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2006 Player Rankings: Change Tracker - Running Backs
Updated: September 5, 2006
  Change Tracker: Rankings: Projected Stats: Cheat Sheets:
Performance Rankings
Rank Player Team Bye
Tier 1
  1Larry JohnsonFAx
  2LaDainian TomlinsonFAx
  3Shaun AlexanderFAx
Tier 2
  4Tiki BarberFAx
  5Ronnie BrownFAx
  6Steven JacksonNEP6
  7Edgerrin JamesFAx
  8Carnell WilliamsFA*
  9Rudi JohnsonFAx
10Clinton PortisFAx
  11Willis McGaheeFAx
Tier 3
  12Lamont JordanFAx
  13Brian WestbrookFAx
  14Kevin JonesFAx
  15Chester TaylorFAx
16Willie ParkerFAx
  17Julius JonesFAx
  18Mike BellFAx
  19Frank GoreMIA8
  20Reggie BushFAx
  21Warrick DunnFA*
  22Reuben DroughnsFAx
  23Jamal LewisFAx
  24Dominic RhodesFAx
  25Cedric BensonFAx
Tier 4
  26Corey DillonFAx
  27Chris BrownFAx
  28DeAngelo WilliamsFAx
  29De'shaun FosterFA*
  30Thomas JonesFAx
  31Fred TaylorFAx
32Wali LundyFAx
  33Ahman GreenFAx
  34Deuce McAllisterFA*
  35Marion BarberFAx
  36Tatum BellFAx
  37Laurence MaroneyFAx
  38Joseph AddaiFAx
  39LenDale WhiteFAx
  40Maurice Jones-DrewFAx
  41Brandon JacobsFAx
Tier 5
  42Jerious NorwoodFAx
43Vernand MorencyFAx
  44Musa SmithFAx
  45Ryan MoatsFAx
  46Kevan BarlowFAx
  47Labrandon ToefieldFAx
  48T.J. DuckettFA*
  49Cedric HoustonFAx
50Samkon GadoFAx
51Verron HaynesFAx
  52Tony FisherFAx
  53Derrick BlaylockFAx
  54Mewelde MooreFAx
  55Michael PittmanFAx
  56Kevin FaulkFAx
  57Jerome HarrisonDET8
  58Michael BennettFAx
  59Antowain SmithFAx
  60J.J. ArringtonFAx
61Ladell BettsFAx
62Shawn BrysonFAx
  63Ciatrick FasonFAx
  64Correll BuckhalterFAx
  65Leon WashingtonFAx
  66Kyle JohnsonFAx
  67Brian CalhounFAx
  68Maurice MorrisFAx
69Duce StaleyFAx
  71Justin GriffithHOU5
  72Mike AlstottFAx
  73Zack CrockettFAx
  74Mike AndersonFAx
  75Travis HenryFA*
  76Maurice HicksFAx
  77Alvin PearmanFAx
  78Chris PerryFAx
  79Stephen DavisFAx
  80Shaud WilliamsFAx
  81Michael TurnerFAx
82Sammy MorrisFAx
Player Change Was Now Date
Najeh Davenport 48 NR 09-02-06

Perhaps the biggest surprise of the day was the release of Davenport by the Packers. This also bumped up Gado as well.

Player Change Was Now Date
Stephen Davis NR 81 09-02-06

Davis was added to the Rams for running back depth but there's no cause to go grab him. There was a good reason why the Panthers let him go and why he was still available all year until now. And that has nothing to do with him having fantasy value.

Player Change Was Now Date
Duce Staley 64 70 09-02-06

Staley may be released today and if he does, some other team will likely grab hm just for veteran depth. If he stays with the Steelers, he'll have no real fantasy value as well.

Player Change Was Now Date
Sammy Morris 68 83 09-01-06

Morris will be suspended for the first four games of the season due to violating the league's substance abuse policy. This could give either Travis Minor or even KayJay Harris some playing time.

Player Change Was Now Date
Assorted NA NA 08-29-06

Numerous tweaks and changed related to the news that Domanick Davis has not improved and could even be considered for release. That throws him down to the bottom of the rankings as a way to say do not draft him and raises Wali Lundy who is the likely week one starter along with Vernand Morency who will get playing time. There's also some speculation that Staley won't make the Steelers final roster.

