Athlon continues its 2010 college fantasy draft kit with a look at Big East/Independent running backs.
Big East Fantasy Running Back Rankings and Profiles
Fantasy points based upon standard scoring system – passing touchdowns = 4 pts, rushing touchdowns = 6 pts, 25 passing yards = 1 point, 10 rush/receiving yards = 1 point, receptions = 0.5 points, 2 point conversions = 2 points
1. Dion Lewis, Pittsburgh (SO) – Bye Weeks – 3, 10
One of Pittsburgh’s biggest question marks entering last season was who would replace LeSean McCoy as the feature back in a run-first offense. Lewis wasn’t a huge recruit coming out of high school, but used a solid spring to win the No. 1 job and emerged as one of the top backs in college football last year. Lewis had at least 18 carries in every game and went over 100 yards in 10 contests.
Athlon’s Take: The Panthers will continue to lean on their ground attack to win games, but three interior line starters must be replaced. Lewis collected 325 carries last season, which is a lot for a running back that checks in at 5-foot-8 and 195 pounds. Ray Graham is a more than capable backup, who could steal a few carries away from Lewis. Although there are concerns and a drop in production can be expected, expect Lewis to rush for 1,400 yards and at least 12-15 scores.
2009 stats: 253.7 fantasy points
Rushing: 1,799 yds., 17 TDs
Receiving: 25 rec., 189 yds., 1 TD
2. Jordan Todman, Connecticut (JR) – Bye Weeks – 7, 10
With Andre Dixon out of eligibility, there are high expectations from fantasy owners for Todman in 2010. The Huskies love to pound the rock and that offensive philosophy won’t change any this season, despite the improvement from quarterback Zach Frazer at the end of last year. Todman went over the 1,000-yard mark, despite finishing behind Dixon in attempts - 239 to 235 – and posted 14 rushing scores last season. The junior managed five games of 100 yards or more, including 162 yards and four scores against Cincinnati.
Athlon’s Take: Connecticut will get another back involved (likely Kelmetrus Wylie), but Todman will see an increase in touches. Look for Todman to push the 270-300 carry mark with 1,300-1,500 yards and 13-18 scores. If he stays healthy, Todman could finish 2010 among the top five for fantasy running backs.
2009 stats: 225.2 fantasy points
Rushing: 1,188 yds., 14 TDs
Receiving: 21 rec., 185 yds., 0 TD
3. Noel Devine, West Virginia (SR) – Bye Weeks – 5, 10
Devine turned down an opportunity to enter the NFL Draft for another run at the Big East title, and the senior back should be the focal point of the West Virginia offense in 2010. Devine set career highs in carries, rushing yards and rushing touchdowns last season, along with collecting seven 100-yard efforts. With an inexperienced quarterback in Geno Smith taking over, the Mountaineers will base their offensive attack around Devine, which should result in another monster season.
Athlon’s Take: The Mountaineers are in good shape up front with four starters back, which ensures plenty of rushing lanes will be open for Devine. As long as he stays healthy, expect Devine to reach 1,300-1,500 yards and 12-15 scores.
2009 stats: 220.1 fantasy points
Rushing: 1,465 yds., 13 TDs
Receiving: 22 rec., 177 yds., 1 TD
4. Delone Carter, Syracuse (SR) – Bye Week – 5
Syracuse showed progress in the first year of the Doug Marrone era last season, and seems to be on the right path heading into 2010. However, the Orange may be without their best offensive player. Carter was suspended from the school until the fall semester, due to a third-degree assault charge. Although the general feeling is that Carter will return to the team, he makes for a risky pick until his 2010 status is officially known.
Athlon’s Take: If Carter returns to school and regains his status as the No. 1 back, he should rush for 1,000 yards once again. However, until an official announcement is made, fantasy owners in 120 leagues should approach Carter with caution. Owners in Big East leagues that draft Carter should be sure to handcuff him with Antwon Bailey.
