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2011 Fantasy Football Running Backs Rankings Outlook

The term “running back by committee” has changed the face of fantasy football. Almost every team in the league now splits carries between two if not three backs. The key is drafting the backs that will get the most work and are well rounded enough to get the ball between the 20s and in the red zone. (not to mention is on the field for passing downs) Those are your studs and will go in the early rounds: Peterson, Foster, Johnson, are easy to target and all should have great seasons again. Other key contributors are Charles, McCoy, Mendenhall, Turner, Jones-Drew, Rice, and, McFadden with Charles being the only back in a real time share but is explosiveness more than makes up for that. After these top backs you have a few older and guys like Jackson and Gore that have moved out of the top ten due to injury concerns.

A fantasy football championship is typically not won or lost with your early round picks. It is the middle to late round value picks that make the real difference and since the NFL loves to time share running the ball it is tough to say who those will be on a year to year basis. Here at FantasySmackTalk, you will hear us say this all the time: once you get your core team always draft young with upside over old and reliable. The thinking behind this is a guy like Arian Foster. Last season if you burned your 8th round pick on Thomas Jones sure he is somewhat productive but Thomas Jones did not win anyone any championships. Finding a guy like Foster in the 8th round was a huge win for any owner.

This season there are a few young with upside players that were busts from a season ago that might live up to the hype this year in Greene and Mathews. They are both the future for their respective teams and both play behind a solid line. Blount is another youngster, that came out of nowhere in the second half of the season that should be targeted in those early middle rounds.  As far as rookies go our two favorites are Daniel Thomas and Ryan Williams playing for the Fins and Cards respectively. Each will compete and probably win the starting tailbacks job for their teams and like no other position rookie running backs can step into the NFL and have immediate value.

Now do not completely count out older guys in your draft however, it is still all about value and finding that balance. Benson will probably be back for the Bengals and most likely will touch the ball close to 300 times in the 2011 season. Ryan Grant is coming off a nasty injury but if he is healthy he is great speculative draft pick to get late since he is on such a great offensive and was productive two seasons ago.

Draft Day Advice

Ensure you get at least one if not two studs early in your draft. After that fill up your bench with upside guys (we would prefer to see youth but older guys can have upside as well) no reason to carry two kickers, two quarterbacks, two defenses, two tight ends – save those spots for upside running backs. The ones that pan out will either be productive players on your team or at least great trade bait.

TiersRankPlayerTeamGamesYardsAvgTDRecYdsTD
11Arian FosterHOU161616101.016666042
12Adrian PetersonMIN15129886.512363411
23Jamaal CharlesKC16146791.75454683
24Chris JohnsonTEN16136485.311442451
25LeSean McCoyPHI15108072.07785922
26Ray RiceBAL16122376.45635561
27Rashard MendenhallPIT16127479.613231670
38Maurice Jones-DrewJAC14132494.65343172
39Darren McFaddenOAK13115789.07475073
310Michael TurnerATL16137185.71212850
411Steven JacksonSTL16124177.66463830
412Frank GoreSF1185377.53464522
413Peyton HillisCLE16117773.611614772
414Matt ForteCHI16106966.86515473
515Jahvid BestDET1556337.54584872
516LeGarrette BlountTB13100777.565140
517Ahmad BradshawNYG16123577.28473140
518Shonn GreeneNYJ1576651.12161200
519DeAngelo WilliamsCAR636160.2111610
620Knowshon MorenoDEN1377959.95373723
621Felix JonesDAL1680050.01484501
622BenJarvus Green-EllisNE16100863.01312850
623Ryan GrantGB14545.00000
724Ryan MathewsSD1267556.37221450
725Mark IngramNO0000000
726Daniel ThomasMIA0000000
727Reggie BushMIA815018.80342081
728Joseph AddaiIND849561.94191240
729Cedric BensonCIN16111169.47281781
830Beanie WellsARZ1339730.525740
831Fred JacksonBUF1692757.95312152
832Mike TolbertSD1573549.011252160
833C.J. SpillerBUF1428320.20241571
834Jonathan StewartCAR1477055.0281031
935Marshawn LynchSEA1673746.16221450
936Roy HeluWAS0000000
937Tim HightowerWAS1673746.05211360
938Stevan RidleyNE0000000
1039DeMarco MurrayDAL0000000
1040Pierre ThomasNO626944.82292010
1041LaDainian TomlinsonNYJ1590660.46523680
1042James StarksGB310133.702150
1043Kendall HunterSF0000000
1144Brandon JacobsNYG1682351.497590
1145Thomas JonesKC1689656.06141220
1146Ryan TorainWAS1074274.24181252
1147Rashad JenningsJAC1345935.34262230
1148Bernard ScottCIN1629918.7111600
1149Michael BushOAK1465546.88181940

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