Player Change Was Now Date
Greg Jones 36 NR 08-28-06

With a torn ACL, a promising season is over for Jones who has injured the other knee from the one he tore up in college. Jones had the look of a sleeper this year and sadly will return in 2007 with two surgically repaired knees.

Player Change Was Now Date
Maurice Drew 49 40 08-28-06

With the loss of Greg Jones, Drew stands to get more playing time as will LaBrandon Toefield. But since Toefield has already proven to be nothing special and Drew has been impressive at least occasionally, the best fantasy bet is that Drew will be the guy to get if in fact anything good happens to the backs behind Taylor.

Player Change Was Now Date
Wali Lundy 40 36 08-28-06

In the third preseason game where HC Gary Kubiak had said he would "try out the starters", Lundy played the entire first half against the Broncos and gained 44 yards on 10 carries against the Denver first team defense and added three catches for 17 yards. No other back carried the ball. Lundy has to be considered the clear starter in Houston now.

Player Change Was Now Date
Assorted NA NA 08-27-06

A few minor tweaks were done to the Tier 5 backs. Jerious Norwood rises to the top of the tier and has been impressive in the last preseason game. Vernand Morency, Kevan Barlow and Derrick Blaylock all bump up with a slightly more favorable chance that they could earn more playing time this year. Likewise, Cedric Houston, Mewelde Moore, Samkon Gado and Leon Washington slide down one to five spots because their situations look less favorable currently.

Player Change Was Now Date
Correll Buckhalter 81 69 08-23-06

Buckhalter looked pretty sharp against the Steelers in the third preseason game, gaining 31 yards on seven carries and adding 16 yards on four catches. He's still carry the baggage of a career filled with season ending injuries and Westbrook is in no jeopardy of losing carries, but Buckhalter has looked good enough to possibly keep the Eagles from acquiring another back.

Player Change Was Now Date
Clinton Portis 5 7 08-23-06

Portis drops two spots in relation to the signing of T.J. Duckett. There is no change to Portis' health, but the risk exists more now that Duckett could be used for short yardage or goal line carries as he did in Atlanta. It's speculation at this point and he could be just battling LaDell Betts for the back-up spot but the Redskins spent a third round pick to acquire him. That's a bit pricey for someone not used.

Player Change Was Now Date
Cedric Benson 21 25 08-23-06

Benson was reprimanded by HC Lovie Smith for not attending a post game meeting but what's worse is that his fellow teammates narced on him. It's hard to get a good feeling for Benson when his own teammates seem to be still siding with Thomas Jones who is back in practice now while Benson is kept from contact drills. It's actually an anti-productive situation overall for the Bears but no matter - Benson needs to fall a bit here.

Player Change Was Now Date
Jerious Norwood 55 47 08-23-06

With the departure of Duckett, Norwood is now clearly the primary back-up to the diminutive Warrick Dunn who is getting a bit old as well. Norwood has looked good in practice, enough to make the trade attractive, though he has not torn it up in preseason games. Given the rushing ability of the Falcons, he's now worth stealing from the Dunn guy.

Player Change Was Now Date
T.J. Duckett 44 54 08-23-06

Duckett was traded for a third round pick as it worked out and now goes to the Redskins where he knows he cannot be the primary back. But - he's going there to compete with LaDell Betts for the back-up spot and he could be used in short yardage and goal line situations. That remains to be seen and could improve his stock but for now, he has left ATL where he was the goal line guy and now has to learn a new offense and compete with Betts.

Player Change Was Now Date
Chris Perry 49 59 08-23-06

Perry tumbles more because he remains on the PUP list as he recovers from ankle and knee surgeries during the offseason. He could still make it back for the season but there's too much risk to rely on. Kenny Watson will take over as the back-up until Perry is healthy but when that is remains unknown.

Player Change Was Now Date
LaDell Betts 70 79 08-23-06

Betts falls back with the addition of Duckett but it's not over for him quite yet. There is still speculation that Betts could be traded as well. He is in the final year of his rookie contract and the Skins are exploring re-signing him and possibly trading him now.

Player Change Was Now Date
William Henderson 67 72 08-22-06

Henderson drops back a bit after injuring his knee which is expected to at least keep him out of the season opener and could remain a problem for a month after that. He has some marginal value in reception point leagues as a pass catcher but even that won't come into play at the start of the season.

