No doubt about it -- Chris Johnson is going to be the No. 1 pick in your draft this year. He was our nearly-unanimous top selection, with Adrian Peterson picking up one first-place vote. He'll go number two. Ray Rice, Maurice Jones-Drew and Michael Turner round out our top five, if we're drafting today.
Most interesting to me is the ranking for Fantasy Rookie of the Year lock Ryan Mathews -- I was the only ranker willing to take him in the top ten. If I can get a late pick and grab Mathews and an elite receiver, I'm ecstatic. Check out where Jahvid Best and the rest of the rookie running backs stacked up against the veterans below.
| 1. Chris Johnson
| When you rush for 2,000 rushing yards and break Marshall Faulk's record for yards from scrimmage, it's generally agreed you'll be drafted first overall. With LenDale White out of Tennessee, Johnson need not worry about any goal-line vulturing moving forward.
| 2. Adrian Peterson
| Peterson may have been overshadowed by Johnson in 2009, but he actually took a big step forward last season, adding pass-catching to his already impressive repertoire. Throw in the big uptick in TDs and the loss of Chester Taylor, and Peterson is an amazing consolation prize.
| 3. Ray Rice
| Totaling over 2,000 yards on the ground and through the air, Rice has moved into the ranks of the great. Only a pedestrian touchdown total keeps him from rising to the elite rank of the two previous RBs, but a course correction for Willis McGahee could lead to a nice bump in Rice's scores.
| 4. Maurice Jones-Drew
| MJD was just as dominant as we expected in his first season with the full-time running back duties, rushing for nearly 1,400 yards and 15 TDs. The Jaguars figure to focus on running the ball again in 2010, which is great news for Jones-Drew and his fantasy owners.
| 5. Michael Turner
| Experts scoff at the Curse of 370, but it claimed Turner as its latest victim in 2009. The Falcons feature back should be well-rested after missing five games last year, and with his nose for the end zone, he'll be gold in standard leagues. Make sure to drop him significantly in PPR formats.
| 6. Frank Gore
| Recipe for fantasy success: take a franchise running back that totals at least 1,400 yards every year, mix in a developing young quarterback (Alex Smith), receiver (Michael Crabtree), and tight end (Vernon Davis), and add two extremely talented offensive lineman in the first round of the draft.
| 7. Steven Jackson
| The Rams' only offensive weapon made it through more games last season than he has in any year since 2006, and while it showed in his 1,416 rushing yards, the Rams couldn't get him near the end zone much. Expect a slight uptick in TDs, but beware Jackson's penchant for missing games.
| 8. Rashard Mendenhall
| Better late than never -- Mendenhall was expected to break through in 2008 after being drafted in the first round, but he had to wait till 2009 to deliver on his promise. With Ben Roethlisberger out at the beginning of the season, the offense will run through this young running back early.
| 9. Shonn Greene
| Last year's breakout playoff sensation was done a huge favor when Thomas Jones was shown the door by the Jets. He'll have to battle with LaDainian Tomlinson for carries in 2010, but anyone that saw LT in 2009 will tell you that Greene has nothing to worry about.
| 10. Jamaal Charles
| This second-half superstar put up staggering numbers once he was handed the starting role after Larry Johnson's release, putting up 1,126 total yards and eight TDs in the final eight games of the season. Enter Thomas Jones, who may keep Charles' scoring total low.
| 11. DeAngelo Williams
| While we keep waiting for Jonathan Stewart to wrestle the lead back duties from Williams, the two keep splitting time, staying as fantasy forces in the process. Williams averaged over 5.0 yards per carry yet again in 2009, but his touchdown total predictably regressed with the rest of the offense.
| 12. Ryan Grant
| After latching on with the Packers in 2007, Grant would post eight TDs in just 188 carries that year. He'd go on to add a 1,200-yard season in 2008. Last year, he put the two things together, rushing for 1,253 yards and scoring 11 TDs on the ground.
| 13. Cedric Benson
| Benson finally broke through in his second year in Cincinnati, rushing for 1,251 yards in only 13 games. Will he be able to repeat the surprising performance in 2010, and more importantly, can the Bengals get him into the end zone more than the six times he scored last year?
| 14. Ryan Mathews
| This year's marquee fantasy rookie lands in a perfect situation; visions of LaDainian Tomlinson's consistently elite seasons early in his career should whet owners' appetites. Mathews should find plenty of soft defensive fronts as defenders key in on the passing game.
| 15. Beanie Wells
| With Kurt Warner retired, the Cardinals will need to lean on the running game more than ever, and after averaging 4.5 yards per carry and scoring seven TDs in just 176 carries, Wells has set himself up to have a monster second season. Use Mendenhall's 2009 as a baseline.
| 16. Jonathan Stewart
| The second half of the two-headed Panther attack, The Daily Show posted his second consecutive 10-TD performance on the ground last year, showing at the end of the season what could be in store should he ever earn lead-back status (315 yards in Weeks 15 and 16).
