1. Adrian Peterson
Can you say 2,000? Because it could happen in 2009. Entering his third year season, with a solid offensive line to play behind, a new dynamic weapon (Harvin) in town to divert attention from the him, Peterson is poised to blow up.
Now as long as Rosenfels or Jackson can keep defenses honest…
2. Maurice Jones-Drew
Jones-Drew finally becomes the man in Jacksonville and is ready to become a superstar. While he’s always been a stellar runner, especially near the goal line, he’ll now see his carries increase to between 20 and 25 per game.
And after Jacksonville went out and upgraded its line in the off-season, everything is in order for a huge season.
3. DeAngelo Williams
2008 was not an aberration. Williams was always highly touted as a former first round draft pick, and he blossomed in his first full season as the starter. The second half of last season was ridiculous: 15 TDs and six 100 yard games.
Even with the carries set to go Jonathan Stewart’s way, Williams is still a top fantasy running back.
4. Michael Turner
Turner proved Atlanta’s GM Dimitroff a very smart man after rattling off 1,699 yards and 17 TDs in his first year in Atlanta. The one negative facing Turner in 2009 is the opposing schedule gets much tougher. But Turner is a horse and Atlanta’s offense is stacked.
5. Chris Johnson
The selection is based on speed, speed, and more speed. Johnson quickly asserted himself as the featured back in the Titans’ system and should take a huge step forward in his sophomore season. He’s a big threat as both a running back and receiver out of the backfield.
6. LaDainian Tomlinson
For those of you who feel that Tomlinson is done, don’t let this opinion deter you from taking him in the latter half of the first round. In an off season by his standards, LaDainian still ran for over 1,100 yards and scored 12 total TDs.
If Norv’s Turner’s run schemes can open up holes in 2009, don’t be surprised to see a 1,300 yard, 15 TD season.
7. Matt Forte
The trade for Jay Cutler immediately raises Forte’s stock, as defenses will now have a passer to contend with. Playing for a team devoid of dangerous outside threats, and behind a big offensive line, Forte will have an opportunity to shine in Chi-town.
8. Steven Jackson
Jackson has the skill and talent to be the number two running back in fantasy football; he just can’t seem to stay healthy, and is also stuck on a poor team. The Rams did draft a future star at LT (Jason Smith) with the second overall pick.
Look for Spagnuolo to rely on the talented back in his first season, and look for Jackson to deliver.
9. Brian Westbrook
Westbrook was slowed by injury in 2008, but still managed a quality overall season with 14 total TDs. This year, the Eagles line is re-tooled and the offense looks stronger than ever. While second round pick Lesean McCoy will ease Westbrook’s workload, No. 36 is the guy who makes the offense go.
10. Clinton Portis
Jim Zorn’s 2008 game plan consisted of Portis, Portis and more Portis. And the eight year vet delivered. With question marks along the offensive line, look for yards to be harder to come by; but Portis’ talent, drive, and his receiving ability out of the backfield will net him a solid season.