Player Change Was Now Date
Mike Bell 25 18 08-21-06

Bell has been very impressive in preseason games when he has held on to the ball. There's no reason to expect anything but Mike being the primary back and for Tatum Bell to provide change of pace. He may have been undrafted, but all signs point to him being the man this year. At least as much as anyone in Denver can be.

Player Change Was Now Date
Frank Gore 21 19 08-21-06

Gore bumps up a few spots with the departure of Kevan Barlow to the Jets. Gore was already expected to be the primary back in these rankings but the loss of Barlow can only mean even better things. The 49er schedule is about as kind as it can be, now it depends on what the rest of the offense can do to support Gore.

Player Change Was Now Date
Reuben Droughns 18 23 08-21-06

Droughns has not been particularly impressive so far, he's heading off to a hearing about his legal problem and the Brown's offensive line looks as bad as last year.

Player Change Was Now Date
Cedric Houston 31 35 08-21-06

Houston falls with the addition of Kevan Barlow to the Jets. What Barlow's role will be won't be known until he actually owns a uniform and does something (or not) in practice but his presence only increases the risk that Houston will be sharing carries.

Player Change Was Now Date
Kevin Faulk 64 59 08-21-06

Faulk jumps up a little with a great preseason game that serves as a reminder of how much he can add in the passing game. This is also prompted by an unsettled receiver situation in New England.

Player Change Was Now Date
Tatum Bell 33 36 08-21-06

WIth each bump up with Mike Bell comes a drop for Tatum. He'll still offer change of pace but his chance to be a primary back for Denver just keeps dimming.

Player Change Was Now Date
Kevan Barlow 57 55 08-21-06

Barlow's upside is helped by moving to a team that has a very unsettled running back situation but since that team is the Jets, it just doesn't change the projections that much.

Player Change Was Now Date
Jerome Harrison 68 64 08-21-06

Harrison looked sharp in the last preseason game for the Browns but he's still a bit too small to hope for primary duty. He is making a case for himself to be a third down back.

Player Change Was Now Date
Vernand Morency NR NR 08-21-06

Morency ran well, finally, in the presason game against the Rams after not impressing the new new coaching staff until now. That opens him up for more consideration of playing time should Domanick Davis not return. Wali Lundy opened the game and once again looked good, but Morency could make it more competitive with another solid showing.

Player Change Was Now Date
Maurice Hicks NR 79 08-21-06

Hicks now steps up into the primary back-up role behind Frank Gore with the departure of Kevan Barlow.

Player Change Was Now Date
Assorted Players NR NR 08-18-06

After two weeks of training camp it was time to make an adjustment to many players and most were incremental changes for back-up players. This was the mid training camp adjustment. I have dropped Curtis Martin and Priest Holmes to the bottom since their playing time appears very questionable and I would not suggest drafting them. I have dropped Domanick Davis down a good bit as well given that his knee situation remains just as murky and I would not recommend drafting him either though there still exists some chance that he could return to play this year if he can evidently take the pain.

I have also tightened up tier 2 to better show the lower risk players. This was made more important by the many changes that you see today. The running back situation in the NFL has never been as unclear for so many teams in recent memory and those low risk players are truly worth the early picks. Most of the increases went for players that appear on the way up in playing time for their team even though they may not be the official #1 back or even the #2 back in some cases. Those players falling were mostly just getting squeezed out.

