If fantasy football ruled the world all we would be talking about are quarterbacks and running backs, so let’s pretend just for a minute that it does. The AFC North has its share of talent at both positions, last month we ranked and broke down the talented group quarterbacks that this division has to offer, well now it’s time to do the same for the running backs.1) Baltimore Ravens: Ray Rice
Ray Rice is one of the best running backs in the NFL, let alone the AFC North, so it should be no surprise that we have him at number one on this list. But you can rest easy Steelers fans as Rice and the Baltimore Ravens have yet to come close on a long-term deal for the former Rutgers stand-out, who last year averaged 4.7 yards a carry.
While The Ravens from office doesn’t seem to know what to do when it comes to pleasing Rice off the field they do know how to help him out on the field. They added full-back Vonta Leach to the mix and Rice’s number rose. Last year alone Rice had 1364 yards rushing on 291 attempts and scored a total of 12 touchdowns while only putting the ball on the ground twice. Rice has the potential to cause a lot of problems for the AFC North for years to come, if only the Ravens can work out a long-term deal, so Steelers fans have your fingers crossed they can’t.
2) Cincinnati Bengals: BenJarvus Green-Ellis
Zero fumbles in 510 career attempts, means you’re something special, and Green-Ellis is something special. While he isn’t the greatest thing to happen to the run game since Barry Sanders he is a good first option in a solid run committee. Green-Ellis will be starting along-side Bernard Scott this up-coming season. While he is no stranger to a multi-back system, Green-Ellis, who just left the New England Patriots, where last season he ran for a total of 667 yards on 181 attempts. Not too shabby, oh and did we mention he scored 11 touchdowns and didn’t drop the ball once.
He promised us he would be starting come opening day, while chances are that he will start the season on the PUP (Physically Unable to Perform) list. The fact is when he comes back he will have a shot at being the starting running back. His back-ups will and should think otherwise so that we know we are getting their all while he is gone. The Steelers have Isaac Redman slated as the starter in his place. Redman should fill Mendenhall’s void just fine, but really he just isn’t the same player that Mendenhall is. Some within the media do have Redman taking Mendenhall’s spot from him, but after last year’s numbers can you honestly say that.
Last year before his injury, not that there was much left to the season, Mendenhall was averaging 4.1 yards per attempt tying his career average. He also ran for 928 yards on 228 attempts, so if he played the rest of that last game he could have had himself close to 1,000 yards rushing. But what ifs are what run the media not the football field.
4) Cleveland Browns: Trent Richardson
While speaking of what ifs in the NFL, this man maybe one of the bigger what if’s in the AFC North. Trent Richardson, a guy we all know Jim Brown doesn’t care for, but the people in Alabama love him. None of us really know how well he will fare in the NFL, he has had knee issues in the past and his offense isn’t the best in the league. He does have the potential to be a great running back, while many have compared him to Emmitt Smith. The only issue is there a slew of guys no longer player a few years in who had great potential. The jury is still out on Richardson until we see him padded up in a NFL game.
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