Top-36 Running Backs
1) Adrian Peterson (MIN) – Coming off a 2000+ yard season I don’t think I need to explain why Adrian Peterson will be the top-ranked running back in every rankings list you look at this offseason/preseason.
2) C.J. Spiller (BUF) – ‘Until he pukes’. He is one of the most talented young running backs in the league and capable of being a top-five player at his position. The Bills must know how valuable Spiller is to the future of their franchise and will hopefully give him enough opportunities to shine in 2013.
3) Doug Martin (TB) – An much talked about rookie going into fantasy drafts last season, Martin exploded onto front page of the fantasy world in week eight when he rushed for 251 yards and four touchdowns. By the end of the season Martin had 1454 yards and twelve total touchdowns; numbers that will be hard to match for a sophomore runner but still too tempting to let slide to far in drafts.
4) Jamaal Charles (KC) – Charles ran for a career high 1509 yards last season, good for 4th best in the league. His fantasy potential is bogged down however by the struggles of the Chiefs offence, resulting in only five rushing touchdowns. The Chiefs have made a move to acquire Alex Smith from the ‘49ers, but I am hesitant to think that Smith will be an instant fix to a team that has talent, but can’t seem to put it together at the moment. Anyways, Charles should have another monster season with yardage, here is to hoping that he can find pay dirt more often.
5) Marshawn Lynch (SEA) – Lynch continues to be a monster in a Seattle offence that loves to give him the ball 20 times a game. Lynch had four straight 100+ yard games with 5 rushing touchdowns in that span to finish the 2012 regular season; the breakout play of QB Russell Wilson could help keep teams from only focusing on Lynch.
6) Arian Foster (HOU) – It is a little worrisome that Foster is coming off a career-high and league-high 351 carries last year while also having a career low 4.1 yards per carry (ypc) average. However, Foster still rushed for 15 touchdowns last season and has just over 1000 carries for his career and should still be a top running back for a few more seasons.
7) LeSean McCoy (PHI) – The Eagles have parted ways with longtime coach Andy Reid, which I am hoping brings a fresh start to a team that is loaded with talent but has not been able to put it all together for a few seasons in a row now. We seem to have seen the best (20 total touchdowns) and worst (5 total touchdowns) of McCoy over the past two seasons; in 2013 I think McCoy will be able to return to form with a 1000+ yard double-digit touchdown season.
8) Alfred Morris (WAS) – 1613 yards rushing and 13 touchdowns in his rookie season, Alfred Morris was one of the biggest (yet quietest) surprise stars of the 2012 fantasy football season. While those numbers are certainly going to hard to reproduce, the talent is certainly there; and it might help that RGIII gets most of the attention.
9) Ray Rice (BAL) – Rice is usually a top-5 ranked running back, and while he will likely have another solid season, his upside seems to be waning a bit recently and might be affected by Bernard Peirce who had a very nice rookie season in Baltimore. Baltimore’s offseason fire sale doesn’t make drafting him at the moment any more tempting.
10) Trent Richardson (CLE) – Despite playing for a lowly Browns team and having a rather underwhelming 3.6 ypc average for the season, Richardson was still a star in his rookie campaign with 950 yards on the ground and 11 rushing touchdowns. While it is very easy to pick on the Browns, they were a bit better last year and now have an extremely talented young running back to build around.
11) Steven Ridley (NE) – Even though I despise the Patriots for dominating my division for a decade, I will still gladly draft their starting running back to my fantasy football team. I am confident that Ridley will make a great run at matching or even beating his 2012 totals of 1263 yards and 12 touchdowns rushing. The only downside I can think of is that he only had 51 yards receiving all of last season.
12) Matt Forte (CHI) – Forte took a step forward in fantasy value last season, playing in 15 games and despite having Michael Bush in town. He did however only have three games over 100 yards rushing and 1434 total yards; there is still room for improvement for Forte and the Bears offence.
