The tried and true strategy for fantasy drafts has been draft your running first and most likely second. A funny thing happened to that strategy and its called running back by committee. Yes there are always is the #1 back, but most of the time the change up back is also the TD hog. There are very few true #1 backs that don’t get spelled for significant time or lose carries at the goal line. Yes most of these running backs still touch the ball over 50 percent of the time but they don’t score enough fantasy points throughout the season to justify the high pick in your fantasy draft anymore after you get past the few running backs that still dominate the statistics! With so few franchise running backs the top ones are still going quickly in your draft, so if you don’t have a top four pick you might as well get a stud at another position.
Bears Spotlight- Matt Forte
There’s only one reason that Matt Forte isn’t considered elite in fantasy running back rankings—TOUCHDOWNS! Forte does everything very good and is very consistent in fantasy points but he rarely gives you the huge point week because he rarely finds the end zone. Forte is great if you are in a points per reception league because he is a fantastic receiver out of the backfield. In Mike Tice’s offense Forte should get plenty of chances to churn out the yardage, but if it is a Vikings replica it could be another dry touchdown season for Forte unless he can bust out several 20+ yard touchdown runs. Forte getting his long term contract signed and in training camp has to be a great sign for a good year! If possible late in your draft getting Michael Bush to handcuff Forte would be in your best interest.
Fantasy Top 10 RB
1. Ray Rice
Very similar to Matt Forte in that Rice averages about the same yardage per carry, and is a very important piece to the passing game. The reason he ranks #1 is that he finds the end zone on both the ground and through the air. Rice will be a top 3 pick in almost every draft because he’s one of the few feature backs that doesn’t get pulled at the goal line. Ravens run the ball and play defense so you can’t go wrong with Rice on your roster or as your #1 draft pick.
2. LeSean McCoy
McCoy keeps getting better in each NFL season. He really became a star last season with 17 rushing TD’s to go along with 3 receiving TD’s. McCoy always looks like he’s about to fumble or about to get leveled, but he always puts a great juke on the defender and gets it up field. Along with Rice and Foster these are guaranteed to be the first 3 guys off the board this year. If you don’t have a top 3 pick and you want them get ready to make a trade! There’s no reason to believe there will be a regression in McCoy this season as long as Vick stays healthy.
3. Arian Foster
Foster is a fantasy stud. Foster hates fantasy football which is rather humorous. Foster stats actually dipped last season but he missed the first three games with a hamstring injury, but he played extremely strong with Matt Schaub out with injury so it will be very exciting to see the Texans offense with all of its pieces healthy together. Foster does it all so he’s a no brainer each week in your lineup.
If you had Johnson on your roster like I did last year…You got burned! Of course I traded him for Adrian Peterson and Peterson gets injured and Johnson goes for over 100 yards and a touchdown in 3 of the next 4 weeks. It’s still amazing that Johnson ended with another 1,000 yard season with how bad the first half of his season was on the ground. This will be a redemption year for Johnson and he could easily end up as the #1 running back in fantasy again if Hasselbeck and the Titans passing offense have any type of success.
MJD is still holding out with no end in sight. Thanks Phil Emery for getting the Forte deal done! This really reminds me of Chris Johnson last season. It’s interesting that since Fred Taylor left Jacksonville MJD yards have increased each season but his touchdowns fell and then leveled off. He’s trapped in a terrible offense and he’s the only star on the roster. MJD really needs Gabbert to develop and Blackmon to arrive right away to help the offense improve.
Murray gets his shot at being the next Cowboy legendary running back since Jerry Jones pet project Felix Jones has never been able to hold down the running back position. Murray and the Cowboys are projecting a 1,2oo yard season which has to be music to the ears of Tony Romo. Murray will get his chances at the goal line too so 10-15 touchdown season could be in the works. He may not duplicate his 253 yard performance against the St Louis Rams again but the sky’s the limit for this lone star. He’s been getting drafted as high as #12 overall in some mock drafts.
McFadden has one problem which is staying healthy. He’s a very talented running back that in the past two seasons averaged over 5 yards per carry in some bad offenses, but he still hasn’t made it through an entire 16 game season. Draft with caution!!!! He doesn’t have Michael Bush to back him anymore so there’s no value in handcuffing him. He’s a top 5 talent with huge risk.
Buyer Beware again. For the first time in his career, Peterson didn’t collect a 1,000 yard season due to injuries. He more than likely won’t start the season completely healthy if he even gets on the field. Peterson should be healthy come fantasy playoff time so the investment could be worth if you can collect enough wins to get into your playoffs. Peterson’s health is a huge question mark so if you are cautious about injuries like me you just pass on Peterson this season.
What did you forget about Charles? Back to Back 1,000 yard campaigns before his knee buckled in Week 2 last season. His pain could be a huge value for you in the draft. He should fall in most drafts, but he’s been announced healthy and he could be the bounce back player of the year candidate with Chris Johnson. It’s football so health will be an issue, but expect a good season from Charles.
10. Darren Sproles
Sproles was made for the Saints offense. He doesn’t get a ton of carries through the season, but he gets a lot of balls thrown his way and with his speed once he gets in the open field he’s always a threat to get into the end zone. Mark Ingram will get most of the rushing duties for New Orleans, but expect offensive coordinator Drew Brees to call a bunch of passing plays this season which will have Sproles on the field collecting a ton of fantasy points.
Running Back Bust-Marshawn Lynch
Lynch had a great season last year especially when he went into “Beast Mode”, but he was running for the big payday. Not only does he have a new contract, Lynch has legal issues and probable suspension heading his way. Lynch has never been consistent and shockingly his only other 1,000 yard campaign came in 2008. Lynch will go high in your draft but I find it hard to see the value in this pick when Lynch could easily backslide back to his normal 700 yard 4 td type of non contract year season.
Rookie Sleeper-Doug Martin
The Tampa Bay Bucs have soured on LeGarrette Blount so they picked Martin in the draft, and by all accounts he will have his chance to get on the field alot while sharing carries with Blount. Martin is way better at catching the ball out of the backfield so he will be in the game on 3rd downs on an offense that should be vastly improved with the addition of Vincent Jackson. Unless you’re in a draft with a Bucs fan, Martin should be a good value pick in the middle of the draft!
My breakout for the season was going to be Ryan Matthews before he broke his collarbone in his first pre-season game. What’s your top 10 fantasy running backs? Let me know your sleepers and busts for the season in the Comments section!! Thanks for reading!