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2010 Fantasy Football Rankings: Running Backs



These 2010 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 2010 Fantasy Football articles, which will include sleepers, busts, tons of 2010 Fantasy Football mock drafts and other material.


2010 Fantasy Football Rankings - Running Backs (Sept. 6):
Top 10 | 11-20 | 21-40 | 41-60


  1. Adrian Peterson, RB, Vikings. Bye: 4.
    AUG. 23 UPDATE: Adrian Peterson looked great despite rushing for just 17 yards on six carries at San Francisco. He had a 13-yard gain, and actually led the Vikings with 25 receiving yards on three catches (great for his PPR prospects). Peterson played a bit more than I would have liked him to, but I didn't see anything that would keep me from spending the No. 1 overall pick in my fantasy draft on him.

    PREVIOUS UPDATE: Along with almost everyone else, I had Adrian Peterson No. 1 in my overall fantasy rankings (non-PPR) last year. Having said that, I wasn't as convinced as others that he was a sure thing. Brad Childress took away goal-line carries from Peterson and gave them to Chester Taylor in 2008. Peterson also wasn't as much of a factor in the passing game.

    I don't know what happened to Childress, but he somehow realized that giving the ball to Peterson was best for his team (until Peterson fumbled 5,000 times in the NFC Championship). Peterson received all of the goal-line work and scored 18 touchdowns. He was also more of a factor in the passing game, as he caught 43 passes (his previous career-high for a season was 21).

    With Chester Taylor gone, there's no chance that Childress will inexplicably go back to his former second-stringer. In fact, Peterson may even get more receptions out of the backfield.

    Projected 2010 Fantasy Stats: 1,375 rushing yards. 52 catches. 480 receiving yards. 16 total TDs.
    Projected 2010 Fantasy Points: 281.
    Projected 2010 PPR Fantasy Points: 333.

  2. Chris Johnson, RB, Titans. Bye: 9.
    AUG. 30 UPDATE: Chris Johnson ran for just 10 yards on eight carries at Carolina. Fantasy bust? Not yet. I don't think Johnson can stay healthy this year - check my Fantasy Running Back Carries article for more - but production while in the lineup shouldn't be a problem. It was a bit troubling though that Tennessee's offensive line couldn't open up any running room for the man who thinks he's rushing for 2,500 yards this year.

    PREVIOUS UPDATE: Chris Johnson will be the consensus No. 1 fantasy player. He'll be ranked first in most publications. Just not here.

    Two things with Johnson:

    First, this may not seem like a big deal, but Alge Crumpler signed with the Patriots. Crumpler is no longer the pass-catching tight end he was in Atlanta; instead, he has transformed to a sixth offensive lineman. He was a very good blocker for the Titans, and played three-quarters of the team's snaps in 2009. The offensive line is still stout, but Crumpler will be missed.

    Second, and more importantly, the running back to lead the NFL in rushing attempts failed to match his previous season's totals on all but three occasions since 1988. Click the link to see all of the failed attempts. I advised you to stay away from Michael Turner last year. Same thing with Johnson.

    You may point out that Johnson is young and this shouldn't be applied to him. A valid argument, and that's why he's No. 2 in my overall rankings and not No. 5-6. But over the past two seasons, Johnson has received a combined 609 carries and 93 receptions. That's a lot of work for a 200-pound running back.

    Projected 2010 Fantasy Stats: 1,550 rushing yards. 44 catches. 400 receiving yards. 14 total TDs.
    Projected 2010 Fantasy Points: 279.
    Projected 2010 PPR Fantasy Points: 323.



  3. Ray Rice, RB, Ravens. Bye: 8.
    Ray Rice rushed for 1,339 yards, and caught 78 passes for 702 receiving yards in 2009. What's scary is that he could be even better in 2010.

    As noted in my 2010 Fantasy Football: Free Agency Stock Up page, Rice will really benefit from Anquan Boldin's presence. Boldin will both stretch the field and help out with his great run blocking.

    The problem with Rice remains the same - Willis McGahee and LeRon McClain will vulture his touchdowns away. However, that really won't matter much if Rice exceeds 2,100 total yards.

    Projected 2010 Fantasy Stats: 1,400 rushing yards. 70 catches. 680 receiving yards. 9 total TDs.
    Projected 2010 Fantasy Points: 262.
    Projected 2010 PPR Fantasy Points: 332.

