Top 50 Fantasy Running Backs for 2010

Updated: 8-29-2010

If there’s anything sticking out like a sore thumb about this fantasy football season it’s this: there is crazy depth at running back.  Even with platoons and goal-line backs, you can snag real productivity as late as the fifth or sixth round. Not to say you should pass on a Top 5 running back in the first round, but don’t be scared to fill in your rosters with other positions before resuming your running back chase.   Here are our Top 50 running backs.  As with anything fantasy-related, this list will change – probably a lot

8/29 updates: Michael Bush dropped down due to his finger injury and a stellar performance by Darren McFadden.  Anthony Dixon has supplanted Brian Westbrook on the list because he’s the clear #2, a force of nature, and we all know Frank Gore is injury prone.  LaDanian Tomlinson moved up due to his stellar preseason performances.  It’s going to be tough not to give LT his fair share of carries – and catches.  Also moving up is Tim Hightower.  He’s looked better than Beanie Wells this preseason and is a Ken Whisenhunt favorite for work ethic.  We wouldn’t be surprised to see Hightower garner at least one-third of the workload. (

All updates are italicized.

1)    Chris Johnson, Titans

2)    Maurice Jones-Drew, Jaguars

3)    Adrian Peterson, Vikings

4)    Ray Rice, Ravens

5)    Michael Turner, Falcons

6)    Frank Gore, 49ers

7)    DeAngelo Williams, Panthers

8)    Steven Jackson, Rams

9)    Rashard Mendenhall, Steelers

10)  Ryan Grant, Packers

11)  LeSean McCoy, Eagles

12)  Knowshon Moreno, Broncos

13)  Ryan Mathews, Chargers

14)  Jamaal Charles, Chiefs

15)  Cedric Benson. Bengals

16)  Pierre Thomas, Saints

17)  Jonathan Stewart, Panthers

18)  Shonn Greene, Jets

19)  Jahvid Best, Lions

20)  Ronnie Brown, Dolphins

21)  Arian Foster, Texans

22)  Beanie Wells, Cardinals

23)  Felix Jones, Cowboys

24)  Matt Forte, Bears

25)  Joseph Addai, Colts

26)  Ahmad Bradshaw, Giants

27)  Clinton Portis, Redskins

28)  C.J. Spiller, Bills

29)  Marion Barber, Cowboys

30)  Darren McFadden, Raiders

31)  Laurence Maroney, Patriots

32)  Justin Forsett, Seahawks

33)  Jerome Harrison, Browns

34)  LaDanian Tomlinson, Jets (prev. 37)

35)  Reggie Bush, Saints (prev. 34)

36)  Ricky Williams, Dolphins (prev. 35)

37)  Cadillac Williams, Bucs (prev. 36)

38)  Tim Hightower, Cardinals (prev. 42)

39)  Brandon Jacobs, Giants

40)  Chester Taylor, Bears

41)  Willis McGahee, Ravens

42)  Michael Bush, Raiders (prev. 38)

43)  Fred Jackson, Bills

44)  Anthony Dixon, 49ers (prev. unlisted)

45)  Fred Taylor, Patriots

46)  Montario Hardesty, Browns

47)  Julius Jones, Seahawks

48)  Larry Johnson, Redskins

49)  Donald Brown, Colts

50)  Willie Parker, Redskins


We didn’t follow the usual 1-4 suit as we placed Maurice Jones-Drew above Adrian Peterson.  This was a toughie, and you won’t go wrong with either, but we’re not convinced AP’s carries won’t decrease just a tad this season with Brett Favre back at the helm, while MJD remains the man on an improved Jags offense.   We could see them winding up with similar numbers, except in the fumbling department.

Michael Turner is ahead of Frank Gore for one key reason: his offense is more powerful.  Turner also seems to be fully healed from his high-ankle sprain, and unlike some other 2008 studs (Slaton, Forte), Turner was not a one-hit wonder.  Gore is clearly the man in San Francisco, but the equally all-purpose Brian Westbrook didn’t sign simply to carry Gore’s pads.

Look out for:

Arian Foster – With Ben Tate on IR and Steve Slaton still the king of fumbles, Foster is poised to be the man in Houston, both as the featured and goal-line back.  He’s not a receiving back, hence his #21 rating.

Don’t forget about me and my stiff arm!

Ryan Mathews – There’s a reason the Chargers moved up in the draft to snag this guy.  He’s going to get a lot of face time in Norv Turner’s run-first offense.  Turner predicted 250 carries and 40 receptions.  A clear rookie of the year candidate, Mathews could move up the list if he replicates his outing vs. the Bears.

Jamaal Charles – Not sure why Todd Haley is playing motivational games with Charles by listing Thomas Jones as the number #1 back.  Charles is the better weapon, putting up crazy numbers during the last eight games of 2009 (968 yards, 7 TDs).  And based on Fridays game where Jones was unproductive before a minor injury and Charles came in ripped off two ten yard runs, look for some editing to the Chiefs depth chart in the very near future.

Redskins RBs – No where can the Redskins new found star power be felt more than in the running back corps.  Cinton Portis is the starter, but with Larry Johnson and Willie Parker there, will it be more Three’s Company or Three’s a Crowd?  Shanahan is letting all three backs start a preseason game to see how they work with the first-string.  That seems to signal some major platooning, which based on the potency of the offense, may mean spreading the fantasy love around or breaking up with the Redskins running backs.