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Top 5 NFL Teams

AFC Top 5

1. New England Patriots

2. Baltimore Ravens

3. Indianopolis Colts

4. Tenesee Titans

5. New York Jets

Honorable Mention: Pittsburgh Steelers w/ Dixon, San Diego Chargers

Watch out for: Kansas City Cheifs

NFC Top 5

1. Green Bay Packers

2. New Orleans Saints

3. New York Giants

4. Minnesota Vikings

5. Philadelphia Eagles w/ Vick

Honorable Mention: Atlanta Falcons

Watch Out For: Seattle Seahawks

Biggest Week 1 Stock Movement

First off I would like to say,”Thank you” to Arian Foster and Hakeem Nicks.  Anyone who read my rankings or listened to my rants will return for some more after those two lived up to the hype I put on them preseason.  Here is a quick stock update on a few players.

Major Jump – guys who significantly improve their stock

Arian Foster RB (HOU) – I have preached him as a must pick in every draft preseason.  I pegged Foster as a low first round talent (#8 RB) and everyone thought I was crazy.  I could not have imagined a better week 1.  I may have been happier about Foster’s performance then I was about the G-Men this week, and that is saying a lot.

Hakeem Nicks WR (NYG) – Nicks was ranked as a better WR in my preseason rankings than Steve Smith, and he showed why in week 1.  His hands are not as reliable as Smith, but his talent is far superior.  Even after Hakeem’s drop led to an Eli interception, Manning did not give up on Nicks.  His presence as a great red zone target should lead to a very good season from the second year wideout.

Michael Vick QB (PHI) -It wasn’t even an entire game, but man Vick looked good Sunday.  To me the most impressive thing from Vick was his post-game interview.  He seemed very mature and composed.  I am not saying Vick deserves to be relied on as a QB1, but going into Sunday Mike was unowned in most leagues.  Once waivers clear, he will not be available in any competitive league.

Improvement – players whose stock must move up

Miles Austin WR (DAL) – After some doubted Austin’s ability to repeat his 2009 breakout year, the player who put up 1300 yards in only 12 starts continued to excel.  The O-line looked bad as we expected (nice work Alex Barron), but Austin continued to shine as Romo’s favorite target.  A good WR1.

Eli Manning QB (NYG) – The kid brother looked very good against the Panthers Sunday.  Each of his three interceptions should/could have been completions, so do not worry about that statistic.  The Giants seem to be moving toward a more pass heavy offense under the leadership of Eli and the talent of the WRs.  Solid QB1 moving forward.

Mark Clayton WR (STL) – After being traded to the Rams less than a week before the season started, the former Raven proved to be a valuable asset.  Clayton seemed to be Bradford’s favorite target with 10 receptions for 119 yards.  Clayton should be considered a WR3 with the ability to move to WR2 status if he can solidify his role as the Rams #1 wideout.

Drop-off – Players who see a drop in their stock

Mike Sims-Walker WR (JAX) – MSW was held without a catch in Week 1.  A goose egg never improves a player’s stock, especially when the supposed WR2 Mike Thomas gets six receptions for 89 yards.  Sims-Walker should not be dropped after one awful week (he was covered by The Champ Bailey), but he should be considered a WR4 moving forward.

Steve Smith WR (NYG) –  Smith remains a good possession receiver, and Eli’s safety valve, but no longer deserves fantasy WR2 status with the emergence of Nicks.  A good WR3

Matt Schaub QB (HOU) – With the eruption of Mt. Foster in Houston, the Texan offense may not be as pass happy going forward.  After leading the league in pass attempts in 2009, Schaub went 9 out of 17 on Sunday.  The Texans will not be forced to run in order to keep Peyton Manning off the field every week, but Coach Kubiak insisted that the running game will be a larger role in the offense moving forward.  Schaub will undoubtedly improve on his horrible week 1 performance, but this is not good news for the stock of Matt Schaub.

