So, I'm going to try and do these rankings once a week for most positions during this offseason. To try and help with the no football situation. So for this week, I present to you my RB rankings. Unlike the QB rankings which had variables such as leadership, these rankings are purely from a statistical viewpoint and is just my humble opinion on this matter. I did not use any receiving stats which alters the rankings a bit and this is purely from a rushing point of view, which changes up the rankings for the RBs that can catch.1. Chris Johnson: Safe pick to start us out. Broke the 2000 yard milestone last year, and historically the back who breaks it has an off year the next year, however I think he will still have a good year. 1600+ yards sound about right with approx. 14 TDs and 3 or 4 fumbles.
2. Maurice Jones Drew: Staying on the safe route we shall cruise at 55 mph (approx 88 kph for our non-American friends). MJD is proving to be an elite RB as he will look good with/without the Jaguars Offensive line, which is great because they won't help him look good. Expect him to have a great year with 1500+ yards and approx 15 TDs and probably 2 or 3 fumbles.
3. Ray Rice: And off we go from the safe path and onto the "WTF is he thinking" road at approx 85 mph. Baltimore's O-line will improve this year and as most of us know, RBs and QBs look better with great O-lines than with crappy ones. Because of this I think he will leap frog AP to take the 3rd spot with 1500+ yards and 10-13 TDs and 4 fumbles.
4. Adrian Peterson: "Adrian, come sit down in my office. Now you are one of the best RBs playing the game right now, you can get yards in a game, you can break tackles, fake out the defenders, make a hole when there wasn't one before, and do a great job overall. Well almost. You see, last season you fumbled the ball 9 times and lost it 6 times when you include the postseason. And then of course there was that fumble in the NFCCG that was credited to Favre but you could have taken the blame as well. If you can just hold onto the ball you are easily top 2 talent yearly, instead I have to rank you 4th. I see you going for over 100 yards next year with 16 TDs, but I also see 8 fumbles with 6 lost. You learn to hold onto that ball, next year I can see you as #1. Can you do that for me Adrian? Good, oh by the way, I will forgive all fumbles during week 1. Your still trying to get used to working again. So get them all out while you still can, thanks AP for the time."
5. Micheal Turner: Micheal spent some time out last year with an injury and had a bad year when you compare it to the 2008 season. Micheal can be a great back and has the advantage of playing in a division that has a poor rushing defense which can help him build some numbers in the Falcons 6 division games. However I think this will be his last great year and will start to hit his decline after this year as he begins to start feeling some effects of age. That won't stop him this year from a 1400 yard season with 12 TDs and possibly 5 fumbles with 2 lost. He better be careful though or he could suffer from "Petersonitis".
6. Rashard Mendenhall: So the Steelers are without their starting QB for 4-6 games, and will have to use their backup. That's bad news for the team, good news for Mendenhall. With Ben out for a few games, the Steelers will probably want to run the ball more often to try and not have to put the game in the hands of the temporary starter unless forced to. Because of this, I see Mendenhall's numbers going up to about 1300 yards with low double digit TDs, with a fumble or two.
7. Steven Jackson: Jackson has now had 5 consecutive seasons with over 1000 yards rushing, which proves hes a great back to have and being 26 years old means he has 2 or 3 great seasons left before that decline starts to kick in. However a problem with Jackson is he is behind...the Rams line. The only worse thing imaginable in football is to be Al Davis' assistant, could you imagine? The fact that he rushed for 1416 yards last season proves he can bring it no matter who is blocking for him. I see a 1200-1400 yard season for him with 10 TDs, thanks to the fact the Rams now have a QB who the defense will now have to worry about they may stop worrying about the run 100% of the time and may focus on the run only 99% of the time this season.
