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2013 Running Back Rankings Version 3.0

2013 Running Back Rankings Version 3.0

Updated (8/14)
By: Pete Davidson : August 05, 2013 12:15am

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Welcome to the third version of the tailback rankings. There are some changes, and there are more coming as the camp battles and injury situations continue to play out.
Yes, there are still more shoes to drop with the running backs. In a few weeks, when most of you draft, things will be a lot more clear. Hopefully.

As always, remember that we use a non-PPR 12-team league with a flex position as a baseline for the rankings. Adjust accordingly if your format differs. We’ll be doing some PPR work next week, so check back for that if you play in any PPR leagues. Also, for what it’s worth, understand that I lean towards youth at the RB position. I also downgrade for recurring health problems. If you like taking risks, then go for it, but I look for younger backs with solid floors as much as I can. The rankings reflect this.  I did my best to update as many player Skinnies as I could.  A few may be a tad stale, but I tried to get to most of the key guys.  I'll be updating all of the rankings every week now and I'll do my best to keep the Skinnies fresh too.

Don't forget to use our search feature to the right.  It works as you type and it works fast.  Just starting typing a player's name and boom!

I'll be posting cheat sheets and our first Player Universe of 2013 tomorrow.  And, for those of you who’ve yet to discover it, The Rotobahn is open and it’s only going to get better. Check it out.

***UPDATE***  I refreshed the rankings on 8/14, but some of the write ups are dated.

Pos Rank Rank PLAYER TEAM BYE ADP Tier THE SKINNY
1 1 Adrian Peterson MIN 5 1 1 Meet the top tier. AP is all by himself. He should be the first man taken in any league. He’s the best at his position by a large margin and his team is improving around him. And oh yeah ... he’s healthy this year with injuries to rehab. Take this guy if you can and do it with confidence.
2 2 Doug Martin TB 5 3 2 Our number two was a Rotobahn darling in 2012. We expect more of the same this year behind an improved offensive line. Martin is the total package with a perfect build for the position. His OL will be healthy this year, so his arrow is pointing decidedly up. Is it reasonable to take Foster or perhaps Jamaal Charles or C.J Spiller? Sure, but we’d take Martin because we love his combo of high-end talent, health and situation. There are no backs on his roster that will hurt his fantasy value.
3 3 CJ Spiller BUF 12 5 2 Spiller is perhaps the most exciting back in the league and he is primed for his best year to date in new HC Doug Marrone’s offense. Spiller is diverse and can play however he needs to play given game circumstances. While some backs get taken out of the game plan when their team falls behind, Spiller will still be involved ... heavily. While some folks are worried about touch totals, we are not. Spiller is not a volume back. 20 touches is more than enough for him to dominate a game and he should get that on most weeks. We envision 15+ carries and 4-5 receptions on most weeks. Fred Jackson can still play and he will play, but Spiller is as dynamic as any ball carrier in the world. The new staff appreciates the need to use that advantage and Spiller is now fully developed. He’s ready to explode, folks, and he is our 3rd back.
4 4 Jamaal Charles KC 10 4 2 He’s now a season removed from his ACL injury. He’s also in a new offense that we project to help his stats. JC should be a more consistent threat with Andy Reid in charge and with Alex Smith under center. He had some minor issues with soreness last year, so there is still room for improvement with the knee. If that happens, and JC is less limited, he could really break out. He’s a great way to start your team in any format and is arguably as good as anybody once AP is off the board. A career year in 2013 or 2014 is very likely as long as he holds up health-wise.
5 5 Arian Foster HOU 8 2 2 Foster’s touch total is hard to ignore. He’s carried the rock a ton and the nagging injuries are becoming a regular thing now. We suspect that his decline continues this season. He’ll still be an RB1, but his days of being the best back in fantasy football are likely a thing of the past. Still, he’s a good back and you are still in good shape if you back him up with Ben Tate. The Texans’ offense is a great platform for a tailback. That hasn’t changed.
6 6 Marshawn Lynch SEA 12 7 2 Lynch may move up as he’s been outstanding during the bulk of his time in Seattle. The keys are that he avoids any suspension related to his DUI arrest last July and it appears that he has for 2013. The only other thing that gives us pause is the talent that Seattle has assembled behind him. Robert Turbin, Christine Michael and even Spencer Ware are all talented backs. Lynch is the man, but this coaching staff is going to be tempted to play some of these young guys.
7 7 Ray Rice BAL 8 8 2 Rice is a fine back and an RB1. You could reasonably take him higher, but we have some mild concerns about the potential for Bernard Pierce to steal more carries than he did in 2012. Getting Pierce as a handcuff is a good idea. Having said that, there is a bit of an over-correction going on with Rice, who is still in his prime and is a better overall back than Pierce by a solid margin. It would be a mistake for Baltimore to create a shared backfield and we seriously doubt they’ll go that way. Rice belongs in the first round on 12-team drafts.
8 8 Trent Richardson CLE 10 9 2 Richardson is a very appealing fantasy option in terms of both talent and situation. The only real concern we have with T-Rich is injuries. Richardson was banged-up for much of his rookie campaign but he still managed to finish as a top-12 back in most league types. He should be even better this season as we think the players around him have all matured. He also runs behind a very solid line. The new coaching staff is a big plus too. Richardson has the ability to finish as the top back in fantasy football if he puts it all together. He is totally defendable pick anywhere after Peterson is taken. His health is what has me pushing him to #9. A strong and healthy camp could get him a small bump in our rankings.
9 9 Alfred Morris WAS 5 11 2 Morris fits the Washington offense very well. The key to his 2013 value will be Robert Griffin’s health and to a lesser extent, the performance of the other backs on the ‘Skins’ roster. The smart money is on Morris having as good a season as he did in 2012 or better, but if Roy Helu is 100% and has a great camp, that could be a negative factor. Right now, Morris is among the more secure picks you can opt to make.
