Monday, August 15, 2011

2011 Fantasy Football Rankings: Running Backs

Ahhh running backs. The lifeblood of fantasy football. Or at least, they used to be, back when all 32 teams had a feature running back to take all the carries and rack up a ton of points. Not so anymore, which is where we come in to sort through them all and make sure you get the right ones.

Continuing our 2011 Fantasy Football series after unveiling our Quarterback Rankings last week, it's time to take a look at the top running backs in the the NFL--for fantasy purposes, anyway.

Tier 1

1. Adrian Peterson

2. Chris Johnson

3. Jamaal Charles

4. Arian Foster

5. Ray Rice

Tier 2

6. LeSean McCoy

7. Maurice Jones-Drew

8. Rashard Mendenhall

9. Darren McFadden

10. Frank Gore

Tier 3

11. Matt Forte

12. Steven Jackson

13. Michael Turner

14. Ahmad Bradshaw

15. Peyton Hillis

Tier 4

16. LeGarrette Blount

17. Knowshon Moreno

18. Jahvid Best

19. Shonn Greene

Tier 5

20. Mark Ingram

21. Daniel Thomas

22. Ryan Mathews

23. Felix Jones

24. DeAngelo Williams

25. Cedric Benson

26. Ryan Grant

27. Marshawn Lynch

28. Fred Jackson

29. BenJarvus Green-Ellis

Tier 6

30. Jonathan Stewart

31. Tim Hightower

32. Beanie Wells

33. Ryan Williams

34. Mike Tolbert

35. Michael Bush

36. Pierre Thomas

37. Joseph Addai

39. C.J. Spiller

40. James Starks

Tier 7

41. Brandon Jacobs

42. Reggie Bush

43. Danny Woodhead

44. Ryan Torain

45. Roy Helu

46. Darren Sproles

47. Rashad Jennings

Tier 8

48. LaDainian Tomlinson

49. Ronnie Brown

50. Willis McGahee

51. Thomas Jones

52. Ricky Williams

Tier 9

53. Montario Hardesty

54. Jerome Harrison

55. Javon Ringer

56. Bernard Scott

58. DeMarco Murray

59. Jason Snelling

60. Ben Tate

61. Marion Barber

62. Brandon Jackson

63. Delone Carter

64. Shane Vereen

65. Justin Forsett

66. Donald Brown

67. Toby Gerhart

68. Anthony Dixon

69. Cadillac Williams

The Running Back position, as you can see, has turned into one big clusterfudge in the fantasy football world. Just as we advised that you pick up a Tier 1 quarterback, that would be ideal with running backs as well, but definitely have at least one of the top 15 guys or you really don't know what you're getting.

The shortage of quality backs means, quite simply, just pick as many of them as you can. That 20-40 group can almost be flipped around without anybody putting up too much of a fight, which is quite the predicament for fantasy players looking to get a stud No. 2 back. So our advice is to stockpile the position and hope that your Tim Hightowers separate from your Ryan Torains.

At the top, there are more enticing options than Adrian Peterson, but old reliable gets our No. 1 nod for his consistency. Chris Johnson's holdout is a little fearful, as is Arian Foster without bruising fullback Vonta Leach, so we'd stick with Peterson as the first overall pick.

With QBs and RBs behind us, it's time to take a look at another seemingly convoluted position--wide receivers. Check back later this week for our WR rankings.


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