|Bruce Kluckhohn - USA TODAY Sports|
Rankings: Top 10 RBs
By Mora Best
Finishing up the series of Early Season rankings, we have compiled our list of running backs. This year the running back position has gained even more value on top of what was considered to be an already revered position from past fantasy years. 10 RBs are ranked in the first round of upcoming drafts though, making research and picking which one fits your fantasy team imperative. Let’s check it out below.
1. My Ranking: Adrian Peterson (RB, MIN)
Being the only running back to have a 2, 000 yard season last year, Adrian is the obvious choice as the number one pick. He also led all running backs in yards per game and yards per carry. While ironic, like when pitchers come off Tommy John surgery, it seems Adrian is the same if not better than before tearing his ACL two years ago. Draft him with extreme confidence!
2. My Ranking: Adrian Foster (RB, HOU)
Many analysts are pointing to the fact that his yards per carry rate has declined in each of the last two seasons. While I understand this, he still led the NFL in carries last year with 351. Add this to the fact that Houston’s offense is extremely run first and I see no reason for him to fall out of the top five in upcoming fantasy drafts.
3. My Ranking: Doug Martin (RB, TB)
Last year, he was fantasy’s number two scorer. Doug Martin has officially arrived and is a beast! Usually I’m shy on sophomore phenoms, but he may break my pattern of not drafting them. I’ll take my chances with Doug Martin as he may top the entire running back field eventually.
4. My Ranking: C. J. Spiller (RB, BUF)
The new Bills offense is supposedly going to be run first with Spiller at the helms of such. Even though he only received 200 carries last year leaving him outside of the top 20 in rush attempts, he still managed to finish top 10 of all Running Backs in yards, yards per game and touchdowns. Much of this was due to his amazing six yards per carry (tied for 1st in NFL with Adrian Peterson); making him a threat every time he touches the ball. Spiller appears to be on the brink of a breakout year.
5. My Ranking: Jamaal Charles (RB, KC)
For some reason, I always pass up on Charles in my fantasy drafts; making sure to doubt him in some shape, way, fashion or form. However every year he proves me wrong with a solid stat line that any fantasy manager would be plenty happy with. With pass happy Andy Reid at Head Coach, it will be interesting to see if his fantasy stats see a boost or decline. While he is sure to gain much more relevance in Points per Reception (PPR) leagues, he will also definitely see a significant dip in rush attempts (Example: LeSean McCoy under Andy Reid)
6. My Ranking: Ray Rice (RB, BAL)
Ray Rice is a solid option at RB every year and this year should prove no different. However with the emergence of backup Bernard Pierce, many are shying away from Ray Rice this year. I don’t see it the same though… With Anquan Boldin coming over to my 49ers, I actually see the Ravens returning to the ground game. Look for Ray Rice to put up similar stats to what we are accustomed to from him.
7. My Ranking: Marshawn Lynch (RB, SEA)
The founder, originator and motivation for all #BeastMode comments, I am probably in all actuality ranking Shawny-Bo way too low. However having grown up with Marshawn, I try to separate the personal from fantasy – Nonetheless, Marshawn has been one of the most consistent fantasy running backs in the last five years. Going over to Seattle did nothing but solidify such. With a stat line of over 1, 500 rushing yards, nearly 100 rushing yards per game, 11 TDs and 5 yards per carry last year, it’s safe to say Marshawn’s #BeastMode title is also safe for the upcoming 2013- 2014 season.
8. My Ranking: Alfred Morris (RB, WAS)
Alfred Morris was second in the NFL in rushing yards last season, behind only Adrian Peterson. He also was second in rush attempts (335) and touchdowns (13) of all running backs. Mike Shanahan instability aside, Morris has the potential to be a top 5 dynasty back. However much of this rests on Shanahan’s ability to play his feature back as much of us know he likes to use a committee approach. We’ll see but nonetheless look for Morris to follow up on his rookie campaign of the past year.
9. My Ranking: LeSean McCoy (RB, PHI)
With Chip Kelly taking over the Offense in Philly, the Eagles are supposedly going run heavy; McCoy will be at the helm of such. Still only 24 years old, don’t sleep on McCoy as he already has some big years under his belt during past Andy Reid seasons. I wouldn't be surprised to see a revival of some sorts from McCoy this year – he may very well end up being a sleeper with great value.
10. My Ranking: Trent Richardson (RB, CLE)
I place Trent Richardson in the same space as Darren McFadden in that he has an amazing amount of potential, but will in all likelihood not reach it as long as the Browns (Or Raiders in D-Mac’s case) improve as a team and more specifically as an offense. With 11 TDs and over 260 carries last year, it’s obvious that much of the Browns offense revolves around Richardson. However in order for him to reach the next level of fantasy production, the Browns will have to create diversions to the 8-10 men in the box defending their highly touted RB.
Honorable Mention: Matt Forte (RB, CHI)
I have always been a Matt Forte fan when it comes to fantasy football. This year will be no different despite yells from fantasy analysts that Forte has lost much if not most of his fantasy relevance in a pass-first Chicago Bears offense. However in five seasons, Matt Forte has produced 900- 1200 yard totals every year along with 40- 65 receptions. I am confident that he will continue to give solid fantasy production through a mix of receptions, touchdowns and yards. If you do not play in a PPR league than I will admit that his value does drop considerably.