My friend C-Nast is the Mel Kiper Jr. of our fantasy league. This guy is constantly delivering mock drafts during the offseason, and a couple years ago, he successfully predicted my first four picks.

So when he and my buddy Jordan came to visit in late May, and we sat down for lunch at ESPN Zone, the talk quickly shifted from what we were ordering to fantasy football. I am in a non-traditional keeper league where each owner is allowed to retain one player from the previous season. After going over each team's keeper, we started to go over which running backs would be available in the first few rounds.


Things got ugly fast. And I'm not talking about the salsa blanketing Jordan's face.

Willis McGahee? Isn't his offensive line made up of Arena League players? Curtis Martin? Didn't he go to high school with Joe Paterno? Reggie Bush, Joseph Addai, DeAngelo Williams? Could they be counted on to put up big numbers as rookies? I hadn't been this confused since I found out Andy Milonakis is 30 years old.

One of the major things we noticed was how many teams are going with more than one featured running back. Take the Ravens for instance. Sure, it looks like Jamal Lewis will get the majority of carries, but are you comfortable drafting him with an early pick knowing that Mike Anderson is waiting in the wings?

Brian Billick isn't the only NFL head coach showing utter disregard for the feelings of fantasy owners when making personnel decisions. I counted at least 11 teams (Giants, Colts, Jaguars, Titans, Panthers, Falcons, Saints, Ravens, Bears, Packers and Broncos) where the back-up running back could have a significant effect on the starter's value. And that is without even taking injuries into account.

That being said, here are the top 40 running backs according to APR. If you didn't see the quarterback post from last week, APR stands for Average Position Ranking (Fantasy rule No. 1 - you can never have enough abbreviations). I have looked at six different sites/publications and taken the average of where they have the top 40 running backs ranked. Again, these are different from our rankings, which we will start releasing later this week.

1. Larry Johnson, Chiefs, APR: 1.7

2. Shaun Alexander, Seahawks, APR: 2.2

3. LaDanian Tomlinson, Chargers, APR: 2.7

4. Tiki Barber, Giants, APR: 5

5. Clinton Portis, Redskins, APR: 5

6. Edgerrin James, Cardinals, APR: 6

7. Rudi Johnson, Bengals, APR: 7.7

8. LaMont Jordan, Raiders, APR: 8.7

9. Steven Jackson, Rams, APR: 9.2


10. Ronnie Brown, Dolphins, APR: 9.2

11. Cadillac Williams, Buccaneers, APR: 10.7

12. Domanick Davis, Texans, APR: 13.7

13. Brian Westbrook, Eagles, APR: 14

14. Willis McGahee, Bills, APR: 14.7

15. Reggie Bush, Saints, APR: 16.5

16. Reuben Droughns, Browns, APR: 18.3

17. Corey Dillon, Patriots, APR: 19.3

18. Julius Jones, Cowboys, APR: 19.7

19. Kevin Jones, Lions, APR: 19.7

20. Warrick Dunn, Falcons, APR: 19.5

21. Jamal Lewis, Ravens, APR: 20.1

22. Willie Parker, Steelers, APR: 22.3

23. Tatum Bell, Broncos, APR: 22.3

24. Chester Taylor, Vikings, APR: 23.7

25. Deshaun Foster, Panthers, APR: 25.7

26. Thomas Jones, Bears, APR: 26.8

27. Joseph Addai, Colts, APR: 26.8

28. Cedric Benson, Bears, APR: 28.8

29. Curtis Martin, Jets, APR: 29.2

30. Deuce McCallister, Saints, APR: 30.2

31. DeAngelo Williams, Panthers, APR: 30.3

32. Ahman Green, Packers, APR: 30.5

33. Fred Taylor, Jaguars, APR: 33

34. Frank Gore, 49ers, APR: 33.2

35. Chris Brown, Titans, APR: 34.3

36. LenDale White, Titans, APR: 34.3

37. Dominic Rhodes, Colts, APR: 36

38. Ron Dayne, Broncos, APR: 37.3

39. Mike Anderson, Ravens, APR: 42

40. T.J. Duckett, Falcons, APR: 43.3

-Sheil Kapadia