Chances are a running back will be the first player to come off the board in your fantasy league unless one of your fellow owners has a serious crush on Michael Vick or is the father/mother/sibling/spouse of a current NFL player. Running backs no longer the first dozen players off the board in fantasy football -- and honestly, that makes things much more interesting -- but an elite back is still the way to go if you're picking first overall.
So who should you take with the first pick? Arian Foster? Chris Johnson? Adrian Peterson? Jamaal Charles?
I’ve seen varying opinions on which player is the top back in fantasy football, and you can’t really go wrong with any of these guys. But for me, it’s an easy decision. I’m taking Peterson all day, just like his nickname.
There’s nothing worse than drafting a fantasy bust first overall, so I like to go for a sure thing, and that’s Peterson, who has been at least a top-five fantasy running back in each of the past three seasons. You can’t say that about any other player as the NFL -- and fantasy football, too -- goes all pass-happy on us.
So we know that if another back supplants him as the top fantasy back like Chris Johnson did in 2009 or when Arian Foster came out of nowhere last season, Peterson, barring injury, will be right behind him -- with your squad on his back.
On to the running back rankings…
1. Adrian Peterson, Vikings: Facing eight men in the box is a concern, but he’s shown he can still produce.
2. Arian Foster, Texans: A drop-off is possible, but it’s unlikely because this is an ideal situation for him.
3. Chris Johnson, Titans: If he is still holding out two weeks from now, start sliding him down this list.
4. Jamaal Charles, Chiefs: He’ll get plenty of touches, but will Le’Ron McClain vulture some inside the five?
5. Ray Rice, Ravens: I was high on him last year, too. Now it seems they are serious about running the rock.
6. Maurice Jones-Drew, Jaguars: Not sure why everyone is worried about MJD. He’ll get his this season.
7. Michael Turner, Falcons: It’s OK to worry about his past workload. Hopefully they take it easy on him.
8. Rashard Mendenhall, Steelers: If you’re going to bite the bullet and draft a Steeler, he’s a good option.
9. LeSean McCoy, Eagles: Note that he is much more effective when Michael Vick is under center.
10. Steven Jackson, Rams: He will have his best season in a while if Sam Bradford continues to develop.
11. Darren McFadden, Raiders: Last season was great and all, but he can’t duplicate it in street clothes.
12. Shonn Greene, Jets: He was a bust last season, but I’m bullish on Greene because their line is excellent.
13. Peyton Hillis, Browns: Will he be a one-hit wonder? I wish I had an answer for you. I guess we’ll see.
14. Ahmad Bradshaw, Giants: The presence of Brandon Jacobs keeps him out of the top 10 or 12.