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2009 Fantasy Football Rankings: Running Backs Nos. 21-65
These 2009 Fantasy Football Running Back Rankings will be updated often throughout the summer, so make sure you check back from time to time. Also, be sure to check out my other 2009 Fantasy Football articles, which will include sleepers, busts, tons of 2009 Fantasy Football mock drafts and other things.
2009 Fantasy Football Rankings - Running Backs:
Last Updated: Sept. 5, 2009
Chris Wells, Cardinals. Bye: 4. SEPT. 3 UPDATE: Ken Whisenhunt is now acknowledging that Chris Wells may be the starting running back. This is significant, as he previously was dead set on Tim Hightower being the guy. Guess things changed when Wells tore it up last weekend. Hightower has had a fantastic preseason, but there's no denying Wells' ability. If Arizona wants to get back to the Super Bowl, Wells will need to be in the backfield.
AUG. 30 UPDATE: Chris Wells finally played, though he had to wait until the third drive to enter the game Friday night. Wells looked very spry and quick on his first carry of 11 yards. On the next possession, Wells eluded four tackles with his quick feet to score a 20-yard touchdown behind right tackle. Wells also had a 9-yard rush where he pushed defenders around, but that was nullified by holding.
Wells, who predictably didn't catch any passes, rushed for 46 yards on seven carries. He also scored two touchdowns.
Chris Wells is going to be the starter on Day 1. Tim Hightower is not going to steal any of Wells' carries. Hightower will continue to be a factor in the passing game, as Wells didn't catch very many passes at Ohio State, but the Buckeye product will score tons of touchdowns, making him a very good RB2, especially in Touchdown Leagues.
Projected 2009 Fantasy Stats: 1,010 rushing yards. 7 catches. 50 receiving yards. 11 total TDs.
Projected 2009 Fantasy Points: 172. Projected 2009 PPR Fantasy Points: 179.
Cedric Benson, Bengals. Bye: 8. SEPT. 2 UPDATE: Just two days after becoming the penultimate rookie to sign his contract, Andre Smith fractured his foot in practice and will be out indefinitely. Though Smith is obese, he's a tremendous run-blocker. I'm not going to downgrade Cedric Benson in my 2009 Fantasy Football Rankings, but it's a bit discouraging that Benson may not have Smith blocking for him for a while.
AUG. 29 UPDATE: The stats say that Cedric Benson wasn't too impressive Thursday night; Benson gained 17 yards on five carries. However, Benson had a 16-yard rush wiped out by a penalty. Benson also had nice runs of eight and 12 yards where the offensive line blew open huge holes for him. The problem was that Benson took two big losses because Carson Palmer's absence allowed the Rams to constantly put eight men in the box.
AUG. 21 UPDATE: Cedric Benson really impressed me. He made a nice juke on Shawn Springs to gain 13 yards on a reception. He ran with good power and eluded defenders with nice cuts, gaining 28 rushing yards on 10 carries versus New England's tough defensive front. Benson also chipping in with three receptions for 25 receiving yards. It's hard to believe, but Benson finally looks like the running back who came out of Texas back in 2005.
AUG. 15 UPDATE: Last year, Cincinnati struggled to run the ball, but that probably won't be the case this year. Cedric Benson looked very sharp despite fumbling on his second carry. He rushed for 28 yards on eight tries, and also caught a 5-yard pass.
Cedric Benson finished the year on a very strong note, totaling at least 130 yards in each of his final three contests. Was it the sobriety? Probably not. Two of those three teams were the Browns and the Chiefs. The other was the Jekyll-and-Hyde Redskins.
There's no guarantee Benson stays out of jail, but he currently is the unquestioned starting running back on an NFL team, so he has to be considered a solid RB3, especially with the massive Andre Smith blocking for him.
Projected 2009 Fantasy Stats: 980 rushing yards. 32 catches. 275 receiving yards. 7 total TDs.
Projected 2009 Fantasy Points: 167. Projected 2009 PPR Fantasy Points: 199.
Donald Brown, Colts. Bye: 6. AUG. 17 UPDATE:
Donald Brown is the real deal, and I'm not saying this lightly. Brown is the better of the two running backs, and it's not even close.
During the preseason opener, Brown sparked the Colts instantly with an explosive run up the middle for 11 yards. He made a nice cut for a 6-yard gain on his second carry. Right after that, he ran for a surplus of 38 yards thanks to a broken tackle.
Brown finished with 58 yards on five attempts. He did this against Minnesota's backups, but it's not like he had his starting line either. Brown's only mistake of the evening was a missed block that forced Curtis Painter into a near-interception.
There are no guarantees here because like DeAngelo Williams, Joseph Addai could come into camp extra motivated. Still, Addai is injury-prone and the Colts aren't going to sit a first-round pick.
I'll be monitoring this situation throughout the preseason. For now, Donald Brown is a high-upside running back.
Projected 2009 Fantasy Stats: 850 rushing yards. 39 catches. 325 receiving yards. 8 total TDs.
Projected 2009 Fantasy Points: 165. Projected 2009 PPR Fantasy Points: 204.
Ahmad Bradshaw, Giants. Bye: 10.
Ahmad Bradshaw is awesome. If you missed the preseason opener, Bradshaw rushed for 35 yards on five carries, which included a fierce 19-yard score where he bulldozed over helpless Panther defenders. More importantly, Bradshaw caught two receptions for 17 yards, meaning he'll function as the third-down back (huge for PPR leagues). In the wake of this performance, I fully expect Bradshaw to match Derrick Ward's 2008 numbers.
