2009 Fantasy Running Back Rankings for the 2009 Season

Published on June 9, 2009 by     

75557899JD023_MINNESOTA_VIK

Team Player Analysis

Minnesota Vikings

1. Adrian Peterson
(Auction: $35)
Peterson might be the NFL’s most talented running back. A powerful and elusive athlete, he led all backs in rushing yards last season and finished third in fantasy points at his position on NFL.com. He rushed for 100-plus yards 10 times in 2008 and has hit the century mark in nearly 60 percent of his career games. “All Day” also saw his total carries last year increase by 125 over his rookie season in 2007, so he’s close to being a true featured back despite the presence of Chester Taylor. Peterson will be the consensus No. 1 overall selection in fantasy drafts. (Bye: Week 9)

2009 Projections
Rush Yds
Rush TDs
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TDs
Fumbles lost
1670
16
23
175
0
3

Team Player Analysis

Chicago Bears

2. Matt Forte
(Auction: $33)
Forté was the best rookie runner in a stout 2008 class. A versatile back with a nose for the end zone, he hauled in 63 passes, rushed for 1,238 yards, and scored 12 total touchdowns. With great field vision, soft hands, and the ability to block on passing downs, he is the complete package. And now that Jay Cutler is at quarterback for Chicago, defenses will have to remain honest, and Forté will be even more productive. The addition of tackle Orlando Pace should improve the offensive line, too, so Forté is in for a monster season.(Bye: Week 5)

2009 Projections
Rush Yds
Rush TDs
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TDs
Fumbles lost
1265
9
67
540
4
2

Team Player Analysis

Atlanta Falcons

3. Michael Turner
(Auction: $31)
After five seasons in San Diego backing up LaDainian Tomlinson, Turner proved himself as a top back in Atlanta in 2008, when he finished second in the NFL in rushing yards (1,699) and rushing TDs (17). He ran for 100-plus yards eight times, including a pair of 200-plus yards performances, and scored at least 1 touchdown in 10 of 16 regular-season games. He compiled a hefty 376 attempts, but that shouldn’t be a concern because of his previously limited workload. One of the few featured backs left in the league, Turner is a top-five pick for 2009. (Bye: Week 4)

2009 Projections
Rush Yds
Rush TDs
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TDs
Fumbles lost
1525
15
8
55
0
2

Team Player Analysis

Jacksonville Jaguars

4. Maurice Jones-Drew
(Auction: $29)
Fantasy owners looking for a breakout running back should look no further than Jones-Drew, who is in position to have a career season in 2009. With Fred Taylor now in New England, Jones-Drew will get the majority of the carries and an increase in chances as a receiver out of the backfield. That’s exciting news for a player who caught 62 passes in 2008 and has averaged close to 13 total touchdowns in his NFL career despite serving in a committee situation. With a much-improved offensive line in front of him, there’s no limit to what Jones-Drew can produce.(Bye: Week 7)

2009 Projections
Rush Yds
Rush TDs
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TDs
Fumbles lost
1120
13
59
540
1
2

Team Player Analysis

Carolina Panthers

5. DeAngelo Williams
(Auction: $28)
Rated as the second-most valuable fantasy back on his own team entering 2008, Williams held off rookie Jonathan Stewart and exploded for 1,515 rushing yards and 20 total TDs. The top-scoring back on NFL.com, he scored at least 1 TD in 10 of the last 12 games. That included two games with 4 TDs, one of which came against the Giants in fantasy’s championship week. Most backs who score 20-plus times experience a decrease in TDs the following season, so don’t expect Williams to duplicate last year’s numbers. But he’s still a surefire first-round pick. (Bye: Week 4)

2009 Projections
Rush Yds
Rush TDs
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TDs
Fumbles lost
1345
12
21
180
2
2

Team Player Analysis

Tennessee Titans

6. Chris Johnson
(Auction: $27)
A versatile running back with immense speed, Johnson burst on to the fantasy scene as a rookie in 2008 with 43 receptions, 1,488 yards from scrimmage, and 10 total touchdowns. What makes those numbers more impressive is that he reached them while sharing carries with LenDale White. He’ll continue to share the workload with White this year, but his touches, especially as a receiver out of the backfield, should increase. That bodes well for his chances to improve on his rookie totals and makes Johnson a top-10 selection in most fantasy drafts. (Bye: Week 7)

