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Friday, September 2, 2011

NFL's Top Running Backs 2011

Last year we saw some guys come out of no where and lead their respective teams in rushing. Peyton Hillis was an absolute beast in Cleveland, and we all know what Arian Foster was able to do in Houston, leading the league in rushing and yards from scrimmage.

Who will break out this year and put up similar numbers? Chances are, nobody! I don't expect to see a runner come out of nowhere and rush for 1600 yards again, but there will be running backs who put up big numbers. We've went down the list of elite backs, looked at the defenses they play, and have made our predictions for how they will finish up the season. There are also some sleeper running backs that I like this year. Let's take a look at the backs on the list.

Tim Hightower - This is my sleeper pick of the year at the running back position. Mike Shanahan loves to run the ball and Hightower will thrive in this system. Playing in a very good defensive division will take away some of his potential numbers, but I still like him to succeed this year for the Redskins. 2011 Projected Stats: 1158 yards, 9 TD's, 61 catches 481 yards 2TD's

Jamaal Charles - I love Charles as a player, but this offense has looked dismal this preseason without Charlie Weiss calling the plays. Look for many of the offensive starters numbers on this team to take a hit from a year ago. Jamaal Charles will put up decent numbers because he's an excellent back, but it's going to be a little tougher going this year for the Chiefs. Luckily he gets to run against the Broncos D twice a year. 2011 Projected Stats: 1208 yards, 6 TD's, 45 catches 370 yards 2 TD's

Adrian Peterson - This man has been the most consistent back in the NFL since he joined the Vikings. Sure, he's had some issues with fumbles occasionally, but he was able to clean that up last year and had another great season, despite all the turmoil going on at the QB position. This year McNabb should prove to be a steady starter and help take some pressure off of Peterson. Expect "All Day" to touch the ball 25 times a game, and expect him to take advantage of all of these touches. 2011 Projected Stats: 1478 yards, 14 TD's, 51 catches 452 yards 3 TD's

Arian Foster - Foster came out of nowhere last season and rushed for over 1600 yards and led the NFL in yards from scrimmage. Coming off two hamstring injuries in a matter of weeks this preseason, look for Foster to come out slower and give up some carries to Tate as the season begins. Don't expect him to duplicate his season from a year ago, especially with Vonte Leach now blocking for Ray Rice in Baltimore. I also feel that this is the year that Schaub will probably suffer some injuries like he often did in the past, and that will not help Foster's case. 2011 Projected Stats: 1297 yards, 11 TD's, 67 catches 591 yards 3 TD's

Ray Rice - A low, shifty runner, Rice is able to find holes that most backs can't at the line of scrimmage. He has the ability to turn two yard losses into 7 yard gains. With Willis McGahee gone and a pro bowl full back now blocking for him, look for Ray Rice to have his best season to date. 2011 Projected Stats: 1367 yards, 11 TD's, 71 catches 635 yards 4 TD's

Peyton Hillis - Hillis came onto the scene last season when Montereo Hardesty went down with a season ending knee injury. No one even knows what Hardesty is capable of doing in the NFL, so it's hard to say whether or not he's going to make a difference in the Browns backfield this year. If Hillis can stay healthy, he will easily duplicate the 1100 yards he put up last season. A new west coast offense will be more beneficial for him in the passing game as well. 2011 Projected Stats: 1247 yards, 15 TD's, 49 catches 356 yards 1 TD

Chris Johnson - No off season and a lengthy holdout through the entire preseason is going to hurt Johnson's numbers in the early going. I think it will take him a few weeks to get acclimated back into the NFL. It doesn't matter how good you are. This league is too hard to walk in off the street against these athletes and dominate without the right preparation. Look for Johnson to take two or three weeks to get rolling full speed. 2011 Projected Stats: 1102 yards, 12 TD's, 66 catches 497 yards 2 TD's

Steven Jackson - It's almost hard to put Jackson on this list because he's been so quiet as of late. Jackson has been the work horse for the Rams every year and the wear and tear is starting to show. Don't expect Jackson to put up elite numbers much longer in his career. I still see him as a 1000 yard back, but he's hovering on falling off that platform. 2011 Projected Stats: 1067 yards, 8 TD's, 40 catches 297 yards 2 TD's

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