Sep 1,2009

Running Backs 6 – 10

My Top 5 Running Backs may be listed in a different order, but for the most part, they’re the same 5 guys everyone has on their list. So what do you do if you get the 6th or 7th pick in your draft?

Check out the other 5 RBs that round out my personal Top Ten best gets for this fantasy season…

#6) Steven Jackson
Steven Jackson

Haling from Las Vegas, its no wonder this guy’s a gamble.

On the one hand, he’s had a ton of injuries, stemming from a busted knee (that was never fully rehabbed) in his final year at Oregon State to his most recent quad injury last season. On the other hand, he’s proven himself a workhorse, averaging over 4 yards per carry.

The key to Jackson’s fantasy success is clearly his ability to stay healthy. Lucky for this RB, the Rams picked up a new (and much improved) center, tackle, and fullback. But the flip side is that Jackson is the Ram’s ONLY offensive weapon, which means he’s an easy target for any defense. According to stltoday.com, he’s been working out with strength coach Rock Gullickson to improve his durability and combat his impending 16-week pounding. The question is: will it be enough?

I say put your money on #39 and let it ride.

#7) LaDainian Tomlinson
LT

I’m always a little surprised when fantasy owners complain about “how bad LT sucked last season.” To be fair, he did rush for over 1,100 yards and scored a combined 12 touchdowns. He certainly didn’t suck, but he was overvalued.

There are certainly some factors working against him this season. He’s about to turn 30, he’s a bit banged up, and he’s got Darren Sproles literally nipping at his heels. Will he rise to the challenge or peter out? I’m not sure, but I would recommend taking him in the top 10 if you can. He may not be the LT of yesteryear, but he’s still a monster. For more of a sure thing (if that even exists in football) handcuff him to Sproles.

#8) Chris Johnson
Chris Johnson

A lot of other critics have Johnson higher than I do. The truth is, I just can’t get a good read on this guy. He’s got great numbers and incredible speed. His rookie year — in which he earned 1200 yards rushing, 260 receiving, and 10 touchdowns — was undoubtedly impressive.

So it’s a no brainer, right? Wrong.

CJ’s fellow RB, LenDale White, is the Titans go to goal-line weapon. In fact, he scored 12 of last season’s 15 TDs from inside the 3-yard line. Rumor has it that the coaching staff is tired of his off-field antics and that might positively affect Johnson, providing him with more end zone opportunities. However, this is White’s contract year and he’s shed a good 30 lbs. Maybe he’s actually turned over a new leaf? Or, more likely, he’s looking to have a great year in order to negotiate a better contract in the off-season. Call me jaded, but I have a feeling White’s love of the green is going to prevent Johnson from actualizing his true potential.

#9) Brian Westbrook
Westbrook

No, I’m not crazy – I just believe.

Westbrook is the embodiment of grit and fortitude. His body is all kinds of effed up, having injured every part himself from his mid-foot to his ribs and much talked about left knee. He even had a “clean out” session on his ankle this summer. The dude is clearly busted. BUT, he was still a top ten RB fantasy scorer, racking up 14 touchdowns and over 1,300 total yards in 2008.

There’s been a lot of talk about the negative factors facing Westbrook – his age (he turns the big 3-0 in a few days), the addition of rookie LeSean McCoy, and the changes to the Eagles O-line. All of these absolutely matter and they do scare me. However, Westbrook has proven his worth season after season and he’s fully aware of the obstacles facing him in ’09. He may have a giant contract, but I bet his ego has been a bit bruised. Perhaps each of these impediments will light a fire under him like he hasn’t felt for years.

Bottom line: Regardless of the beating this pro keeps running and while he might slow down he definitely won’t stall out.

#10) Frank Gore
Frank Gore

This dude is a BEAST. He’s super robust and a total bruiser.

With Singletary as head coach, the 49ers will undoubtedly stick to the run game. To be fair, they don’t have much else. So far Gore’s durability has held up and at only 26 years old he should be good for more than just a few seasons.

Some critics worry that the addition of rookie Glen Coffee will take away from Gore’s carries. But I think the acquisition will work in Gore’s favor. Samurai Mike and Co. know they’ve got to keep their franchise player healthy. I imagine they’ll use Coffee to rest Gore, not replace him. This adds insurance to Gore’s value, keeping him healthy and primed for huge point making plays.

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