10 11 Matt Forte CHI 8 16 3 Forte is a player that we like a lot this year. We like the way he fits the new scheme and, given his skills in pass protection, we can’t see him having anything less than a major role if he can stay healthy. He’s a reasonable pick just about anywhere but the top spot. We worry just a little bit about injury, or we’d put him in tier two. We don’t question his toughness, but Forte does take a few too many clean shots due to his size and lack of high-end elusiveness. Right now, Michael Bush is the best handcuff option for Forte owners.
11 13 LeSean McCoy PHI 12 10 3 Shady McCoy is a very talented back that we’ve pimped in the past. So why is he ranked below his ADP? Simple. Though I anticipate a pretty good year from him, I worry about his concussion from last year and the extended recovery time he needed. Then I worry about the new offense and not just the transition that McCoy must make, but the beating he will be taking in a run-heavy attack. I see enhanced risk there due to the concussion issues. I am also somewhat concerned about Bryce Brown, who looked outstanding at times in 2012 and who fits Chip Kelly’s speed requirements to a T. So take McCoy if he’s your guy, but back him up with Brown or perhaps Felix Jones if he has a great camp. Chris Polk is another guy to monitor. The tumblers have been shaken in Philly. It’s a new coach, a new offense and a completely different paradigm. That makes things less predictive. I just don’t have the confidence in McCoy that I had when he was in the Reid/Mornhimweg system. I’m calling him a high-end RB2 with the upside to be elite.
12 14 Steven Jackson ATL 6 17 3 Here we have a VERY interesting back. S-Jax is a player that a lot of fantasy owners swore off years ago due to injury concerns. It was hard to blame them. In fact, I was one of them. But, a funny thing happened over the last four seasons. Jackson has become more durable ... missing only two games during that span. In truth, Jackson’s injury problems were always a secondary concern for me. The bigger one was the fact that he had so little talent around him. Whatever talent was there was usually misused. This led to a drastic drop in goal line chances which, obviously, means fewer scores and less fantasy punch. Now Jackson finds himself in Atlanta, at the heart of an offense so nasty and diverse (with him now in backfield) that he may have an out-of-body feeling when he gets to camp. Ironically, the questions around Jackson are now about how good HE is rather than how good his supporting cast is. Well allow me to end the suspense.... Jackson can ABSOLUTELY still play. To my eyes, Jax still has what it takes to be a quality lead back. The fact that he will now face a lightly populated box for the first time in years has to be exciting for him. While there are no guarantees, I expect Jackson to post RB1 numbers this season if he stays healthy. He’s going to get more carries at the stripe than he has over the last 2-3 years combined and you should expect 1,000+ yards on the ground plus 40-50 receptions and double digit scores. Age and injury rep may push him into the middle of round two in 12-team leagues, but I support your drafting of Jackson just about anywhere outside of the top six. He can still play, folks. Don’t worry about the age. By the looks of things, the Falcons have found the tailback equivalent of Tony Gonzalez. This team is as win-now as you can get. They won’t be saving Jackson for next year and there’s less talent behind him than there was in St. Louis. This is no committee.
13 15 Chris Johnson TEN 8 20 3 CJ could have a big year in 2013. I’m leaning towards that being the case. Johnson still has the talent and he finally has some quality along the offensive line. Shonn Greene will steal more touches than a lot of folks seem to think, and was a solid signing, but CJ is not a back who needs a ton of touches to be great. He’s like Charles and Spiller in that regard. Just get him 15-20 touches. Greene is definitely the handcuff and a very worthy one in 12-team formats and above. Whether or not Greene is the goal line back is an open question. I’m ranking Johnson with the assumption that Greene will get most of the touches when they get down tight to the goal line. One note that I think you might consider before drafting Johnson is his schedule. It’s pretty brutal though 8-games and is outstanding over the 2nd half. That could be a reason to target him as a RB2 versus building your ground game around. He’s also going to be a trade-for guy at some point. If you can get yourself into a playoff run and CJ is your RB2, think you’re in great shape.
14 19 Stevan Ridley NE 10 23 3 I want to love Ridley. I really do. He’s a very good back, but I have a few concerns. First, I worry about his fumbling. He needs to make sure that he’s cleaned that up. There’s too much talent behind him on the depth chart to think that Bill Belichick will tolerate putting the ball on the ground. Shane Vereen lurks and he’s no longer available at handcuff prices. If Vereen makes it to the 7th, Ridley owners would be wise to bite the bullet and take him, but you can’t count on that at this point.
15 22 David Wilson NYG 9 35 4 Yes, Andre Brown is a wildcard and he could steal plenty of touches, including goal line touches. That being said, Brown is coming off of a broken leg, which is far from inconsequential. Brown’s return to being the player he was is likely, but far from a given. Wilson, on the other hand, was a first rounder in 2012 and has elite ability with the rock in his hands. He had a few rookie hiccups and started slow, but his talents are undeniable on film. Unless Wilson simply bombs in camp, he is going to land at least an equal share of the backfield and probably more. He is the best back in the NFC East as far as talent is concerned and that includes LeSean McCoy. Wilson has an outstanding chance at being a 1st round fantasy pick in 2014. He’s risky where we have him ranked, but it’s a risk I am very willing to take because of Wilson’s ceiling, which is very high in the Giants’ offense.
16 23 Lamar Miller MIA 6 38 4 Yes, I know, this is high. The thing is, Miller is a very talented back and we project him to have a large share of the snaps in Miami this season. We loved Miller last year, as some of you know, and without Reggie Bush around, we see Miller’s upside being in the RB1 area. Really. Remember, Miami will be putting a lot more stress on the back-end of defenses in 2013 with Mike Wallace and Dustin Keller in town. They will attack the seam better than they did in 2012 and they can take the top off the D with Wallace. This means a more sparsely packed box for Miller and company. The key question for us right now is who to roster as a handcuff. Our early money is on rookie Mike Gillislee, but we’re not yet ready to rule out Daniel Thomas. This will be firmed-up during camp ... hopefully. Miller has moved up boards in recent weeks and his 3rd round ADP doesn’t help him as far as value goes, but he’s a solid option even at that price if you are looking to draft your RB2 in round three. Take this kid with confidence. He’s worth the risk.