  4. Maurice Jones-Drew, RB, Jaguars. Bye: 9.
    AUG. 31 UPDATE: The big news surrounding Jacksonville's third preseason game was that Maurice Jones-Drew had to sit out because of knee soreness. Fox Sports' Jay Glazer says that Jones-Drew "should be OK." One of the appealing things about Jones-Drew has been the fact that he was seen as this year's safest fantasy player. That's no longer the case, so I'm going to move Ray Rice ahead of him.

    PREVIOUS UPDATE: Maurice Jones-Drew is probably the safest pick of the top three (Adrian Peterson, Chris Johnson). He's going to carry the ball 300 times, rush for about 1,300 yards and catch 50-60 balls.

    If someone wants to pick Jones-Drew over Adrian Peterson or Chris Johnson, I can't argue that. Before the 2009 season, Jones-Drew had never garnered more than 200 carries, so his legs are fresh. Also, he had two rookies on his offensive line last year (tackles Eugene Monroe and Eben Britton), so if they improve, Jones-Drew will have greater running lanes at his disposal.

    The only downside to picking Jones-Drew is that you'll have to deal with Jack Del Rio's ineptness. Del Rio is the laziest head coach in the NFL and often devises half-baked game plans where he doesn't get Jones-Drew the ball enough. I've complained about this ad nauseum last season, and I didn't even have Jones-Drew on any of my six fantasy rosters. Unless Del Rio starts trying hard, which I find unlikely, there will be weeks where you'll be pulling your hair out because Jones-Drew received only 12-18 carries.

    Projected 2010 Fantasy Stats: 1,325 rushing yards. 50 catches. 400 receiving yards. 15 total TDs.
    Projected 2010 Fantasy Points: 262.
    Projected 2010 PPR Fantasy Points: 312.

  5. Frank Gore, RB, 49ers. Bye: 9.
    AUG. 30 UPDATE: Frank Gore saw his first preseason action in this contest. He ran for gains of 49 and 9 yards, and then was taken out of the game. He should be the No. 5 overall pick in normal and touchdown leagues.

    PREVIOUS UPDATE: Frank Gore played in only 13 games last year (really 14, but was out right away in one of the contests he started), yet he managed to rush for 1,120 yards, and catch 52 passes for 406 more yards. He also scored 13 times.

    Gore really came on during the final four games of the season when it seemed apparent that the 49ers wanted to focus more on running the football. In those four games, Gore rushed for 452 yards, caught 11 balls for 135 receiving yards, and scored four touchdowns.

    Thanks to two upgrades on the offensive line, San Francisco's offense will be better in 2010, which can only increase Gore's YPC average (4.9 last year).

    Projected 2010 Fantasy Stats: 1,325 rushing yards. 50 catches. 390 receiving yards. 15 total TDs.
    Projected 2010 Fantasy Points: 261.
    Projected 2010 PPR Fantasy Points: 311.



  6. Michael Turner, RB, Falcons. Bye: 8.
    AUG. 20 UPDATE: Another positive review for Michael Turner. Turner ran well (8 carries, 32 yards) against New England, but the big news is that he caught two passes. In three preseason quarters this summer, Turner has three receptions, compared to just five catches all last regular season. Turner is making a serious push to be No. 5 on my overall 2010 fantasy football rankings (ahead of Frank Gore).

    AUG. 14 UPDATE: Michael Turner ran through massive holes for 29 yards on four carries in the preseason opener. He touched the ball on the first four plays of the game: runs of 7 and 9 yards, a catch for 6 yards, and another rush for 10 yards. The reception is most significant; if Turner can become a bigger part of the passing game and catch about 15-20 balls or so, he could easily finish as a top-three fantasy running back.

    PREVIOUS UPDATE: Atlanta had tons of injuries last year, but if most of the team stays healthy for a change, Michael Turner could have a big season.

    I didn't like Turner as a 2009 fantasy prospect because he led the league in carries. He started the year out great and I looked like a bigger fool than Emmitt Smith at a grammar competition, but Turner eventually did what I expected him to do - get hurt. Still though, in eight full games, Turner compiled 720 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns.

    Turner will always be limited because he's not a three-down runner, but he makes up for that with all of his goal-line opportunities. If Atlanta's offense is running at full efficiency for most of the year, Turner could exceed 15 touchdowns again, and perhaps break his personal single-season record of 17.