Jerome Harrison RB (CLE) – After Hardesty went out for the year, Harrison seemed like he may be in line for a workload similar to the end of 2009.  However Harrison only received 9 carries with Peyton Hillis getting an equal share.


Valuing players after Week 1

Fantasy players can be looked at like stocks on Wall Street.  Every player has a value, but no one knows the true value.  It is our job to predict how good these players will do going forward.  We do this by collecting information and data about these players. After Week 1, every player’s stock moves up or down.  This is the best time to take advantage of players who had one bad game.  It is also a good time to unload players who had one great week.  We must take advantage and sell high and buy low.

Let’s say this week Ronnie Brown blows up against Buffalo and puts up 150 Yds/2 TDs.  In the Preseason, Brown was thought of as a valuable player when healthy, but not a top 15 back because of his injury risk.  After going off against a weak Buffalo rush defense, ESPN and other sites decide that Ronnie Brown looked great and move him way up their lists.  All of a sudden Matt Berry raves about Ronnie Brown and places him on the love side in his “Love/Hate” article.  Now everyone thinks Brown is a great running back again and his average ranking has moved from the mid twenties to the top 10.  At that price, Brown is overvalued and should be traded at his inflated price.

In this example we jump to a conclusion too fast on Brown.  In the preseason we all knew Brown could be a great running back when healthy.  We also knew that his injury risk was higher than nearly any other back.  Just because Brown looked fast and healthy, the common fantasy owner thinks that Brown deserves to be bumped into the  top 10 RB.  Due to our short term memory in fantasy football, we forget that we already thought that Brown would do well to start the season but would later get injured.  Before we let the so-called “common fantasy football knowledge” effect our rankings, we must remember Brown’s preseason label of explosive when healthy, but very fragile.   So after his good week 1 we may move Brown up from 25th to 18th on our season long RB rankings, but  the key is to not overate Brown’s value due to one good week.

A player is not necessarily overrated if he has a good week 1.  For example, if Johnny Knox puts up 120 Yds/1 TD against Detroit this week and the common owner bumps his value from 35 to 25, I think that is still a good value to get Knox at.  When figuring out a player’s value we must take Week 1 into effect because it is by far the most important information we have.  However it is not the only info.  Our rankings should always be adjusting to the new information we get, but we should not overemphasize one week of play.

Check back after Sundays games for my list of players who are being over and undervalued.

QB rankings for Week 1

The season is finally here.  Now instead of analyzing yearly value for the draft, we have to start breaking down individual matchups.  There is nothing better than getting out of the gates with a Week 1 W.  So if you have any tough QB decisions for week 1, refer to these rankings.

The Elite

1.  Aaron Rodgers @ Philadelphia – One of the top tier QBs against a young, unproven Eagles defense.  This sounds like a recipe for success, and I am excited to have Rodgers at the helm in one of my two important leagues.  This should be a shootout to open the season at the “The Linc” and Rodgers should be the life of the party.

2. Peyton Manning @ Houston – Another top tier quarterback in a likely shootout.  Manning will be on a mission this year after losing the Superbowl in 2009.  He returns with an arsenal of weapons with Wayne, Garcon, Clark, Collie, A. Gonz, Addai, and D. Brown.  I am intrigued to see how changing the position of the referees could hinder Manning’s hurry-up offense, but they did drop the distance the officials must run from 15 to 12 yards. Manning will continue to be the on-field coach and torch the division rival Texan defense.

3. Drew Brees vs. Minnesota – Is it a coincidence that the top three fantasy QBs are a part of the three highest over/unders in week 1?  The Saints will look to debunk the rumors of a Superbowl hangover against their 2009 Conference Finals opponent.  The Vikings have a staunch defense, their one weakness being the secondary.  They allowed the tenth most passing touchdowns last year, so do not let the Vikings defense deter you.  Not like anyone would be benching Brees, no matter the opponent.  Start with condidence, and enjoy watching your field general at work on opening night.