Projected 2009 Fantasy Stats: 1,000 rushing yards. 38 catches. 350 receiving yards. 5 total TDs.
Projected 2009 Fantasy Points: 165. Projected 2009 PPR Fantasy Points: 203.
Darren McFadden, Raiders. Bye: 9.
No one has an easier pair of opponents in Weeks 15 and 16 than the Oakland running backs. The Raiders take on the Broncos and Browns, two teams that mysteriously avoided adding talent to their inept defensive fronts.
But will Darren McFadden even be getting all of the carries? Justin Fargas is more proven, while Michael Bush seems like the best runner of the bunch.
I'd have to think Al Davis will put his foot down and threaten to turn the entire coaching staff into vampires if they don't give McFadden every opportunity to carry the load. Look for McFadden to get most of the rushes early behind a very good run-blocking line.
Also keep in mind that McFadden caught 19 passes the final seven games of the 2008 campaign, making him an intriguing option in PPR Leagues.
Projected 2009 Fantasy Stats: 810 rushing yards. 51 catches. 400 receiving yards. 5 total TDs.
Projected 2009 Fantasy Points: 151. Projected 2009 PPR Fantasy Points: 202.
Marshawn Lynch, Bills. Bye: 9. AUG. 24 UPDATE:
Marshawn Lynch had no running lanes against the Packers and mustered only six yards on six carries Saturday night. It's going to be an ugly year for Lynch, who will struggle behind the worst offensive line in the league once he returns from his three-game suspension. Avoid him in your leagues at all cost.
Some reasons not to like Marshawn Lynch this year:
- If you haven't heard, he's been suspended for three games for violating the league's personal conduct policy.
- Fred Jackson, a talented running back, will get an opportunity to start with Lynch sidelined. In Weeks 2 and 3, the Bills battle the Buccaneers and Saints. If Jackson has two great games, Dick Jauron could decide to ride the hot hand.
- Regardless, Jackson will steal some of Lynch's carries. Lynch had just three 100-yard performances in 2008, while Jackson got a lot of work at the end of last season.
- Jason Peters is gone and the Bills foolishly disregarded the exterior of their offensive line during the 2009 NFL Draft.
Lynch will likely be overdrafted in most leagues. My advice is to stay away.
Projected 2009 Fantasy Stats: 840 rushing yards. 30 catches. 225 receiving yards. 7 total TDs.
Projected 2009 Fantasy Points: 148. Projected 2009 PPR Fantasy Points: 178.
Leon Washington, Jets. Bye: 9. AUG. 31 UPDATE: Leon Washington was New York's most effective running back Saturday night, gaining 62 yards on only nine rushes with the first-team offense. Washington also had three receptions for seven more yards. Look for him to steal a significant amount of touches from the suddenly fossilized Thomas Jones.
AUG. 25 UPDATE: Leon Washington was brilliant Monday night, as the Ravens seemed to have no answer for him. Washington led the Jets in rushing (8 carries, 48 yards) and receiving (2 catches, 35 yards). Washington, who was solely responsible for the Jets converting a bunch of third downs in the second quarter, will get a lot more touches this year; the Jets weren't kidding when they said they were going to give him the ball more.
A solid flex player in PPR schemes, Leon Washington garnered 47 receptions and 355 receiving yards in addition to his 448 rushing yards and eight total touchdowns. Washington will continue to produce in New York's aerial attack.
Projected 2009 Fantasy Stats: 710 rushing yards. 53 catches. 400 receiving yards. 6 total TDs.
Projected 2009 Fantasy Points: 147. Projected 2009 PPR Fantasy Points: 200.
Thomas Jones, Jets. Bye: 9. AUG. 31 UPDATE: Thomas Jones started Saturday night, but rushed for 16 yards and a score on 12 carries. Jones looked as bad as those numbers indicate; he ran slowly and sluggishly. Leon Washington was far more effective. Look for him to steal a significant amount of touches from the suddenly fossilized Jones.
AUG. 25 UPDATE: Thomas Jones began the game Monday night with two carries up the middle for six yards each. He also had a 10-yard gain, but relinquished a bunch of his touches to Leon Washington. With Washington bound to get more rushes and Shonn Greene in the mix, Jones won't come even close to matching his 2008 stats. He's being overdrafted in many leagues.
Thomas Jones really didn't help himself by skipping minicamps. Sure, he wants a new deal, but while he was sitting at home and eating cupcakes, rookie Shonn Greene got all of the reps.
It's a shame because Jones is coming off a great season (1,312 rushing yards, 207 receiving yards, 15 TDs). But Jones is 31, and New York's new coaching staff obviously envisions Greene as the running back of the future - and maybe even the present.
Projected 2009 Fantasy Stats: 850 rushing yards. 23 catches. 180 receiving yards. 7 total TDs.
Projected 2009 Fantasy Points: 145. Projected 2009 PPR Fantasy Points: 168.
Reggie Bush, Saints. Bye: 5.
In three years, Reggie Bush has never had more than 157 carries, 581 rushing yards or eight total touchdowns in a single season. However, his pass-catching ability makes him a valuable commodity, especially in PPR Leagues. In just 10 games in 2008, Bush had 52 receptions and 440 receiving yards.