2009 stats: 191.3 fantasy points
Rushing: 1,021 yds., 11 TDs
Receiving: 11 rec., 117 yds., 1 TD
5. Victor Anderson, Louisville (JR) – Bye Week – 4
Anderson was a disappointment for fantasy owners last season, dropping his rushing yardage from 1,047 as a freshman in 2008 to 473 last year. In Anderson’s defense, the drop in yardage was due to injuries, which forced him to miss most of the second half of last year. When healthy last season, Anderson averaged 5.3 yards per carry and posted a 100-yard effort against Kentucky.
Athlon’s Take: Louisville is short on proven offensive options, so Anderson figures to be the main weapon in 2010. The junior isn’t the biggest back and the Cardinals may want to limit his carries to 15-20 a game, but 175-200 carries for the season is within reach. Don’t expect huge touchdown numbers, but 800-1,000 yards is a reasonable expectation.
2009 stats: 93.3 fantasy points
Rushing: 473 yds., 5 TDs
Receiving: 12 rec., 89 yds.
6. Moise Plancher, South Florida (SR) – Bye Weeks – 3, 9
New coach Skip Holtz is changing South Florida’s offense and one of the main benefactors should be Plancher. The senior posted a career-high 581 yards to lead South Florida running backs last season and collected five rushing scores and one 100-yard outing. The South Florida backfield was stocked heading into spring practice, but Mike Ford was dismissed from the team and Lindsey Lamar was moved to receiver. The Bulls have some interesting options with Demetris Murray and Bradley Battles waiting in the wings, but Plancher is secure as the No. 1 back.
Athlon’s Take: If Plancher gets 200-250 carries, he could be a steal in the mid-to-late rounds of upcoming drafts. However, Holtz and coordinator Todd Fitch may use a backfield by committee approach, which would keep Plancher’s touches in the 150-190 range. Worth a gamble as a RB4 or RB5 this fall.
2009 stats: 90.8 fantasy points
Rushing: 581 yds., 5 TDs
Receiving: 6 rec., 37 yds.
7. Isaiah Pead, Cincinnati (JR) – Bye Weeks – 5, 10
With a struggling defense, Cincinnati was forced to air it and rely on its offense to win games last season. The Bearcats finished eighth nationally in passing offense, which limited the opportunities for Pead. Although Pead only managed 121 carries, he nearly rushed for 1,000 yards and averaged 6.7 yards per carry. Pead’s best performance of last season came against West Virginia, rushing for 175 yards and a score.
Athlon’s Take: New coach Butch Jones will employ a similar offensive attack to former Cincinnati coach Brian Kelly, but wants to get the rushing game more involved. Pead should have more carries this season and should push the 1,000-yard mark, along with 10-12 scores.
2009 stats: 156.6 fantasy points
Rushing: 806 yds., 9 TDs
Receiving: 20 rec., 201 yds., 2 TDs
8. Joe Martinek, Rutgers (JR) – Bye Weeks – 3, 9
Despite leading Rutgers in rushing yards and nearly rushing for 1,000 last season (967), Martinek’s job as the starter isn’t secure. The Scarlet Knights would like to see more production and big-play ability from their running backs, but Martinek is more of a grind-it-out type of back. Martinek collected four 100-yard performances, but only one came against a bowl team last season. In Big East play, the junior averaged only 61 yards a game.
Athlon’s Take: Martinek isn’t a flashy player, but he can certainly get the job done. Expect the Scarlet Knights to get someone else involved, but Martinek should lead the team in rushing attempts and yards this year.
