Aug 14,2010

2010 Fantasy Football Rankings: The Top 6 Running Back Committees

This preseason, FF analysts and enthusiasts have uttered the words “workhorse” and “committee” more often than Rex Ryan cursed on Wednesday night’s premier of Hard Knocks. We get it. There are only 11 workhorse RBs and tons more committees. So what’s a fantasy owner to do once those 11 RBs are off the board? Well, rather than ranking the next 14 backs (totaling the top 25), I thought it would be helpful to rank the top 6 committees. Teams with a tendency towards rushing and more clearly defined leadership roles were ranked above those with softer backfields and questionable time share situations. Remember to keep draft strategy in mind when reading the below and devising your own rankings.

1. DeAngelo Williams / Jonathan StewartCarolina Panthers

Perhaps the other dynamic duo, this committee is a total power house. In 2009, Williams ran for 1,117 yards and scored 7 rushing touchdowns. Meanwhile, Stewart rushed for 16 more yards (on 5 more attempts) and scored 3 more TDs on the ground. Keeping in mind that Williams was out for three games at the end of the season with an ankle injury, those stats are virtually identical. In the same vein, both backs are coming off surgeries with plenty to prove. Williams is entering a contract year and Stewart would like doubters to believe his Achilles is finally healed. Take their identical stats/situations into account and throw in the Panthers’ beefy O-line, and you have two solid RB options.

2. Shonn Greene / LaDainian TomlinsonNew York Jets

Remember how (then rookie) Shonn Greene lit it up in the post-season last year? Well if you don’t, Thomas Jones sure does. In fact, it was Greene’s bruising deftness and stunning stats (54 carries for 304 yards plus two TDs in weeks 18-20) that sent TJ packing to Kansas City. While Shonn’s certainly a beast, he did spend much of his rookie year plagued by ankle and rib issues. That being said, the Jets O-line is the best in the league. If anyone can protect this mac truck-like back it’s Brian Schottenheimer‘s boys. Take into consideration the addition of LT as the new goal line back, and you’ve got the best of both worlds – rookie legs and veteran experience. If you can’t get to Greene fast enough, be sure not to overspend on Tomlinson. He’s a great back-up and if Greene goes down, you’re going to want the current #2 on your bench.

3. Jamaal Charles / Thomas JonesKansas City Chiefs

Charles may wear #25, but his lucky number is definitely nine. It was just after the Chiefs bye, in week 9, that this third year back showed up in a huge way. With Larry Johnson finally put out to pasture, the Texas native rushed for 1,004 yards on 167 carries and scored 8 touchdowns. This season, I expect his productivity to slow slightly with the addition of veteran back (and former Bear) Thomas Jones. One of the must underrated players in the league, Jones is an effing pimp who at 31 years old scored 14 times last season. In KC, he’ll undoubtedly become the featured 3rd down back and occasional change of pace to Charles, but don’t count this 11 season pro out. Together these two might just bring the noise back to Arrowhead Stadium.

4. Beanie Wells / Tim HightowerArizona Cardinals

To be honest, I’m on the fence about this committee. I know that everyone is saying that with Leinart at QB, the Cards will be forced to become a run happy team. For the most part, I agree with that assessment. However, I also think they’ll be coming from behind A LOT, which means Paris Hilton’s ex-boyfriend Warner‘s replacement is going to throw the ball more than most of us are expecting (whether anyone catches it is another story). Yet, Wells has so much potential on the ground and Hightower has such ability as a receiver that I have to place them near the middle of my top 6 RB committees. Ultimately, I wouldn’t draft Wells amongst the top 15 RBs (after that though GO FOR IT), but if you can snag Hightower in the second half of the draft it might might prove to be a wise investment. Remember even if you don’t start him, it’s better to have him on your bench than anyone else’s.

5. Pierre Thomas / Reggie BushNew Orleans Saints

We’ve all heard how too many cooks in the kitchen can ruin a dish. Well too many offensive weapons on a single team can seriously eff up your fantasy season. The reigning Super Bowl champs are definitely that team. With a glut of solid WRs, a top 3 QB, and an explosive backfield, the play-making options are huge for the Saints. Fantasy-wise, however, it’s tough to rack up points with so many opportunities being divvied up amongst an endless array of talent. That being said, both Thomas and Bush scored eight TDs a piece last season. Thomas’s rushing stats were obviously higher, while Bush excelled in the air. Now that Mike Bell has been dealt to Philly and replacement Lynell Hamilton is likely out for the season with a torn ACL, the Saints backfield doesn’t seem quite as crowded. The bottom line is that both players should prove to be solid back-ups with Thomas having slightly more upside.

6. Ronnie Brown / Ricky WilliamsMiami Dolphins

Someone once said, “History is destined to repeat itself.” If you believe that… then Ronnie Brown is likely to get hurt and Ricky Williams will probably go crazy. While I’m less sure of Brown’s ability to stay healthy than Williams’ sanity, I do think both players have potential based on some of the changes Miami has made. With Brandon Marshall on the outside and Chad Henne more comfortable in the pocket, the run game should open up a bit. Moreover, the Dolphins have a tight offensive line, which could certainly add a little cushion to the pushin’ that both backs are bound to feel. If 2010 proves to be the year the pattern is broken, expect both players to get a decent amount of touches and opportunities. Then again… don’t hold your breath.