Projected 2009 Fantasy Stats: 530 rushing yards. 70 catches. 500 receiving yards. 7 total TDs.
Projected 2009 Fantasy Points: 145. Projected 2009 PPR Fantasy Points: 215.
Derrick Ward, Buccaneers. Bye: 8. AUG. 28 UPDATE:
Cadillac Williams' impressive performance Thursday night spells trouble for Derrick Ward fantasy owners, as Morris' dreadful 2-2-1 RBBC rotation looks like it'll come to fruition. Ward simply couldn't get anything on the ground, gaining just three yards on four carries. He salvaged this game by catching two balls for 13 yards, including a 9-yard reception.
AUG. 27 UPDATE:
According to Raheem Morris, the Buccaneers will foolishly run a 2-2-1 rotation for their three running backs, Derrick Ward, Earnest Graham and Cadillac Williams, assuming in that order. Cadillac is brittle, so that plan may not work, but it's not good news for Ward owners. Tampa Bay's offensive line hasn't looked too sharp either, so Ward will be downgraded in my 2009 Fantasy Football Rankings.
AUG. 24 UPDATE:
Earnest Graham sat out with an ankle injury, so Derrick Ward got the start. Ward opened with a nice run behind right guard for 10 yards. Ward later had a 27-yard gain, thanks in part to one of the worst tackling efforts I've ever seen. Seriously, Sean Considine looked like a Madden defender controlled by a guy who doesn't know how to play video games, as he dived sideways out of the way of Ward. Ward also caught a pass over the middle for eight yards. He finished with 40 rushing yards on five carries.
AUG. 17 UPDATE:
Derrick Ward came off the bench in the preseason opener and immediately looked like the superior runner. He pummeled for seven yards on his first carry and later caught a 7-yard reception. He'll be the starter in Week 1.
Earnest Graham and Derrick Ward will split carries, but the latter has the advantage because he'll be a huge factor in the passing attack. Derrick Ward caught 41 balls in 2008, a number that could increase this season because Luke "Captain Checkdown" McCown historically has been way too scared to take shots downfield.
As mentioned, Ward won't get a ton of carries, but the Buccaneers have one of the top interior offensive lines in the league. Ward will maintain a high YPC.
Projected 2009 Fantasy Stats: 810 rushing yards. 42 catches. 330 receiving yards. 5 total TDs.
Projected 2009 Fantasy Points: 144. Projected 2009 PPR Fantasy Points: 186.
James Davis, Browns. Bye: 9. SEPT. 4 UPDATE:
James Davis tore it up for the Browns on Thursday night, compiling 37 yards on five carries. It's encouraging that Davis didn't receive much work; Eric Mangini clearly wanted to save him for the regular season. Expect Davis to be starting soon.
SEPT. 1 UPDATE:
James Davis was in the game on the first drive Saturday night, catching an 8-yard reception. Davis was the much better running back, gaining 28 yards on five carries and chipping in with four grabs for 27 more yards. It won't be long until Davis is starting.
AUG. 26 UPDATE:
James Davis received a ton of work with the Browns' first team on Tuesday. With Jamal Lewis looking as old and slow as ever, there's a very good chance Davis will be in the starting lineup by October. Take Davis as a mid-to-late-round sleeper.
AUG. 24 UPDATE:
James Davis played into the second quarter and most of the second half. Against the starters, Davis had a 9-yard reception wiped out by holding and made a nice cut on 14-yard rush. Playing the backups, Davis broke an 81-yard draw to score a touchdown. Davis is probably the best running back on the roster, but there are still some things he needs to work on. For example, Davis dropped a ball and didn't run out of the bounds to stop the clock at the end of the first half.
AUG. 9 UPDATE:
According to the Cleveland Plain-Dealer, James Davis is thriving in blitz pick-ups. This is huge, as it strengthens his bid to steal carries from Jamal Lewis. It's very possible that Davis could be Cleveland's starting running back this year, though I'd still like to see him in preseason action. That said, I would highly recommend taking Davis in the latter stages of your draft.
Per the Cleveland Plain Dealer, James Davis has really impressed Eric Mangini with his "quick feet and aggressive running." Jamal Lewis stinks and Jerome Harrison is not an every-down back, so it's conceivable that Davis could win the starting job. He's a guy to keep an eye on toward the end of your fantasy draft.
Projected 2009 Fantasy Stats: 850 rushing yards. 30 catches. 225 receiving yards. 6 total TDs.
Projected 2009 Fantasy Points: 143. Projected 2009 PPR Fantasy Points: 173.
Joseph Addai, Colts. Bye: 6. AUG. 18 UPDATE:
Discussing his running back situation, Colts head coach Jim Caldwell said the distribution will be "week-to-week."
Allow me to translate: "Donald Brown is extremely talented, and for us to keep winning, we need him in the lineup. However, I can't name him the starter yet because Addai has been here for a while and Brown is just a rookie."
Addai is injury-prone and not nearly as good as Brown. I'd avoid him in all formats.
Joseph Addai rushed for 1,081 yards and seven touchdowns, and also caught 40 passes for 325 yards as a rookie in 2006. The next two years, Addai has been rated highly on fantasy boards, but has rapidly regressed, prompting the Colts to draft Donald Brown in the first round of the 2009 NFL Draft.
