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So much for Arian Foster's return to greatness. The Houston RB, who looked like a top 10 fantasy RB and a top 20 pick overall, suffered a serious groin injury in training camp and likely will be out until at least the second half of the season.
Too bad - for Foster, of course, because ouch! - but also for fantasy owners who drafted early. If you have him, you probably got him early in the second-round and now that pick is almost worthless unless he comes back by Week 10 and somehow at full strength. For those still to draft, his absence makes it even more important to draft a top 10 RB, because the certainty of fantasy value really dissipates after that.
1. Adrian Peterson, MIN.
There seem to be concerns about everyone this preseason, and the one I've heard circulating about AP is that he's lacking his old explosiveness. I'd call it "shaking off the rust." The Vikes will either hand him the ball or throw it to him a lot . . . a lot.
2. Eddie Lacy, GB.
Surpassed 1,100 rushing yards each of his first two seasons. Very consistent, locked in as the No. 1 RB for Green Bay, and even getting a little more attention in the passing game. If concerns dog everyone else (see above and below) they aren't dogging him.
3. Jamaal Charles, KC.
The recent concern about Jamaal Chuck has been the likelihood the Chiefs will cut down his touches to rest him more, bringing in Knile Davis more often. But, if KC doesn't lean on one of the most complete dual-threat RBs in the game, they'll go 0-16.
4. LeVeon Bell, PIT.
Four-game suspension isn't stopping some from drafting him higher. There have been concerns about how quickly he'll return to form after the layoff, but think about it another way: He probably won't tire out late in the season.
5. Marshawn Lynch, SEA.
The concern here is age - 29 to be exact, but that concern itself is aging, since it followed him last year into what turned out to be a career-best season. If Seattle learned anything from the Super Bowl, it's that they need to keep calm and hand off to Lynch.
6. C.J. Anderson, DEN.
Finally, an RB with no concerns. Actually, no one knows how much more activity he'll get as the Broncos look for offensive balance, but last year's marks of 849 rush yards, 324 receiving yards and 10 total TDs should all see a boost.
7. Matt Forte, RB, CHI.
Will OC Adam Gase's plans ignore him? Will Jay Cutler need to dump off to him constantly as he learns yet another new offensive scheme? The only clear thing is that Forte is still one of the best overall RBs around, with an improving O-line in front of him.
8. DeMarco Murray, RB, PHI.
Another fantastic RB who some are worried could be left out of a high-flying, fast-moving offensive scheme. No way he collects another 1,800 yards rushing, 400 receiving, but even 1,200/500 makes him an early second round value.
9. Jeremy Hill, RB, CIN.
Stole the thunder from fellow RB Giovani Bernard, and Bengals are talking like Hill will be a real workhorse this season, so his stock has been rising. 1,500 yards 10 TDs not out of the question if CIN can safely get near the end zone, which is the real concern.
10. LeSean McCoy, BUF.
The expectations are low enough now that he could really be a pleasant surprise if drafted late second round or early third. Probably won't have long cut-back runs like in Philly, but still could prove a passing game threat.
11. Melvin Gordon, SD.
This is where things get even less certain in the RB ranks, though that's not fair to this rookie, who should get a lot work on rushing downs and has the explosiveness to reel off some long runs. What's unclear is his readiness for passing downs.
12. Justin Forsett, BAL.
There were no winners in last year's Ray Rice saga . . . except Forsett who took over the starting job in surprisingly seamless fashion. Really doubt a guy turning 30 in October just hard a career year can run for 1,300 yards again, but he remains the Ravens' No. 1 back.
13. Frank Gore, IND.
Supposedly due for a revival, assuming QB Andrew Luck looks his way with passes. He could suck and still be better than certain past Indy RBs, so the bar is set low. I don't know about him being a star receiver, but can believe in another 1,100 yards rushing.
14. Mark Ingram, NO.
Rumbled his way into a better season last year than anyone expected, and could be the next DeMarco Murray if the Saints learn to lean on him. With Drew Brees at QB, they won't, but got a feeling Ingram is headed for his first 1,000 yard, double-digit TD season.
15. Latavius Murray, OAK.
So much of the hype is based on a single short appearance last year in which he quickly piled up more than 100 yards and then was lost for the season due to injury. Too hard to trust as a fantasy RB-1, but could prove a huge bargain if the hype is right.
16. Lamar Miller, MIA.
Quietly ended up a yard short of 1,100 yards rushing last year. Also caught 38 passes for 275 yards - not top shelf, but with a few more touches things could get interesting. Question is whether improving QB Ryan Tannehill will give more work to his WRs instead.
17. Jonathan Stewart, CAR.
After years in tandem with DeAngelo Williams, he's on his own as the true No. 1 RB for the Panthers. Probably should get a higher ranking, but he's been partnered up so long that he's unproven with a bigger workload, and QB Cam Newton likes to run, too.
18. Alfred Morris, WAS.
His carries and rushing yards have gone down each of the last three seasons, while he remained a non-factor in the passing game. Still, he has yet to have a pro season with less than 1,000 yards rushing, and if he gets more than last year's 26 pass targets . . .
19. LaGarrette Blount, NE.
Suspended for one game, which has no real bearing except that Blount is that sort of character. Can he excel in the Pats' demanding culture? Well, he was little used in PIT last year, but after moving to NE averaged 4.7 yards per carry over five games, so maybe.
20. Andre Ellington, ARI.
His big talent is as an open-field runner after making a catch, and he had some big games doing that last year before an injury. Could be the sort who manages 35 yards rushing in a game, but 80 receiving on six catches. A nice PPR value, but not a goal line guy.
Sleeper: Joseph Randle, DAL.
The Cowboys have Darren McFadden, but there will be no surprise if Randle overtakes him as the starting RB. DAL rushed so often last year and has one of the best O-lines that Randle could be the next big thing. We haven't seen a big enough sample, but a good mid-to-late round find.
Previously in the Fantasy Fix 2015 Football Draft Guide:
* Overall Top 20.
* Top 20 QBs.
Dan O'Shea is our man in fantasyland. He welcomes your comments.
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