2015 Fantasy Football: Running Back Rankings (Part 2)

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33.) Ameer Abdullah, Lions – I thought Abdullah was the 3rd best RB in this year’s draft and reports from Lions OTAs seem to back that up. As Joique Bell struggles to recover from knee and Achilles injuries, Abdullah is making a serious push for his job.  He has all the tools to be a 3-down back, but is a little undersized (5’9 | 205) and had fumbling issues in college. Abdullah is the most explosive back on the Lions roster and if he gets a chance to play could be an impact fantasy player. If Bell is still less than 100% by the time the season starts, bump Abdullah up 8-10 spots in the rankings.

34.) David Cobb, Titans – The Titans used a 2nd round pick on RB Bishop Sankey last year, but he failed to make an impact in any aspect of the game. Sankey is projected to be the starter this season, but running backs that don’t show either speed or power generally don’t get too many chances. Cobb at least should be a good short-yardage back with the size (5’11 | 229) to be the favorite for goal-line duties early in the season and enough shiftiness in the open field to be a 3-down back if Sankey struggles again. Cobb could be a solid FLEX option by the 2nd half of the season and is worth a spot on your fantasy roster.

35.) David Johnson, Cardinals – One of the surprises of draft process, Johnson has an exciting combo of size (6’1 | 224) and speed (4.5). The Cards struggled to run the ball last year and have little talent at the position besides Andre Ellington. They tried to make Ellington a 3-down back last year and it failed miserably so somebody will be getting 12-15 touches to spell Ellington this year and I think it will be Johnson. He has the athleticism to be a solid back and was also one of the best receiving backs in the draft. In PPR leagues, Johnson could end up having FLEX value by mid-season with the potential for much more if the injury prone Ellington gets banged up again.

36.) Rashad Jennings, Giants – His first season in New York was a mixed bag with 3 games of over 100 total yards but 8 games with under 60 rushing yards and his usual nagging injuries. If Jennings had a clear path to carries I would feel better about his fantasy prospects, but the addition of Shane Vereen will keep him on the bench on 3rd downs and bruising 2nd year RB Andre Williams should take red zone duties. I just don’t see Jennings getting enough carries or TD opportunities to be a consistent fantasy asset in 2015.

37.) Ryan Mathews, Eagles – He’s missed 20 games over the last 5 seasons, but a backup role behind DeMarco Murray could be what Matthews needs to stay healthy. He’s probably not going to get enough carries to have an immediate fantasy impact, but if Murray where to get hurt than Matthews is a quality RB2. I wouldn’t bank on injury with most RBs, but last year was the first time Murray managed to play all 16 games in a season.

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38.) Charles Sims, Bucs – Doug Martin is not good. Don’t believe the off-season reports or the local scribes touting Martin’s return to his rookie year form. He’s been awful the last two seasons (3.6 YPC) and he hasn’t had a good burst through the line since 2012. As bad as Martin has been, Sims didn’t show anything in his first season either. He averaged a paltry 2.8 YPC and failed the eye test miserably. I loved Sims in college and his tape reminded me of Matt Forte, so I’m not giving up on him yet. At Sims’ price, he’s worth an end of the draft gamble.

39.) Doug Martin, Bucs – There is some preseason buzz on Martin but I’m not sure why, he has been useless the last two seasons and until I see otherwise he won’t be on any of my fantasy rosters. Opportunity is more important than talent some times and Martin is in line to get the majority of carries early in the season at least, so he could have some value. I’d bet Sims takes his job by mid-season at the latest.

40.) Shane Vereen, Giants – If the Giants didn’t have so many RBs, Vereen would be higher on my list. Unfortunately for Vereen, Rashad Jennings is locked in for the early down snaps and Andre Williams will most likely get the red zone carries. Vereen should catch plenty of passes between the 20s, but I don’t see him getting enough touches or red zone opportunities to have significant fantasy value.

41.) Roy Helu, Raiders – With only 82 touches last season on a really bad team, Helu’s contributions were over looked by most. His YPC average of 5.4 was one of the best in the league (40 carries) as was his 11.4 YPR (43 catches). The Raiders are counting on a combination of Latavius Murray and Trent Richardson to handle the majority of the early down duties, but Murray is untested and injury prone while T-Rich is just outright bad at football. I like Murray to have a breakout season, but if his nagging injuries pop up again then Helu could be a useful fantasy option. In PPR leagues Helu is already worth a bench spot with a ton of upside if Murray gets hurt.

42.) Reggie Bush, 49ers – 2nd year RB Carlos Hyde is in line to be the Niners work-horse, but he didn’t prove enough during his rookie campaign to ease all concerns over his ability to handle the job and is currently dealing with a leg injury. Bush has had an up-and-down career, but reportedly is in great shape, 100% healthy, and in line to be the Niners 3rd down back. Should Hyde struggle, Bush should see an increase in touches. Plus the Niners are in shambles right now and could be trailing often which means more passing plays and more snaps for Bush. There are enough question marks with both Hyde and the Niners that I think Bush could end up seeing more touches than expected. In the 10th round there is little to no risk anyway and Bush has more upside than most players available that late.