2009 Projections
Rush Yds
Rush TDs
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TDs
Fumbles lost
1290
8
51
325
2
2

Team Player Analysis

St. Louis Rams

7. Steven Jackson
(Auction: $25)
Jackson’s huge 2006 season was supposed to be his springboard to fantasy stardom. But over the last two years, injuries have taken him a step back. Despite that, Jackson still has tremendous fantasy value. He’s a young player with immense talent, and new coach Steve Spagnuolo plans to use him as his offensive centerpiece this season. Jackson will run behind what should be an improved offensive line in 2009, and there’s no reason to believe he can’t put up big numbers. Look for him to come off the board in the first round in both standard and PPR drafts. (Bye: Week 9)

2009 Projections
Rush Yds
Rush TDs
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TDs
Fumbles lost
1205
8
51
465
1
2

Team Player Analysis

San Francisco 49ers

8. Frank Gore
(Auction: $24)
Gore is a valuable fantasy runner, but he’s been more of a risk-reward player in recent seasons. In fact, his games played, carries, and rushing yards have decreased each of the last two seasons. Still, Gore’s immediate future looks bright. The 49ers will be more run-oriented under new coordinator Jimmy Raye, so Gore should get at least 20 carries a week. The team also added Moran Norris, who served as the lead fullback when Gore rushed for 1,695 yards and scored 9 touchdowns in 2006. Barring injuries, he appears set for a bounce-back season. (Bye: Week 6)

2009 Projections
Rush Yds
Rush TDs
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TDs
Fumbles lost
1255
7
41
355
2
3

Team Player Analysis

Dallas Cowboys

9. Marion Barber
(Auction: $22)
Barber had a more featured role for the Cowboys last season, but the increased workload hurt his value. His rushing yards and touchdowns both fell, and a late-season toe injury made him far less effective down the stretch. As a result, Dallas will utilize Felix Jones and Tashard Choice more often in 2009. That’s not necessarily a negative in terms of Barber’s production, as he’ll play the “closer” role in which he previously thrived. Because TDs are like gold in fantasy football, Barber remains valuable. His receiving skills make him a nice option in PPR formats, too. (Bye: Week 6)

2009 Projections
Rush Yds
Rush TDs
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TDs
Fumbles lost
995
10
43
360
2
2

Team Player Analysis

Houston Texans

10. Steve Slaton
(Auction: $22)
One of the top fantasy sleepers of 2008, Slaton thrived under the guidance of coordinator Kyle Shanahan and assistant coach Alex Gibbs, whose zone-blocking scheme proved to be a nice fit for the elusive runner. Gibbs has helped a long line of backs find success at the NFL level, and his continued presence with the team makes Slaton even more valuable in fantasy football. With no significant competition in the team’s backfield, Slaton will remain the Texans’ top option in the running game. He’ll come off the board in the first or second round.(Bye: Week 10)

2009 Projections
Rush Yds
Rush TDs
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TDs
Fumbles lost
1210
7
41
305
1
2

Team Player Analysis

Washington Redskins

11. Clinton Portis
(Auction: $19)
Portis was fantasy’s No. 1 back the first half of last season, rushing for 944 yards and 7 TDs in his first eight games. However, a variety of injuries turned him from a must-start to a risk-reward option down the stretch. He finished with 342 carries-the last time he had so many attempts was in 2005, and he missed half of the following season due to injuries. His average of 340.5 carries over his last four full seasons also makes him a breakdown candidate in 2009. He’ll still come off the board in the first or second round but is a high-risk, high-reward runner. (Bye: Week 8)

2009 Projections
Rush Yds
Rush TDs
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TDs
Fumbles lost
1200
8
23
195
1
3

Team Player Analysis

San Diego Chargers

12. LaDainian Tomlinson
(Auction: $18)
Tomlinson appears to be heading toward the downside of an illustrious career. The consensus No. 1 overall pick in 2008 drafts, L.T. failed to meet expectations. His 1,110 rushing yards were a career low, and his level of consistency tumbled due to age, an injured toe, and a less effective offensive line. Tomlinson still has some gas left in the tank, but he’ll be 30 at the start of this season and seems destined to lose some carries to Darren Sproles. Fantasy owners should consider L.T. more of a second-round selection as a high-end No. 2 back. (Bye: Week 5)