13) Steven Jackson (ATL) – Jackson must be excited to be playing for a playoff calibre team once again now that he has joined the Atlanta Falcons. Michael Turner had dropped off a cliff, and despite having a ton more career carries than Turner, Jackson has maintained his status as a 1000-yard rusher every season since he was a rookie back in 2004. While age and milage are still concerns, I have to believe that he is going to be better now that he has a potent offence to work within and a post season to play for.
14) Chris Johnson (TEN) – It was a bit of a bounce-back year for CJ as he ran for an impressive 1243 yards to go along with 6 touchdowns on the ground. He still failed to score a passing touchdown for the second straight ear and had a career low in receiving yards at 232. I think another 1500 total yard season with upwards of 10 total touchdowns isn’t out of the question for Johnson this coming season, but is likely his ceiling. Side note: he recently told the media he did not want to share carries.
15) Reggie Bush (DET) – Reggie Bush ended up a Lion via free agency and will be joining the backfield with Mikel Leshoure. As a Dolphins fan I liked Reggie and hope he does well in Detroit and believe he can. The Lions desperately need some talented players to help out Matt Stafford and Calvin Johnson on the offence, and Bush should fit that bill well as a an agile runner with great pass catching abilities; Bush could easily end up with 50-70 catches from the Detroit backfield. Leshoure is going to steal some carries and is more of a downhill runner than Bush, meaning he could see more goal-line work, but Bush should see the majority of work on a weekly basis.
16) Frank Gore (SF) – Gore is coming off almost identical rushing seasons of 1200+ yards and 8 touchdowns; he even added 100+ receiving yards and a touchdown in 2012. Gore is one of my favourite running backs, plays on a great offence that consistently gives him 15-20 carries per game. Age is certainly catching up with Gore but he should be good for another 1000+ yard season and a great RB2 option.
17) Lamar Miller (MIA) – The new starter in Miami is a youngster from the University of Miami that has been getting a lot of hype this off-season. I am looking at Miller as a low end RB2 at the moment as despite all the talks about him he has not imressed et this preseason.
18) Darren McFadden (OAK) – There was so much expectation on DMC last season, none of which he lived up too. McFadden suffered no major, season-ending injury, he got tons of carries; but he could not get anything going. Despite the extremely disappointing totals of 707 yards and two touchdowns on the ground, I still think McFadden can be a top-10 running back in 2013; he is way to talented to fall off like this.
19) Maurice Jones-Drew (JAX) – MJD is another hard player to rank at the moment as he likely has contract talks to deal with and didn’t play a single snap last season after going out with an injury in week six. One would expect that Drew is going to be healthy for the upcoming season and has a world of talent, but there are still a lot of questions to be answered before draft days.
20) DeMarco Murray (DAL) – Tons of talent, just as much injury risk. At this point, I can’t see myself drafting Murray as an RB1 due to the risk of him missing multiple games such as he has his first two seasons in the league. Still though, the potential is too high to let him slip past as a RB2 option.
21) Darren Sproles (NO) – Sproles took a step back as a rusher last season, but was able to duplicate his receiving stats with 667 yards and 7 touchdowns; after recovering from a broken hand he finished the season with four consecutive double-digit fantasy efforts. With the bounty-gate scandal now mostly behind them and Sean Payton back at the helm, I am expecting the Saints, and Sproles to play a bit better this season.
22) Chris Ivory – Ivory brings a career 5.1 yards per carry average over his first three season to his new team the Jets. A bruising power runner, Ivory should fit very well into the style of play that the Jets play. Ivory had been stuck in a committee of RBs while playing in New Orleans, but should be able to break out of his shell as the starter in New York.
23) Rashard Mendenhall (ARZ) – Mendenhall will return to his role as a starter in the NFL this coming season as a new member of an Arizona Cardinals team that needs to address numerous positions this off-season. The good news for Mendenhall is that he will see a consistent workload each week as one of the more talented and consistent players on the team, but he will be running behind a soft offensive line and inside of a struggling offence; Rashard will get his carries, but will struggle for touchdowns.
