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The top six picks in most fantasy league drafts this year were some combination of the following:
* Chris Johnson, RB, Tennessee
* Maurice Jones-Drew, RB, Jacksonville
* Adrian Peterson, RB, Minnesota
* Michael Turner, RB, Atlanta
* Frank Gore, RB, San Francisco
* Ray Rice, RB, Baltimore
The order may have varied from draft to draft, but the names didn't. Now, going into Week 5, none of those players is among the top 10 fantasy performers, with the borderline exception of Peterson, who is probably the one guy on that list who was expected to see a slight drop-off this year.
Running backs remain the most desirable, and usually, most consistent fantasy picks, but no position takes a more frequency beating on the field. The top performers one year can fade into obscurity the next, even if there seems every reason for still-maturing players like Johnson and Turner in particular to keep getting better.
So, who will be the top RB performers the rest of the way?
Here are my predictions for the top six fantasy RBs at season's end:
1. Arian Foster, Houston.
Inarguably, the top RB and the best fantasy player so far with the exception of Peyton Manning. He'll keep it up, particularly if Andre Johnson is slowed by injuries.
2. Darren McFadden, Oakland.
May be briefly out with an injury this week, but currently third in rushing yards, and should see TD opportunities increase.
3. Rashard Mendenhall, Pittsburgh.
Second in rushing yards behind Foster and has four TDs. The only negative is the possibility he will get fewer touches with Big Ben returning.
4. Chris Johnson, Tennessee.
I'm concerned that Vince Young is passing more, but Johnson should still benefit, if not pile up the yards like he did last year.
5. Adrian Peterson, Minnesota.
Brett Favre being back (again) should eat into his fantasy potential but Favre and the Vikings overall have been disappointing, and the ball will end up with Peterson more often.
6. LeSean McCoy, Philadelphia.
Having Michael Vick at QB has helped him become more dangerous, and I think he'll end up being a first round fantasy draft pick next season.
* ESPN's Eric Karabell examines the Marshawn Lynch trade that occurred this week. Another formerly hot RB performer who faded fast.
* Yahoo! Monday Brunch looks at Ryan Torain's rising stock as he continues to out-play yet another declining rusher, Clinton Portis.
* The Big Lead sees comeback opportunities for Philadelphia QB Kevin Kolb and Oakland RB Michael Bush, but I think both will be brief before Vick and McFadden return to form.
* Bleacher Report adds that Jay Cutler's stock is down. It will stay down for another few years until the Bears can draft a new offensive line.
Next week, we'll prepare for that upcoming fantasy basketball draft.
Dan O'Shea's Fantasy Fix appears in this space every Wednesday. He welcomes your comments. You can also read his about his split sports fan personality at SwingsBothWays, a new addition to the Beachwood Media family.
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