2009 Projections
Rush Yds
Rush TDs
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TDs
Fumbles lost
1025
8
43
355
1
2

Team Player Analysis

Philadelphia Eagles

13. Brian Westbrook
(Auction: $17)
Westbrook has long been a fantasy superstar, as his rushing and receiving skills have made him a dual threat. But his reception and yardage totals fell last season, and his best days could be behind him. Westbrook, who turns 30 before the start of the season, has dealt with a variety of injuries, including knee and ankle issues, throughout his career. That wear and tear makes him more of a risk-reward selection than in previous seasons. Despite the addition of LeSean McCoy, Westbrook is still a second-round talent, but he could be a less consistent fantasy option. (Bye: Week 4)

2009 Projections
Rush Yds
Rush TDs
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TDs
Fumbles lost
875
7
51
500
3
2

Team Player Analysis

New York Giants

14. Brandon Jacobs
(Auction: $16)
Jacobs ran for 1,089 yards and an impressive 15 TDs in just 13 games in 2008. The bruising runner could have an even greater role in the Giants’ offense without Derrick Ward (who is now in Tampa Bay), but the presence of Ahmad Bradshaw, Danny Ware, and rookie Andre Brown should help keep Jacobs fresh. From a fantasy perspective, injuries are the downfall with Jacobs, who tends to miss time due to various ailments. While those bumps and bruises make him a risk-reward choice, it’s hard to argue with his production. He’ll go in the second round of most drafts. (Bye: Week 10)

2009 Projections
Rush Yds
Rush TDs
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TDs
Fumbles lost
1070
12
14
105
0
2

Team Player Analysis

Miami Dolphins

15. Ronnie Brown
(Auction: $15)
Brown could be a nice draft value in 2009. Despite coming off reconstructive knee surgery and sharing carries with Ricky Williams, he was still able to post 1,170 yards from scrimmage yards and score 10 touchdowns. He lacked consistency, but his final numbers were impressive nonetheless. With a full season under his belt since the procedure, Brown should now see a more robust workload. With a strong offensive line in front of him, he has the potential to rush for 1,000-plus yards and post solid TD totals. A viable No. 2 fantasy back, he’ll be among the first 15 to 20 RBs chosen. (Bye: Week 6)

2009 Projections
Rush Yds
Rush TDs
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TDs
Fumbles lost
1065
8
38
295
1
2
Team Player Analysis

Detroit Lions

16. Kevin Smith
(Auction: $15)
Smith had a rollercoaster ride of a rookie season. He opened as the Lions’ starter, lost that role to Rudi Johnson after four games, then re-claimed the top spot and thrived in the final three weeks. His late-season success and the addition of new coordinator Scott Linehan have Smith’s fantasy value heading in the right direction. He could lose some time to Maurice Morris in certain sets, but Smith is still the team’s lead back. With solid skills as both a runner and receiver, he should avoid a sophomore slump and develop into a more reliable No. 2 fantasy back in 2009.(Bye: Week 7)

2009 Projections
Rush Yds
Rush TDs
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TDs
Fumbles lost
1070
7
44
295
1
2

Team Player Analysis

New Orleans Saints

17. Pierre Thomas
(Auction: $15)
One of the biggest fantasy sleepers of the 2008 season, Thomas’ late-season success in New Orleans was a big reason why countless fantasy owners took home a league title. From Week 11-16, he rushed for 475 yards, scored nine total touchdowns and was third in fantasy points among running backs behind DeAngelo Williams and Michael Turner. While it’s hard to expect enormous numbers from a committee back in a pass-laden offense, Thomas has shown that he can make quite an impact in fantasy circles. Now the favorite to start in the backfield of coach Sean Payton, Thomas will be selected ahead of his teammate, Reggie Bush, in most standard formats. A viable No. 2 fantasy back, look for Thomas’ name to be called between the second and fourth rounds. (Bye: Week 5)

2009 Projections
Rush Yds
Rush TDs
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TDs
Fumbles lost
940
8
38
325
1
2