The Upper Class

4. Tom Brady @ Cincinnati – I think Brady will have a great season this year.  Tom has a questionable defense and a bit of a chip on his shoulder after being written off due to the last two seasons.  That said he starts his season with a tough matchup against the Bengals defense.  Jonathon Joseph and Leon Hall make up the most underrated cornerback duo in the league.  The Bengals allowed the sixth least passing yards and the eighth least passing touchdowns in 2009.  Brady should still post decent numbers, but I would expect something along the lines of 275 yds/ 2 TDs.

5. Jay Cutler vs. Detroit – Martz and Co. get a chance at a coming out party at home against Detroit.  This will be a telling sign as to how successful the highly hyped Bears offense will be this year.  The Lions defense (especially their D-line) should be better with the signing of a few free agents, the drafting of Suh, and another year under the tutelage of HC Jim Schwartz.  Even if there is improvement, Detroit was dead last in passing yards and passing touchdowns allowed last year.  If Cutler does not put up numbers in week 1, everyone will be stamping this offense with the overrated tag.  My guess is he comes out firing.  300 yds/ 2TDs/1 INT

6. Matt Schaub vs. Indianapolis – Schaub was only marginally successful last year versus the Colts.  He posted good yardage numbers (311, 284), but posted only 3 touchdowns along with five turnovers between the two games.  Since Houston was introduced to the NFL in 2002, they have beaten the Colts only once out of sixteen attempts.  There is a hatred for the Colts in the Texans locker room, and I think the offense will put up good numbers in their season opener, at home, against their arch rival.  Pencil Schaub in for 300 yds/ 2 TDs/ 1 INT.

7. Phillip Rivers @ Kansas City – The Chargers offense has a lot of turnover from last year.  LT Marcus McNeill and Vincent Jackson are holding out due to contract disputes, and rookie Ryan Mathews has taken over for Tomlinson at running back.  The offense should still be fairly powerful with Antonio Gates, Malcolm Floyd, Legedu Naanee, and newly acquired Patrick Crayton running routes.  The Chiefs pass defense last year was a little below average (22nd Yds allowed, 20th TDs).  With Eric Berry at safety and Romeo Crennel now at DC, the defense stands to improve.  Arrowhead is notoriously one of the loudest stadiums to play at in the NFL, and opening day should not do anything to contradict the stadium’s image.  Rivers should be a solid quarterback this week, 250 Yds/2 TDs.

The Middle Class

8. Kevin Kolb vs. Green Bay – This should be a high scoring game, and I think Kolb can prove some of his doubters wrong right out of the gate.  We all know Andy Reid is a pass first, pass second kind of guy.  If the Eagles have any chance of winning (the spread is only Eagles +3), then Kolb will have to produce.  He has more variance than someone like Rivers, but his potential for a huge game is there.

9. Tony Romo @ Washington – This matchup is a big question mark.  Can the Cowboys over the hill offensive line protect Romo?  Will the Hayneworth drama effect the performance of the Redskins defense?  These questions don’t allow me to put Romo in the “Upper Class”, making him a below average QB1 start.

10. Carson Palmer @ New England – This will be the first chance to see how Palmer can control Batman and Robin.  The offense has talent and will be up against a young, albeit up and coming, Patriot defense.  Like Cutler, Palmer has a chance to prove that this much talked about offense is for real.

11. Brett Farve @ New Orleans – With Sidney Rice out, can Harvin, Berrian, and Camarillo be enough firepower for Farve?  I think the Vikings turn to Purple Jesus (AP) and the running game.  After missing most of training camp last year, Farve started his season slow passing for 110 yards vs the Browns and 155 yards vs the Lions.  Even with the ESPN hyped opening game, I don’t think Farve will produce fantastic numbers.  The potential is there, but he is definitely not a safe start.

The Lower Class

12. Eli Manning vs Carolina – The first regular season game in the beautiful new stadium.  The chance at a bit of redemption against the team who shut the door on the G-Men in last years horrific close to the season.  A shot to prove to the nation that the Jets may be the most talked about NY team, but not the most talented.  That said, Carolina has one of the better pass defenses in the league (2nd TDs, 4th Yds) and likes to run, run, run on offense.  That does not often equate to a high scoring affair.  A Big Blue win, but only mediocre numbers out of Eli.

