2015 Fantasy Football: Running Back Rankings (Part 2)

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With the 2015 NFL season less than 3 months away, it’s time to start doing prep work for your fantasy football draft. Over the next few weeks I will be breaking down every position with a primer, rankings, sleepers, busts, and rookies.

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Below is part 2 of my 2015 running back rankings (Part 1) based on Yahoo’s standard settings plus .5 PPR since it is becoming such a popular format.

26.) Isaiah Crowell, Browns – One of my favorite backs in last year’s draft and a guy I really wanted the Bears to sign as an UDFA. Crowell ended up winning the Browns starting RB job in the 2nd half of last season and is the favorite to have the job in week 1 of 2015. The return of Pro Bowl center Alex Mack should improve the Browns running game and Crowell should be the beneficiary. He has legit RB1 talent and I think he’ll hold off Terrance West and rookie Duke Johnson. With serious QB issues and no WRs, the Browns could easily lead the league in rush attempts which could mean a big season for Crowell. He should have the goal-line job locked up after scoring 7 TDs on just 15 red zone attempts.

27.) Tre Mason, Rams – If Todd Gurley is the Rams starting RB in week 1, then this ranking will look foolish but I don’t think it will be. There is a real chance Gurley starts the season on the PUP list which would leave Mason as the Rams workhorse back. Mason took over as the Rams starter in the 2nd half of last season and was solid with a 4.3 YPC average and 4 TDs. I think the Rams will be cautious with Gurley even when healthy which means Mason should be in line for double-digit carries per game all season. Mason is currently going in the 9th-10th round which is great value for a guy who could be a solid FLEX option.

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28.) Tevin Coleman, Falcons – Keep an eye on the battle between Coleman, 2nd-year back Davonta Freeman and explosive back-up Antone Smith. I’m expecting a committee approach which hurts the value of all three in fantasy, but if Coleman wins the job outright and gets 15+ touches per game he has the talent to be a dangerous Flex option in fantasy lineups. Coleman doesn’t have one skill that stands out, but showed a knack for breaking long runs in college despite defenses being stacked against him as the Hoosiers only weapon. I think Coleman is the most talented back on the Falcons roster and will ultimately win the RB1 job but it may not happen till late in the year which is why he’s not higher in my rankings. .

29.) C.J. Spiller, Saints – It’s been downhill for Spiller since his breakout 2012 season when he averaged 6.0 YPC on 207 carries (!) in 2012. He also averaged 10.7 yards per catch that season and looked like a future star, but his stats have declined significantly the last two seasons. A change of scenery might be what Spiller needs as the Bills were never consistent with their RBBC approach. With the Saints Spiller should have a consistent role as the 3rd down back and possibly catch 60-75 passes while doing some damage in the run game as well. Spiller is a high upside sleeper in 2015.

30.) Joique Bell, Lions – The longer Bell sits out with Achilles and knee injuries, the bigger risk he runs in losing his job to rookie RB Ameer Abdullah. Bell has been a decent back the last two seasons, but Abdullah has a mix of explosiveness and breakaway speed that Bell just can’t match. I could see Abdullah taking Bell’s starting gig early in the season and not giving it back. If healthy Bell should at least hold on to the red zone back job which is why I still have him in the top 30 RBs.

31.) LeGarrette Blount, Patriots – It is impossible to trust Bill Belicheck when it comes to running backs, but on paper Blount has the best shot to be the Pats best fantasy RB. He has the power and vision in the trenches to be a force in the Pats scheme, but between his off-field instability and Belicheck’s RB juggling… I can’t in good faith rank Blount any higher. That being said, if Belicheck gives him the ball 20 times per game Blount has a shot to be a top-15 RB.

32.) Gio Bernard, Bengals – This ranking is more about how much I like Jeremy Hill than any knock on Bernard. Hill should get the majority of the carries, but Bernard has had a solid 2-year career so far. He’s averaged over 4 YPC and almost 9 yards per catch. Bernard is a legit weapon out of the backfield and has enough power to run between the tackles when needed. The problem is that Hill is even better and should get 20+ touches per game this year which will limit Bernard to around 10ish and keep his fantasy value lower than it would be on a different team.