Yes, the Super Bowl has yet to be played, but why not start looking forward to next season? I don’t know. Well, because it’s fun, okay! But, it is early. Jesus man, let me be for once! So, yes, it’s early and a lot can change in the five years between today and next season, but it’s a good idea to develop your thoughts on where you see a player’s production now, so when changes occur you have a bit of a baseline to gauge what difference the change makes in their production.  Or something that sounds more profound than that.  I can tell you this top 10 didn’t just come to me in a dream, but if it would have I’m assuming I would be in my sponge-bob underwear and Jamaal Charles would be pointing and laughing.

So onto the show:

1. Chris Johnson: Is CJ a lock? No, no number 1 pick is a lock.  Adrian Peterson was a lock last season and ended up the #2 running back and 64 fantasy points behind CJ.  So who’s the next CJ? Hmm, how about CJ?  You can shuffle on back yonder for my post on Dos Mil and have a look see.  It says I think he’s ok. Projection: 1550/14 — 50/550/3

2. Adrian Peterson: With or without Favre (is that a U2 song?) Peterson will be near the top in fantasy goodness next season.  Favre opened up the receiving game for AP; 43 grabs and 436 yards.  And even if Favre returns to the farm, it hopefully opened some Viking eyes (I just hope they don’t rise from the grave and plunder our women and goods).  Purple Jesus needs to wait on his blockers and not try to be a martyr.  His raw talent is still at its peak and he will continue to rack up elite numbers. Projection: 1400/17 — 40/375/2

3. Maurice Jones-Drew: I was happy to have drafted MJD last season, but he was held back by David Garrard and the rest of his suckfest teammates. His skill set is just too good, but his team sometimes make it difficult for him.  Look at Steven Jackson (but not too intently, he may punch you).  SJax is easily a top tier running back, but his team made him a 2nd or 3rd tier back depending on how many tiers you want to shove in there. But the Jags weren’t as bad as the Rams, and their GM says he will be the focal point of the offense next season, duh.  As an aside, never draft MGD.  It’s gross. Projection: 1250/14 — 55/500/2

4. Ray Rice: His running style has been compared to Emmit Smith, his balance to Barry Sanders, his power to MJD, and his receiving skills to a running back who can catch the ball a lot.  He gets a ton of work in open space by catching a shizz-load of passes, which will keep him from getting squared up on as much as some backs.  Joe Flacco should improve, Derrick Mason should return and the Ravens should go after another receiver, possibly Brandon Marshall or Anquan Boldin.  Rice would benefit health-wise and touchdown-wise with a better passing game. Projection: 1300/10 — 70/675/2

5. Frank Gore: This starts a new tier.  I like to call this tier, “a little upside and please don’t get hurt side.” Or something that makes more sense.  Gore, if he could stay on the field all 16 games, could be a beast.  That’s a large if, but even with 13 games, Gore was still the 6th best fantasy running back last season.  His touchdown numbers are what got him back into the top range and I believe with the 49ers improving as a team those TD numbers should stay in the double digits.  The emergence of Vernon Davis and the soon to emerge Michael Crabtree will help keep Gore from getting gored and also give him some easy touchdowns. Projection: 1275/11 — 55/450/2

6. Michael Turner: With so many backs putting up big numbers through the air and the ground it’s hard to go crazy over Turner who tends to stick to the ground, but he does what he does very well.  He is a touchdown machine. He had 10 games in which he had more than 1 carry and had 10 touch downs.  I can’t say I’m not a little gun shy about injuries (well, I can, but I won’t), but his production last year while healthy didn’t drop and his injury shouldn’t be a long term issue.  I like the Falcons to rebound this season with a healthier crew and put up healthy fantasy awesomeness. Projection: 1350/15 — 8/60/0

7. Andre Johnson: I’m not much of a 1st round wide receiver type (that’s on my match.com profile), but AJ is my exception.  Of course in ppr he is a amazing, but right now you will be hard pressed to find a better receiver in a better position.  Yes, Larry Fitzgerald is right up there with him, but he has Matt Leinart throwing to him now.  Calvin Johnson could easily be there if he was on a team that wasn’t as bad as, well, the Lions.  Randy Moss has lost Wes Welker for a bit and is rapidly aging and is a “slouch” as Darrelle Revis likes to say.  There are other receivers that are in the picture as well, but none with the overall abilities AJ has.  He’s had back to back big years and Matt Schaub put together a healthy season and looks like he’ll keep improving.  Look for more of the same. Projection: 100/1450/10

8. Steven Jackson: At this point there is no reason to think Jackson is going to be in a better situation than he was last season, when he finished as the 10th best fantasy running back, but 2nd only to Chris Johnson in rushing yards.  Sam Bradford may not be SJax’s savior, but he can’t be any worse than the dung piles they threw on the field at quarterback last season.  As long as he stays healthy he will continue to run people over. Projection: 1325/7 — 45/350/1

9. Rashard Mendenhall: He didn’t play much or at all in the first three games and with those added numbers could have easily been a top 10 fantasy running back last season.  He never really blew the doors off any teams, for one because teams don’t really have doors, but secondly he isn’t Chris Johnson, and thankfully nobody said he was.  This wasn’t an easy choice for me, but there are a few factors that got him into my top 10.  So, what are they? Oh, you wanted me to tell you?  Well, he looks like he’s going to be the third down back, which means more receptions.   Also, Art Rooney and the whole city of Pittsburgh think they need to run the ball more.  Whether that’s a good idea or not, Tomlin agreed with it.  Tomlin also made some remarks comparing Mendenhall with Ray Rice; now that is probably a stretch, but Mendenhall did end the season with 25 receptions and I believe Tomlin wants to up that number next season.  So there is my long-winded way of saying, grab Mendenhall early. Projection: 1250/10 — 40/300/1

10. Jamaal Charles: We love ourselves some JC here at Razzball, but Razz-love can only boost a player up for so long.  He does have to do some work on his own.  Charles only had 8 games with double digit carries last season and only 4 of those were 20+, but he still finished as the 12th best fantasy running back.  He had some easy matchups, but also ran well against tougher defenses.  I’ve heard some concern over the Patriots staff pillaging the Chiefs and implementing their, start 6-7 running backs and see what happens approach, but Charlie Weis helped Corey Dillon to 1600 yards rushing in 2004 so he knows how to use a good back.  Thomas Jones will take some goal line TD’s away, but JC has Chris Johnson like skill. Projection: 1175/7 — 60/475/2