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Fantasy Fix: Top 10 Revisited

My pre-season fantasy football top 20 this year was notable for being only running backs from No. 1 through No. 10.

After years of ignoring the prevailing fantasy wisdom that only RBs should be taken in the top 10, I decided it was the right year to join the crowd.

As we approach the halfway point of the season, it's time to take a look back and see how I did.

Here's my original top 10, complete with my original comments, but if you don't like re-runs, just skip to the part that says "Reality Check."

1. Adrian Peterson, RB, MIN: The easiest part of this top 20 after 2,097 rushing yards last year. He should be just as good running, with the possibility of more receptions and perhaps a couple more TDs over last year's total of 13.

Reality Check: His current actual overall rank is 10th in Yahoo! leagues. While fourth in rushing yards with 483 and second in overall TDs among RBs with six, he's having an average season fantasy-wide (and a horrible season on a personal level).

2. Arian Foster, RB, HOU: I've always been cautious about him because of frequent (though minor) injury issues, but he led all non-QBs in TDs for the second straight year in 2012 with 17.

Reality Check: This ranking almost looks right, as he is second in rushing yards with 583, though he only has two TDs so far, as HOU has struggled mightily this season.

3. Doug Martin, RB, TAM: Yes, 251 of his 1,454 rushing yards and four of his 11 TDs came in a single impressive week last year, and he had five weeks when he didn't break 50 yards rushing, but his 319 carries define him as a true workhorse.

Reality Check: This ranking has not panned out at all. Strange, because his workload of touches actually is up from last year, but yards-per-carry is down from 4.6 to 3.5. He also has had far fewer receptions, though a QB change is supposed to rectify that.

4. Jamaal Charles, RB, KC: Fourth in rushing yards last year makes him seem right as a top five RB, but he also has great potential in Andy Reid's system to at least double or triple last year's 236 receiving yards.

Reality Check: Charles has turned out to be the top fantasy RB, largely based on his development as a receiver - 300 yards receiving already and two TDs. His 475 rushing yards and five rushing TDs have helped. He's making a solid argument to be the No. 1 fantasy RB next season.

5. C.J. Spiller, RB, BUF: Probably the most hyped fantasy player of the pre-season, Spiller is set to be the No. 1 back in a run-oriented system. More than six yard per carry last year suggests huge upside, with the only downside being the possibility he might not get many goal-line carries.

Reality Check: Similar to Martin, he has come nowhere near meeting the massive hype that followed him into this season. Injuries and an over-achieving backfield partner in Fred Jackson haven't helped.

6. Alfred Morris, RB, WAS: Many draft boards have him outside the top 10, mostly because of Mike Shanahan's unpredictable usage of his RBs. Doesn't catch many passes, but Morris was second in both total rushing yards and rushing TDs last year. What more do you need to know?

Reality Check: He has fewer carries than at this time last year, though his yards-per-carry are up slightly from 4.8 to 5.2. He is not where I thought he would be, but building a case for a better second half.

7. LeSean McCoy, RB, PHI: Another back who should benefit from a new run-oriented system. His 840 rushing yards last year made him one of the biggest disappointments after many pre-season draft cards had him No. 3 overall, but he should bounce back despite possibly sharing more carries with Bryce Brown.

Reality Check: The effect of Chip Kelly's offense on his game has been bigger than I expected. His is the third-ranked RB overall in Yahoo!, and first in rushing yards. Brown has not been a factor.

8. Marshawn Lynch, RB, SEA: Among the top RBs of last season's second half. He could be in the top five, though historically the first halves of his seasons are underwhelming. For example, he's averaged seven TDs in Games 1-8 over the last three years, but 16 TDs in Games 9-16.

Reality Check: He has stayed true to his record of relatively slow first halves, recording his first 100-yard rushing game just two weeks ago. Yet, because some of his RB colleagues have been so bad, his rank is more like fifth among RBs.

9. Trent Richardson, RB, CLE: Another guy I could easily see at No. 3. A couple of injury issues slowed him down, and he may already have a minor injury in camp, but 950 yards rushing and 12 total TDs last year in 15 games was a nice start. Plus, he's another RB who won't split carries.

Reality Check: The trade to Indianapolis has obscured the fact that he wasn't having a great season to begin with. The story in Cleveland was an overall poor offense, but with IND, he's clock-control for a pass-first offense. He is no longer looking like a potential top three RB.

10. Ray Rice, RB, BAL: I probably have him listed lower than most. He's still among the top pass-catching RBs, but could have some chances taken away by rookie Bernard Pierce - though the Pierce effect, much buzzed about in recent weeks, could end up being over-hyped.

Reality Check: Possibly the biggest disappointment of all in this top 10, in that he doesn't even rank in the top 25 in rushing yards. BAL's offense has been sputtering, and with QB Joe Flacco playing badly, Rice hasn't been able to catch defenses off guard.

Next week I'll size up the true top 10 players of the first half.

Expert Wire:
* SB Nation looks at the fantasy effect of another injured top WR, the Packers' Randall Cobb, who is out for at least six weeks.

* ESPN has the injured Percy Harvin showing up on the Week 7 waiver wire. Why? Check it out.


Dan O'Shea is our man in fantasyland. He welcomes your comments.

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