Top 20 NFL RB’s – Ryan’s 2013 Fantasy Football Preview Series
1. Adrian Peterson (MIN): Will he repeat the season he had last year? Probably not. Peterson rushed for a stellar 2,097 yards last season. He’s just to good of a player not to claim the No. 1 spot. Usually you see a man against boys at linebacker or an offensive lineman. But in this case it’s the running back position. Unlike most running backs, you won’t have to worry about how many touches he will be getting. With Harvin now gone, the Vikings are relying heavily on him for another playoff spot. No shame in picking him No. 1 overall considering he’s the best player in the NFL.
2. Jamal Charles (KC): Just like Adrian Peterson, Charles proved he wouldn’t let a 2011 knee injury effect his 2012 campaign. Charles had an impressive 1,509 rushing yards last season. But a RB who can catch the footall is an added bonus. Charles is looking to repeat his 45 receptions 468 yards he had in 2011. The addition of Andy Reid and Alex Smith will help him do that. Just look at how many receptions and reception yards LeSean McCoy had under Andy Reid. The Chiefs have one of the best offensive lines in the NFL also. If he can stay healthy, I fully expect for Charles to surpass the 2,000 total yard mark.
3. Marshawn Lynch (BUF): Lynch rushed for 1,590 yards last season, which was good for 3rd in the NFL. Marhsawn had many career high’s last year. Not only did have 315 rush attempts, but he averaged 5.0 yards a carry. That is very very impressive. If Adrian Peterson somehow doesn’t lead the NFL in rushing this season, I would expect Lynch to do so. I think Lynch will see another 300 carries this season. The Seahawks have the offensive line for Lynch to have a repeat season of what he did last year.
4. Arian Foster (HOU): Foster has some health concerns about an injury to his lower back. Considering he carried the ball 351 times during last year’s regular season and 54 times in the playoffs, you have every right to call for concern. Ben Tate will be starting the Texans third preseason game. Some even think that Tate will be the starter in the season opener as well. But the Texans coaching staff is remaining optomistic about Foster’s injury. I think Foster should be fine. But if Foster does start the season healthy, he has every right to be drafted in the top 4. Foster is a touchdown machine, leading all running back’s in 2012 with 15. He was 6th in the NFL in rushing yards with 1,424 yards.
5. Doug Martin (TAM): If I would have told you before the 2012 season that Martin would be a top 5 fantasy running back in 2013, you would have probably called me crazy. Martin is this high because of his hands. He had 49 receptions for 472 yards. He also had 3 catches of 40+ yards. No reason to think he can’t do that again. He was also 5th in rushing yards last season with 1,454 yards. I was very impressed with him having 319 carries and still playing all 16 games. The Bucs love to hand it off to him when they get down by the goalline. He had double-digit touchdown numbers with 11. I’m not saying the Bucs will go 13-3 this year, but I can tell you the Bucs will play well on both sides of the football.
6. Ray Rice (BAL): Rice had 1,194 rushing yards and 9TD’s last season. Not bad. Even though we would all like to see more rushing yards from Rice this season, I don’t expect it to happen. I think he should finish around the 1,200 yards again. The problem is, his number of carries have declined for 3 straight seasons. His real value is in the air. He is the perfect PPR player. He’s had 200 receptions combined the past 3 seasons. That is hard for a WR to have in the NFL much less a RB. And for now, the Ravens still enjoy giving this bowlling ball on the goal-line carries. He’s had a combined 21 rushing TD’s the past 2 seasons. Rice is still running behind one of the best offensive lines in the NFL if not the best. I know that the Ravens really like Bernard Pierce. I expect him to cut into Rice’s carries kinda like he did last season. I do think Ray Rice has a very productive season and is worth the #6 spot.
7. Alfred Morris (WAS): Alfred was amazing last season, finishing 2nd in the NFL in rushing (1,613 yards). The crazy part about that is he was a rookie being drafted in the 6th round out of Florida Atlantic. I owned Morris in an ESPN league and was waiting for him to slow down. But he never did. I was very impressed with staying healthy for all 16 games, carrying the ball 315 times and averaging 4.8 yards a carry. I can think of more reason why he should be at the No. 7 spot more than reason’s he shouldn’t. If he and the Redskins offensive line can stay healthy, I have no reason to think Morris can’t repeat another great season similar to that.
8. C.J Spiller (BUF): Whenever you carry the football over 200 times and rush for 6 yards a carry, that is extremely impressive. Spiller ended up being ranked in the top 20 of all positions by the end of the 2012 season. He had a very good season. He’s another one of thoes running backs that is a threat on the ground and through the air. The only thing holding him back is the rest of the offense. It should be interesting to see how the Bills do on offense after replacing Fitzpatrick with first round draft pick EJ Manuel. The only down-side to his game is his low touchdown total. Spiller only had 6 last season. He needs to avoid any chance of Jackson or Choice stealing redzone carries. If Buffalo can somehow give him more goal-line chances, he could end up having an even better season than 2012.