Team Player Analysis

Indianapolis Colts

18. Joseph Addai
(Auction: $14)
A first-round selection in all 2008 drafts, Addai missed four games due to injuries and turned out to be one of the biggest disappointments in fantasy football. He rushed for 100-plus yards just once all season and saw statistical decreases in all the important fantasy categories, so his draft stock has certainly been affected. Still, Addai is only 26 and far from broken down, but it’s apparent that he can’t handle the workload of a featured back at the NFL level. Enter rookie Donald Brown, a talented runner out of Connecticut whose presence will hurt Addai’s value in both seasonal and keeper leagues. Addai will remain the starter and is still a viable No. 2 fantasy back, but don’t expect him to re-emerge into an elite option. (Bye: Week 6)

2009 Projections
Rush Yds
Rush TDs
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TDs
Fumbles lost
1005
7
33
280
1
0

Team Player Analysis

Denver Broncos

19. Knowshon Moreno
(Auction: $14)
Moreno was the first running back taken in the 2009 NFL Draft, and he’ll be the first rookie taken in most fantasy leagues as well. A versatile athlete with three-down potential, Moreno gives new coach Josh McDaniels another legitimate threat on offense. A tremendous runner and receiver out of the backfield, he has all the skills to make an impact for seasons to come. The Broncos’ crowded backfield will limit Moreno’s stock in seasonal drafts, but there’s little doubt that he’ll top the team’s depth chart sooner rather than later. Look for him to come off the board in the third to fifth rounds. (Bye: Week 7)

2009 Projections
Rush Yds
Rush TDs
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TDs
Fumbles lost
1025
6
35
320
1
2

Team Player Analysis

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

20. Derrick Ward
(Auction: $14)
A fantasy sleeper, Ward has a chance to post the best numbers of his career as the Buccaneers’ No. 1 back. He showed flashes of brilliance last season with the Giants, rushing for 1,025 yards with a strong 5.6 yards-per-carry average. He also caught 41 passes for 384 yards, so he’s proven to be versatile. He will lose at least some work to Earnest Graham, especially in short-yardage and goal-line sets, but will get his share of chances. Ward should thrive in new coordinator Jeff Jagodzinski’s zone-blocking scheme, and is a No. 2 back in both standard and PPR formats. (Bye: Week 8)

2009 Projections
Rush Yds
Rush TDs
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TDs
Fumbles lost
1100
6
41
300
0
2

Team Player Analysis

New York Jets

21. Thomas Jones
(Auction: $13)
One of the best draft values of the 2008 season, Jones came out of nowhere to produce 1,312 rushing yards and 15 total touchdowns. Those numbers helped him finish fifth in fantasy points among running backs on NFL.com. However, he’ll be hard pressed to duplicate those totals again this season. The Jets will have an inexperienced quarterback in either Mark Sanchez or Kellen Clemens at the helm of the offense, so opposing defenses will stack the line of scrimmage to stop the run. He’ll also lose work to Leon Washington and Shonn Greene, who looks like the heir apparent in the Jets backfield. Jones, 31, does have a solid offensive line and will have a few nice statistical weeks, but fantasy owners need to temper their expectations. (Bye: Week 9)

2009 Projections
Rush Yds
Rush TDs
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TDs
Fumbles lost
1065
7
27
195
0
1

Team Player Analysis

Buffalo Bills

22. Marshawn Lynch
(Auction: $12)
Fantasy leaguers have been waiting for Lynch to move up to the elite level of running backs, but that scenario might not be in the cards in a league that’s become dominated by backfield committees. He did finish last season with career bests in receptions (47), scrimmage yards (1,336) and touchdowns (9), but the presence of Fred Jackson effectively put a cap on Lynch’s statistical success. With a three-game suspension hanging over his head at press time, Lynch goes from being a borderline No. 1 or 2 fantasy back to a low-end No. 2 option. His value would increase if he has a successful appeal and has his suspension decreased, but missing three games would push him into the third or fourth round on Draft Day. (Bye: Week 9)

2009 Projections
Rush Yds
Rush TDs
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TDs
Fumbles lost
1010
6
39
265
1
2

Team Player Analysis

Kansas City Chiefs

23. Larry Johnson
(Auction: $12)
Johnson’s fantasy value has had a quick and decided decrease since 2006. In that season, L.J. posted 2,199 yards from scrimmage and scored 19 touchdowns. He also had an NFL-record 416 carries, and he’s not been the same since. On a positive note, the Chiefs will have a much more powerful pass attack under coach Todd Haley, so Johnson won’t face as many stacked fronts. He’ll also see most of the goal-line work, so improved touchdown totals can be expected in 2009. He won’t be an elite fantasy starter, but should still be considered a low-end No. 2 starter in most formats. (Bye: Week 8)