Player Change Was Now Date
Clinton Portis 4 5 08/15/06
Portis slips back one spot mainly because his slightly separated shoulder will likely have him out at least until the season starts. With Barber so consistent, no reason to take a risk on the 4th pick. Portis is still likely to turn in just as good a year as before, but with such a high pick, why not play it safe.
Player Change Was Now Date
Fred Taylor 32 35 08/15/06
Taylor continues to slide backwards with injuries and subpar performances this summer. Greg Jones is getting the good press now and it appears Taylor could be due for even more dropping in the rankings.
Player Change Was Now Date
Greg Jones 39 38 08/15/06
Jones continues to receive praise from the coaching staff and there's word now that he is in competition for the starting job. In Jacksonvile that has rarely meant the primary back receives a true full-time load, but it warrants a bump up here that could go higher.
Player Change Was Now Date
Mike Bell 48 27 08/14/06
Bell continues to rise in the rankings despite being nothing special in the first preseason game. Bell ran for just 20 yards on seven carries and he fumbled once. The Denver backfield is never a clear issue and Bell continues to hang on to the top spot... for now. Tatum Bell ran better on Saturday but apparently cannot convince the coaching staff to give him the fulltime gig. While this could change, for now it appears Bell is getting the starting nod/
Player Change Was Now Date
Wali Lundy NR 55 08/14/06
The 6th round rookie is added to the rankings after a generally impressive performance in the first preseason game and the continuing saga about Domanick Davis' health. Antowain Smith remains the primary back-up and will be the actual starter if Davis does not play (provided HOU does not acquire another player) but he's already 35 years old and won't likely last all season. Lundy holds a bit of promise despite his less than spectacular draft credentials.
Player Change Was Now Date
Domanick Davis 20 27 08/14/06
Davis falls in the rankings not because he did something wrong, but that he has done nothing. He continues to rehab his balky news and there is speculation that the cartilage is already so thin in his knee that he'll be playing with pain under the best circumstances. That all spells far too much risk to consider Davis being worthy of a fantasy starting position though as we have seen in the past, when he can play he can post some nice fantasy points. With the Denver offense being installed, even more optimism exists. But until his knee improves - and it may not - he can no longer be considered a fantasy starter.
Player Change Was Now Date
Marion Barber 40 36 08/10/06
HC Bill Parcells has been rather forthcoming about the plan to rotate backs this year and given the injury history of Julius Jones, chances are too high that Barber gets appreciable playing time. Barber gets the bump up but still remains the secondary back to Jones.
Player Change Was Now Date
Julius Jones 17 20 08/10/06
HC Bill Parcells has not said anything against Jones, but he has made a point of discussing plans to rotate the backs this year and he did in in 2005 as well. Jones is the fastest and best back on the team and he can still turn in big games, but the risk of him sharing carries and losing out on potential production is too great to leave him ranked any higher.
Player Change Was Now Date
Greg Jones 43 38 08/08/06
Jones has been very impressive in camp and was described by HC Jack Del Rio as having much more burst and better moves than last year. With the always present injury risk of Fred Taylor, Jones is looking like a more than a mere handcuff, he could be make a nice steal during your draft in that offense.
Player Change Was Now Date
Cedric Houston 41 35 08/08/06
Houston rises as best available with Martin's continuing health problems but realize too that the Jets may still be searching for a veteran to acquire in a trade.
Player Change Was Now Date
Curtis Martin 37 43 08/08/06
With rumors of Martin being unavailable for the first week and potentially having a career ending knee situation, he falls even farther. His knee is described as being "bone on bone" now with the loss of cartilage over the years. Don't be surprised if he ends up retiring and in the best case, lower any expectations to him being a part time player mostly at the latter part of the season.
Player Change Was Now Date
Mike Bell NR 48 08/08/06
The undrafted Arizona runner has suddenly become the #1 runner in Denver for at least this week. He is added to the rankings because he belongs here but where he falls or rised will depend on how well he does beyond this week. He will be rising or falling to be sure but for right now, there is a major risk in considering Mike Shanahan's depth chart being written in anything less than pencil right now. Bell goes from unknown to perhaps the most interesting person to watch in preseason games.
Player Change Was Now Date
Ron Dayne 30 37 08/08/06
Dayne's stay atop the depth chart was indeed short thanks to Mike Bell but how long that lasts remains to be seen. With Tatum Bell certain to have some role, it really boils down to Dayne or Mike Bell having the most fantasy value. Right now - it is Mike Bell. For now.
Player Change Was Now Date
Tatum Bell 27 25 08/08/06
Bell takes another tumble with the introduction of Mike Bell into the equation. Apparently the musical chairs has not stopped at Tatum yet and it may not. But regardless of who the primary back is, Tatum will have a role.
Player Change Was Now Date
Dominic Rhodes 30 25 08/04/06
