KFFL's editors were posed the question of which running back would they choose with the first overall pick in upcoming fantasy football drafts. The primary players to pick from included Jamaal Charles, Adrian Peterson, Arian Foster and Chris Johnson, but any write-in candidate would be accepted.
Jamaal Charles, Kansas City Chiefs
- Excellent pass receiver - major threat in point-per-reception leagues
- Electric playmaker whose average yards per carry of 5.3 has increased each of the past two years to top out at a stout 6.4
- Offense revolves around him and the passing game is competent enough to keep defenses honest
- Slight durability concerns because of a slight frame (5-foot-11, 199 pounds)
- Team defense is improving and allows him to stay on the field
Arian Foster, Houston Texans
- All-around offensive threat - averaged 4.9 yards per carry during his two-year career - is a PPR machine (66 catches last year)
- Durability - held up to 393 touches - but that can be used against him looking ahead
- Nose for the end zone (18 total scores in 2010); failed to top 100 total yards only four times in 2010
- Strong passing game to take the pressure off him
Adrian Peterson, Minnesota Vikings
- Arguably the best individual talent in the league; freakish strength-speed-agility combination
- Improved receiver and the likely third-down option for the Vikes
- Extremely productive and a fairly safe choice
- Offensive line concerns and uncertainty at quarterback cloud his potential
- Team defense is shaky and going through a transitional period
Chris Johnson, Tennessee Titans
- Dynamic multi-threat out of the backfield
- Extremely productive - 1,609 total yards, 12 TDs in a "down" season; fantastic pass catcher and a threat to score every time he touches the ball
- One season removed from a 2,006-yard season; home run threat - career long of 91 yards
- Strong offensive line, solid defensive team
- Unsettled quarterback situation - potentially a rookie starter - hurts his value
Cory J. Bonini
I'd have to go with Johnson in any scoring format if I knew that Jake Locker wasn't starting this year, but I will throw my hat into the Foster ring. He catches and blocks, which keeps him on the field. His OL is solid enough, Matt Schaub to Andre Johnson provides a lethal passing game, and Foster's consistency makes him tough to pass up.
I have a largely unfound gut feeling that AD will fall to injury this year, and Charles is the least safe of the group to me. Foster presents the best combination of upside and safety.
I lean toward Foster, PPR or not. For as much as I expect his statistical output to shrink, he still possesses the most attractive combination of traits for a fantasy runner. The Houston Texans' offense, which has longed for a featured back for years, revolves around him, but the team's passing game - of which he's an integral part - can be high-octane. He approached 400 touches, but he'll be a mere 25 this season, and 2010 was the first year in which he saw extensive action. The other top backs have some obvious potential limitations.
A more difficult choice than in years past... The "stacked box" fear is often exaggerated; however, Peterson and Johnson each have a risky QB that could limit their potency. Charles oozes PPR dominance and should find more TDs - but enough to justify bypassing more consistent scorers?
Tiny track record? Regression potential? Not enough to discredit Foster. Sure, he was also 2010's No. 1, but his situation is the most comforting. Among this quartet, the 25-year-old bell cow (1) holds the lowest mileage (2) boasts the best front five (a zone-blocking scheme) and (3) enjoys the most powerful complementary offense.
Heading into the 2011 fantasy football season, Chris Johnson is my consensus No. 1 pick in standard drafts. Many will argue that Johnson isn't worth the top overall pick if rookie Jake Locker is manning the offense in Tennessee, but I tend to disagree.
CJ2K's speed and quickness make him a threat for a big play each and every time he touches the football. Having an inexperienced passer under center will only lead the Titans to rely on Johnson even more. His pass-catching skills make him a no-brainer at No. 1 overall.
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