13. Matt Ryan @ Pittsburgh – Another potential break out quarterback against a good defense.  The Steelers ranked middle of the pack last year in passing D, but with the return of Polamalu they should vault back into the top ten.  I think the Steelers will also try to slow the game down without Big Ben at quarterback.  Ryan may produce good numbers, but less likely than the men above him.

14. Kyle Orton @ Jacksonville – With Marshall now gone, the question remains who will Orton turn to for the most targets?  Jabar Gaffney and Eddie Royal stand as the favorites, and this should be a good week for them.  The Jaguars were ranked in the high twenties in passing yards and TDs allowed last year and have not done much to improve.  Orton is a sneaky choice if a manager needed a bye week or injury replacement, but lets hope not as its only week 1.

15. Joe Flacco vs. New York Jets – Flacco has the potential to step into the top tier of QBs this year, but this is not the week.  Even though I think the Jets are slightly over-hyped, it is not because of their defense.  This unit is phenomenal, and can shut down the best.  Revis is just coming back, but make no mistake he will still be good.  Add to the mix the Jets offseason pickups of Kyle Wilson and JT, plus a healthy Kris Jenkins, and losing Calvin Pace is not going to kill the Jets.  Flacco should be benched in week 1 if you own a solid backup QB.

16. Matt Stafford @ Chicago – Another offense with breakout potential.  The Lions acquired Jahvid Best, Nate Burleson, and Tony Scheffler in the offseason.  If Stafford can mature quickly he has the ability to put up some good numbers with his supporting cast.  Not to mention the Lion’s weak defense will force the offense to put up numbers in the passing game.  The Bears were middle of the road in passing yards allowed, but near the bottom in passing TDs allowed.  The addition of J Pep should help Chicago’s pass rush, but Stafford should still put up decent numbers.

17. Donovan McNabb vs. Dallas – The first game for an entirely new regime in Washington.  Move over Jim Zorn and Jason Campbell, welcome Mike Shanahan and Donny Mac.  McNabb is not entirely healthy with his ankle, but I would not be surprised if he comes out throwing in an attempt to show the fans he is the new leader.

18.  Derek Anderson @ St. Louis – Starting the season off against the Rams will give Anderson a chance at being successful this year.  Anderson has talented receivers in Fitz, Breaston, and Doucet.  If he can control his accuracy he may be able to put up decent numbers.

19. Matt Cassell vs. San Diego – No one is giving Cassell much credit, but Kansas City has made advancements on offense.  With an in shape Dwayne Bowe, Chambers, McCluster, Charles, and T. Jones the offense has playmakers.  Now that Charlie Weis has come on board, Cassell will be in an offense he studied for several years in New England.  If the O-line can protect him, he may put up decent numbers this year.  San Diego’s defense is overrated, and Cassell has the chance to be serviceable this week.

20. Chad Henne @ Buffalo – Chad Henne liked the offseason addition of Brandon Marshall more than anyone.  For a young quarterback to have a talent like Marshall is very helpful.  Along with Davone Bess and Brian Hartline, Henne has potential.  I think the wildcat becomes even more of a change of pace in Miami this year as Henne takes over.  Buffalo however does have a tough pass defense, ranking second in the league last year.  Second year stud cornerback Jairus Byrd fully practiced Wednesday, and should play on Sunday.  Henne is an average QB2 this week.

Cheers to the first week of the season.  Let the games begin!

