- Scott Engel, ESPN Fantasy Games
Now that a major wave of player movement is behind us, and the NFL draft is drawing closer, it's a good time to take a revised look at the most important position in fantasy football. Here are my latest running back rankings.
1. LaDainian Tomlinson: Fantasy owners should not expect a major decline in 2007. He's always been one of the elite and soared higher than ever last year.
2. Larry Johnson: He's already preparing to quiet the naysayers who think he carried too much last season. C'mon, you really think this superstar runner is going to wear down after less than two full seasons as a full-time starter? You gotta be kidding me.
3. Steven Jackson: His reception totals might drop a bit as the St. Louis passing game improves around him, but he'll still produce great numbers overall and could score even more as a dependable passing game gives him more chances to finish off drives.
4. Shaun Alexander: He'll return to his pre-injury form in 2007, and will be one of the most productive and dependable players in fantasy football again, even if he doesn't quite come close to his MVP totals of 2005.
5. Frank Gore: He's versatile and a major focal point of an improving 49ers offense. But he won't score as often as the other top four running backs
6. Willie Parker: He's going to remain the main man for the Steelers and their top touchdown option. Pittsburgh could still draft a big back to use here and there, but not enough to make a big difference in production.
7. Brian Westbrook: There aren't any more prominent questions about his health and he continues to be a tremendous all-around threat who can score from anywhere on the field.
8. Rudi Johnson: You simply can't argue with the consistently good numbers. Cincinnati wants to make sure he doesn't get overworked, but he'll still be a great option for yardage and touchdowns.
9. Joseph Addai: Progressed well throughout his rookie season, and is now ready for stardom after the departure of Dominic Rhodes
10. Reggie Bush: He's on the brink of a monster statistical surge and will be drafted a few slots earlier in leagues that award points for receptions.
11. Travis Henry: He is a perfect fit in the Denver zone-blocking system. Henry has good vision needed to pick his spots, he can be very reliable near the goal line, and he has cut down on the fumbling problems that haunted him in the past.
12. Willis McGahee: A great move to Baltimore, where he will become the featured power runner that the Ravens have sorely needed since Jamal Lewis began to decline.
13. Ronnie Brown: He could be one of the very best if Miami would surround him with more playmakers on offense. But he'll still make an outstanding No. 2 fantasy running back.
14. Deuce McAllister: The Saints do a masterful job of employing two fine running backs, and McAllister will continue to be a force near the goal line.
15. Maurice Jones-Drew: A touchdown machine who can deliver a score any time he touches the ball, but a lack of regular touches prevent him from being a true No. 1 fantasy running back.
16. Cedric Benson: The opportunity to finally get into a regular rhythm on a weekly basis will give him the chance to finally fulfill his considerable potential.
17. Laurence Maroney: Be careful not to overrate him. More playing time won't guarantee success. Maroney must prove he can gain the tough yards on a consistent basis.
18. Thomas Jones: He should benefit from more touches with his new team, as Jones likely will catch more passes and should be more of a regular scoring threat.
19. Edgerrin James: An increased emphasis on the running game under the new regime of Ken Whisenhunt should mean better overall production after a disappointing first year in the desert.
20. Clinton Portis: Likely sharing some carries with Ladell Betts if he remains in Washington, could benefit from a trade if it happens.
21. Brandon Jacobs: Arrow pointing up again with promise of considerable playing time.
22. Chester Taylor: Needs more playmakers around him.
23. Marion Barber III: Sharing carries only hinders his potential production.
24. Ahman Green: Not the answer in Houston, certainly past his prime.
25. Carnell Williams: Tampa Bay offense might be better around him in 2007.
26. Jamal Lewis: Only on a one-year deal in Cleveland, maybe as a part-timer.
27. Fred Taylor: Can still have some good outings, but doesn't score enough.
28. Julius Jones: He's been a disappointment overall, and maybe a trade would help.
29. LenDale White: Likely to share some playing time, but has good touchdown potential.
30. DeAngelo Williams: Could have a breakthrough season with more playing time.
31. DeShaun Foster: Still tops the depth chart in Carolina, but destined to slip.
32. LaMont Jordan: Less touches per week could help him stay healthy.
33. Tatum Bell: Yardage numbers could be pretty good, but won't score enough.
34. Corey Dillon: Still in limbo, yet he can still score often in the right situation.
35. Ladell Betts: A Portis trade would send him soaring in fantasy value.
36. Warrick Dunn: Still the main guy in Atlanta, but he is fading.
37. Reuben Droughns: Could be a decent part-time player for the Giants.
38. Jerious Norwood: Big-play successor to Dunn is not his ideal complement.
39. Vernand Morency: Could get overshadowed quickly by a first-round draft pick.
40. Anthony Thomas: Tops the depth chart for now, but is definitely not the answer.
41. Chris Brown
42. Kevin Jones
43. Dominic Rhodes
44. Michael Turner
45. Leon Washington
46. Mike Bell
47. T.J. Duckett
48. Marcel Shipp
49. Ron Dayne
50. Shaud Williams