RB rankings, part two

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So far we've covered the top-15 running backs and the quarterbacks.


And on to the second part of my running back rankings:

16. Reuben Droughns, Browns


No Cleveland running back had managed 1,000 yards since 1985 before last season when he posted 1,232 yards. Droughns has run for over 1,200 yards in consecutive seasons, and there's no reason to believe he can't do it again. He also proved to be a threat in the passing game last season, posting 39 catches for 369 yards. The problem? He reached the end zone just two times all season and didn't post more than 88 yards in Cleveland's final six games. Droughns was looking like a better pick before center LeCharles Bentley went down for the season in training camp.

17. Kevin Jones, Lions

To say he was awful last year would be an understatement. Forget 100-yard games. Jones failed to reach 90 yards all season. That being said, I expect him to bounce back in 2006 with new coach Rod Marinelli. And here's why. First of all, he has the talent. In 2004, he ran for 1,133 yards and averaged 4.7 yards per carry. Second of all, word around Detroit is Marinelli and new offensive coordinator Mike Martz want to makes Jones an every down player. He only had 20 catches last year, but I expect that number to jump this season. Jones is a great option as a No. 3 running back who could have a huge payoff.

18. Chester Taylor, Vikings

I love Minnesota's new running back as one of my sleeper picks. The Vikings added guard Steve Hutchinson to an already strong offensive line. New coach Brad Childress did a great job of utilizing Brian Westbrook as a receiver in Philadephia, and Taylor caught 41 balls with the Ravens last season.

19. Julius Jones, Cowboys

Jones was a trendy pick last year, but fantasy owners have several doubts about the Dallas running back in 2006. He has missed 11 games over the last two seasons, and the Cowboys seem to have a capable backup in Marion Barber. The talent is there (he ran for 194 yards and two touchdowns against the Panthers last year in week 16), and so is the versatility (he caught nine balls for 88 yards in week 13 against the Giants), but he remains a big risk.

20. Warrick Dunn, Falcons


He posted four 100-yard games in the first seven weeks of 2005, but managed just one more the rest of the season. He is 31-years-old, but Dunn carried the ball more last year than he ever has, and his production didn't slow down with an average of 5.1 yards per carry and and a career-high of 1,416 yards. However, with T.J. Duckett and Michael Vick combining for 14 rushing touchdowns in 2005, it's a reach to expect much scoring from Dunn.

21. Corey Dillon, Patriots

Every year I have a list of guys I don't want on my team. It's not that I won't take them any under circumstances, but I always know that other owners rank them higher than me so I don't need to bother with having them on my list. This year, two names stick out. Daunte Culpepper and Corey Dillon. He found the end zone 13 times last year, but ran for only 733 yards. On top of that, with the Patriots' mum history of reporting injuries, Dillon is a frustrating option when he's banged up. I like rookie Laurence Maroney and see Dillon taking a step backwards in 2006.

22. Willie Parker, Steelers

How come this guy gets no love as a fantasy player? All Parker did in 2005 was rake up 1,202 yards and average 4.7 yards per carry in his first year as a full-time player. He had five 100-yard games and finished strong, posting 265 yards over the final two weeks of the season. The downside with Parker is that someone else will likely get goal line carries even though Jerome Bettis is gone.

23. Jamal Lewis, Ravens


You were wondering where he would end up, huh? Let's start with the positives. I think it's safe to say that a number of physical and psychological issues had an effect on Lewis last year. I look for his numbers to improve in 2005, and the addition of Steve McNair can only help to open up the run game. That being said, the Ravens did go out and sign a guy who ran for 1,014 yards and 13 touchdowns last season in Mike Anderson. How will the Ravens use Anderson? Will he play fullback and open things up for Lewis? Will he get goal line carries? Will he take carries away from Lewis? Nobody knows. And that's what makes Lewis a risky fantasy pick.

24. Thomas Jones, Bears

Forgive me if I don't believe that Cedric Benson is going to take over the No. 1 running back spot in Chicago. Let's look at the facts. Jones ran for 1,335 yards and nine touchdowns last season. He accounted for 41 percent of the Bears' touchdowns and was phenomenal in the red zone with seven scores inside the five-yard line. Yet Jones is going to get bumped for Benson? A guy with 272 yards last season? I'm not buying it. Maybe if the Bears were rebuilding, I'd be more convinced, but this is a team that went 11-5 last season and is once again the favorite in the NFC North. While Jones will likely lose carries to Benson, I still think he will be a productive fantasy back, especially if the Bears want to have a shot in the playoffs. Both backs have been banged up in training camp so be sure to watch this position battle closely.

25. DeShaun Foster, Panthers

Carolina's featured back did not carry the ball more than 12 times in a game until week nine last season. While he has certainly shown potential, a total of seven touchdowns over the last three years is not exciting to fantasy owners. On the bright side, Foster had a pair of 100-yard games in the last five weeks last season and has shown that he is a threat in the passing game as he caught 34 balls for 372 yards in 2005. He's not a bad guy to take a chance on, but make sure to also grab rookie DeAngelo Williams in the later rounds.

26. Joseph Addai, Colts


Here's another position battle to keep an eye on. While Dominic Rhodes has the starting job, many expect Addai to finish the season as Indy's No. 1 back. If he can prove himself superior to Rhodes in pass protection, expect Addai to get the nod and be one of this season's most productive fantasy rookies.

27. Dominic Rhodes, Colts

In 2001, he ran for 1,104 yards and nine touchdowns. With Edgerrin James gone, Rhodes will likely start the season as a starter. He poses less of a risk than other backs ranked this low because even with James in the backfield last season, Rhodes found the end zone four times. Even if Addai wins the starting job, Rhodes could put up good scoring numbers. If he keeps the starting job, he is a great No. 2 option.

28. Tatum Bell, Broncos

Maybe I'm missing something here, but I don't understand why many have this guy ranked so high. Bell didn't carry the ball more than 17 times in any single game in 2005. He showed explosiveness with three 100-yard games and an average of 5.3 yards per carry. However, will he be the featured back? Will Ron Dayne be the starter? Or worse, will they split carries (every fantasy owner's worst nightmare)? He carries too many question marks for me to consider him a No. 2 back, and I see him being no better than a backup option for fantasy owners.

29. Deuce McAllister, Saints


If he wasn't coming off a knee injury, I would have McAllister even higher despite the addition of Reggie Bush. However, as we know, ACL tears often take more than a year to recover from. Still, McAllister will at least split carries with Bush and has shown he can be a fantasy star, rushing for 1,641 yards in 2003. He also had 69 catches for 516 yards that season. If Bush goes down at any point in the season, McAllister could put up big numbers.

30. Cedric Benson, Bears

I can't have him ranked too far behind Thomas Jones, considering Benson is listed as the No. 1 back. He is banged up after injuring his shoulder in training camp, but is expected to be healthy in a couple weeks. Benson has not shown anything as a pro, but the Bears will likely rely on running the football and a strong defense this season. If he is in fact the No. 1 back, he could be a decent fantasy option. If he splits carries with Jones or is a backup, he will be worthless.

Just missing the cut: Curtis Martin, DeAngelo Williams, Ahman Green, Fred Taylor, Frank Gore (sleeper), Chris Brown, Mike Anderson, Ron Dayne, LenDale White, T.J. Duckett