Four Top-10 Running Backs Who Won’t Be There in 2011

Chris Johnson

Oh, don't worry. He's not on the list.

Every year there’s a lot of movement in final fantasy football rankings within each position. Running back is perhaps the most stable year-to-year position, but still every year there’s quite a bit of movement.

Consider the top 10 fantasy running backs from the 2009 football season.

  1. Chris Johnson
  2. Maurice Jones-Drew
  3. Adrian Peterson
  4. Ray Rice
  5. Frank Gore
  6. Thomas Jones
  7. Ricky Williams
  8. Ryan Grant
  9. Jamaal Charles
  10. Joseph Addai

Of those 10, just four of them (Johnson, Peterson, Charles and Rice) were in the top 10 in 2010. Of the remaining six, all but Thomas Jones (26th in 2010) and Ricky Williams (39th) struggled with injury. Jones-Drew (12th), Gore (20th) and Addai (47th) all missed multiple games, and Ryan Grant was on IR from week 1.

So we’re seeing two key reasons for Top 10 dropouts: Injury and age. Ricky Williams and Thomas Jones both started all 16 games this season. But Williams is 33. Jones is 32.

Now let’s look at the Top 10 from the 2010 season (this time with their age in brackets), and I’ll give you my four dropouts in 2011.

  1. Arian Foster (24)
  2. Adrian Peterson (25)
  3. Jamaal Charles (24)
  4. Chris Johnson (25)
  5. Peyton Hillis (25)
  6. Darren McFadden (23)
  7. LeSean McCoy (22)
  8. Rashard Mendenhall (23)
  9. Matt Forte (25)
  10. Ray Rice (24)

The four dropouts:

  1. Peyton Hillis – Let’s not forget that last season he was a fullback for the Broncos. This is a guy who I believe could lose form not only due to injury (he’s the lead running back on a poor offense – the chance is always high), but also due to form. There’s a fairly decent chance that in 2011, we discover Peyton Hillis is just a fullback who had a decent 2010 season. Remember that the Browns will have the much heralded Montario Hardesty returning from injury for what will be essentially his rookie season in 2011. Add in the fact that Mike Bell will steal some more carries, and a coaching staff change, and things don’t look great for Hillis maintaining his Top 10 running back status.
  2. Darren McFadden – I know this was meant to be his true breakout season, but that Oakland Raiders team is just too turbulent to produce the same results in the same ways year in, year out. Plus he’s his teams only consistent offensive weapon (apart from maybe Zach Miller, a tight end), and he runs behind a poor offensive line. Injuries hampered the first two years of his career. Beware.
  3. Matt Forte – The one thing that seems to have consistently distinguished Forte from the top running backs is a lack of touchdown production. In three years he has just 18 rushing touchdowns. All that yardage without many touchdowns can be easily hampered if Chicago were to draft or sign a change-of-pace back – something that seems rather likely now that Chester Taylor’s entering his 10th season. A new back in the mix may not only steal carries from Forte, but could also reduce his role as a receiving back – something that has lifted Forte’s stats for his entire career.
  4. Ray Rice – Last offseason the Ravens added to their receiving corps. This offseason, I think they’ll add to their running backs after they cut ties with veteran Willis McGahee. I’ve always thought that Rice is more suited to a committee situation, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Ravens sign or draft a new running back, perhaps to add some ‘Smash’ to Ray Rice’s ‘Dash’.

So did anything I just said violently offend you? Or perhaps you actually agree? Let me know in the comments section.

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2 Responses to “Four Top-10 Running Backs Who Won’t Be There in 2011”

  1. […] out my new Fantasy Football post over at, “Four Top-10 Running Backs Who Won’t Be There in 2011“. Tagged with: Fantasy Football, fantasy sports gab, running […]

  2. The Fantasy Flukie says:

    I wholly agree w. your assessment of Peyton Hillis. He is a fluke. Also with a new coaching staff the QB will throw the ball more.

    I have been singing the blues about Matt Forte since week 1. I won’t touch him again in fantasy w. a ten foot poll.

    However, I’m a bit higher on Ray Rice. I would role the dice on him especially in a PPR league. I still believe in Rice….welcome back oliver!

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