1 Adrian Peterson
No debate here for the number one overall pick. Favre or no Favre, he is the best RB in the game right now.
2 Michael Turner
He’s still a safe bet to score, but his lack of receiving ability diminishes any extra value in a PPR league. Jerious Norwood may factor into the Atlanta running game, but Turner will still get the goal lines and you can count on him touching the ball about 20 times a game.
3 Matt Forte
With an improved offensive and no backfield competition, Forte should have a solid sophomore season. With 63 receptions last year, Forte also offers exceptional value in PPR leagues.
4 Brian Westbrook
He’ll produce when he’s healthy, but it seems like he is always dealing with a nagging injury. He’s still worth the gamble, but be prepared for the dreaded game-time decision. LeSean McCoy looks to be the early favorite as his backup so if draft Westbrook you may want to consider using a late round insurance pick on McCoy.
5 DeAngelo Williams
Williams had a breakout season in 2008, rushing for a career-high 1,515 yards. We expect his numbers will decline, the question is, how much? His big play potential and Carolina’s commitment to the running game still give him solid fantasy value.
6 Steve Slaton
Slaton’s size is a concern, but he has little downside. He has explosive speed and is very dangerous in the open field. With 55 receptions last season he also offers an added bonus in PPR leagues.
7 Steven Jackson
Jackson looks to be the centerpiece of the Rams offense again this season, which features an improved offensive line and fullback Mike Karney. Jackson may lead the league in carries if he can stay healthy.
8 Maurice Jones-Drew
The release of Fred Taylor has opened the door wide open for Jones-Drew. He has never rushed more than 200 times in a season, but we expect that to change this year. More opportunity equals more TDs.
9 LaDainian Tomlinson
What a difference a year makes. Arguably the first overall pick last season, Tomlinson has seen his fantasy stock take a hit. At age 30 its hard to believe he’ll have a complete bounce back year, but his role in San Diego’s offense still gives him nice fantasy value.
10 Clinton Portis
Portis has shown he can handle a heavy workload and he does not face any real competition in the Washington backfield. Portis should put up another year of workhorse numbers, however its likely he’ll wear down towards the end of the season.
11 Brandon Jacobs
Jacobs will split carries with Ahmad Bradshaw to try and keep them both fresh throughout the season. Jacobs offers no extra value in PPR leagues, but he is the scariest goal-line back in football. He’s still a safe bet to for double-digit touchdowns, but his bruising running style make him susceptible to injury.
12 Chris Johnson
With an impressive rookie season and legitimate 4.3 speed, Johnson will see an expanded role in Tennessee’s offense. He will lose several goal-line carries to LenDale White, but with 43 receptions last season he offers added value in PPR leagues.
13 Frank Gore
Mike Singletary’s staff will use a run-first approach to their offense, and new offensive coordinator, Jimmy Raye, has described Gore as a 25-carry back. Gore may approach close to 300 carries and will have another productive season, however the lack of offensive line upgrades and a weak passing game are a slight concern.
14 Ryan Grant
After a slow start in September last season, Grant averaged 95 total yards per game the rest of the way. Although he only scored 4 rushing TDs last year, he still doesn’t face much competition for carries so that number will likely rise. As Rodgers and the Packers offense gets better, so will Grant.
15 Joseph Addai
One of biggest fantasy busts of 2008, Addai should easily improve on last years numbers. He’s likely to be in a committee system, splitting carries with rookie Donald Brown, however Addai still should play a bigger factor in the passing game and is likely to handle the goal-line carries.
16 Marion Barber
Barber looks to get between 10-15 carries per game while splitting time with Felix Jones and Tashard Choice. Out of the three backs, Barber is the only one that will offer consistent fantasy value and his receiving ability is a nice bonus in PPR leagues.
17 Derrick Ward
Ward is a great sleeper pick this season and offers a nice combination of speed and power. Although he is likely to lose a few carries to Earnest Graham and there are still a lot of questions regarding Tampa Bay’s offense, Ward still offers great value as a RB2 or RB3 slot.
18 Marshawn Lynch
Lynch has been suspended for the first three games of the season and there is some risk that Fred Jackson may earn extra playing time even when Lynch returns. For that reason, Lynch is likely to slip deeper into most drafts, however the addition of T.O. should help increase the Bills scoring chances so Lynch may be worth the risk. If you do draft Lynch, Jackson is worth a later round insurance pick.
19 Thomas Jones
Coming off of a career year, it is likely Jones will be in more of a time share this season. Leon Washington will remain as the change-of-pace back and will see time on third downs, but Jones may lose some goal-line carries to power back Shonn Greene. Jones is still the only back out of these three with consistent fantasy value.
20 Larry Johnson
The Chiefs have made some steps to improve their offense including the addition of Matt Cassel. The lack of depth at RB means that Johnson will see the majority of carries on first and second down, however with better receiving ability, Jamaal Charles is a better fit for the Chiefs spread passing attack.
21 Jonathan Stewart
Carolina’s running game is good enough for Williams and Stewart to both have fantasy value. Stewart was better on short-yardage and goal-line situations so he should come close to double-digit scores. You can expect Stewart to post very similar numbers to last season.
22 Pierre Thomas
Thomas has a high ceiling this season and could be a steal in many fantasy drafts. Of course Reggie Bush will be a big part of the Saints offense, but look for Thomas to see at least 10-15 touches per game, including a majority the goal-line carries.
23 Cedric Benson
Benson may need about 300 carries to top 1,000 yards, but with the lack of running-back depth in Cincinnati that’s not out of the question. The Bengals should have a better offensive season so look for Benson’s numbers to improve.
24 Ronnie Brown
Brown has tremendous upside, and offers nice RB2 value. The Dolphins have a great offensive line and it appears that the Ricky Williams experiment is coming to a close in Miami. Another year removed from a torn ACL, Brown should see a more significant role this season.
25 Kevin Smith
A horrible offensive-line and an uncertain QB situation is usually not the formula for success for a sophomore RB. There is no doubt that Smith can help spark the Lions offense, but until the Lions can prove they have a passing game, Smith can expect to see a lot of 8 and 9-man fronts.
26 Willie Parker
Parker should get the majority of the carries in Pittsburgh, but Rashard Mendenhall’s role will continue to grow and Mewelde Moore figures to play on third downs. With no added value for receptions, and a likely timeshare, draft Parker with caution.