Joseph Addai missed four games in 2008, but managed only 544 rushing yards and five touchdowns in the remaining 12. It seems like he's always banged up, and the offensive line's poor blocking last year didn't help matters. Still, there's a reason Indianapolis spent a first-round pick on a running back.
Perhaps the Brown selection will keep Addai extra motivated this offseason (see DeAngelo Williams). But Addai's inability to stay healthy doesn't make me confident that he'll have the great campaign fantasy owners have been searching for since 2007.
Projected 2009 Fantasy Stats: 730 rushing yards. 32 catches. 250 receiving yards. 7 total TDs.
Projected 2009 Fantasy Points: 140. Projected 2009 PPR Fantasy Points: 172.
Fred Jackson, Bills. Bye: 9.
Fred Jackson turned some heads when he rushed for 136 yards against the Patriots in the final week of the season. Jackson will have three opportunities to do so again, as Marshawn Lynch will be suspended for the first three weeks of the season. Jackson plays the same Patriots, Buccaneers and Saints to open the year, so if he performs well, he could earn at least half the carries in 2009.
Jackson is definitely worth picking up in the middle rounds of your draft, especially if you're in a PPR League.
Projected 2009 Fantasy Stats: 780 rushing yards. 39 catches. 325 receiving yards. 4 total TDs.
Projected 2009 Fantasy Points: 134. Projected 2009 PPR Fantasy Points: 173.
LenDale White, Titans. Bye: 7. AUG. 10 UPDATE: Chris Johnson did all of the work during Tennessee's second drive against the Bills, but once the Titans reached the end zone, LenDale White received both carries. Despite losing 30 pounds this offseason, it's evident that White will continue to serve as the goal-line back, which makes him a solid back to have in touchdown leagues.
LenDale White decreased his daily pancake intake from 75 to 50, which is how he was able to drop to 240 pounds. While this may have shown Jeff Fisher that White rededicated himself, it really doesn't matter because Chris Johnson is way too talented not to get the ball 350 times this year.
White remains an OK RB2/great RB3 in Touchdown Leagues, but he's bench fodder in a PPR format.
Projected 2009 Fantasy Stats: 580 rushing yards. 2 catches. 10 receiving yards. 12 total TDs.
Projected 2009 Fantasy Points: 131. Projected 2009 PPR Fantasy Points: 133.
Jonathan Stewart, Panthers. Bye: 4. AUG. 27 UPDATE:
John Fox said Wednesday that Jonathan Stewart is losiing ground to Mike Goodson and that Goodson has earned "more than a spot role." Fox may be saying this to motivate Stewart, but the fact remains that Stewart has missed 14 consecutive practices with a bum Achilles.
AUG. 18 UPDATE:
DeAngelo Williams had six carries for 29 yards in the preseason opener; his best rush was where he eluded a few tacklers and ran nine yards for a first down. People like Matthew Berry are projecting that Jonathan Stewart will take more of Williams' touches away, but I don't see that happening. Williams is just too talented, and Stewart has been banged up with an Achilles injury. Stewart did not play.
AUG. 16 UPDATE: Jonathan Stewart has missed six straight practices with a lingering Achilles injury. Stewart's a risky pick at this point.
The Panthers didn't draft the Daily Show with the 13th-overall pick to sit on the bench. Despite DeAngelo Williams' incredible 2008 campaign, Jonathan Stewart will be more involved this year.
Stewart will be a lot higher in my Touchdown League overall rankings; he scored 10 times as a rookie, including four times in the team's final four contests.
Projected 2009 Fantasy Stats: 825 rushing yards. 10 catches. 50 receiving yards. 7 total TDs.
Projected 2009 Fantasy Points: 129. Projected 2009 PPR Fantasy Points: 139.
Jerious Norwood, Falcons. Bye: 4. AUG. 30 UPDATE: Jerious Norwood left the game Saturday night with a knee injury. He looked OK on the sideline and was able to stretch his leg. Once news breaks, I'll let you know.
If you read my write-up on Michael Turner's 2009 Fantasy Football Outlook, you can probably assume that I can see Jerious Norwood getting more of the workload. And you would be right. Mike Smith can't possibly give Turner all of those touches again, meaning Norwood will garner more opportunities in 2009.
Norwood had 36 receptions for 338 receiving yards in 2008, which already makes him an intriguing option in PPR formats.
Projected 2009 Fantasy Stats: 660 rushing yards. 36 catches. 325 receiving yards. 5 total TDs.
Projected 2009 Fantasy Points: 128. Projected 2009 PPR Fantasy Points: 164.
Larry Johnson, Chiefs. Bye: 8. SEPT. 4 UPDATE:
Larry Johnson ran impressively against the Rams' starting defense Thursday night, though St. Louis has made every opposing running back look great this preseason. Johnson managed 58 yards on five carries, including a 41-yard gainer.
AUG. 22 UPDATE:
The box score says Larry Johnson rushed for 21 yards on eight carries against the Vikings on Friday night, but he gained zero yards on five rushes versus Minnesota's first-string defense. All of his positive yardage came against the backups.
In a drunken conversation I had back in August 2008 with this site's Web host, Kenny Ortiz, I said that I wouldn't draft Larry Johnson until the eighth round of our fantasy league. Johnson started off hot, including a 198-yard, two-touchdown performance against the Broncos in Week 4, but then he predictably broke down. Johnson finished with 874 yards and five scores in 12 games.