    Projected 2010 Fantasy Stats: 1,400 rushing yards. 16 catches. 110 receiving yards. 16 total TDs.
    Projected 2010 Fantasy Points: 247.
    Projected 2010 PPR Fantasy Points: 263.

  7. Ryan Mathews, RB, Chargers. Bye: 10.
    AUG. 28 UPDATE: Ryan Mathews once again looked great. He rushed for 43 yards on 13 carries, and also caught two passes for nine yards at New Orleans. You may notice that Jacob Hester scored a rushing touchdown in the first quarter. Don't be discouraged by that; Mathews was lined up in the backfield, but Philip Rivers opted to give the carry to the upback. Mathews should be getting most of the goal-line touches this season.

    AUG. 23 UPDATE: I said this last week, but Ryan Mathews is a stud. He showcased both power and quickness on his runs against the Cowboys, collecting 53 yards on 12 carries. He also received two goal-line carries. He didn't convert officially, but I thought he broke the plane on his second attempt. Nevertheless, like LaDainian Tomlinson last year, Mathews will have the opportunity to pile up tons of scores in San Diego's high-octane offense.

    AUG. 16 UPDATE: Ryan Mathews had a very impressive preseason debut. He ran for 50 yards on nine carries, and also chipped in with two receptions for 11 yards. Mathews ran with a great mix of power and quickness, and his catches indicate that he's going to be part of the passing game.

    PREVIOUS UPDATE: As truly awful as LaDainian Tomlinson was last year, he was still a decent fantasy running back because he scored 10 touchdowns.

    Even those who don't like Ryan Mathews as a pro have to acknowledge that he'll be better than the 2009 version of Tomlinson. Even if he's not, Mathews will be good for 800 rushing yards and 10-plus touchdowns - and that's worst-case scenario (barring injury).

    Mathews should be able to rush for 1,100-1,200 yards and score around 13 touchdowns. His reception total won't be that high, however, because of Darren Sproles.

    Projected 2010 Fantasy Stats: 1,175 rushing yards. 28 catches. 240 receiving yards. 13 total TDs.
    Projected 2010 Fantasy Points: 219.
    Projected 2010 PPR Fantasy Points: 247.



  8. Rashard Mendenhall, RB, Steelers. Bye: 5.
    AUG. 16 UPDATE: The stat line says that Rashard Mendenhall had just two carries for five yards. He should have had more; a big run was negated by a sloppy fumble in which the ball was about a mile away from his body. But overall, Mendenhall is going to have immense trouble running the football in these first four games; the opposing defenses don't have to respect the pass at all.

    AUG. 10 UPDATE: It was once speculated that the Steelers would let someone other than Rashard Mendenhall handle the goal-line carries, but no one has stepped up; Jonathan Dwyer has predictably looked awful in camp.

    Overall, I still don't like Mendenhall too much because he's going way too early in most leagues. But I'm definitely projecting slightly better stats for him in the wake of this signing.

    JULY 30 UPDATE: I've been down on Rashard Mendenhall all offseason, but he received a good bit of news on Thursday when Pittsburgh signed Flozell Adams to a 2-year deal. Adams is 35 and can no longer pass protect very well, but he is still a strong run blocker. He's a decent replacement for Willie Colon.

    Overall, I still don't like Mendenhall too much because he's going way too early in most leagues. But I'm definitely projecting slightly better stats for him in the wake of this signing.

    JUNE 29 UPDATE: Tough break for the Steelers, as right tackle Willie Colon suffered a torn Achillies' tendon and is out for the year. Colon is Pittsburgh's best run-blocking lineman, so this is bad news for Rashard Mendenhall. I was already down on Mendenhall in the wake of Ben Roethlisberger's suspension and future struggles, so this just means his fantasy prospects are even bleaker.

    PREVIOUS UPDATE: Rashard Mendenhall is being overdrafted. He's going in the first round of many fantasy mocks, and he was even listed as high as No. 10 in Matthew Berry's pre-NFL Draft top 100.

    In the wake of Ben Roethlisberger's sexual assault charge and subsequent 4-6 game suspension, I'm down on all Steelers this year. Opposing defenses will stack the line of scrimmage for those 4-6 games. After that, it's reasonable to expect that Roethlisberger won't be anywhere near 100 percent both mentally and physically. If so, Pittsburgh's offense will struggle and there will be less goal-line opportunities for Mendenhall.

