tds that’s pretty solid. Donald Brown should see a bigger role this year so that effects Addai. Addai though gets a boost in PPR and he could produce as a Low end #2.

Ryan Grant is another back who has given consistency over the past 3 years averaging around 1200 yards and about 8 tds a year. Playing with Aaron Rodgers obviously helps open things up for Grant. Grant like the others isn’t a sexy pick but he runs hard hit holes and picks up yards. I doubt he matches the TD total from last year but it’s possible. Also he really has nobody else behind him which is good because the Packers are a pass first offense.

Ladainian Tomlinson is on a downward spiral but he still provides value. More so than any of the other backs in this group. He will have a nice role with the Jets this season and should be on passing downs and get some goal line carries. Plus if Greene, who isn’t the most durable back gets hurt LT instantly takes over in a great situation. Having that Jets run blocking should help LT a lot.   LT has also looked solid this preseason. Just don’t expect LT to ever be LT again because it’s not gonna happen although he could show flashes.

Tier 5  More upside and value to a lesser extent

( Moreno, Jerome Harrison, Ahmad Bradshaw)

Knowshon Moreno is flying under the radar a bit. I am not a huge fan but he does represent upside and value so that is why I have him here. Still only a 2nd year back he had a fairly good rookie season last year in Denver finishing with 1200 total yards and 9 Tds. I don’t think Moreno is ultra talented but he’s the #1 back in Denver and is a good runner. Also he can can catch which obviously helps. His backfield is kind of crowded with Fargas, Buckhalter, Lendale White and that could pose a problem but Moreno is the golden boy here. Also with Brandon Marshall  now gone teams may bring more in the box this season to stop the run and challenge Orton. While I wouldn’t personally pursue Moreno he does make a decent #3 or #4 RB. Keep track of Moreno’s injury because he is questionable for week 1 at this point.

Jerome Harrison came on late last year finishing with multiple 100 yard games. I have always felt he was talented he just never really got a chance. After Jamal Lewis went down Harrison got his opportunity and made the best of it. He is a speedy shifty back who I really like. He could definitely  be had in the later rounds in a draft and for around $10 dollars in an auction maybe cheaper. I like his potential more than Moreno.

Ahmad Bradshaw is a smaller back but he has very strong legs, runs hard and has solid agility. His running style is cause for injury however and it has already showcased that.  He shares the backfield with Jacobs but he is the better back. He is the better runner and receiver and if he stays healthy he could have a nice season this year. He makes for a solid flex and #3 or #4 RB.

Tier 6 The remaining upside backs

(Michael Bush, Justin Forsett, Donald Brown, Darren Mcfadden, Benard Scott, Lawrence Maroney, Tashard Choice, Steve Slaton

The Raiders looked to be focused on the run and I think either Bush or Mcfadden could put up some pretty solid numbers this year. Bush is a big bruising back who could be in for a nice year. However he is hurt once again and is most likely out Week 1. Mcfadden has struggled since entering the league. Tom Cable has said he is “much much improved” but who knows. Mcfadden is fast but isn’t very agile and his running style is upright which leads to injury. It is possible that Mcfadden or Bush could do some damage this year and they aren’t terrible late selections but chances are they won’t impress too much.

Donald Brown was a 1st round pick of the Colts in 09 and people expected him to have more of an impact last season. However he struggled with pass blocking and that’s always hinders a rookie’s playing time. Brown is talented he has pretty good size and quickness and hits holes well. However with Addai there he will still be secondary although his role will most likely increase this year. I do like Brown’s upside for a late selection or for a cheap buy in an auction.

Benard Scott intrigues me. He is small but very quick and is a tough runner. I think his role increases for the Bengals this season. Like I said I think Benson is somewhat crusty and I think Scott will show his talents more this season. I like him more than anyone in this group.

Justin Forsett had some solid games last year and he should have had more had he been given the chance to be the main back over the aged and washed up Julius Jones. Now Leon Washington is in the mix creating a 3 headed monster. Pete Carroll has said he is going to use all three but I believe Forsett is the best runner of the 3. Leon is solid as well but is coming of a knee injury and will most likely be used more in the passing game.