9. Trent Richardson (CLE): I have him at No. 9 here, but he honestly has top 5 talent. Richardson had kind of an odd, but productive rookie season last year. He was top 5 in the NFL in rushing touchdowns with 11. That was the positive part of his season. The main negative about his season last year was he alway’s left his owners biting their nails over his health status. He seemed to be on the injury list nearly ever week of the season. It was a miracle he played in 15 games. But you can tell his knee injury effected his performance. He had 950 rushing yards, averaging only 3.6 yards per carry. Coaches are claiming he is fully healthy going into this season. One thing is for sure, the Browns are gonna let him hammer it in nearly every time the get near the goalline. New season, new coach and a healthy Richardson could mean a highly productive year.
10. LeSean McCoy (PHI): I heavily expect LeSean McCoy to have a much better season this year compared to 2012. He went from having 17 touchdowns in 2011, to only 2 last year. Not only did he miss 4 games due to injury, but it just seemed like the Eagles gave up on the season by week 7. I think Chip Kelly is gonna get McCoy the touches that he used to getting, if not more. Were talking about a running back who’s had 180 receptions his last 3 years combined. Even with his down year last year, McCoy has still had 34 total touchdowns the last 3 seasons. He is healthy and ready to go full spead ahead this season. If he can avoid Bryce Brown eating away at his touches and avoid nagging injuries, look for McCoy to have a pretty solid season.
11. Stevan Ridley (NE): Ridley had a break-out season last year. He rushed for 1,263 yards and 12 touchdowns. I have him this high for multiple reasons. I think he could easily repeat a year like this. He’s fully healthy and Vereen doesn’t seem like a threat to take to many touches away. So nearly everytime the Pats get down to the goaline, Ridley will be getting the ball. Also losing Welker, Woodhead and Hernandez only helps Ridley in the amount of rushes and targets he’ll get this season. He does need to catch the ball more though to become a big fantasy running back. Somehow he only ended up with 6 receptions for 51 yards for the whole season. 2013 will treat Ridley very nicely. He would be a great guy to get in the middle to late rounds if you can.
12. Maurice Jones-Drew (JAC): I honestly don’t know what to expect from MJD this season. I usually do draft him in my money leagues nearly every year. He’s a PPR machine like Rice and Charles, and he can run the hell out of the football. I know he should be much lower than this. When he’s healthy, he’s a top 5 fantasy running back. But it’s not just his health I’m concerned about this year. I’m just worried that he’s not that pumped up to play for the awful Jaguars anymore. The team is just so bad. I hope he’s able to keep his mojo flowing throughout the entire 2013 season. Considering he’s only one year removed from leading the NFL in rushing, it’s not entirely impossible for him to have a huge year.
13. Matt Forte (CHI): As far as running back’s go, Forte had a mediocre 2012, he rushed for 1,094 yards and 5TD. He’s never rushed for more than 1,238 yards in his career . With the recent struggles of the Bears offensive line, it’s hard to think he’ll have a career year this season. The main reason why I like Forte is that he’s gonna get tons of targets in the Bears offense this season. Whatever Forte lacks on the ground, he’ll make up for through the air. He has 267 receptions for 2,325 yards 9 recieving touchdowns in his 5-year career. Cutler and the rest of the coaching staff say Forte has looked the “scariest” he’s ever looked in a Bears uniform. As long as Forte plays the entire season. It’s not to much of a stretch to say he’ll have 1,700 total yards and 8-9 total touchdowns.
14. Frank Gore (SF): This is my 9th year to play fantasy football. And oddly enough, I’ve never owned Frank Gore. He’s always just seemed to injury-prone for me to make a big investment. Gore has been pretty productive in his 8 years in a 49ers uniform. He’s proved me wrong by playing in all 32 games the past 2 seasons. His 2011 and 2012 seasons were nearly identical. He rushed for 1,211 yards 8TD’s in 2011, and in 2012 he rushed for 1,214 yards and 8TD’s. In 2006-2010, Gore was a huge threat with his hands averaging 51 receptions a year. He only had 45 receptions combined his last 2 seasons. If he can find a way to become a threat through the air again, Gore could have a monster year. With a track record like his and his offensive line, don’t be afraid to draft Gore this season.
15. Chris Johnson (TEN): Johnson was an all or nothing type running back last season. He had 5 games where he rushed for 122 yards or more. On the flip-side Johnson had 8 games where he had 56 rushing yards or less. I don’t like to make heavy investments in running backs like that. Johnson is one of those running backs where you don’t want to draft to early, but you don’t want to pass up on if he’s available in middle to late rounds. But the addition of Chance Warmack can only help out Johnson’s 2013 season. Johnson has to be the most subjective running back in the NFL. People have reasons for liking him, and people have reasons for hating him. I think Johnson has as similar year to what he had last season. Don’t invest to heavily.
16. Demarco Murray (DAL): If I could look into my crystal ball and tell you Murray would play in all 16 games this season, I would have him much higher than the No. 16 spot. He’s missed 9 games in his first 2 seasons as a Cowboy due to injury. In his 13 games as a rookie in 2012, he averaged 5.5 yards a carry with 164 attempts. The Cowboys offensive line is another concern I have that Murray won’t be able to max out his abilities this season. But the Cowboys didn’t have a good offensive line his rookie season and he looked phenomenal. I don’t think it’s a stretch to say if he can stay healthy this season he could have 1,300 rushing yards with 8 touhdowns.
