If Fantasy Football's MVP for this season is going to be a running back, it will be one of these guys.
It is the elite running backs who will give you the biggest edge in winning fantasy games. In 2008 it was Michael Turner's 1,700 rushing yards and 17 touchdowns. In 2008 it was Chris Johnson's 2,500 total yards and 16 touchdowns. And freshest in our memory, last season it was Arian Foster's run from previous fantasy obscurity to the tune of 2,200 total yards and 18 touchdowns.
You want that guy. Here are five running backs who will give you the best likelihood of owning 2011's Fantasy Football MVP. Who is the next Arian Foster?
Adrian Peterson, Minnesota Vikings
Adrian Peterson has been a constant in this league if there ever has been one. Only missing three games in his four year NFL career, never having less than last season's 1,298 yards rushing, and never had a single digit touchdown season.
Look for more of the same from Adrian Peterson who has controlled his fumbling problem, become increasingly involved in the passing game (he is averaging 39 catches over the last 2 years versus 20 per season the previous 2 years), and comes into this campaign fresh after running the ball only 283 times last year.
Look for this workhorse to be in reach of his career highs of 1,760 rushing yards and 18 scores.
Chris Johnson, Tennessee Titans
Well assuming he gets the contract situation worked out and isn't too rusty in the first couple of weeks. However, I bet your still happy with the results coming down the stretch. Oh, and Chris Johnson's season that was so painstakingly disappointing last year went for 1,600 total yards and 12 scores.
Only Arian Foster, Adrian Peterson and Peyton Hillis can say they amassed both of those totals.
With a more consistent passing attack this year behind Matt Hasselbeck and new coach Mike Munchak sounding content on getting Chris Johnson better looks in the passing game it could spell another monster season for CJ2K. That is once he gets on the field, which I believe will be soon.
Ray Rice, Baltimore Ravens
I like Ray Rice's chances for Fantasy Football's MVP for a number of reasons. First, he is the focal point of a playoff team's offense which gets him a ton of touches. Second, he has immense value in the passing game. He has 183 targets and 141 catches the past two seasons. Also, and most importantly, I like Ray Rice this year because of the Baltimore Ravens overhaul in the backfield.
At fullback they added arguably the games best lead blocker, Vonta Leach, who helped Arian Foster attain elite fantasy status a season ago. They also acquired Ricky Williams, who will of help take the load off Ray Rice.
With both McGahee and McClain in the AFC West now, Ray Rice has one touchdown vulture instead of two. With Leach paving the way, I expect him to reach double figures in touchdowns for the first time this season.
LeSean McCoy, Philadelphia Eagles
In just his second season LeSean McCoy eased into the role as the feature back, and Andy Reid's brand new, shiny Brian Westbrook clone. Already eclipsing 1,000 yards on only 207 carries, McCoy also showed great hands grabbing 78 balls last year.
Look for LeSean McCoy to take the heat off Vick with plenty of short passes and use his shiftiness for big gains all season. In his third year look for McCoy's continued growth to mean improving on last season's nine touchdowns.
Darren McFadden, Oakland Raiders
From running back Darren McFadden's perspective the addition of Al Saunders as Offensive Coordinator is a big one. Saunders has produced seasons like that of Marshall Faulk in 2000, and Priest Holmes in 2003 who both set single-season touchdown records.
Sure to see to the positive effects of Saunders scheme is McFadden, the speedster who is coming off of his first 200 carry season, 1,000 yard rushing season and 10 touchdown season. With or without Saunders we may have been getting closer to seeing the Run-DMC we all saw as a Razorback in college.
McFadden's key is to have a new first this season: play in 16 games. If he can do that, we already know he can run, catch, and has the right scheme to back him for a Fantasy MVP campaign.