First, I'm going to recap my fantasy season quickly. In a way, I feel like I should establish some sort of credentials, and I could be making this up, but I posted most of these teams before the season. Feel free to scroll down to the rankings.
I drafted 3 teams, and auctioned 3 teams. I'm leading in total points in 3 leagues, 2nd in 2 and 4th in 1. Not bad, but if you read my running back review, it makes sense. I picked them well this year.
Running backs were the strength of pretty much all my teams.
I had a few teams, with Chris Johnson and MJD, one with Benson, Addai and Mendenhall on the bench.
In a 14 team draft, I had three top 12 backs. Peterson, Mendenhall and Thomas/Bell.
In an auction in which I specifically tried to spend money on receivers, I still ended up with two top 11 guys. Grant and Thomas/Bell.
My first rankings are schedule neutral, which means I'm assuming an average schedule for everyone. It has to be this way because, we don't know what the schedules will be yet. Obviously, much could change between now and September, but I might as well start now, as some facts are crystallizing.
1. Chris Johnson
I feel like next year is his peak. Yes, he is dominating this year, but his touchdown totals are actually low for his yards and next year he won't be hurt by a 5-game stretch of the team being awful. A better team season likely means a few less yards, a few more tds and even more fantasy points.
2. Stephen Jackson
I'm averaging the possibility of his being with a better team in to make this projection. I've said before , if he is on a good team he is number 2. Even on the Rams, I think he has a better season next year. He won't go half the year without a touchdown. The Rams couldn't have a worse qb situation than this year, it almost has to come up. If the situation is exactly the same, I might go as low as 4 in August.
3. Frank Gore
As shown last night, Gore is a beast when healthy. The 49ers will be a good team next year. With an improved passing game, Gore will be in a much better situation. If Gore misses a few games, his numbers will end up pretty good. You just need a backup that isn't his backup that can fill in a few games. Moreover, eventually he plays a 16 game season right? I say it is 2010.
4. Ray Rice
He's already in the top 5, his situation isn't going to change, and Oher should be even better next year.
5. Adrian Peterson
This was Peterson's ideal situation year and he is third. Favre will regress next year, the offense and team will regress. Their schedule has to be tougher. People might say "what's wrong with AD?" The answer will be, "nothing that wasn't wrong in 09 and covered by his ideal situation." He could bounceback into 07 form himself and save the team. But right now, he's behind those four.
6. Maurice Jones-Drew
As much of a MJD fan as I am, I think next year is a letdown fantasy wise. I'm starting to worry about how much work they are giving him. I though this would be his career year. This was the easist schedule the Jags will ever get, he won't get as many red zone chances next year. He still has the goal line nose so he doesn't drop all that far, but warning signs have begun to flash.
Ryan Grant(if he retains his spot)
Brandon Jacobs(rebound year)
Joseph Addai(Colts starter should never be lower than this while Peyton is there)
Favorite midround pick
There are also a few situations that could create a tier 2 back if the right guy lands there.
If Jonathan Dwyer gets drafted by the Texans or Chargers, he is a tier 2 guy. For the Pats and Saints, you are looking for a sign they will commit to a guy. Ideally, it is Pierre Thomas for the Saints.