2008 Running Back Power Rankings

Power rankings for other positions

We all know the big question this season is LT or A-Pete, but while constructing this list I realized that after the top 5, the question is “Who the heck do I take?!” How can you justify taking someone like Frank Gore over Tom Brady or Randy Moss? Without falling back on the old “RB first” argument, you’re going to struggle to argue that Gore will have more of an impact on your fantasy team than either of those two. Same goes for Larry Johnson, who last preseason was a top three running back, but is now the Albert Pujols of the draft (i.e. someone you’re so scared to draft because of injury worries, but who could be a monster if he plays to his potential). While this list won’t answer all your questions, hopefully it at least gives you some direction when it comes to deciding what running back to draft!

Bookmark this post, it’s updated regularly! Last updated: 08/31/08
Rank Player Team Notes
Tier 1: Best of the best
1 Tomlinson, LaDainian SD LT has been Mr. Fantasy Football for years now and I’ll let him keep that title until A-Pete can prove that he’s not the NFL’s version of Samuel L. Jackson in Unbreakable.
2 Peterson, Adrian MIN If Minnesota can get one iota of production out of the quarterback position this season, it should make it all the easier for Peterson, who will initially be the target of every defender on every play.
Tier 2: Rest of the best
3 Addai, Joseph IND Over 1400 yards and 15 TD’s (combined rushing and receiving) last year…I see a slight improvement over that this season as another year of maturity and experience in this potent offense.
4 Westbrook, Brian PHI Westbrook is the Eagles offense and last year was his best. He does turn 30 this season, but I expect at least one more solid year out of Westbrook, who is a PPR league’s wet dream (90 receptions last year!).
5 Jackson, Steven STL There is some concern with Jackson’s durability, after missing four games last season, but he has the skills to be a top fantasy football running back.
Tier 3: Solid RB1’s
6 Gore, Frank SF Ehhh….things get a bit dicey here. The 49er’s don’t score a lot of touchdowns,
but Gore is going to be a big part of what offense they can get.
7 Johnson, Larry KC At this point, Johnson is the ultimate wild card in the running back rankings. Will you get the awesome running back who scored 40 combined touchdowns over the 2005 and 2006 seasons? Or the running back that appeared to have lost his skills and durability as the offensive line fell apart?
8 Portis, Clinton WAS If he can stay healthy, expect another great year from Portis.
9 Barber, Marion DAL He’s a monster and now he’ll get every chance he wants to show it with Julius Jones out of town.
10 Lynch, Marshawn BUF Now that we don’t have to worry about any suspensions, we can safely project Lynch to have a top 10 year at the position.
Tier 4: Could work as an RB1, but even better as an RB2
11 Jones-Drew, Maurice JAX We’re expecting big things as MJD moves more into the feature back role and Fred Taylor moves into old age.
12 Grant, Ryan GB As with Earnest Graham, the one hit wonder worry factor is in play here, plus he’s holding out for more money.
13 Lewis, Jamal CLE
Tier 5: Quality RB2, but if you don’t have an RB1 on your squad at this point you’re in some trouble
14 McGahee, Willis BAL Arthroscopic knee surgery will have him miss the entire preseason and possibly limit him at the beginning of the regular season…stay tuned for updates.
15 Bush, Reggie NO In PPR leagues you can boost him a bit, but don’t expect anything spectacular on the ground.
16 Graham, Earnest TB Is he a one hit wonder? The Bucs didn’t think so when they extended his contract.
17 Parker, Willie PIT If he can return to his touchdown numbers of two years ago, he’s an absolute bargain at this spot in the draft, but if he can’t, good luck to his owners when he gets another two scores!
18 Maroney, Laurence NE The signing of LaMont Jordan doesn’t help Maroney’s cause, so he better show some good stuff early in the season, or his carries are going to get cut into…especially when Sammy Morris returns from his injury.
19 Jacobs, Brandon NYG There’s some worry about a running back by committee situation in NY at this point.
20 Jones, Thomas NYJ Favre could be just what the doctor ordered to get those TD numbers up!
21 James, Edgerrin ARI Apparently he looks primed and ready to go for a solid fantasy season this year…let’s hope he can stay healthy when he crosses the 30 year mark.