Rhodes gets pushed up as the starter and Addai is slipped downwards because more in depth research has me very worried about the practicality of relying on Addai for anything more than change of pace and relief work. Rhodes will offer the stability that the offense is going to need in the post-James era.
Player Change Was Now Date
Joseph Addai 25 33 08/04/06
Addai's projections have been lowered considering his most likely role this year and while the fantasy world may wish to see another Edgerrin James show up in Indianapolis, Addai looks less like he'll be that guy - if in fact anyone can reprise the workhorse role of James.
Player Change Was Now Date
Najeh Davenport 53 46 08/04/06
Davenport gets a bump up after looking very strong in training camp. Granted he'll probably break something before the season ends, but on a team with Green returning from a torn quad last year and the questions surrounding the backfield, Davenport should see at least some playing time this year.
Player Change Was Now Date
Chris Brown 34 29 08/03/06
Brown gets a slight bump up since he is in training camp and his supposed trade request was just a ploy by his agent when the Titans would not renegotiate his contract that was in the final year.
Player Change Was Now Date
LenDale White 33 37 08/03/06
Small bump down for White with Brown going up a little.
Player Change Was Now Date
Michael Bennett 84 59 08/02/06
The Chiefs have acquired Bennett in exchange for a future undisclosed draft pick. Now instead of being the #3 in New Orleans, Bennett will become the #2 in Kansas City behind Larry Johnson. He doesn't look likely to offer much fantasy value in KC unless Johnson is injured, but if that happens - Bennett becomes the much needed handcuff.
Player Change Was Now Date
Priest Holmes 57 84 08/02/06
Priest Holmes still has not been cleared to play this year and there is plenty of conjecture that he will be retiring. The addition of Michael Bennett may prove to be the most telling sign.
Player Change Was Now Date
Cedric Houston 48 41 07/30/06
Curtis Martin went on the PUP list to start training camp which is giving Houston the one thing he needed most - time with the first team to impress the coaching staff. He's done exactly that so far though being realistic - how much can that really mean with the Jets this year?
Player Change Was Now Date
Curtis Martin 30 37 07/30/06
Martin enters training camp on the PUP list which itself is not a major cause for concern (though his lengthy rehab problem cannot be ignored either). But in his place, Cedric Houston has been looking good to the new coaches and that will only make them more likely to rely on a sharing ratio this year with Martin. To be honest, I just don't have a good feeling about Martin this year.
Player Change Was Now Date
Kevin Jones 19 16 07/30/06
Jones gets a push up slightly in the rankings because he has looked very good during his brief time in camp and more inportantly, that has been noticed by the coaching staff installing the new offense.
Player Change Was Now Date
Reuben Droughns 17 20 07/30/06
Droughns falls a little in the rankings with the loss of LeCharles Bentley though nothing dramatic. He continues to have potentially troublesome legal problems looming though most likely that will not be an issue. He just carries a slightly higher risk now with a little less upside.
Player Change Was Now Date
Tatum Bell 20 27 07/30/06
Since Ron Dayne remains the #1 tailback going into camp, Bell takes a small tumble here and should be viewed similar to last year when he shared with Mike Anderson.
Player Change Was Now Date
Ron Dayne 34 30 07/30/06
Dayne enters training camp as the #1 RB whatever that may actually mean. While there is no doubt that Tatum Bell will figure in, for now Dayne is the primary back and nothing has happened to change that. This situation will be monitored closely this summer but as we should all know by now - with Denver you just may never know until it is too late. Right now - Dayne has to be considered as rising.
Player Change Was Now Date
Thomas Jones 24 33 07/28/06
Jones has pulled a hamstring at the start of training camp and he's failed to make any positive moves in the eyes of the coaches. Jones may be carrying a big chip on his shoulder but he remains #2 on the depth chart and his actions are doing nothing to change that.
Player Change Was Now Date
Cedric Benson 28 17 07/28/06
Benson enters training camp as the #1 RB and Thomas Jones pulled his hamstring. While trade rumors of Jones are most likely meaningless, what is important here is that Benson has trained with the team during the entire preseason and is finally in the good graces of the coaching staff while Jones did not and now is hurt. The duo has traded places it appears though Jones will still figure in this year.
Player Change Was Now Date
Tony Fisher 74 54 07/21/06
The likely absence of Marshall Faulk this year elevates Fisher into the primary back-up role for now. But Fisher has never been much more than a third down back and the Rams are expected to acquire another running back to take the primary back-up role for Steven Jackson.
Player Change Was Now Date
Marshall Faulk 59 NR 07/21/06
Faulk is expected to miss the 2006 season due to swelling on his knee that will force him to have yet another arthroscopic surgery. He has not been placed on injured reserve yet but until there is any positive news - which is very unlikely at this point - forget about Faulk this year. Considering he is 33 years old, this is likely the last we have seen of one of the greatest fantasy runnign backs ever.