NFL Pre-Season Predictions

Here are the predictions for the upcoming NFL season from Mcshaft and Lungz

McShaft, Lungz


AFC East

1. New England (10-6), (11-5)

2. NY Jets – (9-7), (9-7)

3. Miami – (8-8), (8-8)

4. Bills (5- 11) (3-13)


AFC North

1. Baltimore (12-4), (11-5)

2. Cincinnati (10-6), (9-7)

3. Steelers (7-9), (7-9)

4. Cleveland (6-10), (4-12)

AFC South

1. Colts (13-3), (13-3)

2. Tennessee (9-7), (10-6)

3. Houston (8-8), (8-8)

4. Jacksonville (6-10), (6-10)

AFC West

1. San Diego (10-6), (13-3)

2. Oakland (9-7), (7-9)

3. Denver (8-8), (7-9)

4. Kansas City (7-9), (4-12)

NFC EAST

1. Giants (10-6), (8-8)

2.Cowboys (9-7), (11-5)

3. Eagles (8-8), (9-7)

4. Redskins (5-11), (6-10)

NFC North

1. Green Bay (12-4), (12-4)

2. Minnesota (10-6), (9-7)

3. Chicago (7-9), (8-8)

4. Lions (6-10), (6-10)

NFC South

1. New Orleans (10-6), (12-4)

2. Atlanta (8-8), (8-8)

3. Carolina (7-9), (9-7)

4. Tampa Bay (4-12), (3-13)

NFC West

San Francisco (11-5), (10-6)

2. Arizona (8-8), (8-8)

3. St Louis (5-12), (7-9)

4. Seattle (3-13), (3-12)

PLAYOFFS

AFC

McSHAFT

Wild Card

Bye Week: ColtsRavens

Patriots vs. Bengals: Patriots

Chargers vs. Jets: Jets

Divional

Colts vs. Jets: Colts

Ravens vs. Pats: Ravens

Conference

Colts vs. Ravens: Colts


LUNGZ

Wildcard

Bye: Colts, Chargers

Patriots vs. Jets: Patriots

Ravens vs. Titans: Titans

Divisional

Chargers vs. Patriots: Chargers

Titans vs Colts: Colts

Conference

Colts vs. Chargers: Colts


NFC

McSHAFT

Wild Card

Bye Week: Packers, 49ers

Giants vs Vikings: Giants

Saints vs Cowboys: Cowboys

Divisional

Packers vs Cowboys: Packers

49ers vs Giants: 49ers

Conference

Packers vs 49ers = Packers


LUNGZ

Wild Card

Bye Week: Saints, Packers

49ers vs. Eagles: Eagles

Cowboys vs. Panthers: Panthers

Divisional

Panthers vs. Saints: Saints

Birds vs. Packers = Packers

Conference

Saints vs. Packers = Packers

Super Bowl

McShaft:  Packers vs Colts: Packers

Lungz:  Packers vs Colts: Colts

Detailed Top 25 RB Rankings

These are the running back rankings for a Non-PPR league.  The notations after the description represent the move in a player’s stock in a PPR league.

TIER 1

1. Adrian Peterson – AP has the capability to do something special this year.  With the passing game losing Rice to a hip injury for the first half of the season, there will be a few more rushing attempts in Minnesota.  Another key issue is the departure of Chester Taylor.  From what it looks like, Purple Jesus will now receive third down carries as well.  By having Toby Gerhart and Albert Young only occasionally give Peterson rest, the possibility for greatness is real.  My only question is with this heavy workload, will AP be healthy when we need him the most, the fantasy playoffs.  My guess is that he will be a little banged up by the time the playoffs come and pull a McNabb (choke).  If he stays healthy than we have the chance to see an extraordinary season from AP.

2. Ray Rice – I believe the Ravens offense will be explosive this year and Rice will be the headlining act.  Rice is a tough, quick runnner.  With his short and stocky “bowling ball” build he faces less injury risk.  He is an MJD style running back on a talented offense. He has a great O-line and a good young quarterback who loves Rice as his safety valve.  He is a very consistent pick due to the fact that if the Ravens get down early and must throw, Rice is still an integral part of the offense.  The McGahee factor is an issue, but the fact that there were trade rumors swirling around McGahee represents the Ravens lack of commit to the former Hurricane.  Just throwing this out there, Cam Cameron (Ravens OC) was the offensive coordinator for San Diego during the Ladanian Tomlinson era.  Everyone agrees Rice is an amazingly talented running back, but his one drawback is Mcgahee and even Mclain vulturing touchdowns.  The same was said about Chris Johnson and Lendale White in 2009. (+)