2009 Projections
Rush Yds
Rush TDs
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TDs
Fumbles lost
1095
8
17
125
0
2

Team Player Analysis

Green Bay Packers

24. Ryan Grant
(Auction: $12)
After Grant’s strong finish in 2007, expectations were high for 2008. But a training-camp holdout and hamstring issues caused a slow start to the season. He rebounded to rush for 1,203 yards, but scored double-digit fantasy points on NFL.com in just five of his 16 games. He also saw his yards-per-carry average drop from 5.1 in 2007 to 3.9 in 2008, and his touchdown total fell from 8 to 5 despite a more prominent role. A full training camp and preseason should do him well, but fantasy owners should still consider Grant no more than a No. 2 fantasy runner.(Bye: Week 5)

2009 Projections
Rush Yds
Rush TDs
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TDs
Fumbles lost
1180
6
21
105
0
3

Team Player Analysis

Oakland Raiders

25. Darren McFadden
(Auction: $12)
McFadden was touted as the next Adrian Peterson in some fantasy circles before the start of last season, but injuries and a shared workload in the Raiders’ backfield caused him to disappoint. He missed three games and was limited in several others. Despite his failures, McFadden can still make an impact for fantasy owners. In fact, he should be able to improve in every statistical category if he can remain free of injuries. A backfield committee will limit his numbers, but he should still be seen as a low-end No. 2 back or flex starter. He’ll be selected between the third and fifth round. (Bye: Week 9)

2009 Projections
Rush Yds
Rush TDs
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TDs
Fumbles lost
875
6
38
325
0
2

Team Player Analysis

New Orleans Saints

26. Reggie Bush
(Auction: $11)
Despite lofty expectations, Bush has failed to become a reliable, dual-threat back in the NFL. He’s shown flashes of brilliance, but knee problems have hurt his value. Bush missed 10 games over the past two seasons, and he’s also coming off a microfracture procedure that could hurt his speed. If he can avoid serious injury, Bush will be an asset in both standard and PPR formats. Of course, that’s a big “if.” Bush, who will split the backfield workload with Pierre Thomas, should be seen as a risk-reward No. 2 fantasy back or flex starter in most leagues. (Bye: Week 5)

2009 Projections
Rush Yds
Rush TDs
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TDs
Fumbles lost
520
3
79
615
4
4

Team Player Analysis

Pittsburgh Steelers

27. Willie Parker
(Auction: $10)
Injuries have caused Parker’s value to fall. He fractured his fibula at the end of 2007 and missed five games last season due to various ailments, so it looks like the burden of 913 regular-season carries from 2005 to 2007 has taken its toll. Parker still has the physical tools to make an impact, but it’s hard to project him as a featured back with Rashard Mendenhall and Mewelde Moore also in Pittsburgh. Fast Willie will reach the 1,000-yard mark if he can avoid serious injuries, but he won’t soon return to the form that once made him an elite fantasy back. (Bye: Week 8)

2009 Projections
Rush Yds
Rush TDs
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TDs
Fumbles lost
1090
6
12
75
0
3

Team Player Analysis

Tennessee Titans

28. LenDale White
(Auction: $10)
White, a bruising runner with a nose for the end zone, saw his carries and yardage totals decrease last season after Chris Johnson joined the Titans’ backfield. However, White scored 15 times in what became a very productive committee. White will continue to get the majority of short-yardage and goal-line carries for the Titans, so his TD totals will remain high. Although he will again play second fiddle in fantasy circles to the more versatile Johnson, White is still good option in touchdown-based leagues or as a potential flex starter in standard formats.(Bye: Week 7)

2009 Projections
Rush Yds
Rush TDs
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TDs
Fumbles lost
810
10
9
45
0
2

Team Player Analysis

Arizona Cardinals

29. Chris Wells
(Auction: $10)
A bruising, north-south runner, Wells will compete with Tim Hightower for the top spot on the depth chart in Arizona. He had great success in college, rushing for a combined 2,806 yards and 23 TDs in his final two seasons at Ohio State. He dealt with injuries, though, so his durability is a question mark. While a backfield committee is a possibility, Wells is a more talented back than Hightower and should be the starter eventually. A viable flex starter, Wells will come off the board in the middle rounds in most seasonal drafts, and even earlier in all keeper formats.(Bye: Week 4)

