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Chicago Bears Hall-Of-Famer Running Back Walter Payton

Chicago Bears Hall-Of-Famer Running Back Walter Payton

Walter Payton was arguably the greatest running back to ever lace them up in the National Football League. I wonder how Sweetness would fair in the Fantasy Football world that we live in today? Our experts dive into the current pool of NFL Running Backs that you should have on the top of your draft board.

 Ryan DyrudTim SchwanRiley CarterLevi LeflerBilly Boynton
1.Le'Veon Bell
RB Pittsburgh Steelers
Jamaal Charles
RB Kansas City Chiefs
Adrian Peterson
RB Minnesota Vikings
Todd Gurley
RB Los Angeles Rams
Le'Veon Bell
RB Pittsburgh Steelers
If Bell is healthy and on the field he is the top choice for any fantasy league. A duel threat out of the backfield, he gives you unbelievable speed between the tackles and is a check-down machine. In the 6 games he played last year he averaged 4.9 yards on the ground and 5.7 yards receiving. Look for a replica of his 2014 numbers.Coming off a torn ACL, however, after tearing his ACL in 2011 Charles had the best year of his career rushing for 1,509 yards.Even at the ripe age of 31, AP is still one of the toughest runners to take down. 1,485 rushing yards and 11 TDs last season make him the top choice in any league. With a rookie QB, Gurley will be relied on to carry the Rams offensively with a strong running game. Expect a ton of check-down passes in the flats to give Goff another option in the passing game. Potential to catch 100 balls as a RB. Improved offensive line and a contract year. LaDanian Tomlinson potential if healthy.
2.Todd Gurley
RB St. Louis Rams
Todd Gurley
RB Los Angeles Rams
Le'Veon Bell
RB Pittsburgh Steelers
David Johnson
RB Arizona Cardinals
Adrian Peterson
RB Minnesota Vikings
With a 4.8 yard per carry average, 10 touchdowns, and over 1,000 yards rushing in just 13 games played how is this guy not a top pick?Explosive runner that surprised a lot of people last year. Looks to expand upon a great rookie season where he was 3rd in the league in rushing and only started 12 games.When healthy, Bell is hands down the best duel threat running back in the NFL. If he can produce like he did in the 2014-15 season, 2,215 all purpose yards and 83 receptions, he will once again be one of the top fantasy producers this season. Cemented himself as a workhorse back with a ton of upside. Good vision, breakaway speed and a solid option as a pass catcher. Expect a huge season as he gets his first look as a 3-down back for a full season.AP is consistent in a run dominated offense. Vikings have a very good offensive line and a poor passing game.
3.Devonta Freeman
RB Atlanta Falcons
David Johnson
RB Arizona Cardinals
Todd Gurley
RB Los Angeles Rams
Le'Veon Bell
RB Pittsburgh Steelers
Lamar Miller
RB Houston Texans
Freeman was the surprise of the 2015 season as he burst onto the scene. Finishing with 1,061 yards and adding 73 receptions for 578 yards make him a must have duel threat.In 5 started, Johnson finished with 442 yards rushing to go along with 250 yards receiving and 5 touchdowns. That 5 game stretch is a dream but will become reality as Johnson becomes the starter in Arizona. In just 12 starts last season, Gurley showed great promise with over 1,100 rushing yards along with 10 touchdowns. Gurley's athletic ability is one of the best in the league and given his new quarterback situation, he is going to be asked to a heavy load of the offense in his hands.Would have been #1 on this list had it not been for injury-shortened seasons in both of his first two seasons. Possibly the best all around back in the NFL but injury concerns led me to drop Bell to #3.Yards per attempt average last 2 years was 5+ yards. Think healthy Arian Foster in this zone-blocking scheme. Texans will try to win with defense and running game to help Osweiler.
4.David Johnson
RB Arizona Cardinals
Thomas Rawls
RB Seattle Seahawks
David Johnson
RB Arizona Cardinals
Adrian Peterson
RB Minnesota Vikings
Todd Gurley
RB Los Angeles Rams
Great motor and speed out of the backfield. With averages of 4.6 yards rushing and 12.7 yards receiving don't think twice about taking Johnson 2nd overall, and then stashing Chris Johnson in a later round. Rawls finished with 830 yards after starting late in the season for the Seahawks. He averaged 5.6 yards per carry , doubling that of his counterpart, newly retired Marshawn Lynch. When given the opportunity last season, Johnson proved he has the ability to be an elite back. His athletic ability is no joke, proven through his rushing attack, receiving the ball out of the backfield, as well as returning kicks. Father time will eventually catch up with the 31-year-old but not in 2016. Once again the Vikings will rely on the magic of Peterson to be the driving force of the offense as Bridgewater continues to develop as a starting QB.Rams will rely heavy on the running game to take pressure off Goff. No dominant WR or TE on this team.
5.Lamar Miller
RB Miami Dolphins
Chris Ivory
RB Jacksonville Jaguars
Thomas Rawls
RB Seattle Seahawks
Devonta Freeman
RB Atlanta Falcons
CJ Anderson
RB Denver Broncos
Miller had a down year last year, and still averaged 4.5 yards per carry. Now he will be the feature back in a talented offense with a new young quarterback. Expect him to be a rushing workhorse in Houston and a constant check down option for Osweiler. Coming off the best season of his career finishing with almost 1,100 yards with the Jets, and adding 30 receptions. His new residence in Jacksonville will feature him in a new powerhouse offense. 830 yards and 4 touchdowns with limited starts. He will now be the cowbell in Seattle and will be hungry to prove that he is worthy.The surprise of the 2015 season will look to add to his impressive young career. Offers not only the ability to get into the second level as a runner but was third amongst RBs with 73 receptions behind only Danny Woodhead and Theo Riddick.Dominated the 2nd half of last season after a slow start. Offensive line will be improved. Defense and running game will be the formula for Denver. Could see him leading the NFL in attempts. This is year 2 in Kubiak's system.

The best of the rest that could have easily been in the top 5:

Ezekiel Elliot

A powerful run slasher with fantastic breakaway speed. He’s a rookie but will be playing behind the league’s best offensive line. If a washed up Darren McFadden rushed for over 1,000 yards last season, Elliot should have no problem rushing for much more than that.

Doug Martin

Arguably the best player on Tampa Bay’s offense, Martin finished second in the league last year with 1,402 yards on the ground. Quarterback Jameis Winston will be entering his second season, and improved vision and playcalling will undoubtedly improve the running game for Martin.

Carlos Hyde

Hyde looked promising last season until an injury caused him to miss the remainder of the year. He averaged 4.1 yards per carry and finished with 470 yards on the ground. If Chip Kelly can get his quarterback situation figured out, expect Hyde to carry the ball a lot and become much more active in the passing game in Kelly’s fast-paced offensive system.

Dion Lewis

If the Patriots have proven anything it’s that they can be effective on offense without running the ball. However, they are known for immensely using their running back in the passing game. If Dion Lewis can come back healthy he will have an immediate impact catching the ball out of the backfield. Before injury ended his season, he had 36 receptions for 388 yards.

LeSean McCoy

LeSean McCoy still has the elusive ability to be “Shady” McCoy when running healthy. He averaged 4.4 yards per carry last season and will look to build upon his numbers in his second season with the Buffalo Bills.

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Ryan Dyrud

Author Ryan Dyrud

Founder and CEO of SportsAlDente.com. Grew up in Denver with a passion for all sports and an emphasis on the NFL. Moved to Los Angeles where I graduated from Long Beach State with a degree in Leisure Services (Yes the Van Wilder degree). My opinions are my own, but they should be yours too.

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