2015 Fantasy Football: Running Back Rankings (Part 2)

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43.) Duke Johnson, Browns –  Arguably the most explosive back in this year’s draft, but the Browns backfield is too crowded to get excited about Duke’s fantasy prospects this season. Best case he has Darrin Sproles type value which is good enough for a roster spot and maybe a start during a bye week. He has legit big play potential, but the presence of last year’s rookie backs (Crowell & West) will probably limit his touches. Duke is likely to start the season as the Browns 3rd down back, which makes him a decent value in the 10th-12th round range.

44.) Jay Ajayi, Dolphins – The Dolphins don’t seem to trust Lamar Miller to be a work-horse back. They brought in bums like Daniel Thomas and Damien Williams to split carries with Miller for some reason the last two seasons, and I think they will give Ajayi every chance to earn carries and keep Miller fresh. If not for some suspect knee x-rays, Ajayi could have gone as high as the 2nd round after a very productive 2014 season at Boise St. He could be a steal for the Dolphins and a stealth fantasy pick late in the draft.

45.) Cameron Artis-Payne, PanthersJonathan Stewart is a talented RB but he’s missed 20 games over the last three seasons. Odds are that he’s going to miss at least a handful of games this year as well and when he does, Artis-Payne should be in line for the job. If he can’t beat out Fozzy Whitaker than I’m way off on Artis-Payne’s skill-set. His one-cut and go style seems like an ideal fit for the Panthers scheme and he has enough power to gain Ron Rivera‘s trust quickly and earn more carries as the season progresses.

46.) Devonta Freeman, Falcons – Based on most analyst’s rankings, rookie Tevin Coleman is a heavy favorite to win the starter’s job but it is far from a sure thing. My bet is that the Falcons will run a RBBC approach between the two with explosive Antone Smith getting some touches as well. I’m not sure any of the three Falcons backs will get enough touches to be a fantasy starter, but if Coleman or Freeman were to get hurt, the other guy could become an impact fantasy player.

47.) Terrance West, Browns – Is the least talented of the three RBs in the Browns backfield, but he does have better size and power than the other two. West could carve out a spot as the Browns short yardage back, but Crowell scored 7 TDs in 15 red zone carries last season so West may never get another shot at the goal-line gig.

48.) Lorenzo Taliaferro, Ravens – I’ve already explained why I dropped Forsett down to #20 in my rankings and I think either Taliaferro or rookie Buck Allen is going to have a significant role in the Ravens offense this season. Taliaferro has a year’s edge in experience on Allen and the best size of the three which I think gives him the best shot to take over once Forsett turns back into a pumpkin.

49.) DeAngelo Williams, Steelers – He’ll have two games as the starting RB in the Steeler’s high-octane offense, but after that he’s relegated to back-up duty behind Le’Veon Bell for the rest of the year. Williams wouldn’t make a bad end of the roster pick as he could put up a solid 12-15 points the first two weeks of the season, but he is waiver material once Bell comes back from his suspension.

50.) Fred Jackson, Bills – Old reliable should take over the short yardage duty for newly acquired LeSean McCoy. He won’t get as many touches as he got the last two years now that he’s a backup to McCoy instead of being part of an RBBC. Jackson’s best shot at fantasy value is an injury to McCoy which isn’t impossible, but not enough to draft someone on.

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51.) Alfred Blue, Texans – The Texans led the league in total rushes last season and should be among the leaders again this year. Arian Foster is still the lead back in Houston, but Blue should be his primary backup and with Foster’s unreliable health I’d be surprised if Blue doesn’t get a few starts in 2015. His numbers weren’t impressive last year (3.1 YPC) but he showed some flashes of speed and power and could be a useful fantasy player when Foster gets banged up.

52.) Darren McFadden, Cowboys – Never again.

53.) Darren Sproles, Eagles – Despite less than 100 touches last season, Sproles still finished as the 24th ranked fantasy RB. With both DeMarco Murray and Ryan Matthews in the mix this year, I don’t see Sproles being involved enough in the offense to match his production last year. That being said, both Murray and Matthews are notoriously injury prone and it may be worth a flyer with the last pick or two in your draft to stash Sproles.

54.) Toby Gerhart, Jags – His first season with the Jags was a big letdown, but he was supposedly hampered by a hamstring injury. Reports out of Jacksonville are that Gerhart is 100% healthy and is going to push rookie T.J Yeldon for the starting job. My money is on Yeldon, but Gerhart had success as a backup with the Vikings in 2013. The Jags offense should be much better this season and you could do worse with your last pick than Gerhart. It’s a long-shot, but if he beats out Yeldon for the starting job he could be a solid Flex option.

55.) Matt Jones, Redskins – A surprise 3rd round pick (I had him going in the 6th) who the Redskins are apparently very high on. Jones is projected to take over Roy Helu’s role as the Skins 3rd down back. Helu never had enough touches to crack fantasy lineups and I don’t expect Jones to either unless Alfred Morris goes down with an injury.

Next: 2015 Fantasy Football: Running Back Busts

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