2009 stats: 153.3 fantasy points
Rushing: 967 yds., 9 TDs
Receiving: 12 rec., 140 yds., 0 TD
9. Ray Graham, Pittsburgh (SO)
10. Kelmetrus Wylie, Connecticut (JR)
11. Antwon Bailey, Syracuse (JR)
12. Bilal Powell, Louisville (SR)
13. Casey Turner, Rutgers (FR)
14. Demetris Murray, South Florida (SO)
15. Ryan Clarke, West Virginia (SO)
16. Darius Ashley, Louisville (SO)
17. De’Antwan Williams, Rutgers (SO)
18. D.J. Shoemate, Connecticut (JR)
19. John Goebel, Cincinnati (SR)
20. Shawne Alston, West Virginia (SO)
21. Jawan Jamison, Rutgers (FR)
22. Bradley Battles, South Florida (FR)
23. Kordell Young, Rutgers (SR)
24. Robbie Frey, Connecticut (JR)
25. Darrin Williams, Cincinnati (SO)
26. Chris Burns, Pittsburgh (SO)
27. Richard Kelly, South Florida (SR)
28. Daquan Harqrett, West Virginia (FR)
1. Armando Allen, Notre Dame (SR) – Bye Week – 10
The Irish weren’t much of a rushing team last season – only 299 attempts from running backs – choosing to lean heavily on Jimmy Clausen’s arm and a deep group of receivers. Past history indicates new coach Brian Kelly will use a similar offensive attack, with the running game taking a backseat to a prolific passing attack. Allen led Notre Dame with 697 yards last season and managed three games of 106 yards or more, with 139 coming against Michigan.
Athlon’s Take: As long as Notre Dame can throw it, Allen won’t see much of an increase in numbers from last season. Isaiah Pead led Cincinnati with 806 yards and nine scores last season, which seems reasonable for Allen in 2010.
2009 stats: 129.5 fantasy points
Rushing: 697 yds., 3 TDs
Receiving: 28 rec., 216 yds.
2. Vince Murray, Navy (SR) – Bye Week – 4, 13
After Ricky Dobbs, finding a week-to-week fantasy option at Navy was difficult last season. The Midshipmen used a handful of different rushers, which limited the value of Murray, Marcus Curry and Gee Gee Greene. Murray emerged as Navy’s best fullback last year, posting four consecutive 100-yard efforts, before missing a contest against Delaware due to a shoulder injury.
Athlon’s Take: With Marcus Curry dismissed from the team, the Midshipmen will have increased competition for carries at slotback – but that could work in Murray’s favor. There’s no question Murray is the team’s most reliable rusher after Dobbs and that should result in more carries. Dobbs will lead the team in rushing attempts, but Murray could push for 1,000 yards and 10 scores.
2009 stats: 126.4 fantasy points
Rushing: 971 yds., 6 TDs
Receiving: 3 rec., 31 yds.
3. Patrick Mealy, Army (SR) – Bye Weeks – 8, 13
Rich Ellerson’s first season at West Point was considered a success, despite a 5-7 record. The Black Knights came within one win of bowl eligibility and a large part of their improvement was due to the offense. Freshman quarterback Trent Steelman stabilized the offense, and Mealy finished behind him for Army’s rushing lead last season, collecting 673 yards and three scores on 110 carries. Mealy wasn’t flashy, but collected two 100-yard performances, including 136 yards and a score against VMI.
Athlon’s Take: Mealy is a nice option in leagues that include Army as a small group of teams to select players or as a spot starter, but likely won’t bring much to owners in 120 leagues. Expect the senior to see 130-160 carries with 700-830 yards and five scores in 2010.
2009 stats: 83.9 fantasy points
Rushing: 673 yds., 3 TDs
Receiving: 2 rec., 41 yds.
4. Gee Gee Greene, Navy (SO)
5. Jared Hassin, Army (SO)
6. Robert Hughes, Notre Dame (SR)
7. Cierre Wood, Notre Dame (FR)
8. Jameson Carter, Army (SR)
9. Alexander Teich, Navy (JR)
10. Mike Stukel, Navy (JR)
11. Malcolm Brown, Army (SO)
12. CeDarius Williams, Army (JR)
13. Aaron Santiago, Navy (JR)
14. Jonas Gray, Notre Dame (JR)
15. Lonnie Liggins, Army (SO)
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