17 25 Reggie Bush DET 9 34 4 Boom, this is Bust. Bust, this is Boom. Ok, now shake hands. As some of you know, I am a big fan of Reggie. His talents are underrated, or at least they were until he got to Miami and started making a lot of analysts look incompetent. Bush’s potential in the Lions’ offense is even better than it was in Miami. Of course, the rub with Reggie is health. He was banged up a lot last year though he gets high marks for toughing it out. My big concern is that his knees do not respond well to returning to artificial turf. The grass in Miami served him well. They need to manage his touches in Detroit or he won’t hold up. The other side of the coin is that Bush has thousand yard potential as both a receiver and as a runner in this offense. He’s the Danny Amendola of RBs. If he stays healthy, he’s a monster.
18 26 Frank Gore SF 9 31 4 It’s all about touches for Frank. The 49ers have added a ton of quality youth the last few years, but, and this is key, nobody as good as Gore, who is a special talent. Since they are a VERY likely playoff team, we are concerned that Jim Harbaugh will do the right thing for the 49ers and not the right thing for Gore’s fantasy GMs. Coaches are funny that way. He also plays with a QB that is going to steal more than a few scores down on the stripe. Lastly, Gore does have a long history of injury though he’s been solid the last few years in that regard. All that said, he’s slipped to 33 overall since we last looked, and at 33, Gore is a very solid option given the state of the position in fantasy football. Again, we tailor our rankings for 12-team leagues with a flex position.
19 27 Le’veon Bell PIT 5 47 4 We’re leaning towards Bell being the primary back, but there’s still risk if you are drafting soon. Rookies can struggle early on and Bell is no lock to dominate touches right away. He may, but he may not. He’s a back we really like. He was one of “Rotobahn’s Guys” going into the draft and we love where he landed. Bell will benefit from playing with Ben Roethlisberger. The two will hook up often in the passing game. Bell has freakish talents for a man his size. If they get him in space, he can blow up defensive backs and he can use his athleticism on guys his size and bigger. This is a very unique tailback with a solid fantasy future. I’d be all over this guy in long term formats.
20 29 Maurice Jones-Drew JAC 9 24 4 His ADP has dropped to 24, but I’m still hesitant to draft him at this point. I hate lisfranc injuries for tailbacks, but ESPECIALLY for MJD, whose cuts where reason #1 for his greatness. I need to see MJD tearing it up in preseason in true MJD form before I’ll consider taking him. Perhaps time will tell a positive story and I hope it does, because the “pocket rocket” is a great talent. For now, I am counseling avoidance. But again, if he is all the way back and demonstrates it on the field, he may move up--perhaps significantly.
21 30 Demarco Murray DAL 11 32 5 Here’s a tough player to value, because we love his ability but we are equally troubled by his inability to stay on the field. It’s also worth noting that the Cowboys’ run blocking projects to be improved but still relatively weak. He’s currently coming off the board in the middle of round three and there is just too much talent at that point to roll the dice on Demarco. If he slips a bit, then he could be a reasonable option. His upside is very real, but so is the risk.
22 34 Montee Ball DEN 9 46 6 Ball is a guy who I may move up significantly in the coming weeks. While I do not love him as a talent, he landed on a team that is a perfect fit for him because he is so sound overall. Ball, despite leaving early for the draft, is one of the more game-ready RBs in the 2013 class. The Broncos thinned their herd by cutting Willis McGahee, but, according to reports, Ronnie Hillman has made a lot of progress this offseason. Until a clear cut starer emerges, there is risk to taking Ball as a RB2.
23 40 Darren McFadden OAK 7 33 6 RUN-DMC is a player I strongly encourage you to leave for someone else to draft. Yes, he has talent, and yes, RBs are hard to find, but I have three issues with McFadden. First, he is injury-prone. Second is that I have yet to see the same guy that I saw before the lisfranc injury (see MJD.) I need to see that guy before I see him as a risk worth taking. Lastly, we have the Raiders. You can get good production out of backs on bad teams, but the Raiders are still a shaky platform to work from. The QB situation is worse than 2012, so McFadden will not have much help in terms of getting the defense out of the box. The best handcuff option for DMC is still up in the air. Early money is on our guy Latavius Murray, but that needs to play out in camp and you always run the risk that they use fullback Marcel Reece as they did in 2012. I do not want to be in “the Raider business” this year until much later in the draft.
24 41 Darren Sproles NO 7 45 6 Another tricky back as he is finally getting on a bit in terms of age (30) and I expect a bigger role for Mark Ingram this year. Sproles obviously has more value in PPR formats, but he’s still a viable option in standard scoring. I expect this to be a transition year in the Saints’ backfield. 2014 could be the year of Ingram, but only if he plays well this season. People seem to forget that Ingram is a capable receiver because he’s been the early down back in N.O., but that has more to do with how good Sproles and to an extent, Pierre Thomas are as receivers. And, that’s really what Sproles is ... a receiver. He’s never totaled more than 100 carries in a season and 87 is his high as a Saint. He only topped five carries twice last year and never totaled ten. Look for more of the same from Sproles. 70+ receptions and a small sample of carries.
25 42 Eddie Lacy GB 4 58 6 Eddie Lacy’s problem, apart from needing to get healthy (toe/fusion surgery), is that the Packers are now loaded with talent in the backfield and a lot of it is in contrast to what Lacy does. This could be a strong committee unless one back really takes charge. And, I’m not just talking about Johnathan Franklin. Both Alex Green and DuJuan Harris are strong talents too and James Starks is looking healthy again. This backfield is a complex cocktail and we’ll need to get a ways into camp before we have a feel what they are going to do with the roles and playing time. Lacy is worth the most because of what he cost (a 2nd rounder) and because he has feature back traits and size. If Lacy proves to be healthy and is the top back after a few weeks of camp, then he’ll be moved up significantly. His talents are very real if he can put it all together. He has massive upside in long term formats and redrafts too. I’ve moved him since our last rankings and he could move up more if he looks good in preseason. And, my advice is to pay very little mind to the reports that Lacy is out of shape. He’s a big back with a big back’s body.
