I hear it more and more each year: the NFL is a pass-happy league, and running backs are nowhere near as important as they used to be. This is hogwash, I tell you! In this age of quarterbacks slinging the ball like there's no tomorrow and running back committees, a good stable of backs is a rarer and more precious commodity than ever. You can find quality starting quarterbacks and wide receivers in Round 7 of standard drafts, while the best you can get at running back is a backup behind an injury-prone starter.
Since it is my firm belief that quality backs are still the difference between "the Shiva" and "the Sacko," I wish to share with you my rankings and analyses of the Top 40 backs that the glorious game of fantasy football has to offer.
1. Arian Foster: He is a stud. Shout it from the mountaintop. He's been the best player in all of fantasy two years running. He's a big, durable, complete back who gets the goal-line carries, breaks open huge plays, and he does tons of damage in the passing game. Put a Top 5 back behind a Top 5 offensive line and you get as obvious a first overall pick as you can get.
2. Ray Rice: He's always been a strong fantasy player, but Willis McGahee getting out of town has increased Rice's touchdown total considerably and taken his fantasy production to the next level. Rice is durable, tough to bring down, possesses great speed in the open field, and he's one of the best receiving backs in the league. He also has arguably the best blocking fullback in the sport in Vontae Leach. Some are worried about four dates with the Cincinnati Bengals and Pittsburgh Steelers, but that's alleviated by two dates against the hapless Cleveland Browns defense. Honestly, he's a top stud even with a bad matchup because with his goal-line touches and receptions. He doesn't need a good rushing average to have a stellar fantasy day.
3. LeSean McCoy: Drafting him with the expectation of a repeat of 20 touchdowns isn't reasonable, but a double-digit total is still all but assured, seeing as how coach Andy Reid seems to be committed to reducing Vick's hazardous goal-line carries. Even with the touchdown total likely to go down, he's still very young and an absolutely fantastic dual threat, and I expect him to increase his receiving yardage from last year's surprisingly pedestrian 315.
4. Maurice Jones-Drew: What more can you say? He's an absolute beast, and I think he has another top season in him before the inevitable decline. Despite being...