22 Turner, Michael ATL Up Lookin’ good in preseason so far…can he do it when the games actually mean something?
23 White, LenDale TEN We’re liking backup Chris Johnson more and more to steal carries from White this season, so make sure you grab him as a handcuff!
24 McFadden, Darren OAK I can’t see Oakland completely phasing Justin Fargas out of the running game until McFadden proves that he’s the real deal, so expect a slow start from D-Mac.
Tier 6: Serviceable RB2’s, but hopefully they’re coming off your bench during a bye week
25 Young, Selvin DEN Is he really going to be the feature back in Denver? At least we know Travis Henry is out of the picture this year, so that helps Young’s cause.
26 Brown, Ronnie MIA down He hasn’t looked good in preseason, plus he’s piling up injuries, while Ricky Williams has been shining. Even when he’s back to near 100%, I expect to see a committee of some sort in Miami.
27 Stewart, Jonathan CAR downThe thought is that he will take over the starting role from DeAngelo Williams early in the season, if not in preseason, so keep an eye on this guy to see what he can do when he goes on display during August’s exhibitions.
28 Perry, Chris CIN up With Rudi Johnson cut from the team, Perry steps into the starting role. Perry has seen little to no action in his three years in the league to this point, so it’s a big mystery of how he’ll handle the starting role. My assumption is that backup Kenny Watson will also see plenty of carries.
29 Jones, Julius SEA He’ll have the chance to prove that he doesn’t need to be part of a running back by committee, but will he have any more success than the other Seattle running backs did last year?
30 Forte, Matt CHI Was Cedric Benson really that bad? Will Adrian Peterson be just as average? If Forte
has the skills, he will be given all the chances in the world.
Tier 7: Handcuffs and the starting running backs of the Texans and Lions
31 Taylor, Fred JAX He’s dropping far in drafts that I’ve seen, which makes him quite the value pick for a guy who just finished a season with over 1000 rushing yards. If you got MJD early in the draft, consider taking Taylor just in case.
32 Johnson, Chris TEN One of our sleeper picks this season!
33 Williams, DeAngelo CAR Although I guess he’s officially the “starter” in Carolina, expect Jonathan Stewart to take over a bulk of the carries early in the year.
34 Williams, Ricky MIA up Mandatory Ronnie Brown handcuff…looks real good in preseason and could be the starter for a bit while Brown recovers.
35 Fargas, Justin OAK He had a great year last season, but with McFadden in Oakland, he’ll be forced into a running back by committee situation for sure. He’s definitely a handcuff of McFadden though.
36 Green, Ahman HOU upWill he even be the starter when the season begins?
37 Taylor, Chester MIN Obvious handcuff for Adrian Peterson owners
38 Smith, Kevin DET He just has to beat Tatum Bell for the job…
Tier 8: For handcuff purposes only! Or for using as trade bait to owners who didn’t think to draft them.
39 Watson, Kenny CIN Looks like he’ll be backing up Chris Perry now, instead of Rudi Johnson. I expect that he’ll get more carries than he did while spelling Johnson, so make sure he’s handcuffed to Perry in your draft.
40 Rice, Ray BAL up With McGahee’s injury likely to keep him out at least a week or so into the regular season, Rice is a must for Willis owners.
41 Mendenhall, Rashard PIT up Fumbling problems aren’t going to instill confidence in the coaching staff…especially around the goalline, where he was supposed to be the man.
42 Hightower, Tim ARI up Looking real good in preseason and could be the man on the goal line. Edge owners should be taking Hightower at the end of the draft for insurance.
43 Foster, DeShaun SF up Backup to Mr. Frank Gore…make sure he’s on your roster if you’re relying heavily on the 49er’s running game.
44 Jones, Felix DAL I think the reason Dallas let Julius Jones go was because they thought MBIII could hold it down by himself. There’s a chance though that maybe they though Felix Jones was a better back than Julius was and they didn’t need JJ anymore for their platoon situation. Either way, Barber owners should look for this guy as a late round insurance policy in the draft.
45 Morris, Maurice SEA up Will most likely split carries with Julius Jones.
46 Hester, Jacob SD up Looks like the rookie will be the one backing up LT in San Diego.