3. Chris Johnson – The stud of last year and the most common number one overall choice.  I am not down on CJ2k, its just that I predict a slight drop in production. I still think he puts up 1700 total yards and 12 TDs.  My biggest pet peeve with other fantasy rankings is their lack of ability to think outside of the box and forget last season’s stats.  CJ was an absolute moster last year, and I believe he will be very good again this year, but you cannot assume a repeat performance.  Of the five rushers to ever rush for 2000 yards, only Barry Sanders gained over 1250 yards rushing the following year.

4. Michael Turner – “The Burner” had his season cut short in 2009 by injury.  People were not raving about him last year, but if you project his 9.5 games played over a full 16 game season, he comes out with 1450 rush yds and 17 TDs.  Not too shabby.  That said, Turner admits to being out of shape last year.  Between improved conditioning and the Falcon’s promise to involve him more in the passing game, Turner has a very high ceiling this year. (-)

TIER 2

5. Frank Gore – When healthy, Gore is an animal.  The 49ers have a chance to be very good this year.  Add in a highly talented lead back and the potential for greatness is there.  However we all know the injury risk that one must take on when drafting Gore.

6. Maurice Jones-Drew – I was low on MJD before the rumors about offseason knee surgery surfaced.  Although Drew is the unquestioned lead back in Jacksonville, his team is subpar.  With an average passing game and offensive line, the original bowling ball should post solid numbers again but lacks the potential to be the #1 fantasy RB.

TIER 3

7. Ryan Grant – I don’t think Grant is the most talented back in the league, but he is a prime example of an opportunity player.  Grant is put in the perfect situation. The lead back for possibly the best passing offense in football.  Grant will rarely ever face eight in the box, and with an improved O-line he can be a borderline RB1.  Green Bay will be in the red zone plenty this year. Even if the offense only rushes the ball occasionally in the red zone, that is still a solid amount of chances for Grant to get in the end zone.

8. Arian Foster – This is probably the highest you will ever see Arian Foster ranked and I cannot figure out why.  With rookie Ben Tate out for the year and Slaton’s fumblitis, Foster will be the lead back.  Last year whoever came in as the starter in Houston did fantastic.  In his two games as the starter in weeks 16 and 17 last year, Foster accumulated 240 yds and three touchdowns.  A young, fresh back who will be receiving the majority of the carries, including the goal line looks, for one of the most powerful offenses in the league sounds like a bargain third round pick to me.

9. Jamaal Charles – Charles is one of the most intriguing backs this year.  He showed at the end of last year that he is one of the most talented RBs in the league.  After his performance to end the season, I do not think there is any way Coach Haley keeps Charles as the #2 RB behind Thomas Jones.  The former Jet will undoubtedly steal some goal-line carries from Charles, but do not worry, a back as talented as Charles will get more than his share of looks at the different end zone art around the league. (+)

10. Ryan Mathews – This is another very interesting scenario.  A rookie running back that may for once be overrated.  Mathews is a tremendous talent, as seen by the Chargers trading up to the 12th pick in order to choose him in the draft this year. It is unsure (before the first game) who will get the goal line carries between FB Mike Tolbert, Mathews, or even Jacob Hester.  Either way, I think Mathews will be in there at times, and on the rest of the field he should see a solid opportunity.  The O – line scares me a little with LT McNiel still in a holdout. Was Tomlinson’s 3.3 YPC due to age or the line? (+)

11. Deangelo Williams – A grossly talented back on a run first team.  Sounds great, but J-Stew has the same description.  Remember in 2008 Deangelo finished the season on a tear amassing 20 total touchdowns on the year. If Stewart gets injured, Deangelo is a  top five back.  Until then, he remains a good RB2.

