The NFC South features some very talented running backs, and today we rate them in order of how we project them to finish fantasy wise in 2009.
1. DeAngelo Williams
There can be no denying that a star was born in 2008. Williams came on like a rocket and not only amassed the yards towards the end—993 over the last eight games, but also put 20 TDs on the board. The Panthers line is once again intact and Williams should be a top tier fantasy choice once again.
2. Michael Turner
Turner went gangbusters for the Falcons in ‘08 running for 1,699 yards and 17 TDs. In 2009, things won’t come so easy. The Falcons get the NFC and AFC East and both conferences features teams with strong defenses. Still, the Falcons offense is very talented and Turner should once again put up double digit TDs and 1,200-1,300 yards.
3. Jonathan Stewart
The other runner in the Panthers’ backfield could be poised to take a huge step forward after a solid rookie season. At 235 pounds, he possesses a rare combination of size and speed and should eclipse the 1,000 yard mark and as the goal line specialist, double digit TDs.
4. Reggie Bush
If Bush can stay healthy, he should be a fantasy force this season. His attempts running the ball will be split with Pierre Thomas, but he should average five to eight receptions per game and at least 50 plus yards. With so much attention being paid to the other offensive threats on the Saints, and Brees’ pinpoint accuracy, look for Bush to be a solid dual fantasy threat.
5. Pierre Thomas
Thomas, an undrafted free agent, actually held off Steelers’ Rashad Mendenhall at Illinois for a few years, and he quickly stepped in as the guy when Deuce went down last year and Bush was out with an injury. A tough, inside runner, who also possesses good speed, Thomas should see 65 percent of the carries in 2009 and post solid numbers.
6. Derrick Ward
The Bucs signed Ward to a solid contract, but his success was the result of a solid Giants’ offensive line and Brandon Jacobs wearing down defenses. In his three opportunities to be the MAN when Jacobs was out, he was only able to hit 70 yards in one of the games and failed to impress. His value will come as a receiver out of the backfield as Ernest Graham should carry most of the load.