Johnson has a nice matchup against the Browns in Week 15, but there's no guarantee that he'll even be healthy/employed by then. Herm Edwards ruined his career by giving him 416 carries in 2006. You can't recover from that sort of workload.
Projected 2009 Fantasy Stats: 825 rushing yards. 17 catches. 100 receiving yards. 6 total TDs.
Projected 2009 Fantasy Points: 128. Projected 2009 PPR Fantasy Points: 145.
Felix Jones, Cowboys. Bye: 6.
Wade Phillips split carries between Marion Barber and Felix Jones on the first two drives of Dallas' preseason opener against Oakland; after a Barber carry, Jones came in and looked electric, breaking a 14-yard run left tackle and then catching a 9-yard pass.
Projected 2009 Fantasy Stats: 610 rushing yards. 21 catches. 200 receiving yards. 6 total TDs.
Projected 2009 Fantasy Points: 126. Projected 2009 PPR Fantasy Points: 153.
LeSean McCoy, Eagles. Bye: 4. AUG. 14 UPDATE:
LeSean McCoy stole the show, rushing for 55 yards on 10 carries and two catches for 12 receiving yards. McCoy was extremely impressive, and it made me wonder how Andy Reid can justify keeping the rookie off the field, even with a healthy Brian Westbrook in the lineup.
AUG. 4 UPDATE:
The Eagles have been raving about LeSean McCoy's ability to pick up the blitzes thus far. That aspect was a concern going into training camp, so it looks like McCoy is silencing his doubters. If Andy Reid is content with McCoy's pass-protection skills, the rookie runner will be on the field more than Brian Westbrook owners would like.
Andy Reid's a stubborn man, and I know he's not going to let LeSean McCoy see extensive action until he's satisfied with his blocking ability. Of course, Brian Westbrook could always get injured, which would force Reid's hand...
Projected 2009 Fantasy Stats: 650 rushing yards. 34 catches. 290 receiving yards. 5 total TDs.
Projected 2009 Fantasy Points: 124. Projected 2009 PPR Fantasy Points: 158.
Edgerrin James, Seahawks. Bye: 7. SEPT. 4 UPDATE:
The big news out of Seattle on Thursday is that Edgerrin James actually played. James kicked things off with gains of 4 and 7 yards on the ground against Oakland's starting defense. Unfortunately, that's all we saw out of the veteran running back. Still, this is an encouraging sign that James will take over for the pedestrian Julius Jones sooner rather than later.
T.J. Duckett had more than eight carries in only one game in 2008, but he still managed eight touchdowns on the year. He'll continue to run as Seattle's goal-line back. Expect more scores this year if Matt Hasselbeck and his receivers stay healthy.
Projected 2009 Fantasy Stats: 700 rushing yards. 24 catches. 170 receiving yards. 6 total TDs.
Projected 2009 Fantasy Points: 123. Projected 2009 PPR Fantasy Points: 147.
Glen Coffee, RB, 49ers. Bye: 6.
Rookie running back Glen Coffee rushed for 67 yards on 14 carries last week. Despite that solid performance, Coffee was discouraged, giving himself a C- for his effort. That was surprising before Saturday's game, but now it's clear what a Coffee A+ looks like.
Let me capitalize this for emphasis: COFFEE IS A STUD. He ran over people, broke through tackles, pushed piles and sprinted downfield. His numbers (129 rushing yards on 16 carries) don't even tell the whole story. Coffee eluded multiple defenders and made several Oakland defenders look silly on numerous long runs. Coffee also caught an 8-yard checkdown and was effective in short-yardage situations, which indicates that he could be the goal-line back for the 49ers this year.
Before the game, Coffee had a few revealing quotes: "The transition to the NFL is a lot easier than I thought it would be. The playbook from high school to college was a lot more difficult than from college to pro. I think I gave the NFL too much credit. I'd be lying if I said I was blown away."
Coffee is a natural talent and is way too good to be kept off the field. Frank Gore will continue to start and get the majority of the workload, but Mike Singletary would be crazy not to use Coffee, especially on the goal line.
Projected 2009 Fantasy Stats: 700 rushing yards. 18 catches. 150 receiving yards. 6 total TDs.
Projected 2009 Fantasy Points: 121. Projected 2009 PPR Fantasy Points: 139.
Willie Parker, Steelers. Bye: 8. AUG. 28 UPDATE:
Willie Parker may miss Saturday's game because of a hamstring injury. Hamstrings tend to linger, and as a reminder, Parker also has back problems. It's basically a given that Parker will miss a least a few games this year.
AUG. 23 UPDATE:
Willie Parker finally played, gaining 13 yards on four carries. Parker also had a 2-yard reception and was used on the goal line to score a touchdown. Don't get too excited, however; Parker did not participate in the team's short-yardage and goal-line drills during the week.
AUG. 9 UPDATE: Willie Parker sat out Saturday's practice with back spasms. Back problems tend to linger, and this is yet another reason not to draft Parker. He's not a three-down back, he's not a factor in the passing game, he doesn't get goal-line carries, he's brittle, and he'll lose touches to Rashard Mendenhall and Mewelde Moore.
Willie Parker opened the 2008 season with a bang, rushing for 138 yards and three touchdowns. Unfortunately, he had just two more scores and three more 100-yard performances all year. Parker finished with 791 rushing yards and only five receptions in 11 games.
With Rashard Mendenhall bound to get a good amount of touches, Parker appears to be nothing more than a RB3 at best in standard leagues.
