2015 Fantasy Football: Running Back Rankings (Part 1)

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14.) Joseph Randle, Cowboys – The Cowboys had the best O-line in football last year and with most of the line being 25 or under, they could be even more dominant in 2015. In limited action (51 carries) Randle showed talent last season with a ridiculous 6.7 yards per carry. There is no way he’s going to match that as the lead back this season, but the fact that the Cowboys didn’t pursue an established RB1 leads me to believe it wasn’t a fluke. Running behind that O-line should give Randle the opportunity to have a breakout season with 1,000+ yards and double-digit TDs a real possibility. He has enough size (6’0 | 210) to hold up with the increased workload and showed good receiving skills in college. Randle is one of my top choices for a breakout season in 2015.

15.) Mark Ingram, Saints – Showed flashes of what he could do last season with a 3-game stretch where he gained 392 yards rushing and scored 3 TDs. He’s been stuck in a platoon situation with the Saints and still may be splitting snaps with C.J. Spiller, but should be the primary red zone back and see 15+ carries per game at least in a Saints offense supposedly focused on running the ball this season. Ingram just missed my sleeper list, mainly because I don’t want to jinx the two keeper league sqauds I have him on.

16.) Lamar Miller, Dolphins – Coming off a breakout season where he eclipsed the 1,000 yard mark for the first time, averaged 5.1 YPC, and scored 9 total TDs. Sounds great right? The reason Miller is this low on my list is that the Dolphins didn’t give Miller 20 or more carries in a game last season and only have once in his three year career. The Dolphins have tried to establish a two-back committee the last three years bringing in mostly sub-par backs like Daniel Thomas, Knowshon Moreno, and Damien Williams. If I thought Miller had a chance to get 20+ carries on a semi-regular basis, he would be a few spots higher because he’s a legit talent, but the Dolphins will most likely continue to share the carries with rookie Jay Ajayi (6’0 | 220) possibly taking the goal-line work.

17.) Alfred Morris, Redskins – He loses value in PPR leagues with an average of only 12 catches per season over his three year career. Morris also lacks breakaway speed and rarely makes any highlight reel runs, but he has averaged over 4 YPC every season of his career. Averaging 4.1 YPC last year despite playing behind a leaky O-line with no QB is pretty darn impressive. The Redskins did draft Matt Jones in the 3rd round and are reportedly very high on him as their 3rd down back. If Jones produces, he’s going to cut into Morris’ touches and has the size (6’2 | 231) to take over Morris’ early down role as well. Morris’ stats have decreased in each of his three seasons and if he doesn’t show more explosion he could lose some touches to Jones.

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18.) Latavius Murray, Raiders – Didn’t get significant touches until late in the year, but showed flashes of impact talent like a 90-yard TD run vs the Chiefs and a 5.2 YPC average for the season. Murray has elite size (6’3 | 225), breakaway speed, and presumably the #1 spot on the RB depth chart. The Raiders revamped their O-line with 4 free agents, including center Rodney Hudson, and should have a much improved ground attack in 2015. Murray has the talent to be a top-12 RB, but it’s the Raiders so something will probably go wrong.

19.) Carlos Hyde, 49ers –  I was one of Hyde’s biggest supporters going into the 2014 season and thought he would take Frank Gore‘s job by the end of the season, but was disappointed in what I saw from Hyde on the field. I saw little difference between Hyde and Gore despite the age gap and Hyde’s presumed edge in athleticism. Hyde is the clear starter now, but the Niners aren’t the same team after losing two of their three best O-linemen (Iupati, Davis). The Niners also lost a lot of talent on defense which could lead to them playing from behind often. The farther the Niners fall behind, the more often 3rd down back Reggie Bush will be on the field instead of Hyde. It doesn’t help that Hyde has yet to participate in OTAs due to a leg injury. Hyde has the talent to be a stud fantasy player, but there are still a ton of question marks.

20.) Justin Forsett, Ravens – Was perhaps the biggest surprise in the league last season (1,529 total yards, 8 TDs) but the loss of Gary Kubiak‘s offensive scheme could turn Forsett back into the player he was the first five years of his career. New OC Marc Trestman’s offense should lead to a lot of catches for Forsett, but I am skeptical he can come close to matching his rushing production from last season. The Ravens have added two RBs in the 4th round of the last two drafts (Buck Allen, Lorenzo Taliaferro) and I think one if not both will cut into Forsett’s touches this season.