Reporting Justin Pawlowski
Once upon a time, it was a fore-gone conclusion that the key to winning in Fantasy Football was to secure your 2-3 running backs as early as you could in your draft. Feature backs were at a premium with the NFL going to more of a two-back system.
Over the last couple of years, the value of those running backs has gone down as the value of the top-end quarterbacks has gone up. If you could secure a top 3 quarterback, you could guarantee yourself a spot in the playoffs.
While the top-end quarterbacks from the past couple of years are still available, the number of quality quarterbacks have increased exponentially over the last two seasons. Because of this and the lack of high-caliber running backs, the value is back on the running backs. Not getting two quality running backs within the first 4 rounds this year could result in you settling for an uncertain back as a starter for your team.
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Here’s how Fan Interference ranks the running backs for this season.
The Commish Justin Pawlowski’s RB Rankings:
1. Adrian Peterson – MIN – Don’t overthink this. He’s one of the best offensive players in the game and produced in a big way last season when opposing defenses knew his quarterback was not a threat.
2. Jamaal Charles – KC – Charles had a slight injury scare at practice on Monday, but it turned out to be nothing serious. Charles has the potential to put up huge numbers in Andy Reid’s offense. Charles also does not have much behind him in terms of depth.
3. Doug Martin – TB – I wanted to put Martin 2nd, but I’m concerned Brian Leonard could steal some goal line touchdowns from him. Martin can make plays on the ground and through the air, all while running behind one of the best offensive lines in the NFL.
4. Lesean McCoy – PHI – No one knows what Chip Kelly has up his sleeve, but it’s almost a guarantee that the running back will be a vital position for him. Whether at New Hampshire or Oregon, Chip Kelly’s offenses always end with his running backs putting up massive statistics.
5. Arian Foster – HOU – Foster always has potential to put up big fantasy points, but he’s also a near lock to missing a few games to injury.
6. Marshawn Lynch – SEA – Beast mode is back for the Seahawks. While Russell Wilson is a good quarterback, the Seahawks pride themselves on being able to run the football. Lynch will also get goal line carries.
7. Trent Richardson – CLE – Richardson is another true feature back who never leaves the field. In an offense run by Rob Chudzinski and Norv Turner, Richardson will be the focal point and has potential for a huge season.
8. CJ Spiller – BUF – One thing will be for certain from Doug Marrone in his first year as Bills head coach, and that will be to run the ball with Spiller as often as possible.
9. Ray Rice – BAL – As was seen in his first preseason game, Rice is still a legit threat on the ground and through the air.
10. Steven Jackson - ATL – I believe Jackson still has a lot left in the tank and is now in an offense where he isn’t the main focus of the opposing defense.
11. Alfred Morris – WAS – Morris was a great grab last season, but haven’t we all been down this road before with Mike Shanahan running backs? Morris could be another nice grab late in your first round.
12. Matt Forte – CHI – Marc Trestman’s offense might be a mystery, but the improved Bears offensive line is not. Forte is a threat in all parts of the game.
13. Chris Johnson – TEN – I’m not giving up on Chris Johnson yet. The Titans brought in veteran guard Andy Levitre and 1st round pick Chance Warmack to open up holes for Johnson. For the first time in years, the Titans have an offensive line that can control the line of scrimmage.
14. Steven Ridley – NE – Tom Brady does not have many weapons returning, but his physical running back is. Ridley had 12 touchdowns last season and could duplicate that again this year.
15. Reggie Bush – DET – Bush quietly had a lot of success with the Dolphins the last couple of years. With the Lions passing attack, Bush might find himself running through big holes as defenses prepare to stop Calvin Johnson.
Jim Lighthall’s RB Rankings:
1. MIN Adrian Peterson – so say he only gets to 1,800 yards this year … are you going to complain?
2. SEA Marshawn Lynch – he runs hard every time he touches it … and he will touch it a lot
3. HOU Arian Foster – the addition of Greg Jones at FB will only help
4. KC Jamaal Charles – a workhorse who’s numbers only get better with the addition of Alex Smith at QB
5. BUF C.J. Spiller – “We’re going to give him the ball until he throws up,” says offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett … that’s all I needed to hear!!
6. TB Doug Martin – the way he can catch passes too, there is little reason for him to leave the field
7. TEN Chris Johnson – with the Titans additions up front, he should put up some big numbers again
8. BAL Ray Rice – the emergence of Bernard Pierce cuts into his numbers even more
9. ATL Steven Jackson – he’ll get to 1,000 yards easily … how high his numbers go is the question
10. CLE Trent Richardson – as long as he stays healthy he’ll put in the numbers
11. WSH Alfred Morris – doesn’t do anything great, but does a lot of things well
12. NE Stevan Ridley – added muscle + Tom Brady at QB = another good year
13. CHI Matt Forte – he’ll get a ton of catches in that new Bears offense too
14. JAX Maurice Jones-Drew – I know his fullback is gone, but I think he could rush for 1,000 yards running behind a Girl Scout troop … oh wait, he might have to
15. DET Reggie Bush – he could pile up some big numbers in that Lions offense
1) Adrian Peterson –AP thinks he can rush for 2,500 yards this year. We’ll settle for 1800+ yards and 16 touchdowns from the best running back on the planet.
2) LeSean McCoy –Shady has been one NFL’s most dynamic backs since he came on the scene in 2010. That was in Andy Reid’s pass-heavy attack. Look for a career-year under new coach Chip Kelly.
3) Doug Martin –Dougie Fresh is being taken as high as Number 2 overall in fantasy drafts. You could even make a case for the 2nd year Buc as the Number 1 back in PPR leagues.
4) Arian Foster –Maybe the most consistent every-down RB in football. Look for Foster to have another solid campaign.
5) Jamaal Charles -2011’s ACL injury had little effect on KC’s burner. Look for Charles to get even better this year especially in PPR formats.
6) Ray Rice –Like Foster, Ray Rice puts up great numbers year after year. 2013 will be no different. Draft him in the mid-1st round with confidence.
7) Alfred Morris –Which rookie running back was second in the league in yards and touchdowns last year? No, not Doug Martin. It was Alfred Morris. With RGIII recovering from ACL surgery, look for the Skins to lean on Morris even more in 2013.
8) Marshawn Lynch –The most physical runner in football should have another productive season in 2013, especially with Percy Harvin being out for an extended period of time.
9) Steven Ridley –The Patriots haven’t had this many question marks entering a season since 2001. Steven Ridley is not one of them. New England will run the ball more than ever this year due to their lack of depth at WR and TE.
10) CJ Spiller –The dynamic Bills’ ball-carrier finally lived up to the hype in 2012. He will get the lion’s share of the carries in 2013 so look for big things.
11) Trent Richardson –This kid is tough and you need to be tough to run the ball in the AFC North. Look for the second-year stud to get well over 300 carries this year.
12) Matt Forte –The Bears’ do-everything back should have another solid year in 2013. Draft him in the 2nd round with confidence.
13) Darren McFadden –If this guy could just stay healthy, he could be the best player in fantasy. That’s a big if.
14) David Wilson –The Bucs looked pretty smart when they drafted Doug Martin over David Wilson last year. It took a while, but Wilson got it together late in 2012. Look for him to build on that in 2013.
15) Montee Ball –Being a running back in a Peyton Manning-led offense is never a bad thing. Look for Ball to be the best rookie back in fantasy this year.