The guys in this tier would make a great complement to your first tier back. They have too many questions, or too difficult a schedule to be picked in the first round, but you could make an argument to pick one of them in the second round. Preferably you're finishing up your starting back set in the third round with one of these backs.
9. Frank Gore-49ers 2008: 17th
Gore should make a solid bump in his production as his schedule is significantly easier. I said in a previous post that it might be the best running schedule in the NFC. Moreover, the Niners appear to be on an upswing. I'm counting specifically on an improved defense, leading obviously to more second half running from Gore. Their passing game also looked better at the end of the year. Gore should be more productive as long as he's on the field. The question that keeps him out of the first tier is his history on injuries. The bottom line is that Gore put up numbers back when they were the worst team in the league. He'l put them up when they reach the heights of mediocrity and face a welcoming schedule of run defenses.
10. Steven Jackson-Rams 2008: 14th
As with Gore, the only concern here is health. His health is a little spottier than Gore's and it seems he may never play a full season. While the risk is a bit higher, the reward might be as well. The Rams can only improve on their 2008 performance, and Jackson managed to finish 14th while missing 4 games. They have the same increase in schedule quality as the Niners so the signs are pointing towards Jackson winding up in the top 10.
11. Mershawn Lynch-Bills 2008: 15th
Lynch is too consistent not to take here. While his schedule is tougher than last year, its not too tough. This is your ideal 2d-3rd round low risk pick. I said this tier is full of questions but Lynch is the exception there. The only spot on him is what looks like a very low ceiling for a second tier guy.
12. DeAngelo Williams-Panthers 2008: 1st
This may seem shockingly low after his 2008 performance. It's safe to say I won't end up drafting Williams in any leagues next year. Even if you viewed him as high as 7 or 8 you still won't get him because someone will take him in the top 3. When looked at objectively that is fairly ridiculous. This is a guy that's in a comittee and isn't the goal line back. This is a guy that is facing an absolutely brutal schedule. As I mentioned in the schedule post, there are few games in which you'll be happy starting Williams. And even in 2008 when he torched all other ballcarriers in fantasy points, he had quite a few bust games in which Stewart got the touchdowns. I think he has an acceptable year but it's just not a safe pick at all. Unless what you want is someone that lets you down with 2 point games and then explodes for four tds on your bench.
13. Marion Barber III-Cowboys 2008: 19th
Barber finds himself in the situation that Jacobs was in a year ago. He has two backs on his team behind him that have a lot of potential. This caused Jacobs to fall in drafts and in the end, he got the majorrity of fantasy points, making him a steal. We don't know this will happen with Barber, but we do know that at the least he will be the goal line back of a highpowered offense. The question is his role.
14. Joseph Addai-Colts 2008: 35th
Like Barber, this pick is starting to up the risk factor. Addai had a terrible year. The offensive line destructed in the preseason and Addai had picked up injuries by the time the line was back in form. The questions here are huge. But the rewards are just as tremendous. Addai was atop 5 pick just a year ago and he is again healthy and the line intact. Moreover, he has an incredible schedule of opponents coming up. There is no reason to think that his role with the best offense in the league will be any different. He should rebound strongly, but the questions raised in 2008 are too much to take him in the first round.
15. Steve Slaton-Texans 2008: 10th
The question with Slaton in 2009 is role. I can't see the Texans going into 2009 without adding a back. If they don't Slaton has a great schedule and should have success against it. If he's in a committe, he won't be the goal line guy. He's not even the goal line guy now. He could rack up a lot of yards without a lot of tds. Slaton has a great chance to put up solid 2nd rb points, but he's not a sure enough thing to be a first rounder yet.