| 17. Knowshon Moreno
| Brandon Marshall is gone, and with Tim Tebow waiting in the wings the Broncos will need to start transition away from being a pass-first offense. That's great news for Moreno, who impressed at times during his rookie season despite never topping 100 yards in a game.
| 18. Pierre Thomas
| Thomas has been angling for a new contract, and after playing an integral role in the Saints' Super Bowl run, one would say he certainly deserves it. With Mike Bell being signed away and with Reggie Bush incapable of being a lead back, the Saints offense needs Thomas to thrive.
| 19. Jahvid Best
| This year's second-best rookie option was a highly sought after commodity on draft day, with the Lions trading back into the first round to nab him. He'll immediately step into the lead back role of this developing offense, something that makes him definitely worth an early pick.
| 20. Ronnie Brown
| Brown was dominant in the first half of 2009, but just like in 2007, he missed half the year due to injury. The fragility of this superstar has damaged his fantasy stock to the point where he could easily slip to the third round despite his monster half-season last year.
| 21. LeSean McCoy
| The Eagles finally decided to retool their offense this season, saying goodbye to franchise icons Donovan McNabb and Brian Westbrook. This means McCoy moves to the top of the depth chart at RB, though he'll likely be spelled frequently by Mike Bell.
| 22. Felix Jones
| Jones flashed huge potential in limited action as a rookie, and he cashed in on that potential in 2009, averaging nearly six yards per carry on 119 carries. Most expect Jones to become the go-to option at running back for the Cowboys, but Marion Barber still lurks in the background.
| 23. Joseph Addai
| Don't fall into the trap of ushering the Donald Brown era too early -- Addai totaled 1,164 yards and 13 TDs last year during another Colts Super Bowl run. While Addai is likely locked in a timeshare with Brown, he still is plenty effective as a No. 2 RB in fantasy.
| 24. Matt Forte
| A huge rookie season had owners salivating over Forte in 2009 drafts, but the Bears running back did nothing but disappoint last year. Yes, Mike Martz's offensive turned Marshall Faulk into a fantasy legend, but Chester Taylor is just as good a fit for the Bears. Buyer beware.
| 25. Brandon Jacobs
| Big things were expected from Jacobs after he rushed for 15 TDs in 13 games back in 2008, but he struggled to live up to the expectations last year, scoring only five TDs despite having virtually an identical number of carries. A bounce-back season would provide great value here.
| 26. Jerome Harrison
| In consecutive games last season, Harrison had a seven-carry, nine-yard performance backed up by a 34-carry, 286-yard, three-TD game in Week 15. Despite the late-season love, fantasy owners should tread carefully after the Browns spent a high draft pick to bring in Montario Hardesty.
| 27. Marion Barber
| Felix Jones may be drafted higher in 2009, but Barber could prove to be the much better pick when all is said and done. He's reportedly looked great this off-season, and in all actuality, his 932 yards and seven TDs weren't too much different than his 2007 apex (975 yards, 10 rushing TDs).
| 28. Justin Forsett
| LenDale White was sent packing before ever recording a carry for the Seahawks, so the running back battle remains wide open. Forsett's main competition remains the ancient-looking Julius Jones, and he certainly looked like a capable feature back at times in 2009.
| 29. Fred Jackson
| While some might be put off by the high selection of C.J. Spiller, Jackson is actually your best bet in the Buffalo backfield. Though he didn't spend much time in the end zone, Jackson did rack up over 1,000 rushing yards and should do the same this year.
| 30. Clinton Portis
| Mike Shanahan is in the house and reunited with the running back he helped make a star early in his career. It's not all good news, as Clinton Portis still has to battle Larry Johnson, Willie Parker and potentially Brian Westbrook for carries. Last year's forgettable season is fresh in the mind.
31. Thomas Jones, Chiefs
32. Michael Bush, Raiders
33. Darren McFadden, Raiders
34. Reggie Bush, Saints
35. C.J. Spiller, Bills
36. Ben Tate, Texans
37. Ahmad Bradshaw, Giants
38. Carnell Williams, Buccaneers
39. LaDainian Tomlinson, Jets
40. Julius Jones, Seahawks
41. Chester Taylor, Bears
42. Ricky Williams, Dolphins
43. Steve Slaton, Texans
44. Montario Hardesty, Browns
45. Donald Brown, Colts
46. Arian Foster, Texans
47. Derrick Ward, Buccaneers
48. Willis McGahee, Ravens
49. Mike Bell, Eagles
50. Marshawn Lynch, Bills
51. Darren Sproles, Chargers
52. Laurence Maroney, Patriots
53. Leon Washington, Seahawks
54. Brian Westbrook, Free Agent
55. Larry Johnson, Redskins
56. Tim Hightower, Cardinals
57. Correll Buckhalter, Broncos
58. Sammy Morris, Patriots
59. Maurice Morris, Lions
60. Dexter McCluster, Chiefs