Almost every year there are five running backs ranked outside the top 10 that end up finishing in the top 10.
Last season Peyton Hillis, Arian Foster, Jamaal Charles, Rashad Mendenhall, LeSean McCoy, and Darren McFadden were all ranked outside the top 10 in 2010 on espn.com. All six of those running backs finished in the top 10 on espn.com.
Undoubtedly there will be a few running backs this year ranked outside the top 10 that will finish inside the top 10. Here are the five backs most likely to accomplish that feat.
5) Felix Jones—Dallas Cowboys
Felix Jones is currently ranked at 22nd on espn.com. Felix Jones had a decent 2010 season, but finished outside the top 20.
Jones finished with a total of 800 rushing yards and a touchdown on 185 carries in 2010. He is a PPR gold mine as he brought in 48 passes for 450 yards and another touchdown last year.
Jones, 24, is entering his fourth NFL season and is in sole possession of the Cowboys starting running back job. The team rid themselves of Marion Barber, and both Tashard Choice and DeMarco Murray are hurt.
Look for Jones to bust out in a big way in 2011. His touchdown total will be much greater than two.
4) LeGarrette Blount—Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Blount pounced onto the scene in 2010 and finished two spots better than Felix Jones last year. Blount is ranked 19th on espn.com, but could be in for a big year in 2011.
The Bucs are a run first offense, and Blount will get plenty of touches. Blount rushed for 1,007 yards and six touchdowns in only 13 games in 2010.
Look for Blount to have a big year in 2011 as the entire Bucs offense is becoming better led by quarterback Josh Freeman.
3) Matt Forte—Chicago Bears
Matt Forte fell just short of the top 10 in 2010 as he came in at 11th. In 2011, Forte boasts a ranking of 14th.
Forte is an all around weapon as he is extremely talented at catching the ball. Forte caught 51 balls for 547 yards and three touchdowns in 2010. He also rushed for 1,069 yards and six touchdowns.
The big worry for Forte is his offensive line. They can't protect Jay Cutler and it will be interesting to see if they can open holes for him.
2) Ahmad Bradshaw—New York Giants
Bradshaw finished in the top 15 among fantasy running backs in 2010, and brings in a ranking of 16th in 2011.
Bradshaw has been continually getting better and reached 1,000 rushing yards for the first time in his career in 2010. He also added a career high with eight rushing touchdowns in 2010.
Bradshaw has also turned into quite a good receiver. He had 47 receptions with 314 yards in 2010.
Look for Bradshaw to continue to get better in 2011 and possibly sneak his way into the top 10.
1) Darren McFadden—Oakland Raiders
McFadden was a prime example of a running back who was ranked outside the top 10 last season and finished within the top 10.
With a sixth place finish in 2010, McFadden is somehow ranked 12th this season.
While there is concern for McFadden and his health, there is no denying the fact that he is a stud. In 2010 McFadden rushed for 1,157 yards and seven touchdowns in only 13 games.
In 2010 McFadden caught 47 balls for 507 yards and three touchdowns. McFadden has never played in more than 13 games, and is certainly is a risk.
I predict that McFadden will finish in the top 10, even if he misses some time due to injury.