--The changing landscape of running back has become evident, far and few between are guys that consistently carry the rock 20-25 times per game. However, just because their is more depth than ever before it still doesn't hide the fact you need to have producers in your fantasy backfield. I may go with a WR or QB early on, but I still want to have a pair of running backs in my first three picks.
Adrian Peterson – The offensive line in Minnesota is on the decline and the Vikings’ offense lacks weapons. While “All Day” is still our consensus No. 1 running back, we don’t like him as much as years past. The team has suggested they will use him more on passing downs though and that could help him produce better numbers as a receiver.
Arian Foster – Foster was amazing in 2010 as he scored 18 times and finished with 2,220 total yards for the Texans. His carries could dip a bit this season with the healthy return of Ben Tate, whose injury last season opened the door for Foster to shine. However, his production won’t be too far off from last year’s eye-popping totals. A strong candidate to be the No. 1 overall pick in many drafts.
Chris Johnson – If not for his holdout CJ2K would be another back argued for the top spot, but with no end to his contract dispute in sight Johnson is sliding down draft boards quickly. Don’t let him fall too far. With a capable quarterback under center and a new offensive coordinator in town Johnson promises to break several big time plays, assuming he ever gets on to the field.
Ray Rice – After a disappointing campaign a year ago there is plenty to like about Rice heading into 2011. Willis McGahee is gone, which should lead Rice getting more carries and allow him additional scoring opportunities. His value is even higher in PPR formats as the 24-year old have averaged 71 catches per year over the last two seasons.
Jahvid Best – A nagging turf toe injury limited him during his rookie campaign. The Lions’ offense is loaded with weapons and Best could be the most explosive playmaker in the group. With this year’s rookie running back Mikkel Leshoure out for the season things will only get better.
Mark Ingram – Ingram is my pick for the rookie likely to make the most immediate impact for fantasy owners. He has been impressive throughout the preseason and should become the go-to-guy quickly in the Saints’ high-scoring attack. He could finish as a top 10 fantasy RB.
Shonn Greene – I was high on Greene last year at this, but LT’s hot start kept Greene in a reduced role most of the season. With Tomlinson now taking a back seat, Greene has the potential to be a 300-touch running back more than capable of scoring double-digit touchdowns.
Michael Turner – The Falcons are opening up their offensive attack and looking to air it out a bit more and that spells trouble for Turner. While he will still get a chance to put up some touchdowns, a dip in his touches should be expected. His value takes an even bigger hit in leagues that reward points for receptions.
Ryan Grant – Grant is likely to slide in drafts and could provide some mid-round value, but with James Starks looming and discussion that Grant could be a roster cut casualty should make owners feel reluctant. You may be best served to let someone else take a flier on him.
Cedric Benson – Nearing his 29th birthday the workload is beginning to catch up to the Bengals’ running back. With the offense getting even worse this season, Benson will find it even tougher to run. He’s never been good in the passing game either. Running backs on bad teams are always something to avoid and no team in the league may be as bad as the Bengals.