12. Rashard Mendenhall – With the decision coming out before the first game that Isaac Redman would be receiving goal line carries, Mendys stock drops.  I was not sold on Rashard talentwise, but his opportunity was too much to pass up.  Now that Tomlin reports Rashard is not receiving goal line carries, (which I believe because Redman looked good in the preseason) Mendy can drop from his early second round ADP to a mid third round choice.  Tomlin did note that Mendy would stay on the field for third downs. A good RB2 with some upside.

13. Cedric Benson Benson was one of the most surprising backs in 2009.  He was not flashy, but he was a true grinder.  The man whose mug shot we all remember from the 2009 offseason put up over twenty five carries in six games last year and over 34 carries three different times!  That kind of wear and tear cannot be sustained for long periods of time in todays NFL.  Benson should put up solid numbers again this year, but I would rather have other running backs at his third round ADP. (-)

14. Stephen Jackson – Stephen Jackson WAS the Rams offense last year.  After drafting Sam Bradford the Rams are aiming to change that, but Jackson is already at the tail end of his prime. He has been the feature back for too many years for my liking.  Over 1500 carries in six years with an additional 280 receptions is too much mileage for a first or second rounder.  With Bradford at quarterback, SJax should continue to face eight defenders in the box the majority of the time.  As much as I like him as a real running back, Jackson probably will not be on any of my fantasy teams this year. (+)

Tier 4

15. Jahvid Best – Best looked like he was playing against a college defense in the preseason the way he made defenders miss.  His combination of speed and agility in incredible.  If he can stay healthy, which is a big if with his style, he has the chance to be phenomenal.  Had he not injured his neck at the end of last year, Best may have went higher than Spiller.  Instead he landed with the up and coming Lions offense.  I think he has the ability to really break out this year.  A decent RB2 with very good upside. (+)

16. Jonathon Stewart – The second part of the Dueling Panthers.  J-Stew showed at the end of last year that he has top tier running back talent.  The Panthers continue to say they will be a run first team.  With the two running backs they have on their roster, why not.  Stewart is a low end RB2 to start the season, but if Deangelo goes down, bump Stewart into Tier 2.  Stewart also seems to be prone to injury.  A bit of a risk, but very high possible reward. (-)

17. Shonne Greene – Rex Ryan’s supposed “bell cow”.   I think Greene should take Thomas Jones’ position, with LT being the Leon Washington prior to the leg injury.  Shonne’s stock is definitely higher in Non PPR leagues, as his reception total should be nothing to brag about.  Still a solid, consistent RB2. (-)

18. Knowshon Moreno – Knowshon begins 2010 with another injury (hamstring).  He should play week one but we are not sure if he will be 100%. Moreno when healthy is a solid RB2.  He has the talent to become a RB1. However the questions remain will he stay healthy and will McDaniels offer him the opportunity.  Considering the coach drafted him 12th overall in 2009 with his first ever draft pick, I think he will.  A bit of a risk, but a fairly solid RB2 with some upside.

19. Pierre Thomas – Pepe Le Pew presents an interesting option at RB.  He is the favored back in one of the best offenses in the NFL.  Last year he could not put up any consistency with Mike Bell and Reggie Bush around.  With Bell now in Philadelphia, Thomas and Bush look to see their roles expanded.  How far is the question.  Thomas will have big games and disappointing ones.  An inconsistent RB2 with upside.

20. Beanie Wells – Another young, talented back.  With Derek Anderson at the helm, the Cardinals offense can go a few different ways.  The first being a chaotic, unorganized offense that tries to force the ball to Larry Fitzgerald.  The second being a ground and pound game that features Wells, with Hightower coming in on third downs.  In this scenario Anderson would only need to occasionally make solid passes which I think is reasonable.  Another possibility is Wells solidifying his pre-draft label of being injury prone.  And the final and most unlikely scenario is Derek Anderson returns to his pro bowl form giving Wells the opportunity to run all over the place.  I would say 1,2, and 3 are realistic.  A low RB2 with some upside.