26 58 Ahmad Bradshaw IND 8 67 7 He landed a starting gig unless something goes very wrong in camp. He also landed a desirable gig as Andrew Luck looks to be a very good QB. Bradshaw’s pass protection chops should keep him on the field quite a bit. He’s injury prone for sure, but he’s a light RB2 on draft day as we project him to get more snaps than anybody else in the Colts’ backfield.
27 59 Giovani Bernard CIN 12 75 7 Last year went about as expected as far as BJGE’s performance is concerned, so it’s no surprise that Cincy drafted a back like Bernard early. Gio has a diverse and explosive skill set. What makes him special is his balance and quick feet. He’s also got receiver’s hands. The obvious and currently unresolved issue for Gio is how much he plays early in the year. We’ll be doing all we can to get a feel for how quickly this is going to happen, but we do project Gio to be the back to own at some point in 2013 if not from the get go.
28 63 Shane Vereen NE 10 74 7 One of my favorite sleepers, though folks seem to be picking up on him at this point. It’s nothing against Ridley, who is a very good back. It’s about Vereen being very talented in his own right. Bill Belichick is neither territorial or sentimental. Ridley doesn’t own his position. He has to earn it every day. Ridley is, without question, the more valuable back to own right now, but you need to use a 2nd rounder to get him. Vereen can be had several rounds later in the 6th or 7th. So, as is often the case, the more valuable back isn’t actually a better value.
29 65 Ryan Mathews SD 8 55 7 Mathews is a trendy post-hype player right now and I understand the reasoning. I just don’t fully agree with it. Why? Because the OL in San Diego is beyond bad and Mathews has had a very hard time staying on the field as a pro. He’s got talent and he’s got a gig, so he has some worth, but no way am I counting on him to be my RB2. In truth, I am very unlikely to draft Mathews this year.
30 75 Rashard Mendenhall ARI 9 70 7 Coach Arians seems ready to give the reigns to Mendenhall and that pretty much forces my hand. I’ve moved Mendy up and with improved interior blocking in Arizona, he has the potential to post solid numbers. He’s a light RB2 with some upside. The Cards will really have to get things going for him to get into the RB1 area. We also see other backs getting involved, especially on 3rd down and obvious throwing scenarios. Still, as of now, Mendenhall is the back to own in Arizona.
31 76 Chris Ivory NYJ 10 66 7 In our first rankings, I was shocked at how high Ivory was being taken. Things seem to have adjusted since then and he’s now being taken in teh 5th or 6th round versus the middle of the 3rd. I wonder how many drafters realize that Chris Ivory has only had one season, in both college and the pros, where he has carried the ball more than 100 times. Uno. Ivory had 91 carries in three years at Washington Sate largely due to injuries. Now, after amassing 119 over the last two years combined, we are supposed to jump in feet-first and assume that Ivory will be a 250-300 carry back in 2013 for the Jets. That’s a big pill to swallow. Now consider that Ivory is accustomed to running in N.O., where the first job of opposing defenses is to deal with Brees-to-Graham. The Jets could be a bit of culture shock for Mr. Ivory, who will have to get used to being the first thing the defense is looking to stop. So be careful, folks. While Ivory has legit upside, don’t ignore his risk like the underside of an iceberg. I wouldn’t even consider Ivory until late in the the fifth round in 12-team leagues.
32 81 Mark Ingram NO 7 90 8 If you’ve been reading the Blog, then you know we like Ingram this year. The big key is the Saints playing better as a team, but we suspect his role will increase a bit either way. The one thing to understand with Ingram is his limited ceiling. Barring injuries to the other N.O. backs, Ingram will be a “volume back” in some kind of time share. Right now, we expect him to have his best year to date, but that may still fall short of RB2 value when all is said and done because the Saints rotate their backs so much. With a current ADP of 94, Ingram is a solid value.
33 82 Daryl Richardson STL 11 98 8 We told you all about Richardson last preseason. Coach Turner, my best scout by a country mile, liked him a lot on film and he was dead on. Richardson has a good chance to carve out a role for himself, but he has his work cut out for him with both Stacy and Pead in the mix too. This is probably the best training camp battle at the RB position. My guess is that D-Rich is the most valuable back in St. Louis this year, but it’s about value. All three backs are capable of taking the job, which makes me think that reaching for any particular one is very risky business. This is obviously a situation to watch very closely in the coming weeks.
34 85 Ben Tate HOU 8 102 9 If you’ve been a Rotobahn reader since our inception, you are probably sick of hearing me gush about Tate. Well, prepare for some more sickness, because I am loving Tate’s value right now. His ADP stands at 103 and that is theft when you consider his upside. If I own Arian Foster, I am making sure I own Tate and I won’t wait until the 9th round. In long term formats, Tate is a great guy to own because he could have his own gig in 2014. Tate is in a contract year, which is not insignificant. You can bet that he’s in great shape.
35 88 Andre Brown NYG 9 81 9 The word is that Brown will be the Giants’ goal line back, but I’d be careful about penciling him in for that role all year. At least, not in an exclusive way. It is going to get to the point where they just can’t take David Wilson off the field. As much as we like Brown, we like Wilson more. We suspect that both backs will get plenty of time, but that Wilson is the more valuable of the two and may increase his share as the year wears on. Assuming Brown is in good health, he is a great handcuff option if he slips to the 7th round or later.
36 94 Bryce Brown PHI 12 103 9 There’s a wildcard element to Brown as he’s no longer playing for the folks that drafted him and he does have a ball security issue that needs to be cleaned up. Having said that, this guy has tremendous ability and is a fit for what Chip Kelly wants to do with the Eagles offense. He’s a guy to target as a flex option with serious upside. He may not even need an injury to LeSean McCoy to be a viable starter. It all depends on how good the Eagles are and how much of Chip Kelly’s run-heavy scheme is carried over to the NFL level. I’ve landed Brown in the 9th round a bunch of times and that is a steal. If I owned McCoy in a 12-team league, there’s no way I would wait that long.
37 95 Ronnie Hillman DEN 9 115 9 Hillman is currently #1 on the depth chart, but we still project Montee Ball to be the most valuable back. Hillman’s a factor though and is probably the guy to go after as a handcuff if you do take Ball. Not a big issue right now at Hillman’s ADP. It could get tougher to pull the trigger if Hillman moves up significantly, which he might. Something to watch for sure.