8. Frank Gore: Gore is usually up higher on lists like this, but his injury problems are a concern, he hasn't has a full season since 2006 and in that year almost rushed 1700 yards. If he can stay off IR then he will have a great season and will be in the top 3 but I don't see him lasting all 16 games and this will drag him down in the stats again. I can see a 1300 yard season with 13 TDs and a few fumbles, but I might be stretching that a bit too far, unless he stays the whole season.
9. Shonn Greene: 540 yards rushing, with 2 TDs, not great numbers for a back but manageable. However, that was when he was the backup behind Thomas Jones who got over 1400 yards and 14 TDs. Behind the Jet's line, which is built for the run, he should see a great sophomore season. I see Greene breaking 1200 yards and may get over 1300, and having 12 TDs and 3 fumbles.
10.DeAngelo Williams: Williams should have a great year so long as he stays away from the injury bug. Playing all 16 games in 2008 he rushed for over 1500 yards and 18 TDs. The next season, when the Panthers went through a regression, he still rushed for over 1100 yards and got 7 TDs. As Moore starts to settle in to being the Panther's full time starter, the Panthers will probably try to go to the run in the early season so that should help pad Williams stats a bit more. He will probably get 1200-1300 yards and may get close to 10 TDs and 2 fumbles.
11. Cedric Benson: Benson had his breakout year last season, which is great because he's starting to run out of seasons. Benson will have a similar season next year as he did this past season. He should rush for 1200 yards and get about 8 TDs, with 2 fumbles.
12. Ryan Grant: Just like with Rodgers, Grant had almost no O-line help and still put up 1200+ yards and 11 TDs. With the O-line improvement, the conservative estimate is to have him have another 1200 yard season and 10+ TDs but if the Packers go the run instead of the pass this year, then prepare for some higher numbers. However, since the Packers have Rodgers they will most likely continue the same offensive plan they had last year, since it did great for them, until Rodgers lost the ball in the playoffs.
13. Jamaal Charles: Charles had a great sophomore season, rushing for 1100 yards and got 7 TDs although did suffer from a severe case of "Petersonitis" last season. However, his third season should improve as he starts to settle into the NFL. I can see a 1200 yard season with 9 TDs, although if he doesn't improve his carrying a bit, he could become the upper middle classes' Adrian Peterson.
14. Pierre Thomas: Thomas has yet to have a thousand yard season although the fact that in the 41 games he has played he has only started 12 of them could mean that if he were the starting RB for a full season (as will most likely be the case barring injury this next season) he can get 1000+ yards rushing with 8 rushing TDs easy with a fumble or 2. His 5.4 yards a carry does show promise if he were used as one of two backs instead of 3 as was the case last season.
15. Knowshon Moreno: I am assuming he becomes the starter of the Broncos here, and if so their running game will be a bright spot for them on offense when their passing game will likely decrease. In his rookie year he almost rushed for 1000 yards while only starting for 9 of the 16 games, while also getting 7 TD's. He was almost at 13 or 14, but then I took a look at fumbles. Congratulations we have a severe case of "Petersonitis". As a matter of fact, for every 62 touches Moreno got, he fumbled and lost the ball, compared to a 52 to 1 for Peterson, however didn't put up the numbers Peterson got. This looks worse when compared to Thomas with 147 touches and Johnson with 119 touches and Charles, who fumbled every 63.3 touches last season. He should be happy that he is in the severe stage, best to get it treated before it enters the acute stage.
Most of these are rookies, for the reason that we have no idea how they will act in the NFL. Some could be great, some busts. Because of this I will just give them honorable mention so i can gloat that I'm right either way. As well Brown can be great if he can stay off the IR and could have a great season, and I think Addai has one season left that he can get a good 900 yards. Forte might have a good season if the passing game improves. Barber could get 1000 yards next season, however, that's not a certainty, and he might start declining soon.
Well there you have it, 15 RBs that I think will be on the watch list and in the order I think too. Even if you disagree with everything I wrote, at the very least I hope I took some of this boring offseason off your mind and gave you a taste of football. Next week I will rank starting WR which will include WR1 and WR2.