Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
At some point in time, the NFL will resume playing football and all the football junkies and fantasy fanatics will get back to what they enjoy - the game. It may be the first week in September or sometime down the road, but eventually they will arrive at a settlement and play football again.
So with that in mind, we will pretend that it's September 2011, the players and owners have come to their senses, and we are ready for some football.
Of course, I still believe in the Easter Bunny, Santa Claus and that there were WMDs in Iraq!
What you will notice, is that with only a few exceptions, the players on the list do more than one thing well. Running backs who don't catch the ball have a problem making the list and quarterbacks who can't use their feet get left behind too.
Here is my early top-10 fantasy selections:
1) Michael Vick, Philadelphia - As long as the Eagles offensive line can't block, Vick will have to run for his life. Fortunately, he does that very well. Last season along with 3,018 yards and 21 touchdowns passing the ball, Vick ran for 676 yards and nine touchdowns. His 296 points was second only to running back Arian Foster who scored 356 points, but Vick played in just 11 games (plus a quarter of the first Redskins game).
2) Adrian Peterson, Minnesota - Peterson was a wonderful player in a horrible offense and he still produced 1,298 yards rushing and 12 touchdowns plus 36 receptions for 341 yards, totaling 263 fantasy points. Assuming the Vikings straighten out their quarterback situation, Peterson should once again be a fantasy superstar.
3) Chris Johnson, Tennessee - Like the Vikings' Peterson, Johnson was stuck in an offense with almost no passing threat. He still accumulated 1,609 yards from scrimmage and 12 touchdowns, but disappointed every one of his fantasy owners who expected him to repeat his 429-point, 2,509 combined yards, 2009 season. He may never match the 2009 season, but he'll be much closer in 2011-12 than he was last year.
4) Jamaal Charles, Kansas City - For the second consecutive season, Charles showed up big in the back half of the season. After earning just 71 points through the first seven weeks, Charles collected 175 in the final 10 weeks. Thank the coaching staff for realizing that Thomas Jones was not the answer and Charles was. He totaled 1,935 yards from scrimmage and averaged a stunning 6.4 ypc on the ground. Charles should get more than 275 touches in 2011-12 and with his speed and elusiveness that could make for a monster season.
5) Arian Foster, Houston - While Foster led all scorers with 356 points, I can't put him back at the top of the list. Foster didn't even enter last year's summer camp as the team's No.1 running back. The team began training camp with a "running-back-by-committee" plan with Steve Slaton, rookie Ben Tate and Foster. But when Tate went down to season-ending injury and Slaton disappointed, Foster took the reins and never let go. His Week 1 231-yard, three touchdown, 43-point effort won him an opportunity to "fly solo" and he was great all season. Just remember, however, we said the same things about Slaton after his rookie season.
6) Aaron Rodgers, Green Bayv - The Super Bowl winning quarterback finished just four points behind Peyton Manning as the top-scoring quarterback, but Rodgers threw 204 fewer passes than Manning and missed almost two complete games. He's an excellent quarterback with great receivers, but what puts him near the top is his ability to use his feet. He ran for 356 yards and four scores despite dealing with concussions which limited his coach's desire to let him run. He'll get talented tight end Jermichael Finley back for 2011, who missed all but five games last season.
7) Ray Rice, Baltimore - Rice was a top-five selection last season who didn't live up to expectations. He carries the ball more (307 attempts vs. 254 in 2009), but caught it less (63 vs. 78 in 2009) which yielded just 224 fantasy points. That total should climb in 2011-12 with Rice getting more goal line opportunities now that Willis McGahee is out of the picture.
8) Roddy White, Atlanta - White was the most targeted receiver in the NFL last season with quarterback Matt Ryan throwing 179 times in his direction. He caught 115 of them for 1,389 yards and 10 touchdowns. With Tony Gonzalez a year older and still no solid option playing opposite White, he should see just as many, if not more, passes come his way next season.
9) Darren McFadden, Oakland - McFadden's name might be the most surprising on the list, but it shouldn't be if you were paying attention last season. Sharing a backfield with Michael Bush, McFadden still managed to rush for 1,157 yards and seven touchdowns. But it was receiving that put him in the top-10. He caught 47 balls for 507 yards and three scores and twice during the season cracked the 50-point mark. The Raiders will continue to feature the running game and "Run DMC" will get more than his fair share of carries...as long as he can stay healthy.
10) LeSean McCoy, Philadelphia - McCoy led all running backs in receptions with 78 and along with 1,080 yards and seven rushing touchdowns totaled 252 points. He's not the prototypical running back but in the Eagles pass-first offense will always get his yards. He'd move up the charts, but Vick steals a lot of his touchdown opportunities at the goal line. McCoy scored just three times from inside the 10-yard line last season.
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