Projected 2009 Fantasy Stats: 830 rushing yards. 10 catches. 60 receiving yards. 5 total TDs.
Projected 2009 Fantasy Points: 119. Projected 2009 PPR Fantasy Points: 129.
Rashard Mendenhall, Steelers. Bye: 8. AUG. 14 UPDATE: The Steelers couldn't open up any running lanes for Rashard Mendenhall (Willie Parker didn't play). Mendenhall was able to finish with 24 yards on nine carries, as he piled up yardage against Arizona's backups.
I like Rashard Mendenhall a lot - in 2010. Willie Parker is entering the final year of his contract, and Mendenhall has just 19 rushes under his belt. Still, he'll definitely get an increased workload this season, which makes him more of a hindrance for Parker owners than anything.
Projected 2009 Fantasy Stats: 700 rushing yards. 17 catches. 125 receiving yards. 6 total TDs.
Projected 2009 Fantasy Points: 118. Projected 2009 PPR Fantasy Points: 135.
Darren Sproles, Chargers. Bye: 5.
The consensus behind Darren Sproles is that he's a valuable pick-up in the middle rounds because there's a chance LaDainian Tomlinson could be done. Well, everyone's thinking that, which means Sproles will be overdrafted in most leagues.
Even if Tomlinson goes down, Sproles won't get all of the carries; he's simply not big enough to carry the load game after game. He'll share time with Jacob Hester, Michael Bennett and/or Gartrell Johnson.
Projected 2009 Fantasy Stats: 400 rushing yards. 45 catches. 425 receiving yards. 6 total TDs.
Projected 2009 Fantasy Points: 118. Projected 2009 PPR Fantasy Points: 163.
Earnest Graham, Buccaneers. Bye: 8. AUG. 17 UPDATE:
I can't tell you why, but Earnest Graham started over Derrick Ward in the preseason opener. Graham couldn't do anything, gaining just one yard on four carries. Making matters worse, Graham fumbled the ball away on the second drive.
AUG. 6 UPDATE:
Earnest Graham received the first-team reps in the goal-line packages. This is huge, as Graham still retains some value, especially in touchdown leagues. Derrick Ward's fantasy owners, meanwhile, should prepared for potential scores getting vultured.
Despite playing just 10 games last year, Earnest Graham caught 23 passes in addition to his 563 rushing yards. However, with Derrick Ward in the mix, Graham won't be involved much in the aerial attack. He'll share carries with Ward behind a great interior blocking line and should get most of the goal-line work, making him a nice option in Touchdown Leagues.
Projected 2009 Fantasy Stats: 625 rushing yards. 29 catches. 200 receiving yards. 6 total TDs.
Projected 2009 Fantasy Points: 118. Projected 2009 PPR Fantasy Points: 147.
Willis McGahee, Ravens. Bye: 7. AUG. 25 UPDATE:
Willis McGahee didn't get much work with the starters Monday night. In fact, McGahee played in the third quarter with the backups.
Once the Ravens reached the red zone of their preseason opener, I expected LeRon McClain to get the carries. However, McClain remained at fullback and paved the way for Willis McGahee, who looked great. McGahee rushed for 26 yards on four carries, and also chipped in with a 7-yard reception.
Projected 2009 Fantasy Stats: 650 rushing yards. 17 catches. 150 receiving yards. 6 total TDs.
Projected 2009 Fantasy Points: 116. Projected 2009 PPR Fantasy Points: 133.
Julius Jones, Seahawks. Bye: 7.
I never liked Julius Jones. I never understood why he took away carries from Marion Barber in Dallas. I didn't get why Maurice Morris wasn't the starter in Seattle last year. And I was puzzled as to why the Seahawks didn't find a replacement for Jones in the 2009 NFL Draft.
Jones has only T.J. Duckett and Justin Forsett as competition, so he remains a solid RB3 option in non-Touchdown Leagues (Duckett will get the goal-line carries). Still, I think he's a horrific runner who will never produce great numbers.
Projected 2009 Fantasy Stats: 675 rushing yards. 21 catches. 150 receiving yards. 5 total TDs.
Projected 2009 Fantasy Points: 112. Projected 2009 PPR Fantasy Points: 133.
Tim Hightower, Cardinals. Bye: 4. AUG. 24 UPDATE:
Tim Hightower looked great Saturday night, as he ran well with power and speed. Hightower gained 42 yards on nine carries. Chris Wells, meanwhile, didn't play because Ken Whisenhunt didn't want to risk an injury (Wells has been hampered by his ankle.) Wells warmed up and was dressed, but Whisenhunt made the right decision.
Chris Wells isn't a refined pass-catcher yet, so Tim Hightower will continue to be a factor in Arizona's passing attack (34 receptions, 237 yards in 2008).
Projected 2009 Fantasy Stats: 500 rushing yards. 42 catches. 310 receiving yards. 5 total TDs.
Projected 2009 Fantasy Points: 111. Projected 2009 PPR Fantasy Points: 153.
Michael Bush, Raiders. Bye: 9.
Michael Bush completely debacled Tampa Bay's defense in a Week 17 meeting, rushing for 177 yards and two touchdowns on 27 carries. Bush is talented, but he's stuck in a very crowded backfield. Unless Darren McFadden suffers an injury, Bush will probably be relegated to the goal-line role, making him a solid option in Touchdown Leagues.