2009 Projections
Rush Yds
Rush TDs
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TDs
Fumbles lost
940
7
6
35
0
0

Team Player Analysis

Carolina Panthers

30. Jonathan Stewart
(Auction: $8)
Lost in the statistical explosion of teammate DeAngelo Williams, Stewart posted 836 rushing yards and an impressive 10 touchdowns in his rookie season in 2008. Stewart has all the tools to be a solid fantasy starter, but his value is limited due to the presence of Williams and a committee situation that will continue for the Panthers in 2009. In fact, Stewart would be worth a second-round pick if used more prominently. As it stands, he is a valuable handcuff for Williams owners. Carolina runs the ball enough that he also can serve as a No. 3 back or flex starter in most leagues.(Bye: Week 4)

2009 Projections
Rush Yds
Rush TDs
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TDs
Fumbles lost
880
8
13
75
0
2
Team Player Analysis

Cleveland Browns

31. Jamal Lewis
(Auction: $7)
Lewis, who turns 30 before the start of the 2009 season, appears to be heading toward downside of his career. A former star in fantasy circles, Lewis failed to meet expectations last season with his lowest yardage and touchdown totals since 2005. Despite his failures, the Browns didn’t make a move to upgrade the position in the offseason and appear set to utilize him as a featured back once again. With what should be an improved offensive line ahead of him after the addition of rookie center Alex Mack, Lewis should be able to reach the 1,000-yard mark for the eighth time in his NFL career. That doesn’t mean he’ll re-establish himself as an elite back, but Lewis will be a viable No. 3 option or flex starter. (Bye: Week 9)

2009 Projections
Rush Yds
Rush TDs
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TDs
Fumbles lost
1,010
5
19
120
0
2

Team Player Analysis

Cincinnati Bengals

32. Cedric Benson
(Auction: $7)
A fantasy bust with the Bears, Benson resurrected his career with the Bengals. Signed during the 2008 season, Benson became the top back in Cincinnati and made a fantasy impact. He gained 462 yards from scrimmage over the final three weeks, which helped some owners win a title. While his numbers were solid, this is still the same back that has foundered for much of his time in the NFL. Add to that the return of Carson Palmer-giving the Bengals an offense that won’t allow Benson 84 carries in a three-week stretch-and he is worth only a middle-round pick as a No. 3 fantasy back. (Bye: Week 8)

2009 Projections
Rush Yds
Rush TDs
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TDs
Fumbles lost
925
5
23
190
0
2

Team Player Analysis

Baltimore Ravens

33. Willis McGahee
(Auction: $6)
A fantasy disappointment last year, McGahee lost playing time due to injuries and a backfield committee that included Le’Ron McClain and Ray Rice. McGahee enters this season at 100 percent and in a battle to re-claim the top spot on the Ravens’ depth chart, but he seems destined to split carries even if he opens Week 1 as the starter. Unlike seasons past, McGahee is no longer a player to lean on week in and week out. Instead, he’ll likely post inconsistent stat lines and become a potential flex starter in most leagues, so don’t consider him before the middle rounds.(Bye: Week 7)

2009 Projections
Rush Yds
Rush TDs
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TDs
Fumbles lost
815
6
20
135
0
3

Team Player Analysis

Indianapolis Colts

34. Donald Brown
(Auction: $5)
The 2008 rushing leader in Division-I for Connecticut, Brown was considered one of the most talented runners in this year’s rookie class. Now a member of the Colts, he’ll be second on the depth chart to Joseph Addai but will play a very prominent role in the offense. The team wants to utilize more of a backfield committee approach like it did it its Super Bowl season, when Addai and Dominic Rhodes helped lead them to a win over the Chicago Bears. Addai will remain the starter, but Brown will also see his share of the carries as well. While the shared workload limits his stock, the rookie still has a high level of value as a fantasy handcuff for the injury-prone Addai. He’ll be worth a middle-round pick. (Bye: Week 6)

2009 Projections
Rush Yds
Rush TDs
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TDs
Fumbles lost
675
5
33
250
0
1