    Also, don't discount the impact that rookie Jonathan Dwyer will have on this team. Dwyer is a talented runner and could take away some goal-line carries from Mendenhall, who hasn't exactly thrived in this area.

    Projected 2010 Fantasy Stats: 1,230 rushing yards. 30 catches. 250 receiving yards. 10 total TDs.
    Projected 2010 Fantasy Points: 208.
    Projected 2010 PPR Fantasy Points: 238.

  9. Steven Jackson, RB, Rams. Bye: 9.
    AUG. 24 UPDATE: Steven Jackson had just four carries at Cleveland, but turned those attempts into 20 yards. He ran really hard and looked great. My concern remains his offseason back surgery and the fact that he always seems to miss a handful of games every year. Draft him at your own risk.

    JUNE 13 UPDATE: St. Louis' offensive line is a mess right now. Left tackle Jason Smith has a stress fracture in his toe. Left guard Jacob Bell just had a knee scopre. Right tackle Rodger Saffold recently suffered a knee sprain. Top reserve lineman Mark Setterstrom tore his triceps on Friday. As if his own injuries weren't troublesome enough, Steven Jackson is going to run out of offensive linemen pretty soon.

    PREVIOUS UPDATES: I had Steven Jackson ranked fifth in my 2010 Fantasy Football Rankings: Top 100 before news broke that Jackson went through back surgery this offseason. Though Steve Spagnuolo said it was "minor," any back surgery is enough to set off a red flag for me.

    I'm not saying Jackson's going to have a crappy year. He could very well lead the league in rushing. But I'd rather not spend a high or mid first-round fantasy pick on an already injury-prone running back coming off back surgery.

    Projected 2010 Fantasy Stats: 1,275 rushing yards. 48 catches. 350 receiving yards. 7 total TDs.
    Projected 2010 Fantasy Points: 204.
    Projected 2010 PPR Fantasy Points: 252.

  10. Jonathan Stewart, RB, Panthers. Bye: 6.
    This is a really tough call. Both DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart are exceptional running backs. Both rushed for more than 1,100 yards in 2009 despite splitting carries. Both should be second-round fantasy picks.

    I have Stewart over Williams by a hair. Stewart's the better goal-line back, and while Williams is the superior pass-catcher, I'll take 3-4 more touchdowns over 15-20 more receptions any day in non-PPR leagues. The Panthers also have more invested in Stewart, and based on his amazing finish last year (206 rushing yards against the Giants) he could command more rushing attempts than Williams this season.

    Here's the verdict until further notice: Stewart over Williams in non-PPR leagues. Williams over Stewart in PPR formats.

    Projected 2010 Fantasy Stats: 1,075 rushing yards. 16 catches. 125 receiving yards. 14 total TDs.
    Projected 2010 Fantasy Points: 204.
    Projected 2010 PPR Fantasy Points: 220.


2010 Fantasy Football Rankings - Running Backs (Sept. 6):
Top 10 | 11-20 | 21-40 | 41-60



More 2010 Fantasy Football Articles:
2010 Fantasy Football: Home

2010 Fantasy Football Rankings:
2010 Fantasy Football Playoff Rankings - 1/5 (Walt)
2010 Fantasy Football: Week 17 Fantasy Rankings - 1/2 (Walt)
2010 Fantasy Football Rankings: Quarterbacks - 8/31 (Walt)
2010 Fantasy Football Rankings: Quarterbacks - 6/6 (Steve)
2010 Fantasy Football Rankings: Running Backs - 9/6 (Walt)
2010 Fantasy Football Rankings: Running Backs - 7/3 (Steve)
2010 Fantasy Football Rankings: Wide Receivers - 9/7 (Walt)
2010 Fantasy Football Rankings: Wide Receivers - 7/14 (Steve)
2010 Fantasy Football Rankings: Tight Ends - 8/31 (Walt)
2010 Fantasy Football Rankings: Tight Ends - 7/20 (Steve)
2010 Fantasy Football Rankings: Kickers - 6/10 (Walt)
2010 Fantasy Football Rankings: Defenses - 6/11 (Walt)
2010 Fantasy Football Auction Values - 9/2 (Walt)
2010 Fantasy Football Rankings: IDP Defensive Linemen - 8/3 (Steve)
2010 Fantasy Football Rankings: IDP Linebackers - 8/7 (Steve)
2010 Fantasy Football Rankings: IDP Defensive Backs - 8/14 (Steve)
2010 Fantasy Football Rankings: Team-by-Team - 6/7 (Walt)
2010 Fantasy Football Rankings: Dynasty Rookie Rankings - 4/30 (Walt)
2010 Fantasy Football Rankings: Rookie Rankings - 4/29 (Walt)