38 96 BenJarvus Green-Ellis CIN 12 79 9 The Law Firm is still the starter until we hear differently, but it’s hard to watch Gio Bernard and not think that BJGE is living on borrowed time. For now, He’s an RB3, mostly because he should get some goal line love. If Bernard develops quickly, BJGE will become a flex at best. Then again, if Bernard has rookie growing pains, Green-Ellis could squeeze another year of fringe RB2 value. This is a situation to watch in August, obviously.
39 101 Shonn Greene TEN 8 173 10 Greene’s role is not yet defined. It’s obvious that he offers nice contrast to Chris Johnson, but just how many snaps he plays is a wide open debate. He could be a designated goal line back, but that is yet to be established. It’s also tough to figure what the threshold is. That is to say, when will they bring him in? Is it a red zone thing or just at the stripe? Johnson can run inside, especially if the blocking is good, so they may not be looking to take him out all the time. This will have to play out a bit in preseason and we’ll see if we can read the tea leaves a bit. For now, we see Green as more of a handcuff option than a flex option, but that can change. Greene is an underrated back. Like with CJ2K, his schedule is pretty brutal though 8-games and is outstanding over the 2nd half. Make him an interesting RB4/5 guy if one or more of your backs has a late bye.
40 102 DeAngelo Williams CAR 4 100 10 DeAngelo survived the June cuts and looks like he’ll be a Panther for one more year. He’s actually slipping in drafts (ADP of 107) to the point where he is a solid value, especially in performance scoring. Williams is still a very talented back. Probably the best in Carolina if all things are considered including ability to stay healthy.
41 109 Johnathan Franklin GB 4 114 10 Do not underestimate this kid. Franklin could take this thing and run with it. He could also encounter some rookie issues and fall behind guys like Alex Green and DuJuan Harris.
42 110 Zac Stacy STL 11 158 10 Stacy is in a 3-way battle for the starting gig in St. Louis. We are fans of all three backs, but Stacy is the best candidate to carry a heavy load due to his size and versatility. What could work against him is being a rookie in Brian Schottenheimer’s offense. If Stacy has a strong camp, that could certainly change things. This is a camp battle to watch very closely. You can see our pre-draft scouting report on Stacy at the bottom of the page.
43 111 Bernard Pierce BAL 8 121 10 Here’s a back you need to know about if you don’t already. Pierce has solid speed for a 218 pound back. He’s a strong runner both inside and outside and he looked very good last year in the Ravens scheme. His upside is effectively capped as long as Ray Rice is healthy, but they obviously want to take some of the load away from Rice and Pierce is the guy who’ll be getting those carries. He’s also a very solid way to protect yourself if you take Rice in a league where hand-cuffing is practical.
44 112 Vick Ballard IND 8 111 10 Ballard is a decent back with some nice versatility, but we expect him to take a back seat to Ahmad Bradshaw for the time being. That’s a tough break for Ballard, who could now be caught by rookie Kerwynn Williams in the race to become the future in the Colts’ backfield. That said, right now, Ballard is a back to watch in case Bradshaw can’t get healthy.
45 113 Fred Jackson BUF 12 125 10 I anticipate F-Jax to settle into a smaller role in 2013. He’s a solid handcuff option for C.J. Spiller IF his ADP cooperates, but he’s unlikely to be the kind of force he’s been in the past. Spiller’s time has come.
46 114 Jonathan Stewart CAR 4 107 10 It’s really hard to get behind Stewart at this point. He’s got all the skill you need, but they can’t seem to commit to a back in Carolina and they just drafted a back we really like in Kenjon Barner. There’s obviously DeAngelo Williams to contend with as well and Mike Tolbert is a goal line vulture and, oh yeah, so is Cam Newton. Now throw in Stewart’s injury history and his double ankle surgery this offseason. Too many red flags to take him as a RB2 option. Stewart is an RB3 with some upside. If he is practicing in camp and playing in preseason games, he will get a small bump, but we need to see it.
47 125 Kendall Hunter SF 9 222 10 He needs to show that he is healthy. If he does, we expect him to be the #2 back in Frisco, but if he is anything less than 100%, we expect LaMichael James to jump ahead of him. This is a key camp battle due to Frank Gore’s age, mileage and long injury history. If SF defines the #2 role better in August, AND, who has that role, either Hunter or James will get a significant bump in the rankings. Right now we are giving Hunter the benefit of the doubt, but this one is close.
48 143 Danny Woodhead SD 8 140 10 Woodhead’s role will have a lot do with how well Ryan Mathews plays and how healthy he can stay. In the event that Mathews misses time, Woodhead could be an interesting player, especially in PPR formats. In fact, he’s got solid PPR appeal even if Mathews is healthy.
49 144 Roy Helu WAS 5 248 10 Helu needs to prove he is healthy. If he is, he can change the landscape in the Washington backfield a bit. He should be the change-of-pace option if he’s in top form and he could steal more touches from Morris than any of the backs in Washington did last year. Helu has as much talent as any back on the roster if he can get healthy. Morris owners should be rooting against this guy.
50 145 Bilal Powell NYJ 10 203 10 Powell is still a player to monitor. He’s better than a lot of folks think and the players ahead of him on the depth chart are both injury-prone, among other things. Powell could end up getting the job by default if Ivory gets hurt as he often does or if Mike Goodson even looks at the GM the wrong way.
51 147 Isaiah Pead STL 11 124 10 Pead will serve a 1-game suspension for a undisclosed past infraction, but is quite a talent and I am sure a lot of folks aren’t giving him much of a chance here. Be careful. Of the three backs, he is the most dangerous with the ball in his hands. His issue is getting the offense down in-full and improving as a pass protector. The best way to draft the Rams backs right now ... is to take the last one available and hope for a home run. They can all play. They are all young. They were all drafted by the current regime. How’s that for a fair fight?