Team Player Analysis

Arizona Cardinals

35. Tim Hightower
(Auction: $5)
Hightower, who has drawn comparisons to Marion Barber for his powerful running style, showcased his skills as a rookie with 34 receptions and 10 touchdowns. He even took over the top spot on the depth chart from Edgerrin James for seven games before ultimately losing the role down the stretch. But with the addition of rookie standout Chris Wells, Hightower now seems destined to be entrenched in a backfield committee. Based on his skills as receiver out of the backfield, the Cardinals could push Hightower into more of a third-down role with Wells seeing time on early downs. One this is for sure – this is one competition that fantasy owners need to watch. In a best-case scenario, Hightower will be worth a middle-round pick as a No. 3 back or flex starter. (Bye: Week 4)

2009 Projections
Rush Yds
Rush TDs
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TDs
Fumbles lost
585
7
38
280
0
3

Team Player Analysis

Seattle Seahawks

36. Julius Jones
(Auction: $5)
A former 1,000-yard rusher with the Cowboys, Jones failed to make a significant fantasy impact in his first season with the Seahawks. After recording a combined 39 fantasy points on NFL.com in Weeks 2 and 3, Jones didn’t score in double-digits in any game the remainder of the season. On a positive note, the Seahawks will run the ball more often under new coach Jim Mora. Couple that with the departure of Maurice Morris, and Jones has become the favorite to open this season atop the depth chart. Whether or not he can take advantage of the opportunity remains to be seen, but that chance to be a starter, even in a committee with T.J. Duckett, makes Jones worth a middle-round pick in most fantasy drafts. (Bye: Week 7)

2009 Projections
Rush Yds
Rush TDs
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TDs
Fumbles lost
875
4
21
145
0
2

Team Player Analysis

Dallas Cowboys

37. Felix Jones
(Auction: $4)
Jones showed some serious playmaking ability in his rookie season, but an injured toe limited him to just six games and 266 rushing yards. He’s back to 100 percent for the start of this season, however, and there’s a chance he could start ahead of Marion Barber. That role would be similar to the one Julius Jones had in Dallas in 2007, when he topped the depth chart but lost carries to Barber near the goal line and in the second half. In a best-case scenario, Jones couls turn into a terrific sleeper candidate for owners. He’ll come off the board in the middle rounds.(Bye: Week 6)

2009 Projections
Rush Yds
Rush TDs
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TDs
Fumbles lost
760
5
18
145
0
1

Team Player Analysis

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

38. Earnest Graham
(Auction: $5)
Graham was considered a surefire fantasy starter last season after posting 49 catches, 1,222 scrimmage yards and 10 touchdowns in 2007. But with Warrick Dunn in the mix, Graham shared carries and failed to meet expectations before an injured ankle forced him to miss the final six games. His value was back on the rise after the addition of coordinator Jeff Jagodzinski and his zone-blocking scheme, but it took an enormous hit when the Buccaneers signed Derrick Ward. Now likely relegated to short-yardage and goal-line duties in a committee, Graham has lost quite a bit of his fantasy luster. While his touchdown potential makes him an attractive choice in the middle rounds, he’ll have a statistical ceiling with Ward the favorite to start in 2009. (Bye: Week 8)

2009 Projections
Rush Yds
Rush TDs
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TDs
Fumbles lost
680
6
17
135
0
1

Team Player Analysis

San Diego Chargers

39. Darren Sproles
(Auction: $4)
Sproles might be small in stature, but his impact on a football field can be enormous. He proved that at the end of last season, as his heroics helped the Chargers beat the Broncos and win the AFC West. Sproles isn’t in line for a starting role with LaDainian Tomlinson in the mix, but the explosive runner could see more time in the backfield in 2009. He’s still one of the better handcuffs in fantasy football, but Sproles will be drafted much earlier than in seasons past based on his success down the stretch in 2008. A potential flex starter with added value in leagues that reward individual points for return yards and touchdowns, Sproles will be selected in the middle to late rounds. (Bye: Week 5)

2009 Projections
Rush Yds
Rush TDs
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TDs
Fumbles lost
365
2
31
330
4
2

