Chris Wesseling

Dynasty Rankings

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Dynasty Ranks: Running Backs

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Tier One

1. Adrian Peterson, Vikings
2. Chris Johnson, Titans
3. Jamaal Charles, Chiefs

The three most uniquely talented backs in the NFL. All three of them can produce RB1 fantasy numbers regardless of coaches, scheme, or even supporting cast. CJ2K is a fantastic buy this offseason. … Charles proved to be the best player on the field against the Ravens in the Wild Card round loss. That comes as no surprise to anybody who has watched him play on a regular basis the past two seasons.

Tier Two

4. Arian Foster, Texans
5. Ray Rice, Ravens
6. Maurice Jones-Drew, Jaguars
7. Jonathan Stewart, Panthers
8. LeSean McCoy, Eagles
9. Rashard Mendenhall, Steelers
10. Darren McFadden, Raiders

Foster emerged as one of the premier all-around tailback talents in the league. Though his success is not merely a byproduct of Houston's zone-blocking scheme, there's no question that he's ideally suited to Gary Kubiak's offense. … Like Chris Johnson, Rice is an outstanding buy this offseason. Despite a dramatic dropoff in run blocking (and a heavy dose of bad luck), Rice still finished third in the league in total yards. The touchdowns are coming.

Jones-Drew belongs in the top tier on talent alone, but the knee is cause for pause. Meniscus surgery isn't automatic. Just ask Antonio Bryant and Torry Holt. … Stewart is one of the handful of most talented backs in the NFL, and we'll see that on a regular basis if the Panthers move on from free agent DeAngelo Williams. … McCoy benefits from playing with Michael Vick. He also proved more than capable of filling the Brian Westbrook role. … Mendenhall doesn't wow onlookers, but he does everything well as the workhorse for one of the league's steadiest franchises. … McFadden would be at least three spots higher if we could count on him to play 16 games a year.

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Tier Three

11. Matt Forte, Bears
12. Knowshon Moreno, Broncos
13. Jahvid Best, Lions
14. Ryan Mathews, Chargers
15. Frank Gore, 49ers
16. DeAngelo Williams, Panthers / Free Agent
17. Ahmad Bradshaw, Giants / Free Agent
18. Steven Jackson, Rams

Forte was so overvalued after his rookie season that many owners still don't trust him despite a second top-ten fantasy finish in three years. Over the final six weeks, he was fifth in yards-per-carry and third in total yards. … One of the few every-down backs in the NFL, Moreno is a top-10 fantasy back if he can make it through 16 games without injury.

Best and Mathews are ahead of Gore, Williams, and S-Jax purely due to the age factor. Running backs spring a leak at age 28 and the value seeps out slowly until the toe hits the cliff. It's the lay of the land. … D-Will could resume RB1 value depending on where he lands. … It looks like all of the hits and heavy workloads are starting to catch up with S-Jax. … Bradshaw will be ranked higher on most lists. I just don't trust him to stick in the feature back role long-term considering his injury history. I'm not alone, either. His own offensive coordinator has admitted concern that Bradshaw won't continue to hold up to the workload considering his aggressive style and chronic feet/ankle injuries.

Tier Four

19. Peyton Hillis, Browns
20. Felix Jones, Cowboys
21. LeGarrette Blount, Buccaneers
22. Michael Turner, Falcons
23. Beanie Wells, Cardinals
24. Shonn Greene, Jets
25. C.J. Spiller, Bills
26. BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Patriots

Hillis' late-season fade is a slight concern, and he lost a guaranteed heavy workload when Eric Mangini walked out the door. I think he's overvalued heading into 2011. … Among feature backs, Felix remains one of the biggest injury risks. … Turner owners can't deal him for anything close to fair value right now. He lost a step this year.

I still believe in Beanie's second-tier talent, but he has to prove that he can fight through injuries while remaining effective. … I see Blount as a long-term committee back. … Spiller's talent is tempting, but I've never believed he could run between the tackles. … Lawfirm had plenty of value in 2010, but that doesn't mean he's the Patriots' running back of the future. It wouldn't be a surprise if Bill Belichick opts for backfield competition this offseason.

Tier Five

27. Pierre Thomas, Saints / Free Agent
28. Fred Jackson, Bills
29. Ryan Grant, Packers
30. Marshawn Lynch, Seahawks
31. Cedric Benson, Bengals / Free Agent
32. Michael Bush, Raiders / Free Agent
33. Chris Ivory, Saints
34. James Starks, Packers
35. Tashard Choice, Cowboys

I think Thomas will return to New Orleans to split touches with an injury-prone Ivory. … F-Jax may have another year of RB2 value while the Bills feel out Spiller to see if he can pick up pass blocking and learn not to bounce all of his runs outside. … Lynch's beast-mode touchdown run against the Saints doesn't change the fact that he's a mediocre player.

Starks' performance against the Falcons bears watching, but I still think Grant is the favorite to enter 2011 as the starter. … Choice remains a high-upside stash. … Benson and Bush owners are crossing their fingers and hoping for a dream landing spot.

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Chris Wesseling is a senior football editor and Dynasty league analyst for The 2011 NFL season marks his fifth year with Rotoworld and his third year contributing to He can be found on Twitter @ChrisWesseling.
Email :Chris Wesseling

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