52 150 Joique Bell DET 9 240 11 Bell really played good football in 2012 and he will get a shot to fight for carries and snaps behind new starter Reggie Bush. With Bush and Mikel LeShoure both having troubling injury histories, Bell is a player to know about. He plays well as a runner and as a receiver and he is a max effort guy. Bells brings it on every carry and every block. He’s absolutely a threat to Mikel Leshoure, who is being overdrafted so far with an ADP of 110. Bell’s a steal at his current ADP.
53 153 Christine Michael SEA 12 217 11 Christine is a freak. That sounded terrible, but he is. Check out my scouting report on him from before the NFL draft. It’s linked at the bottom of the page. Camp will be huge for Michael, whose redraft value took a major hit when he landed on a depth chart that already had Marshawn Lynch and Robert Turbin. Michael will need to be outstanding to get significant snaps this year. The thing is, he has outstanding potential. He’s the kind of player who has the upside to force his way onto the field. And, of course, injuries happen. In the case of Seattle’s backfield, you always worry about off-field incidents and suspensions. Understand this.... if Michael gets 15+ carries a week, he is a monster flex with RB2 potential. If he gets the full job somehow, the sky is the limit on a team as strong as Seattle. This is a player you must be aware of. If he jumps Turbin on the depth chart, he is a mandatory handcuff for Lynch in large leagues. Pay attention to Christine Michael. He could be a mandatory pickup at some point in all leagues. In 12-team leagues, he should be owned, period.
54 154 Joseph Randle DAL 11 176 11 Randle will be an interesting player if he can get to the #2 position of the Dallas depth chart. He’s a very solid well-rounded back and, quite frankly, I was bummed when he clocked so poorly at the combine as his speed was my big concern with him. Still, plenty of guys have had bad combines and then played fast at the next level. Randle could be one of those guys and with a brittle DeMarco Murray as the starter, he may get a chance to prove his skills at some point.
55 157 Knile Davis KC 10 251 12 Davis has been much maligned by critics over the last few months and I am not sure why. He has weaknesses and there’s no doubt that he has a troubling injury history, but this guy has enough talent and has shown enough on film to warrant some excitement. He’s a contrast to Jamaal Charles, so they may have a role in mind for him as a bigger change of pace option. Davis could evolve into a potent goal line threat too. If I was a Charles owner in dynasty, I would be making this guy a priority. Check out my scouting report on Knile, linked below. Watch the video. It shows the good and the bad.
56 158 Pierre Thomas NO 7 144 12 I suspect that he’ll be filling his usual role. He’s worth rostering in large leagues as a bye week option or as injury protection for Sproles or Ingram. The PT Cruiser gets a mini-bump in PPR.
57 175 Michael Bush CHI 8 166 12 Bush’s fit in the new Bears offense is not yet determined, but for a big back, he does have some passing game chops. We expect him to be the guy behind Forte and the best handcuff option if you are looking for one. The one player we’d keep an eye on in the Chicago backfield is rookie UDFA Michael Ford, who we liked a lot going into the draft. He’s the guy who we could see making an impact and changing the landscape a bit.
58 183 Robert Turbin SEA 12 226 13 Turbin is a damn good back, but he is now sandwiched between Marshawn Lynch and Christine Michael. He may find it hard to get enough touches unless there is an injury, but there’s no denying his talent. He’s a better all-around back than Michael, but the rookie has freakish speed and strength. The camp battle between Turbin and Michael is actually pretty important, especially if you own Lynch.
59 186 Denard Robinson JAC 9 220 13 Check out my scouting report (linked below) on Denard and you’ll know how much we believe in Mr. Robinson’s talents. He’s looking like a very nice handcuff option for MJD and he may have stand alone value if he picks up the offense quickly enough. This guy could move up a bit in the coming weeks if he is having a strong camp. He’s a great add in long term formats. The reason I am giving Robinson a legit shot at 2013 value is the rebuilding situation in Jacksonville. This is a team that can afford to play young developing talent. All he needs is an MJD health problem and he has major value. That makes him quite rosterable in 12-team formats.
60 199 Jonathan Dwyer PIT 5 228 13 Dwyer could be a bigger factor than a lot of people seem to think, but he’s also a potential hood ornament of Le’Veon Bell takes the role and runs with it. We’ll be all over the Steelers’ backfield in camp. This one should be live for a few weeks in August.
61 205 Knowshon Moreno DEN 9 200 13 His role is up in the air right now. The bottom line is that he just can’t stay healthy. If he could, I’d be tempted to downgrade Montee Ball some, but Moreno just hasn’t been able to hold up. The guy CAN play, so he has value, but he’s looking like the 3rd man in the pecking order right now.
62 208 Mike Tolbert CAR 4 246 13 Tolbert could be a sold fantasy asset if a team some place would give him a good look. He’s versatile for sure with goal line skills AND 3rd down skills. That being said, he’s a role player in Carolina ... not used consistently enough to be a fantasy factor, but enough to limit the value of the other backs on the roster. Tolbert could end up having value, but it will take an injury or two for that to happen.
63 209 Dion Lewis CLE 10 14 For those who like to handcuff their starter, pay attention to Dion Lewis. If he has a good camp and is second on the depth chart, he could be a viable handcuff for Trent Richardson. Lewis was a lot of talent as a ball carrier.
64 212 Latavius Murray OAK 7 279 14 Check out our full scouting report on Latavius. It’s linked at the bottom of the page. The rookie has a shot to be the backup to Darren McFadden, and, given DMC’s injury history, that could be a valuable job. He’s a guy to keep an eye on in July and August.
65 213 Jacquizz Rodgers ATL 6 151 14 His role is murky as Steven Jackson can do it all. Rodgers looks more like a gimmick player right now and has little fantasy value outside of the deepest leagues. Things could change and we’ll be watching in camp for signs that they intend to use Rodgers more than we anticipate.
66 217 Chris Polk PHI 12 14 He’s having a strong camp and is a player to watch in Chip Kelly’s potentially run-heavy scheme.
67 218 Alex Green GB 4 14 The forgotten man. We like Green plenty, but we like all of the top four backs on the Green Bay depth chart. If anybody gets a handle on that gig, they could excel and that most certainly includes Green, who is now a full season removed from his ACL injury suffered in late 2011.