Projected 2009 Fantasy Stats: 540 rushing yards. 20 catches. 150 receiving yards. 7 total TDs.
Projected 2009 Fantasy Points: 111. Projected 2009 PPR Fantasy Points: 131.
Chester Taylor, Vikings. Bye: 9.
Though Chester Taylor had just 399 rushing yards in 2008, he was still a valuable fantasy commodity because he compiled 45 receptions and 399 receiving yards. Peterson will get more work in the aerial attack this year, but expect nothing but 100-percent effort from Taylor, who's in his contract year.
Projected 2009 Fantasy Stats: 475 rushing yards. 34 catches. 310 receiving yards. 5 total TDs.
Projected 2009 Fantasy Points: 108. Projected 2009 PPR Fantasy Points: 142.
Jamaal Charles, Chiefs. Bye: 8.
Worth a look in PPR Leagues; as a rookie, Jamaal Charles caught 27 passes for 272 receiving yards. He'll get more opportunities in his second year.
Projected 2009 Fantasy Stats: 530 rushing yards. 42 catches. 350 receiving yards. 3 total TDs.
Projected 2009 Fantasy Points: 106. Projected 2009 PPR Fantasy Points: 148.
Ricky Williams, Dolphins. Bye: 6.
Now that Ronnie Brown is two years removed from his knee injury, expect Ricky Williams' production to go down. There's a very good chance Brown gets injured, of course, so Williams is worth owning in all formats.
Projected 2009 Fantasy Stats: 575 rushing yards. 23 catches. 175 receiving yards. 5 total TDs.
Projected 2009 Fantasy Points: 105. Projected 2009 PPR Fantasy Points: 128.
Jamal Lewis, Browns. Bye: 9. SEPT. 1 UPDATE:
Jamal Lewis looked as slow and lethargic as ever on most of his carries Saturday night. He did have a nice 12-yard screen where he dragged defenders, but overall, it was another lackluster performance for the old runner. Lewis finished with 23 yards on 10 carries. On Monday, Mike Lombardi speculated that Lewis could be cut this upcoming weekend.
Jamal Lewis somehow rushed for 1,000 yards last year without breaking the century mark in any game.
Things will only get more difficult for Lewis in 2009. He turns 30 in August; the Browns downgraded the right tackle position from Kevin Shaffer to John St. Clair; and sixth-round rookie James Davis could provide some decent competition in training camp. Cleveland should have obtained a running back earlier in the draft, but failed, thanks to Eric Mangini's mismanagement.
Projected 2009 Fantasy Stats: 600 rushing yards. 13 catches. 80 receiving yards. 5 total TDs.
Projected 2009 Fantasy Points: 98. Projected 2009 PPR Fantasy Points: 111.
Laurence Maroney, Patriots. Bye: 8. AUG. 21 UPDATE: Unlike last week, Fred Taylor started. He looked pretty impressive, rushing for 26 yards on seven carries. He also moved laterally, which Maroney can't do.
AUG. 14 UPDATE:
Laurence Maroney received a lot of first-team reps. He didn't look too bad at times, gaining 14 yards on six carries. Remember, the Eagles have one of the top rush defenses in the NFL. I don't like Maroney, but he's worth drafting late because he can produce if healthy. As for Sammy Morris, the third-stringer didn't get any carries until the second half. Fred Taylor did not play.
The injury-prone Laurence Maroney will have to compete with Fred Taylor, BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Sammy Morris and Kevin Faulk for touches. Good luck with all that.
Projected 2009 Fantasy Stats: 610 rushing yards. 7 catches. 50 receiving yards. 5 total TDs.
Projected 2009 Fantasy Points: 96. Projected 2009 PPR Fantasy Points: 103.
Fred Taylor, Patriots. Bye: 8.
Unlike last week, Fred Taylor started. He looked pretty impressive, rushing for 26 yards on seven carries. He also moved laterally, which Maroney can't do. Taylor advanced the chains on third-and-one, indicating he has the potential to be a goal-line back. However, I would just stay away from New England's backfield entirely until the later rounds; there will be a new star every Sunday.
Projected 2009 Fantasy Stats: 600 rushing yards. 16 catches. 100 receiving yards. 4 total TDs.
Projected 2009 Fantasy Points: 94. Projected 2009 PPR Fantasy Points: 110.
Shonn Greene, Jets. Bye: 9. AUG. 28 UPDATE:
Shonn Greene is out for the rest of the preseason with a rib injury. The Jets spent a ton of draft picks to get Greene, but he needed the preseason work. Greene won't get many touches early in the year, so look for Leon Washington to take a good amount of the workload away from Thomas Jones. Greene could become a factor late in the year.
Shonn Greene won't be a factor in the passing attack at all; he really struggled to catch in minicamp. However, he'll get looks in goal-line situations.
Projected 2009 Fantasy Stats: 525 rushing yards. 2 catches. 10 receiving yards. 6 total TDs.
Projected 2009 Fantasy Points: 89. Projected 2009 PPR Fantasy Points: 91.
Tashard Choice, Cowboys. Bye: 6.
Wade Phillips said that he wants all three running backs involved this year, so if the Cowboys utilize their runners like the Giants did in 2008, Tashard Choice would be an obvious candidate for the Wind role, as he managed 20 receptions for 183 receiving yards in the final six weeks of the season.