Tier 5

21. Jerome Harrison – One of my biggest targets this offseason, Montario Hardesty, had his season cut short by an ACL injury.  Harrison will now have less of a threat for the lead back role.  I think James Davis can make a push by the end of the season, but to start the year look for Harrison to see a large amount of carries.  This team has an underrated offensive line.  Harrison makes for a prime example of a player to get on your team only to trade high (after week 5 against Buffalo).  He should be a good RB2 until something changes.  Harrison has the makings of  Cedric Benson in 2009.

22. Matt Forte Forte has the chance to return to fantasy prominence in 2010 after his sophmore slump.  Forte has never been a great between the tackles rusher, but I think he can play the Marshall Faulk role in Martz’s offense (to a lesser degree of course).  Forte has great hands out of the backfield and runs good routes.  Chester Taylor is a bit of an issue, but I believe Forte will still be the majority shareholder of the Bears backfield.  A RB2/flex with upside.

23. Justin Forsett –  Forsett is another back who closed out well last season.  He averaged 5.4 YPC on over 100 carries, and also displayed good hands.  Pete Carroll has named Forsett the starter for now, so we will see where this opportunity takes Forsett.  A risky RB2/good flex with solid upside. (+)

24. Ahmad Bradshaw -As a Giants fan, it pains me to say it but Jacobs will probably never be the same.  He is a huge guy who can beat up defenses, but I think the hits he gives and takes are catching up to him a little.  It is now Bradshaw’s turn.  After still showing great burst with injuries to both feet last year, if he comes back healthy Bradshaw can be a very solid RB2.b

25. Joseph Addai – As much as I dislike his running ability to Donald Brown’s, Addai remains the starter due to his pass protection and familiarity with the offense.  I think there is a decent chance he is unseated as the starter (at the least sees his role diminished) by the seasons end.  However it is currently the start of the season and Addai should be very solid.  Another good draft and trade candidate (around week 5 after he faces Kansas City sounds about right to me).

Honorable Mention

Lesean McCoy – I have the Eagles starting RB lower than most rankings.  There could be a little bias coming in, but I think between Weaver, Mike Bell, and Vick, McCoy will not receive a big share of goal line carries.  This leaves him more in the low end RB2/flex range.

Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams – They both have good potential with decently high risk of injury.  Brown is a higher risk/reward candidate with Ricky having more stability.

Michael Bush – Once his hand heals, I believe he will overtake McFadden for the starting RB role.

Felix Jones – Great talent, but can he stay on the field.  Also how will that Cowboys O-line shape up?

C.J. Spiller – Another amazing talent.  Will he see enough touches with Fred Jackson healthy to be a RB2?

Donald Brown – Can this be the year he takes over for Addai?  If it is then he is a top 20 back.

Marion Barber – Does he have the burst that Jerry Jones hyped up in the offseason?  If so can he stay healthy?

Fred Jackson – He was a top target of mine before the Bills drafted Spiller.

Reggie Bush – He looked very good in the preseason.  He makes for a good flex in PPR leagues.

Kareem Huggins – Will likely be the starting back in Tampa by seasons end.

Ladanian Tomlinson – Can 21 show some of his legendary quickness?  He looked to be in good shape in the preseason and with that O-line I think Tomlinson has flex possibilities.

Brandon Jacobs – I hope Big Papa returns to glory, but I just don’t see it.

Cadillac Williams – Still currently sitting as the starter in Tampa.

I see the first tier as sure fire RB1s, barring injury.  The second tier should also be solid RB1, but they have a lower ceiling and a higher risk of injury.  The third tier players all have the potential to be RB1, but all of them carry some sort of risk with them, age, injury history, or lack of experience.  The fourth tier consists of young RB who have the potential to really step into the fantasy limelight.  The final tier, the fifth, is full of players with question marks or lacking significant upside.

Hopefully this will help you realize why I have these RBs ranked where they are.  Check out my WR rankings, and continue to check back because more updates will be coming throughout the season on McShaft’s Fantasy Football Insight.