Everyone will be looking for the next Arian Foster, Peyton Hillis or Ahmad Bradshaw in their 2011 fantasy drafts. They’re not easy to find. They’re even harder to find in February, but it’s never too early to start searching. Everyone can make solid running back picks in the top 3 rounds, but it’s the fantasy owners who make the best running back selections in the mid to late rounds that end up winning fantasy titles. The guy who drafted Arian Foster late in your fantasy draft won your league last season, didn’t he? I knew it!
So who’s it going to be in 2011? Great question. Glad I thought of it. That’s a question we’ll be asking every month from now until August. I have my eye on a few right now, which I’ll share with you if you keep reading. I’m also targeting a big time stud in all my leagues this year as well, and he’s a favorite here at Razzball.
Jamaal Charles: Everyone and their dog will be targeting Charles. Even the puppies of those dogs will be targeting him, and their puppies after that, and their puppies after that. I agree with Doc’s assessment in his round 1 mock draft post when he said he expects an uptick in both carries and receptions for Mr. Charles. He finished 2010 with just 275 touches and scored the 3rd most fantasy points among running backs (standard scoring). The remaining top 5 scoring running backs (Foster, Peterson, Hillis, Johnson) each finished with 319 touches or more. Charles will approach 300 touches in 2011, he’s as explosive as they come, he has #1 overall scoring upside, and he’s going to cost you a top 3 pick in August/September.
Ryan Mathews: Mathews had a relatively quiet rookie campaign, which should make him fairly cheap in 2011 fantasy drafts. The Chargers didn’t trade up in the draft and select him 12th overall to be a role player. He’s going to be the lead dog at some point. Mathews will see an increased workload on an offense that scores more than Tiger Woods does. I like his outlook even if Mike Tolbert steals a few TDs here and there.
Jahvid Best: If it weren’t for his turf toe injury, Best would have had a superb rookie season. It’s easy to forget his 4 TD’s in his first two games as a pro. Well don’t forget, people! Best is used heavily in the Detroit passing game and has that explosive quality we all look for in our fantasy running backs. I’m thinking LeSean McCoy type numbers for Best in 2011 if he can just stay healthy. He has top 10 potential.
Shonn Greene: LaDanian Tomlinson had 271 touches in 2010, Greene had 201. Tomlinson will be 32 in June. I just don’t see him getting that many touches again. In fact, I expect those numbers to flip-flop, or close to it. For as cheap as he’ll come in 2011 fantasy drafts, I’ll take my chances with a mid to late round pick on the Big Greene Machine. Yeah, I made that nickname up. Don’t mock me.
Tashard Choice: Marion Barber sucks, Felix Jones never scores, and Choice is the best running back in Big D as far as I’m concerned. Dallas should be one of the highest scoring offenses in the league this upcoming year, and with where Choice will go in 2011 fantasy drafts, he’s the perfect low risk/high reward selection late in 2011 fantasy drafts. His 4.8 career ypc average shows us he has some serious potential if he just gets an opportunity.
More running backs will pop up between now and August as guys to target in 2011 fantasy drafts. These are a few I’m looking at as of today. Again, it’s only February so a lot will happen before the season starts, obviously. That’s why this is just target practice.
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