The Grand National Championships

July 2, 2009

The Running Back Tier System…

Filed under: Draft Nerd,Fuhbawls,Run for your life,Tiny Giants — by Andrew @ 9:23 am

Fantasy-wise? Running backs are at once tenuous and intriguing. You don’t need to go up and get runner-runner straight away. A sharp waiver wire eye can get you to the promised land. But here’s the tier system. I will make comments as to why you need to trust or distrust.

Note: Do NOT go in order. Do Not go in order. Do not…do not…do not…
Note II: Italics mean avoid, Courier bold means sleeper.

Tier 1
Adrian Peterson (He is the Number One Pick. Mock the drafter if they do not take him.)
Maurice Jones-Drew (You see what I said about few running backs to truly trust? He’s a top three running back despite never having been the bellcow.)
Michael Turner (He is the Curse of 370’s latest victim. You have to be special to avoid the curse of 370. Turner’s good, but he’s in no way special.)
Steven Jackson (He gets a fullback and an offensive line infusion, but he’s like Westbrook in that he’s only healthy for 12 games. But he’s awesome for those 12.)
Chris Johnson (The upside? Jeff Fisher hates LenDale White as much as everybody else. And CJ is that damn good. The downside? He was injury-prone in college.)
Brian Westbrook (He’s 30. For a runner has never been healthy? You can see a potentiality of Westbrook falling off the cliff. And he does have the ankle issue that leaves him lazier than I.)
Matt Forte (Obviously, he’s productive, and he’ll get his 300 carries. But why he’s here is because Cutler has the dumbass that Kyle Orton just didn’t have with the checkdown. That’s why you may see him in the middle of the first round.)
LaDainian Tomlinson (I do not want. You shouldn’t either. He’s breaking down. His yards per carry was on the way down when he was healthy. In fact, he was nearly cut. And now he’s 30. I could be wrong, but too many runners fall off the cliff. Let someone else take the gamble.)
Steve Slaton (I know I said that Arian Foster is a great deep sleeper, but I like Steve Slaton. With the offense that the Texans could put up? It may not matter if Slaton does not get the 3rd and goal from the 2 run. He has breakaway speed and If you draft him as your RB1 you should be in great shape.)

Tier 2
DeAngelo Williams (If he was anywhere else he would be right behind Peterson. But Jonathan Stewart missed time last season and still managed to get 884 yards and 10 scores running the ball last season. He’s not going away. That’s why he’s a round 1/round 2 tweener.)
Marion Barber (The problem is he has a running style that will not be amenable to 300 carries. The other problem is that he has Felix Jones and Tashard Choice who deserve 15 carries.)
Clinton Portis (In the first half of the season? He will destroy opponents, but even if he stays healthy, he wears down as the season goes on. Draft him in the second round and trade him by week 8 and you’re gold pony boy.)
Frank Gore (The system will swing back toward more of a balanced attack, and that should benefit Gore. But the offensive line won’t mean he’ll be back at the 1692 yard 2006 season. Expect 1300 total yards and 8 scores. Be surprised if its better.)
Darren McFadden (Now year one can be explained away. He had a toe injury. Toes are big for speed and power. The pride is back. And the guy who was that damn good for Arkansas just has to overcome the huggy bear. It will happen this year.)
Ronnie Brown (He’s playing for his contract, and he is in his physical prime. He seems to have a firm lead over Ricky Williams in terms of a starting job. He may not be a keeper, but he will be a fine starter.
Kevin Smith (This may be your early third round sleeper pick. He’s got a lock on the starting job, a one cut system, an infusion of offensive line help, and a relativly conservative offensive system. The expectation is that he’ll be fringe top 15. I think he can be fringe top 5.)
Brandon Jacobs (Of course, if your league skews toward scoring? You can start to have Big Country [Yes, he deserves that nickname] climb up tier two. But like many other runners, you can’t depend on his health, and if Ahmad Bradshaw’s Family Dolla Steve Slaton doesn’t get you? Danny Ware will.)
Thomas Jones (The life of a running back who is on his way out is kind of scary. You have little recourse to rage against the dying of the light. And if you do holdout? You notice that the back-up is not nearly as much of a dropoff as you’d think. Leon Washington has ached to be Tiki Barber for so long, and Shonn Greene could bring thumpers power. Hell, we could see a three-headed comittee.)
Pierre Thomas (Deuce McAlister is gone, Aaron Stecker is gone. All you have here is Reggie Bush to work the all-purpose yardage. Pierre Thomas is going to work inside. And with the passing game as an ever present threat? He will be successful.)
Derrick Ward (Why you need to like him? He ran for 1,000 yards without 200 carries. He did get starter money in his new contract. And the line is improving. But there is the foreboding spectre of the averageness of Earnest Graham and the general struggles of a team instituting a Jeff Jadgozinski run scheme.)
Ryan Grant (He does have a certain amount of bounce-back this season. The Packers are a line in transition, but there is hope, people like the prospects who are coming down the pike. Don’t expect a sleeper, but expect solid.)
Knoshon Moreno (This will not be a Patriotish running back by committee. Moreno is a superman sort of a running back, and he will get 20 carries a game, and with that sort of offense? Gold!)

