Welcome to the 2011 Fantasy Football season! It has officially started because I am officially starting it right now, which is also today. I’m starting off our rankings with running backs because they really are the reason fantasy football exists. I was hoping to hold off on the rankings until the lockout and free agency were over, but we have gots to get this party started. So I reserve the right to change these rankings on a willy-nilly whim!

1. Arian Foster: Foster was by far the best fantasy running back last season. He outscored Adrian Peterson by over 80 fantasy points!  18 touchdowns and 2200 total yards is good stuff, so that means I should probably rank him much lower, but I’m a sucker. I really wanted to put AP in this spot and then bump Foster up to the #1 spot in PPR leagues, but I just couldn’t make it happen.  Foster is still in a great situation with a productive QB at the helm, stud wideout out wide, and a zone blocking scheme that his style fits perfectly. Will he do what he did last season? Good question Doc. I mean me. I’m not going to predict another career year. The odds of that are darn slim, but when you cut into his numbers from last season they still are pretty good. Projection: 1400/11 — 550/2

2. Adrian Peterson: All Day had been the most consistent fantasy back in the league over the past 4 years. He has never finished lower than the third best fantasy back in the league. He has also never finished as the first best fantasy back either. First best? So I am not going to laugh and throw things at people who take AP first because it’s impossible to find a running back with that kind of track record. If the Vikings had a quarterback I would have put him at #1 and if somehow they can land a QB like Kevin Kolb (who I think goes to the Cardinals) or Matt Hasselbeck then I might push him to #1. Projection: 1400/14 — 350/2

3. Jamaal Charles: You know my love for JC Superstar has no bounds. I worship the ground he walks on. I am one of his earliest disciples. Last year I had him ranked as the 9th best back going into the season and was nearly thrown out of the fantasy football commune, but he ended up as the 4th best back!  Right now JC and CJ are 3a and 3b for me, but I am hoping JC won’t be the #2 back on his own team this season! His numbers were incredible for the number of touches he had and if he can get 50 more looks his numbers will be crazy. Projection: 1400/10 — 450/2

4. Chris Johnson: CJ2K had a “down” year but still finished as the fifth best running back last season. He should be set to “rebound” all the way up to the fourth best back.  In his post 2k season he dropped 900 total yards and 4 touchdowns, which made him look much thinner, but it probably wasn’t a healthy thin. The insanity of Vince Young (Vincanity) hurt him and sadly for him there is nobody riding to the rescue at QB. He will most likely holdout for more money, but I’m not going to drop him in the rankings because he’ll most likely end up playing. Projection: 1425/11 — 350/2

5. Ray Rice: The Rutgers running back named Ray Rice didn’t live up to my expectations last season. He had over 1300 total yards more than Willis McGahee, but the exact same number of touchdowns with 6! Yes, that has to do a little with goal line carries, but also to do with some bad luck. It’s not a given that McGahee will be back or will be let go, but either way I see Rice getting into the end zone more often. Projection: 1300/9 — 500/2

6. Rashard Mendenhall: Mendy is where I will start a new tier. He doesn’t have ankle folding moves, break away speed or many 100 yard games.  So why is he ranked 6th Doc? Well, sir or ma’am, I’ll tell you. He’s on a very good, run oriented team, gets the ball at the goal line, should continue to improve in the passing game, and after slowing down at the end of last season, showed he still had it in the AFC Championship game when he displayed ability that would make you think of some of the greats.  He’s a steady TD and fantasy points producer and that’s nice to get with the 6th RB. Projection: 1350/12 — 300/1

7. Darren McFadden: So you have Run DMC, a clear injury risk, ahead of Maurice Jones-Drew? Wait, are you talking to me? Oh, yeah, that’s right. No, I don’t like DMac’s propensity for injury, but he’s just too damn good. Too damn good. Should I say it again? He was JC Superstar good! And if we didn’t have that injury cloud hanging around I would have him top 5 easily. But we do so I don’t. He averaged 128 total yards per game and had 10 touchdowns on a not so good Raiders team. Coach Jackson (Hue if you’re nasty) says he will continue to be the focal point of the offense. They also might lose Michael Bush, which would free up more touches. I’m not going to say he is a lock, but his upside is too crazy high to not go for him, especially at the beginning of the second round, paired with a more stable player. Projection: 1300/9 — 450/2

8. LeSean McCoy: Shady averaged a Westbrook like 5.2 yards per carry and had a Westbrook like 78 receptions for 592 yards! Of course he has a Westbrook-like frame which makes it hard to shove him across the goal line for short yardage TDs, but he still got in there 9 times and there’s no reason to think he can’t repeat those numbers. The Eagles offense is well suited for West, uh I mean McCoy’s skills and he will continue to get the ball on a potent offense. Of course in PPR he moves up in the rankings, but he’s still great in any format. Projection: 1100/7 — 550/2

9. Matt Forte: Mr. Forte has moved up my rankings as I lose faith in the older backs and gain faith in Forte’s use in the offense. The one thing you want in a fantasy player is the ability to be relevant every single game and Forte can do that. Yes, he will have trouble getting into the end zone, but so does our #8 RB. Last season he finished as the 11th RB in non-PPR leagues and now in the second year under Martz should see an uptick in receptions and carries. He will average 100 yards a game and since he is a threat for receptions won’t get lost in a game where his team is way behind and needs to air it out.  It is hard to find a running back who is the main ball carrier and main pass receiving RB on team. Projection: 1200/7 — 500/2

10. Frank Gore: I’ve gone back and forth on Gore in these last few months. Our man Clint goes into the Gorey Details why he’s not a fan and I agree, but it’s still hard not to like his ability. Well, LOVE his ability, and the fact that he is the sole back in a league with many RBBC’s. Even at 12-14 games he is going to give you a lot of fantasy points. I wish I could ask for more than 12-14 games, but I’m not going to get too greedy. Projection: 1250/8 — 350/2

  1. Welcome back Doc! Look forward to the new season!

  2. Doc

    Doc says:

    @Howard: Thanks! Looking forward to it myself!

  3. Mr2Bits says:

    Hey Doc,
    Your other list has Forte at #8. Why was he left off of this list?

  4. Doc

    Doc says:

    @Mr2Bits: I’ve moved Forte up. I’ll be editing this post shortly.

  5. xtremehulk says:

    Hey doc, have QB and FB free agency changed the order of your top tier (1-4); or do you still rank it the same? Also, I love JC but his playoff schedule sucks ass. What do you think?

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