Team Player Analysis

New York Jets

40. Leon Washington
(Auction: $4)
One of the best small running backs in the league, Washington is coming off a season that saw him post career bests in receptions (47), receiving yards (355) and total touchdowns (8). The Jets plan to run the football more often under new coach Rex Ryan, but the presence of Thomas Jones and the addition of rookie Shonn Greene will limit the number of touches Washington sees on offense during the course of the season. Still, the versatile runner out of Florida State will see a new role that should allow him a chance to have more fantasy value, especially in leagues that reward points for receptions. A viable middle- to late-round selection, Washington should be seen as a fantasy reserve and occasional flex starter in larger leagues. (Bye: Week 9)

2009 Projections
Rush Yds
Rush TDs
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TDs
Fumbles lost
500
4
42
340
2
2

Team Player Analysis

Buffalo Bills

41. Fred Jackson
(Auction: $4)
Jackson put up career numbers in 2008. A versatile back, he hauled in 37 passes for 317 yards, rushed for 571 yards, and scored 3 TDs as the immediate backup for Marshawn Lynch. With Lynch suspended for the first three games at press time, however, Jackson is the favorite to open 2009 as the Bills’ top runner. That gives him added value, at least on a temporary basis. Overall, Jackson should be considered a solid fantasy handcuff for Lynch and can also be a viable matchup-based flex starter in larger leagues. Look for him to come off the board in the middle to late rounds in most drafts.(Bye: Week 9)

2009 Projections
Rush Yds
Rush TDs
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TDs
Fumbles lost
585
2
29
285
1
2

Team Player Analysis

Baltimore Ravens

42. Ray Rice
(Auction: $4)
Rice was owned in as many as 80 percent of NFL.com leagues during his rookie season, but his value was limited with Le’Ron McClain and Willis McGahee also in the Ravens’ backfield. In fact, he had 20-plus carries in just two games before leg injuries cost him the final three weeks. Rice is a talented and versatile runner, but it appears Baltimore will have a backfield committee again in 2009. In that scenario, Rice will serve as a change-of-pace back and see much of his time on passing downs. If he can earn a more prominent role, though, the Rutgers product could turn into a decent sleeper candidate. (Bye: Week 7)

2009 Projections
Rush Yds
Rush TDs
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TDs
Fumbles lost
495
2
41
345
1
2

Team Player Analysis

Philadelphia Eagles

43. LeSean McCoy
(Auction: $4)
One of the most versatile running backs in the 2009 rookie class, McCoy has a bright future. He has many of the same skills as incumbent starter Brian Westbrook, especially in his ability to catch the ball. That makes McCoy the heir apparent in the Eagles’ backfield and gives him a boost in value in keeper and dynasty leagues. His value this season is mostly as a handcuff for Westbrook, whose age, knee and ankle problems are well documented. McCoy won’t see enough work to warrant a prominent role on fantasy teams (unless Westbrook is injured), but he is worth a look in the middle rounds. (Bye: Week 4)

2009 Projections
Rush Yds
Rush TDs
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TDs
Fumbles lost
580
3
17
175
1
1

Team Player Analysis

Atlanta Falcons

44. Jerious Norwood
(Auction: $3)
Norwood posted career bests last season in receptions (36), receiving yards (338), and touchdowns (6) as the Falcons’ change-of-pace back. That’s a role he’ll continue to fill in 2009. Of course, his carries and rushing yards both suffered with the addition of Michael Turner, who had a huge season and developed into one of the league’s premier featured backs. Norwood can still be a good fantasy option, however, not only as a handcuff for Turner but also as a matchup-based flex starter in larger leagues. He has added value, too, in leagues that award points for return yards and TDs. (Bye: Week 4)

2009 Projections
Rush Yds
Rush TDs
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TDs
Fumbles lost
455
3
31
325
1
1

Team Player Analysis

Baltimore Ravens

45. Le’Ron McClain
(Auction: $3)
McClain, who was owned in zero percent of NFL.com leagues in Week 1 last season, came out of nowhere to become a fantasy starter. With Willis McGahee either out or limited due to injuries, McClain responded with 902 yards and 10 touchdowns. Whether or not he can reach those totals again remains to be seen. The Ravens will continue to utilize a backfield committee, and McClain will be moved into more of a traditional fullback role. That will mean far fewer yards but continued goal-line carries. Overall, McClain will be worth a middle- to late-round pick. (Bye: Week 7)

2009 Projections
Rush Yds
Rush TDs
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TDs
Fumbles lost
475
8
11
70
0
2

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