68 219 Stepfan Taylor ARI 9 280 14 Taylor has NFL ability in terms of fundamentals. He’s got some size and can block and contribute in the passing game. He’s a decent ball carrier too, but he lacks wiggle and is speed-deficient. He’s an interesting player and we could see him being a 3rd down back this year if he has a good camp. He’s also big enough to carry the load if he ever needs to. Taylor, in our view, will be in the league for a long while, but whether he can be a fantasy force is going to depend on how talented his competition is. Mendenhall looks like the lead back in ‘Zona for now.
69 220 LaMichael James SF 9 150 14 For those who were reading Rotobahn in 2012, you know we like LaMichael’s game. However, we also like Gore and Kendall Hunter. It’s a thick committee in Frisco and it’s hard to envision much value for those behind Gore unless there is an injury. Just know that James could be a fantasy monster if he ever gets the touches in the SF offense. If Kendall Hunter proves to be all the way back from his achilles injury, James’ value will take a hit. If Hunter is not what he was, then James could end up playing a major role and having substantive value in 12-team leagues. This is a camp battle to watch very closely.
70 224 Andre Ellington ARI 9 297 14 Ellington is one of my favorite backs in this year’s class. He clocked poor times at the combine and then a slightly faster one at his pro day, but he battled a hamstring injury during that stretch. We think he could be a real surprise if he can earn a shot at playing time. We’re interested to see him in preseason to see if he’s regained the speed we saw on film from his days at Clemson. He’s a very nice all-around talent. His redraft value is limited as long as Rashard Mendenhall is healthy, but we like this kid as a value pick in long term formats.
71 225 Marcel Reece OAK 7 212 15 He could still be the man if McFadden has another injury, but we need to see what impact rookie Latavius Murray makes before we recommend taking Reece. Murray is raw, but he’s huge and very fast, so if he clicks, he could be big time.
72 226 Kenjon Barner CAR 4 296 15 We love Barner. Just check our scouting report on him for the finer details. As far as redraft value for 2013 is concerned, Barner is a stretch. There are so many backs ahead of him at this point. Just know this, if Barner gets on the field, he has some legit fantasy potential.
73 230 Toby Gerhart MIN 5 267 15 AP’s handcuff and a decent big back. If you take AP, taking Gerhart late is good business.
74 232 Isaac Redman PIT 5 277 15 Redman needs to have a good camp and make sure he hangs onto his role is the passing game. He needs to beat out La’Rod Stephens-Howling, who offers nice contrast to the LeVeon Bell who projects to be the long term starter.
75 234 Mikel Leshoure DET 9 116 15 We like his potential, but as long as Reggie Bush is healthy, he should be in a secondary role. Mikel is battling injuries right now and we’ll probably bump him up a bit if he is healthy for the start of camp, but even if he is healthy, he has to outplay Joique Bell, which is not a given.
76 235 Rashad Jennings OAK 7 16 Not my pick to win backup duties but he’s in the mix for now.
77 237 Spencer Ware SEA 12 16
78 239 DuJuan Harris GB 4 286 16 The reward for playing above his head was two running backs drafted and a crowded 2013 backfield. Too bad for Harris fans, but he’s now made a name for himself. He’s a guy who can be a factor if he is getting touches. That much is proven. He has nice burst and he breaks tackles like a little Chris Ivory.
79 240 Mike James TB 5 16 James is a back we like and we expect the rookie out of Miami to handle the backup duties to Doug Martin. He’s solid all-around and could carry most of the load if Martin goes down.
80 246 Daniel Thomas MIA 6 236 16 Thomas needs to have a good camp and he needs to stay healthy. He has some ability and some good size. He’s versatile and can function as a 3rd down back if need be. Thomas was concussed multiple times in 2012, so that is certainly something to watch. His lack of wiggle leads to a lot of clean shots.
81 248 Brandon Bolden NE 10 17 Worth keeping an eye on because he runs so hard, but he’s got the deck stacked against him in NE right now with so many established players in front of him. He’s also been banged up (unspecified foot injury) and he could have trouble making the final roster if he can’t find health soon.
82 251 LeGarrette Blount NE 10 17 Let’s see if Brandon Bolden gets healthy. If he doesn’t, maybe Blount could land a job.
83 255 Mike Gillislee MIA 6 269 17 I like this kid and he has a future in the NFL. As a rookie, we expect him to ride shotgun while Lamar Miller gets most of the action. He’s a solid add in dynasty in the middle rounds.
84 271 Ryan Williams ARI 9 171 17 He’s a nice sleeper as he has the talent to be a starter, but he’s got an injury history that just can’t be ignored. Williams is a player to know about because of his upside, but he’s a long-shot to win the job as Mendenhall has the inside track and was brought in by the new regime. It’s also a loaded backfield with rookies Andre Ellington and Stepfan Taylor in the mix. Oh yeah, Williams’ knee is acting up early in camp. Too much risk for me at his current ADP.
85 272 Rex Burkhead CIN 12 18 Rex has a lot of ability. Speed, or lack of speed, is his problem. Still, he’s a good fundamental back and he changes directions really well. He’s got solid goal line ability and he could carve out a significant role over time as a power compliment to Giovani Bernard. Another solid draft pick by the Bengals.
86 275 Leon Washington NE 10 18 Leon is an underrated back and a guy to watch in NE, where fundamentally sound players can earn time. Leon could EASILY replace Danny Woodhead’s contributions though Shane Vereen would seem to be the guy who will get the first crack at that. This is a player to know about, especially in deep formats.
87 276 Phillip Tanner DAL 11 19
88 277 James Starks GB 4 20 Starks is back and looking healthy, but there is too much quality competition at this point for him to be a good fantasy bet. Only worth a flier in very deep formats.
89 278 Justin Forsett JAC 9 278 20 Forsett is a decent back and he should have a role if Jones-Drew gets injured. That said, we think Denard Robinson has a lot more ability and he is currently our recommended handcuff for MJD owners. If Robinson has a poor camp, Forsett gets a bump.
