Running backs used to be the kings of fantasy football. Draft always centered around the runners and whoever owned Marshall Faulk or Priest Holmes always won their league.
Times have changed. Very few teams employ a single running back star to carry the load for their team. Only a handful of teams have an every down back that fantasy football owners can count on. That makes the quality running backs a premium but the rest are a step below the top quarterbacks in the league.
Here are the top 10 running backs to target in your 2010 fantasy football draft.
1. Adrian Peterson – Flip a coin – Adrian or Chris, Chris or Adrian? It doesn’t matter which running back you choose, either one is going to score you a lot of fantasy football points. Adrian Peterson is a workhorse back that is going to pound the yards and is always a threat to break a big one. With Sidney Rice going down with a preseason injury, the Vikings will need to rely on AD even more. With Chester Taylor not around to steal goal line carries, expect Peterson to run for around 1500 yards with 15 touchdowns. He catches the ball too, so he provides PPR leagues with an added bonus.
2. Chris Johnson – Chris Johnson exploded out of the gate in his rookie year, eclipsing 2,000 all-purpose yards. Don’t be surprised to see him getting close to the 2,000 yard mark just running the ball this year. He is almost a lock to break 2,000 all-purpose yards and will push Adrian Peterson for that top fantasy football running back spot. How much he scores is all going to depend on the continued maturation of quarterback Vince Young. That is where Adrian Peterson holds an advantage.
3. Maurice Jones Drew – MJD has come a long way since sharing running duties with Fred Taylor. He remains the Jacksonville Jaguars only true threat on offense and plays with confidence and maturity that is surprising for someone of his age (25). MJD may not run for as many yards as AD or CJ, but he score touchdowns at an alarming rate. Don’t be surprised it MJD breaks the 20 touchdown mark this season.
4. Ray Rice – Ray Rice stole the starting running back job from Willis McGahee and never looked back. The bruiser raced for 1,339 yards and 7 touchdowns in his second year as a pro and surpassed 2,000 all-purpose yards as well. He also led all running backs with 78 catches for 702 yards, more than most receivers in the NFL. Rice enters his third season as a fantasy football stud and is one of the most valuable players an owner can possess in 2010.
5. Cedric Benson – Cedric Benson has moved up this list for two reasons. First, Benson is the only true threat in the Bengals running game. While many teams have adopted the dual running back option in their offense, the Bengals will rely on Benson to pound out the yards. Second, the preseason has proven Terrell Owens is far from finished. If defenses have to defend against Owens, Chad Ochocinco and rookie Jermaine Gresham, Benson will find plenty of holes.
6. Michael Turner
7. Steven Jackson
8. Ryan Grant
9. Frank Gore
10. C.J. Spiller