Tier 3
Marshawn Lynch (He will not play the first three games. But he’s generally solid when he sees the field. He’s not going to lose his job to Fred Jackson in all likelyhood. But he may not be a worthy RB2 in 13 games.)
Joesph Addai (For now avoid. Unless he will be the goal-line back, he will not bring enough to the table for you.)
Jonathan Stewart (You don’t know the exact value of the balance between him and DeAngelo Williams, you just know that he is going to bring a lot to the table if he stays healthy. 10 scores can happen again.)
Reggie Bush (He’s a back-up running back and a #3 receiver in one. With injury issues. Luckily for his situation, he will get looks while Lance Moore coalesces.)
Ahmad Bradshaw (Remember when I said that Derrick Ward ran for 1,000 yards without 200 rushes? The Giants back-up has a lot of value to a team.)
Earnest Graham (A bad ankle and a similar profile to the new hotness. Don’t trust him.)
Willis McGahee (He did not have more than ten carries but once after week 8. He’s in the coaching doghouse, and he may even get cut.)
Larry Johnson (He’s not the person who got rid of the pain of being a man in 2005-2006. But he still has goal line power to his game. And it can’t be that bad.)
LeRon McClain (No matter what happens? He will be your goal line back in Bodymore.)
Ray Rice (All he needs is one domino to fall his way and he looks like he will be a great sleeper.)
Chester Taylor (Obvious handcuff is obvious.)
Jamal Lewis (He’s a starter with a lot of miles on his tread. He inspires little, but the Browns don’t seem to have anybody else as I write this.)
Chris Wells (He will start. But he will not last 16 games. Take a shot at him if you have depth, if I’m wrong, you could get a chance at Top 10 numbers.)
Felix Jones (He’s straight weapon. He doesn’t have a clear path to carries, but any time he touches the ball he is a threat to score.)

Tier 4
LenDale White (The question is, does he get the opportunity to have a contract year? Chris Johnson runs like Vinnie Vincent plays guitar. He’ll get some scores, but don’t expect much smash.)
Fred Jackson (He will be solid with the starts that he will get, but that’s just it. He’s going to be merely solid. Marshawn will get the gig back.
Jerrious Norwood (Obvious handcuff with upside if starter gets hurt is obvious.)
Cedric Benson (Bernard Scott will be breathing down his neck. Benson may be able to hold him off this year, but I don’t trust it.)
Darren Sproles: (The same sort of 10 rush #3 receiver Reggie Bush tigerstyle will come here.)
Julius Jones: (Leader of a running back by comittee for a bounce back offense.)
LeSean McCoy (Shady is like Jerious Norwood. Treat him as such.)
Willie Parker
Donald Brown (There’s plenty to like here if he does get to be the front man. But considering how well UConn passed the ball, if he does get starts? He may shock the world.)
Leon Washington (If he gets a chance to start, he will be successful. But this isn’t a league that likes small and shifty bellcows.)
Tim Hightower (Always remember, Chris Wells is stupid injury-prone.)
Rashard Mendenhall (He will get the goal line carries no matter what. No matter what!)
Fred Taylor (If he stays healthy, he will be the front man of the RBBC. He’s not Fragile, but he is 32.)
Jamaal Charles (He’s a home-run threat, he will outplay Kolby Smith if LJ does move on.)
Michael Bush (In a just and loving world, Michael Bush would be the Earth to the wind and fire that Darren McFadden provides. But with Al Davis’ touch? Michael Bush is going to be the back-up quarterback.)
Sammy Morris (An oddly shaped Maurice Jones-Drew to Fred Taylor’s Fred Taylor.)
Kevin Faulk (Random and consistent pass-catcher who will continue down the same road.)
Ricky Williams (A long strange trip to the short man in a time share.)

Tier 5
Shonn Greene (He could be great if he’s the front man. Watch him in camp.)
Laurence Maroney (He does have the gifts to be a good pro. He’s shown it. But there are roadblocks in front of him.)
Correll Buckhalter (Shoot him up to Tier 3 if the word on Moreno is struggling.)
Justin Fargas (He’s your putative Raider starter in July. In September? Differesnt story.)
Maurice Morris (He’s a decent runner who would do will if Smith goes down.)
Tashard Choice (I had him on this list, otherwise he would be in on my last blog post. He’s awesome if he gets the opportunity.)
Mewlede Moore (Willie Parker is injury prone and Mendenhall did not show much last year.)


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