24) David Wilson (NYG) – With Ahmad Bradshaw out the door, 2nd year running back David Wilson should get many more opportunities to impress the football world in 2013. Wilson exploded onto the scene late last season when he rushed for 100 yards and a pair of touchdowns on only 13 carries against the Saints. The sample size is still very small for the time being, but there seems to be too much potential in Wilson for the Giants to not use him much more in the future. The biggest concern to me is that Andre Brown is still around and should still see a good amount of work near the goal line.
25) Montee Ball (DEN) – As it currently stands, Ball joins a Broncos backfield that also has Ronnie Hillman, Knowshon Moreno and Willis McGahee all still on the roster. While it is likely that one of these players will be released, it is still going to be a 2-3 headed running attack employed by Denver this season. Ball is not in line to become an every down back but he has potential and is the Bronco RB that I would be targeting in fantasy drafts.
26) Ryan Mathews (SD) – Mathews went off a bit of a cliff in 2012 with only one touchdown on the season after scoring 13 in the two seasons prior. Mathews also never once topped 100 yards rushing in a game last season. I am expecting Mathews to be better this time around, but should be drafted as a low end RB2 at best for now.
27) Ahmad Bradshaw (IND) – Now a Colt, Bradshaw will be working in a tandem with Vick Ballard, but with his experience should start the season with the heavier workload and a serviceable flex player. The biggest concern with Bradshaw, as usual is his health; he has a long history of ankle injuries and is unlikely to play all 16 games. Never the less he is still a savvy runner and good around the goal-line, something the Colts could use.
28) Shane Vereen (NE) – Vereen could be a very useful change of pace for the Patriots this season, a team that doesn’t appear to have the same oomph as in previous years. Vereen is a much better pass-catcher than Stevan Ridley and should also get to see the field a lot of 3rd and passing downs.
29) Daryl Richardson (STL) – As of right now it is being reported that Daryl Richardson is working with the first team offence and is in line to start the season as the Rams #1 running back over Isaiah Pead and Zac Stacy.
30) Jonathan Stewart (CAR) – Stewart was only able to play in nine games last season, resulting in only 500 total yards and two touchdowns. As a result DeAngelo Williams ended up having quite a bit of work late in the season. I see no reason to think that if healthy, the duo will return to sharing the workload, making both RB3/Flex plays at best.
31) Pierre Thomas (NO) – Since being drafted in the first round MArk Ingram has been underwhelming as a member of the Saints and Darren Sproles is not your prototypical running back. Pierre Thomas can run in between the tackles, catch the ball and block, don’t be surprised if he sees a good amount of work in the Saints offence this season.
32) Giovani Bernard (CIN) – BenJarvus Green-Ellis is a consistent runner who rarely fumbles, but has almost no upside. The Bengals are already a team depending on young talent and it might not be long before Bernard is seeing the bulk of the workload over BJGE.
33) Fred Jackson (BUF) – 2012 was another injury-plagued season for Jackson, who is now another year older and competing with an extremely talented young running back in C.J. Spiller. Jackson is still going to have a roll with the Bills this coming season but it is going to continue to be diminished. Jackson might be RB3/Flex option at best in 2013.
34) Eddie Lacy (GB) – Lacy looks to take over as the starting running back for the Green Bay Packers, a team that has not had a dependable runner for quite a few season and could really use in order to balance their offence. There are more talented rookie runners in the league this year, but few have been put into a better position than Lacy in the Bay. The Packers also drafted Jonathan Franklin in the draft and he will be sharing carries with Lacy, but it is Lacy that I am targeting as a possible breakout rookie.
35) Andre Brown (NYG) – Another stellar waiver wire pickup from last season, Brown was the Giants goal-line back for the first ten weeks of the season, scoring eight touchdowns in that time. If Ahmad Bradshaw does not return to the team it seems extremely likely that Brown would return to his role as the Giants backup running back and goal-line work horse.
36) Mark Ingram (NO) – As a first round draft pick, the Saints certainly want things to work out with Ingram. He is a better power runner than Pierre Thomas but lacks the rest of the skills that Thomas has. For sometime I have thought the Saints should just give Thomas more carries but it seems as though Ingram is still going to get his share of carries.