Early Running Back Rankings for the 2014 Fantasy Season

The 2014 season is drawing near and many crazy enthusiasts (mainly just me) are already mock drafting. Here’s my early ranking of the top fantasy football running backs in 2014. While you’re at it, check out my early quarterback rankings or my early tight end rankings.

 

1. Jamaal Charles – Chiefs
2. LeSean McCoy – Eagles
3. Adrian Peterson – Vikings
4. Matt Forte – Bears
5. Eddie Lacy – Packers
6. LeVeon Bell – Steelers*
7. Alfred Morris – Redskins*
8. Montee Ball – Broncos
9. Marshawn Lynch – Seahawks*
10. Zac Stacy – Rams
11. DeMarco Murray – Cowboys
12. Arian Foster – Texans*
13. Giovani Bernard – Bengals
14. Andre Ellington – Cardinals
15. Toby Gerhart – Jaguars
16. Bishop Sankey – Titans
17. Reggie Bush – Lions
18. Doug Martin – Buccaneers*
19. Chris Johnson – Jets
20. CJ Spiller – Bills
21. Joique Bell – Lions*
22. Ryan Matthews – Chargers
23. Shane Vereen – Patriots
24. Ben Tate – Browns
25. Stevan Ridley – Patriots

*LeVeon Bell – Steelers

Bell has rocketed up to a top-tiered position in my rankings due to a number of factors; Many analysts are weary of the young back due to his low YPC (3.5) last season – a stat that is reminiscent of Trent Richardson. However, Bell was thrust in to an offense suffering through a rebuild and a changed scheme with a very young line. The team clearly got in to their element near the end of the season and it was reflected in Bell’s play. In 4 of the last 5 games, Bell scored a touchdown and averaged well over 4 YPC. Coincidence? Expect the young team to carry their late 2013 success in to the 2014 season and draft Bell with confidence.

*Alfred Morris – Redskins

Morris presents a surprising jump up this list and will likely be heavily argued by most. Despite his stats’ large regression from his incredible 2012 rookie campaign, Morris still managed a quietly good and consistent 2013 fantasy season. He was on a team that struggled to do much of anything and still averaged 4.6 YPC. Now, with a revamped Washington offense that has promised to dazzle, Morris will likely find himself killing the clock more often and getting a share of carries closer to his 2012 totals. I expect him to score near the 1600 yards and 13 TDs of his rookie season; at the very least, he has a high floor and doesn’t present as much risk as most other runners.

*Marshawn Lynch – Seahawks

Oh, Lynch… Where to begin? Mister Beast Mode has earned his nickname time and time again by tearing up the field and providing fantasy owners with a solid display of points. The man can play football and will likely have another wonderful fantasy season if he touches the field. However, he’s being dropped in rankings due to the incredible risk that comes with his high price-tag. Lynch has been fishing for a new contract with his team and has gone as far as threatening retirement should a new contract not be reached. On the flipside, Seattle has been readying backup running back Christine Michael for a featured role. If you draft Lynch, you’ll need to reach pretty hard to insure he’s handcuffed with Michael.

*Arian Foster – Texans

8: Arian Foster’s average mock draft position among running backs. 42: Arian Foster’s final fantasy position among running backs last season. Foster does not seem to have any tread left on the tires and could very well burn out again this season. He is still ranked fairly high due to his name and his value as a bounce-back candidate. However, Foster presents the highest risk of any top 15 running back and should be drafted with excellent backups. Be very careful if you choose to take him this season and prepare a plan B.

*Doug Martin – Buccaneers

Martin has been coming off the board, on average, as the 13th running back overall in mock drafts. Martin finished 55th among running backs in 2013. In Martin’s defense, he only played in 6 games before leaving with a season-ending injury. Therein lies problem no. 1: Martin is an injury concern. Secondly, in his 6 games, the back averaged a pitsy 3.6 YPC and scored but 1 touchdown. Martin has only placed within the top 20 due to his high 2012 totals and his potential to bounce back. His coaching situation has changed; however, it’s still easy to be skeptical about the level of change to the Tampa Bay offense. Martin is a player who will be avoided heavily by several people, and drafted confidently as a high-reward type by others. Wait patiently and only snag him in your draft if he happens to fall in at the right price.

*Joique Bell – Lions

As a backup, Bell makes the list just 4 spots behind his team’s featured back, Reggie Bush. There’s no mistake – Bell finished the 2013 season as the 16th runner overall with roughly 1200 all-purpose yardage and 8 touchdowns. By tracking his progress and playtime over the last few seasons, it isn’t hard to envision Bell taking over a featured role with the Lions this season and improving his totals. However, the Lions’ reworked organization may have other plans for their running back tandem. Bell should still be taken with a bit of caution just in case Detroit’s new offense requires his skills less. However, he should be a very solid RB2 or flex-play.

 

featured image source: Washington Post

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One response to “Early Running Back Rankings for the 2014 Fantasy Season

  1. Pingback: Early Wide Receiver Rankings for the 2014 Season | Is This The Real Life?·

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