2010 Fantasy Football Cheat Sheets:
2010 Fantasy Football Cheat Sheet: Top 150 Traditional - 9/6 (Walt)
2010 Fantasy Football Cheat Sheet: Top 150 PPR - 9/6 (Walt)
2010 Fantasy Football Cheat Sheet: Top 150 Touchdown League - 9/6 (Walt)
2010 Fantasy Football Rankings: Downloadable Spreadsheets - 9/7 (Walt)

2010 Fantasy Football Mock Drafts:
2010 Fantasy Football Draft: WF.com Free League - 9/7 (Walt)
2010 Fantasy Football Draft: Real Traditional Draft - 9/1 (Walt)
2010 Fantasy Football Draft: Real PPR Draft - 8/26 (Walt)
2010 Fantasy Football Draft: Real PPR Draft - 8/18 (Walt)
2010 Fantasy Football Draft: Real Experts PPR Draft - 8/12 (Walt)
2010 Fantasy Football Experts Mock Draft - 8/12 (Walt)
2010 Fantasy Football Draft: Pros vs. Joes - 7/28 (Walt)
2010 Fantasy Football Mock Draft: PPR Draft with AKA - 7/20 (Walt)
2010 Fantasy Football Mock Draft: Mocking ESPN's Fantasy Mock Draft - 7/7 (Walt)
2010 Fantasy Football Mock Draft: The Four-Man PPR Fantasy Draft - 7/1 (Walt)

2010 Fantasy Football Articles:
2010 Fantasy Football Injury Reports: Week 17 - 1/2 (Walt)
2010 Fantasy Football: Start Em, Sit Em - 12/29 (Walt)
2010 Fantasy Football: Add/Drop - 12/20 (Walt)
2010 Fantasy Football: Stock Index - Week 8 - 10/29 (John)
2010 Fantasy Football Buffet: Week 8 - 10/28 (Steve)
2010 Fantasy Football Stock - 9/7 (Walt)
2010 Fantasy Football Preseason Stock - 9/3 (Walt)
2010 NFL Preseason Recap, Fantasy Football Notes - 9/3 (Walt)
2010 Fantasy Football: High-Upside Late-Round Sleepers - 8/25 (Walt)
2010 Fantasy Football: Top 12 Players to Avoid - 8/25 (Walt)
2010 Fantasy Football: Undervalued Players - 8/13 (John)
2010 Fantasy Football: Buy Low - 8/6 (Walt)
ESPN's 2010 Fantasy Football Magazine Errors - 8/3 (Walt)
2010 Fantasy Football: Defense Strategy - 8/2 (Walt)
2010 Fantasy Football: My Round-by-Round Strategy - 7/27 (Walt)
Lack of 2010 Fantasy Depth: Blame the 2008 NFL Draft Class - 7/26 (John)
2010 Fantasy Football: Why You Should Pass on Chris Johnson - 7/14 (John)
2010 Fantasy Football: Draft Strategies - 7/13 (John)
2010 Fantasy Football: Wide Receiver Scarcity - 6/30 (Walt)
2010 Fantasy Football Sleepers (Late-Round) - 6/2 (Walt)
2010 Fantasy Football Sleepers (Mid-Round) - 6/1 (Walt)
2010 Fantasy Football Busts - 5/31 (Walt)
2010 Fantasy Football Mailbag - 5/29 (Walt)
2010 Fantasy Football: Quarterbacks with New Receivers - 5/1 (Walt)
2010 Fantasy Football: 2010 NFL Draft Stock Up - 4/29 (Walt)
2010 Fantasy Football: 2010 NFL Draft Stock Down - 4/29 (Walt)
2010 Fantasy Football: Free Agency Stock Up - 4/15 (Walt)
2010 Fantasy Football: Free Agency Stock Down - 4/12 (Walt)
Running Backs with Most Carries - 4/10 (Walt)




Fantasy Football Rankings - July 22


2015 NBA Mock Draft - July 1


2015 NFL Mock Draft - June 10


NFL Free Agents


NFL Picks - Feb. 2




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