Lawrence Maroney a 1st round pick of that pats in 2006 has never met expectations. He tip toes a ton and doesn’t really run that hard either. However he has shown flashes and has said he will run harder this year saying his motto is “Rough”. I put Maroney here because he has upside but he also is in a backfield that is more crowded than India. Too many backs and this hurts Maroney’s value, although in keeper leagues he’s worth a late round selection and can be had for a cheap price.

Tashard Choice is talented and probably could start if he was on a different team but he’s playing in a crowded backfield with two talented backs in Jones and Barber. However like you may have seen in the past when Jones or Barber got hurt Choice stepped in and played well. He has solid upside and is definitely worth a late round pick especially if you own Barber or Jones.

Steve Slaton’s fumbling issues last year continued into the preseason this year as he fumbled on the goal line against the Cardinals. This cost Slaton carries last year and it’s most likely going to cost him into this year until he proves otherwise. Slaton still has solid potential and is a solid receiving back so he gets a boost in PPR leagues. His injuries are a concern as he missed 5 games last year and he had a history of getting hurt in college at West Virginia.

Tier 7 Spiraling Downwards Tier

( Clinton Portis, Brandon Jacobs, Kevin Smith, Thomas Jones)

Clinton Portis is only 28 years old but he has plenty of carries under his belt. His best years are behind him and injuries are starting to take a toll. He is now in a crowded backfield with Larry Johnson and Willie Parker and isn’t guaranteed a #1 spot although he is the best back of the 3. For a late round selection he might not be bad but I wouldn’t waste my time.

Brandon Jacobs just really isn’t impressive to me anymore. He’s big and powerful but runs hesitantly a lot and also is virtually non-existent in the passing game. He does still has some value because he’s on a good team and he should have a  good amount of goaline opportunities.

Thomas Jones has been nothing but solid the last couple of years averaging double-digit TDs and 1,000+ yards rushing. However he is now 32 years old and doesn’t have the jets offensive line any longer. Jamal Charles is the main back in KC but Jones should still have some impact around the goaline and in short yardage. He still has value especially as a handcuff to Charles.

Kevin Smith has had some bad luck coming off a ACL injury and now Jahvid Best a 1st round pick is taking his job. Smith still has some value but Best looks like the main back now. He had a solid year in his rookie season but Smith isn’t ultra talented. I would just avoid Smith.

Tier 8 – The rest worth mentioning

(Darren Sproles, Derrick Ward, Cadillac Williams, Willis Mcgahee, Marshawn Lynch, Fred Jackson, Leon Washington, Chester Taylor, Rashad Jennings, Brian Westbrook, Anthony Dixon, Montario Hardesty, Fred Taylor)

Basically this group represents possible flexes but mostly bye week replacements and handcuffs Derrick Ward and Cadillac Williams will share the #1 spot in Tampa Bay but neither is impressive to me and I would stay away. We pretty much know who all these guys are besides Jennings, Dixon and Hardesty who are young backs with upside and are good late round picks.  Leon Washington is also a guy who could make some noise and it a solid late round pick or cheap buy. I think these are the last of the guys that should be drafted or bought in a auction. Most likely none of these guys are going to do anything special this year but they can prove to be serviceable.

As you can tell I rather go with a guy with nice upside then an aging veteran who we know what to expect from. I rather have a guy like Jerome Harrison than a Brandon Jacobs a LT or a Thomas Jones especially in keeper leagues. I also like backs who have big legs like Ray Rice, MJD, Turner, Ryan Matthews, Rashad Mendenhall, Beanie Wells, Jonathan Stewart and Shonn Greene. In the past it has been a good indicator with guys like Westbrook, Priest Holmes, Barry Sanders, Emmitt Smith basically those short stocky guys with strong legs. They can break tackles and create big plays. Also, I like speedy backs who are agile and leave defenders in the dust. You saw it last season with Chris Johnson, Jamal Charles, Jerome Harrison, all speedy backs who produced. Again I like them all this year including CJ Spiller , Jahvid Best, Reggie Bush, Lesean Mcoy and Benard Scott to a lesser extent.

This year as you see there is plenty of depth at the RB position. Like I mentioned if you can’t get some of the big names or they are being heavily overpriced then build depth with the guys I mentioned and the guys I recommended. Or if you believe in a lot of those 3rd and 4th tier guys like me then you can just simply build depth with those backs. Whatever you do I recommend focusing on depth at the RB position. This will help you play matchups, work around injuries, have the flex position solidified if your league format has a flex and give you more trading options.

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