Projected 2009 Fantasy Stats: 320 rushing yards. 34 catches. 370 receiving yards. 3 total TDs.
Projected 2009 Fantasy Points: 87. Projected 2009 PPR Fantasy Points: 121.
Sammy Morris, Patriots. Bye: 8.
Sammy Morris closed out the season with three performances of 85 rushing yards or more. However, I can't see him reaching 156 carries again with Fred Taylor on the team and Laurence Maroney off the IR.
Projected 2009 Fantasy Stats: 410 rushing yards. 20 catches. 160 receiving yards. 5 total TDs.
Projected 2009 Fantasy Points: 87. Projected 2009 PPR Fantasy Points: 107.
Mewelde Moore, Steelers. Bye: 8.
With Rashard Mendenhall healthy, Mewelde Moore won't reach his 588-yard rushing total of a year ago. However, there's a great chance he'll approach the 40 catches and 320 receiving yards he garnered in 2008.
Projected 2009 Fantasy Stats: 325 rushing yards. 35 catches. 300 receiving yards. 3 total TDs.
Projected 2009 Fantasy Points: 80. Projected 2009 PPR Fantasy Points: 115.
Kevin Faulk, Patriots. Bye: 8.
Always a solid flex option in PPR Leagues, Kevin Faulk has notched 43, 47 and 58 receptions the past three seasons. He should be good for 40 catches again, though I don't expect him to come anywhere near his 2008 rushing total (507 yards).
Projected 2009 Fantasy Stats: 280 rushing yards. 44 catches. 375 receiving yards. 2 total TDs.
Projected 2009 Fantasy Points: 77. Projected 2009 PPR Fantasy Points: 121.
LeRon McClain, Ravens. Bye: 7.
Le'Ron McClain wasn't given a single touch in Baltimore's preseason opener; not even inside the 5. That's huge. McClain did make a nice block on a fourth-and-one, but that won't score you any points in your fantasy league. I would severely downgrade McClain for now.
Projected 2009 Fantasy Stats: 410 rushing yards. 6 catches. 40 receiving yards. 5 total TDs.
Projected 2009 Fantasy Points: 75. Projected 2009 PPR Fantasy Points: 81.
Cadillac Williams, Buccaneers. Bye: 8.
Cadillac Williams got the start on Thursday night. Though I was a bit skeptical that Cadillac could perform well, he actually looked really good. He pushed the pile forward on his first carry of four yards. Later, he burst through an open hole behind left guard and dragged tacklers for a gain of 19. Cadillac finished with 54 yards on eight carries.
Projected 2009 Fantasy Stats: 490 rushing yards. 10 catches. 75 receiving yards. 3 total TDs.
Projected 2009 Fantasy Points: 74. Projected 2009 PPR Fantasy Points: 84.
Chris Brown, RB, Texans. Bye: 10.
Mike McCarthy told the media that Brandon Jackson is out indefinitely with an ankle sprain. Jackson was barely draftable in non-PPR leagues anyway.
Projected 2009 Fantasy Stats: 350 rushing yards. 10 catches. 75 receiving yards. 5 total TDs.
Projected 2009 Fantasy Points: 72. Projected 2009 PPR Fantasy Points: 82.
Mike Bell, RB, Saints. Bye: 5. AUG. 30 UPDATE:
So much for Mike Bell getting a heavy dose of the ball. With Pierre Thomas out, you may have speculated that Bell would have gotten a lot of work Saturday afternoon. That was hardly the case, as he had only 15 yards on five carries and one reception for 11 yards. Bell was also replaced on the goal line. This is great news for Frenchie owners, though you still never know with Sean Payton.
Sean Payton pissed off a lot of Pierre Thomas fantasy owners Saturday night. Mike Bell started the contest and received a ton of work. Payton fed Bell the ball four straight times to begin New Orleans' first possession. Bell churned out 13 rushing yards on three carries and a 5-yard reception.
Later, Bell was in the backfield on New Orleans' second end-zone trip. A tired Bell asked out of the game, but Payton decided to leave him in. On the following drive, Bell made a very nice cut and sprinted downfield for a 46-yard score.
The Saints TV analysts stated that Payton was high on Bell and wanted him to get a ton of work because he couldn't play last week. Despite Bell's 100 yards on 10 carries, Thomas will continue to be the No. 1 back. Bell is worth a gamble in the final rounds.
Projected 2009 Fantasy Stats: 450 rushing yards. 15 catches. 140 receiving yards. 2 total TDs.
Projected 2009 Fantasy Points: 71. Projected 2009 PPR Fantasy Points: 86.
Correll Buckhalter, Broncos. Bye: 7. Projected 2009 Fantasy Stats: 300 rushing yards. 18 catches. 140 receiving yards. 4 total TDs.
Projected 2009 Fantasy Points: 68. Projected 2009 PPR Fantasy Points: 86.
Justin Fargas, Raiders. Bye: 9. Projected 2009 Fantasy Stats: 470 rushing yards. 5 catches. 40 receiving yards. 2 total TDs.
Projected 2009 Fantasy Points: 63. Projected 2009 PPR Fantasy Points: 68.
Brandon Jackson, Packers. Bye: 5. Projected 2009 Fantasy Stats: 290 rushing yards. 32 catches. 210 receiving yards. 2 total TDs.
Projected 2009 Fantasy Points: 62. Projected 2009 PPR Fantasy Points: 84.