Team: Ilan Mochari | Team Roster
Reason: This is a point-per-reception league, and Forte led all running backs with a whopping 63 catches. He recorded at least three receptions in 13 of 16 games. Not a game went by when he did not rack up at least 75 yards from scrimmage or score one touchdown. In a PPR format, he is as consistent as they come. Quarterback Jay Cutler will keep defenses honest; it wouldn't surprise me if Forte amasses more yards and touchdowns on fewer carries.
Standards Set: I'm expecting 60-plus catches, 1,800-plus yards from scrimmage and 15 touchdowns. In other words, I expect a similar total of receptions but otherwise an increase in productivity across the board.
Team: Mike Egnak | Team Roster
Reason: A year after leading the league in rushing and at just 24 years old, Peterson was someone I considered as the top pick in fantasy drafts this year. Even with a shaky quarterback situation last year, there was only one game where he failed to rush for more than 70 yards. The quarterback situation still isn't exactly cleared up heading into 2009, but there's potential there with the addition of Sage Rosenfels, another year of experience for Tarvaris Jackson and the potential of Brett Favre coming out of retirement to play for the team.
Standards Set: I'm looking to get at least 1,600 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns on the ground out of Peterson. He doesn't do much in the passing game, so I'd be happy with around 20 receptions and 100 receiving yards.
Team: John Kotch Jr. | Team Roster
Reason: The main reason for drafting Turner was because I knew that Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson would most likely be gone. However, Turner is certainly not a bad second choice. Last year's performance says it all. He proved himself every bit the every-down workhorse, rushing for 1,699 yards on 376 carries with 17 touchdowns. When I saw that I'd be drafting third, I knew he was the running back I wanted and that he very likely would be available, so I snatched him up.
Standards Set: I'm expecting Turner to approach his 2008 performance in 2009. However, with the addition of All-Pro tight end Tony Gonzalez to the Falcons offense, the gut of any opposing defense is apt to be weakened. Therefore, there's a good chance Turner could even improve on his 2008 numbers. I look for Turner to compile 350-plus carries, 1,500-plus yards and 15-plus touchdowns in 2009.
Team: Bryce McRae | Team Roster
Reason: He was the top back on my board. No Fred Taylor in Jacksonville means Mo-Jo should have all the room to run. I'm not concerned about the other backs on the roster (Greg Jones, Rashad Jennings and Chauncey Washington). He's only 5-foot-7, but he's stocky and I believe he has the build to shoulder a full load.
Others Considered: None
Standards Set: I'm looking for around 1,100 yards and 15 rushing touchdowns. Through the air, I'm expecting him to catch 55-plus passes for 600 yards and at least three touchdowns.
Team: Keith Hernandez | Team Roster
Reason: Johnson is easily a top-tier fantasy running back and should pick up where he left off last season. He could lose carries to LenDale White, but I am expecting Johnson to remain a big part of the Titans' offensive plans.
Standards Set: He rushed for 1,228 yards and added nine touchdowns last year, including only one fumble. Johnson also added 43 receptions and one receiving touchdown. I'm expecting more of the same from Johnson this year as he avoids the sophomore slump.
Team: Matt Wilson | Team Roster
Reason: I was just looking for the best available young running back that can rack up fantasy points as a rusher and receiver. Slaton came on strong during the closing weeks of his 2008 rookie season, quietly finishing the year ranked No. 6 among all backs in fantasy points scored in this scoring format. With a collection of mediocre talent backing him up, the explosive Slaton, who added nine pounds of muscle during the offseason, will continue to receive the lion's share of the touches in the Texans' running game.
Standards Set: With enemy defenses focusing on the Texans' lethal passing attack, I'm expecting the 5-foot-9, 210-pound Slaton to amass close to 1,800 total yards and 14 total touchdowns.
Team: Tim Piotrowski | Team Roster
Reason: As of now, Jackson appears to be the focal point for the Rams offense this season. Jackson has been able to put up good numbers the last few seasons but has missed four games each of the last two years. Jackson is looking to become a more complete running back by improving his route-running skills, which should help me in a point-per-reception league.
Standards Set: I would like to see Jackson rush for at least 1,350 yards and score at least eight to 10 touchdowns on the ground. I also hope he can catch around 45 passes and two or three receiving touchdowns.
Team: Cory J. Bonini | Team Roster
Reason: I couldn't pass up Tomlinson at Pick 8; in fact, I was eagerly awaiting him sliding to me. He posted more than 1,500 offensive yards and scored 12 total touchdowns in a "down year" in 2008, so what is he capable of, even at 30 years old, in a healthy season? I'll take my chances with the eighth overall pick that we see an LT closer to the 2006 version than the 2008 model.
Standards Set: I expect LT to rack up approximately 1,300 rush yards, 12 rushing touchdowns, 45-50 receptions, 400-450 receiving yards and one to two touchdowns through the air. I wouldn't be surprised if he passed for a few scores out of the wildcat formation, either.
Team: Tim Heaney | Team Roster
Reason: The most prolific PPR back that was available, the Philadelphia Eagles' Brian Westbrook (ankle, knee), remains injury prone. I can't say Williams has much upside after an 18-touchdown 2008, but the Panthers live by the ground game. Jonathan Stewart won't vulture as many scores as people think; Williams has a great combo of explosiveness and between-the-tackles gusto that enables him to cross the plane from any distance.
Standards set: I expect around 1,300 rushing yards and 12 scores. If he catches at least 20 passes again, that'll do.
Team: Nicholas Minnix | Team Roster
Reason: In a PPR format, Westbrook (ankle, knee) can still be the cream of the crop, so he's a bargain here. LeSean McCoy and, to a lesser extent, Lorenzo Booker will merely spell Westbrook, keeping him fresh, and the O-line is improved. The Eagles expect B-West to be ready in plenty of time for the season opener; that's all that matters.
Others Considered: None
Standards Set: First, I hope Westbrook plays in 14 or 15 games. A line of 1,600-1,800 total yards, 65 catches and 10 total scores isn't then unreasonable.
Team: Ryan R. Bonini | Team Roster
Reason: With 10 backs off the board, I needed one to hang my hat on. Gore has had three consecutive 1,000-yard seasons despite the 49ers changing their system often. With head coach Mike Singletary's run-first, downhill-running mentality, along with the return of bruising fullback Moran Norris, Gore could finally live up to potential provided he: 1) Stays healthy 2) Touches the ball 300-plus times and 3) The 49ers have some stability at quarterback to keep defenses honest. He brings a lot of health risk, but I believe he can fill the need of a game-in, game-out No. 1 back.
Standards Set: IF Gore stays healthy, which has been rare in his short career, I believe his floor is 1,600 total yards and he finally reaches double-digit touchdowns.
Team: Kostas Bolos | Team Roster
Reason: As I anticipated, 11 running backs went off the board prior to my pick. As a result, I went with Johnson as opposed to one of the second-tier running backs available. Johnson led all receivers last season in yardage and - perhaps more importantly in this format - receptions with 115. He also finished second in red-zone targets.
Standards Set: I am expecting 100-plus receptions, 1,400-plus yards and double-digit touchdowns.
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