90 279 Donald Brown IND 8 20 He’s still a factor, but he needs to have a good camp and show that he is healthy. We suspect that this will be his last year in Indy. Bradshaw and Ballard should own most of the touches barring health issues. Bradshaw projects to be ready by Week 1.
91 280 Kerwynn Williams IND 8 20 We don’t love any of the returning backs in Indy. Vick Ballard could be a valuable player for fantasy, but he’s not a great back. Enter Kerwynn Williams. Kerwynn brings something new to the table with his speed and skills in the passing game. He’s down on the depth chart, but he is definitely a player to keep an eye on. Ahmad Bradshaw is the back in the near term, but if Williams settles in nicely, he could be the best bet for fantasy value over the long term. He’s a savvy pick in long term formats.
92 281 Cierre Wood HOU 8 20 Wood has some genuine ability and, with Ben Tate nearing the end of his contract, Cierre could be a big factor by 2014. No redraft value at this point, but he is definitely a player to watch and if there is an injury in Houston, he could be a factor for sure. Wood’s a good fit for the Texans’ offense.
93 286 Jonas Gray MIA 6 20
94 290 Travaris Cadet NO 7 21 Cadet has nice all-around ability and like Darren Sproles, he can be a slot guy or a tailback. With Chris Ivory gone, Cadet is a player to watch in camp.
95 291 Dennis Johnson HOU 8 21
96 292 Chris Ogbonnaya CLE 10 21 Hardesty will have some value if he can hold off Dion Lewis for the backup role in Cleveland. Our money is on Lewis, but this one has to play out and there are a few other sharks in the water.
97 293 La’Rod Stephens-Howling PIT 5 23 He has a chance to carve out a nice role behind Le’Veon Bell. LST offers excellent contrast to all of the bigger backs on the Steelers’ roster. He could carve out enough of a role to be a factor in bigger PPR leagues as a flex option.
98 294 Delone Carter IND 8 23 Carter is a power back with some ability for sure, but he is from the prior regime in Indy and he’s unlikely to unseat Vick Ballard. That said, if he did get in there, he’s a solid back with good power and pad level.
99 305 Michael Ford CHI 8 23
100 306 Mike Goodson NYJ 10 245 23 Where to begin.... Goodson has talent. He can play an important role for the Jets, but he is a class A moron and has also had issues staying healthy. His concussion issues last year are also noteworthy. We’ll monitor Goodson in camp, if he ever gets there, and go from there. Right now, he’s worth something in deeper 12-team formats, but there are red flags all over this guy. If he is the #2 back going into the season, then he’s probably the best handcuff for Chris Ivory, but Goodson won’t last himself, and this is why I’ve highlighted both Bilal Powell and John Griffin as players to know about. Read their dynasty updates below.
101 307 Lance Dunbar DAL 11 285 23 Looks like he’ll be fighting for third back duties with Phillip Tanner. One of them could have some value with the oft-injured Demarco Murray leading the way and an unproven Joseph Randle backing him up.
102 308 Shaun Draughn KC 10 24 He’s a solid back and he runs hard. If Davis has rookie issues, then Draughn could be a factor. Not on the radar right now outside of very large formats.
103 309 Jason Snelling ATL 6 24 Still a capable back, but he’s only going to be a factor if Steven Jackson gets hurt.
104 320 Cyrus Gray KC 10 24
105 325 Evan Royster WAS 5 24 He’s a back with some talent, but he’s not yet locked in as the backup to Alfred Morris. He’ll have value if he can sew up that role in camp. We’ll be all over this one.
106 331 Michael Hill SD 8 24 The backfield in SD has so much age and injury history that I am really keeping an eye on Hill, who is a solid back out of Missouri Western State. He’s #20 in our rookie tailback rankings and he could end up being a factor if injuries strike.
107 333 Brian Leonard TB 5 24 He’s a Rutgers guy so HC Greg Schino knows what he’s getting. There’s a role for a multi-skilled player like Leonard, who could play some H-back in the Bucs scheme. Only for very deep leagues at this point.
108 351 Theo Riddick DET 9 24
109 355 Felix Jones PHI 12 24 Felix needs to get past Bryce Brown and Chris Polk on the depth chart. If he can do that, he could be a serious sleeper playing in Chip Kelly’s offense.
110 360 Ray Graham HOU 8 24 One of three excellent UDFA adds that the Texans made after the draft. They are readying for Ben Tate’s departure in free agency and Graham is a very good talent if he can regain full health.
111 370 Peyton Hillis TB 5 24
112 374 Da’Rel Scott NYG 9 24 Scott is a very talented back and he has time in the system. if there is a an injury to Wilson or Brown, Scott could easily emerge as a fantasy factor. He’ll have to hold off rookie Michael Cox out of U Mass, who has some ability and has endeared himself to coaches during OTAs. Our guess is that Cox makes the team with Ryan Torain getting set free.
113 380 Chris Thompson WAS 5 24
114 383 Jawan Jamison WAS 5 24 Jamison has talent and he has a solid shot at making the team. In Shanny’s system, Jamison could be a very appealing fantasy option, but Alfred Morris has a pretty solid lock on the starting job and it’s a crowded depth chart. Nevertheless, any talented back has to be monitored when they play in Washington. Roy Helu’s health, or lack thereof, could be the key to Jamison’s value this season.
115 384 Willis McGahee 0 234 24 He needs to prove that he is healthy. If he does, he is still a starting caliber back and he could find a home in a place like Tampa Bay or maybe Jacksonville.
116 410 Montario Hardesty CLE 10 281 24
117 413 Tashard Choice BUF 12 24
118 414 Jackie Battle TEN 8 24 Not a draft target outside of huge leagues, but he’s a solid back and could have a rle if there are any injuries to Greene or to CJ.
119 415 Ronnie Brown SD 8 24 He played well last year but that was in Norv Turner’s offense. We’ll have to see what the new regime has in mind for him, but Danny Woodhead should steal a lot of his thunder if not all of it.
120 416 Jordan Todman JAC 9 24 He’s in the mix and Forsett is banged up.

 

 

All ADP sourced from FantasyPros.

 

 

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