17. Steven Jackson (ATL): Jackson is looking to have a huge year with his new team the Atlanta Falcons. He’s been stuck behind arguably the worst offensive line in football for years. And he’s still had 8 straight years of 1,000+ yards rushing. Jackson is quietly a really solid catch and run tailback as well. He’s had 407 receptions over his 9 year career. I also like the durability of Jackson. He’s only missed 2 games the past 4 seasons. That is incredible considering he carried the ball 1,171 times. I don’t think it will be hard to find the gaps in between the line the way Matt Ryan and the rest of the crew open up the field. Jackson could put together a really nice season for the Falcons in 2013.
18. Reggie Bush/Mikel Leshoure (DET): One of these guy’s is gonna have a huge year. Or maybe both will just put together really productive seasons. I expect the Lions to play better than they did last season. Reggie Bush suprised a lot of people last season posting 1,278 total yards and 8 touchdowns. He also proved he could run between the tackles. But I think Leshoure will be handling those types of running plays on this team. Leshoure had a pretty solid season himself last year. He missed 2 games due to injury and still put up 798 yards rushing and 34 receptions for 214 yards with 9 touchdowns. Bush is listed as the No. 1 RB on the depth chart right now but I wouldn’t read to much into that. I’m not sure if the Lion’s are willing to risk putting Bush on special teams this season. But if your league counts return yards and Bush finds himself returning punts later in the season, Bush could be a mid to late round steal.
19. David Wilson (NYG): In week 15 of the fantasy playoffs, my rival and opponent I was facing had David Wilson. I was scared as hell he was gonna destroy me. Obviously I was in a league where return yards counted. He had just came off a huge game vs. the Saints the prior week. Wilson had 100 yards rushing and 2 touchdowns to go along with 227 return yards and a return touchdown. But thank goodness he had a mediocre game with just 55 rushing yards and no touchdowns against the Falcons. I got very lucky. Now that Ahmad Bradshaw is a Colt, Wilson should get most the carries for the Giants this season. He showed flashes that he could take over the starting role, averaging 5 yards a carry in his 71 carries last year. Wilson will have tons of value if your league counts return yards, he’s still listed as the kick returner this season according to the Giants depth chart. The Giants knew Bradshaw was gonna leave after 2012 so they heavily invested in Wilson spending a first round pick on him. And he’s finally gonna have a chance to prove he was worth it. If he can avoid injuries and Andre Brown stealing his carries, expect Wilson to have a solid season.
20. Ahmad Bradshaw (IND): Bradshaw should benefit from a change of scenery to the Indianapolis Colts. I like picking RB’s who have a fresh start. Sometimes it doesn’t work out, but in this case I think it will. He has a lot to prove to his new team just like Steven Jackson does. He missed 2 games for the Giants last season and still managed 1,015 yards rushing with 6 touchdowns. I think the Colts offense is gonna be running on all cylinders this season. Having Andrew Luck as your QB will help open up the field and keep those defensive formations pass heavy instead of run heavy. Brashaw has good hands as a running back too. I don’t think it’s to much of a stretch to say Bradshaw could easily rush for 1,300 yards and have 10 touchdowns by the end of 2013.
If I was gonna do a 21st running back it would be Darren McFadden. McFadden does have about the same value as the running backs listed 16-20 on here. The Raiders are just so bad and he’s been to injury prone for me to make a big investment this season. But if McFadden is still there when most of these running backs have been drafted, consider yourself lucky and take him. I’ll wait for him to have a 16 game season before I draft him again. A couple things you have to remember when drafting a running back. Make sure you check your league settings. It’s so important to know if your league counts receptions and return yards for offensive players.
I honestly can’t tell you how it’s gonna play out in Denver this season. I know they obviously didn’t spend a 2nd round pick on Montee Ball for him to sit on the bench. The Broncos depth chart has Ronnie Hillman listed as the starter at the moment. I know the Broncos will be using Knowshon Moreno and Lance Ball this season too. So yeah, it’s gonna be a crowded backfield, kinda how the Niners looked before the season started last year.
If all these running backs are gone. Take a look at these starters who could help you out in the later rounds:
BenJarvus Green-Ellis (CIN)
Mark Ingram/Pierre Thomas (NO)
Daryl Richardson (STL)
Le’Veon Bell (PIT)
Ryan Matthews (SD)
Here’s two young running backs that I know their teams are expecting a lot out of this season. You could nab them up in the later rounds:
Eddie Lacy (GB)
Lamar Miller (MIA)
DeAngelo Williams and Rashard Mendenahll are two other starters that could go either way this season. Mendenhall looks for a fresh start in Arizona who re-vamped the offensive line through the NFL Draft. He’s been plagued with injuries during his short career though. And DeAngelo Williams, every year he tricks many people into taking him to early. Don’t draft this guy unless you have to have a running back or it’s your last pick in the draft. He always seems to be the fantasy dud at the end of the year.