My 2013 Fantasy Football Top 10 Part Two: Running Backs

Oh the running back.  Seasons ride on this position, good or bad.  Grab one with a top-5 pick and you could ride him to the championship (Arian Foster).  Steal an injured stud in a later round and watch the your questionable roster blossom (Adrian Peterson).  Sustain an injury during training camp and it could derail your whole season (Ryan Mathews).  Get lucky with a late round sleeper in a dynasty league and you may be set for years (Alfred Morris).  Pick up a mid-season waiver wire grab and it could help your playoff push (Bryce Brown).

Running Backs hold a special place in my fantasy football heart.  I love to stock up on them, as many as my leagues allow.  With the success of last year’s rookie class of backs there may be some surprises in my list.  This is suddenly a deep position.  There are even a few backups out there who in my opinion will have fantasy relevancy next year as solid flex and bye week plays.  But we will save those guys for a future article.  For now?  Here are my Top-10 fantasy running backs for the 2013 season.  And remember to leave me some feedback, good or bad, in the comments section at the end of this article.

1. Adrian Peterson: Last offseason “All Day” was a fantasy draft afterthought.  Coming off major knee surgery the rumors were swirling that he may miss up to the first six games of the season.  His ADP dropped dramatically, into the high 20’s.  In my own 16 team league he lasted until late in the 2nd round until he was scooped up.  AP said he would prove the doubters wrong, that he would play week one.  Prove them wrong he did.  Peterson had one of the greatest seasons for a running back in the history of the NFL, torching the league for 2,097 yards rushing and another 217 receiving, averaging 6.0 YPC and a disgusting 144.7 yards from scrimmage per game.  He proved he is still the best back in the NFL and hands down #1 RB for fantasy football in 2013.

2. CJ Spiller:  Clifford Spiller, Jr. is my darkhorse for next season.  If you keep up with us here at you know I already wrote about him, including what I think he is going to put up next year.  If you are in a dynasty league go get him now, before his owner becomes aware of what numerous fantasy football writers like myself are saying and predicting for CJ.

3. Doug Martin:  Doug “Stop Calling me Muscle Hamster” Martin did not burst onto the scene last season after being a 1st round pick.  He clearly beat out the plodding, no acceleration, and fumble-prone Legarrette Blount in preseason for the starting job in Tampa but was pretty average his first few games.  In Week 7 something clicked.  He rushed for 135 yards and caught another 79 yards worth of passes for 2 TDs that game.  The next game was even better, as Martin went off for 251 yards and 4 TDs on the ground, completely dismantling the Oakland Raiders defense.  Martin went on to post 3 more 100-yard games on the season and also proved himself as a viable pass catcher, totalling 1,926 yards from scrimmage as a rookie despite the Bucs playing from behind alot.  I fully expect the same production this season and wouldn’t be surprised to see him improve on this ranking if he can get steady play from his quarterback.

4. Arian Foster:  What gives?  Arian Foster runs for 1,424 yards and 15 TDs and falls in someone’s rankings?  Yes, he has.  I love Foster.  I’m jealous of the guys that own him in the leagues I’m in.  He is a stud as a running back and a solid top-5 scorer every year.  So let me tell you what gives… First, Foster attempted a career high 351 carries last year, and averaged a career low 4.1 YPC.  There are concerns about overusage.  And put this into perspective, CJ Spiller scored only 50 less total fantasy points despite touching the ball 141 less times.  Doug Martin essentially tied him despite 23 less touches.  I’m not hating on Arian, I’m just tempering my enthusiasm slightly while dropping him (gasp!) 2-3 spots from last year.  If he falls to you at 4 or 5, consider yourself lucky!

5. Jamaal Charles: Charles has never averaged less than 5.3 YPC in any season.  He has shown the ability to catch passes out of the backfield as he has twice caught over 40 passes.  Last season he ranked as the 8th scoring RB in fantasy as he exploded late in the year.  With the hiring of Andy Reid as head coach and the change to a true West Coast offense, I expect Charles to put up huge numbers next season.  I believe he may lose some carries but will be utilized more in the screen game to make up for the loss of carries.  Let’s just hope Reid remembers he is there when (if?) the Chiefs get into the redzone, he forgot he had McCoy too many times for my liking last year.

6. Lesean McCoy: Let me preface this by saying i am a Lesean McCoy owner.  I love “Shady”, despite his horrible twitter banter.  He has slid for me slightly this year even though I think he is going to put up huge numbers in the new Chip Kelly offense.  My worry is the fact that he missed four games last season due to a concussion.  He came back for weeks 15 and 16 last year and looked very average.  Was that the lingering effects of the concussion or the fact that the whole team had quit playing by then?  I hope it was more the latter than the former.  I expect McCoy to atleast get back to 2011 form and will not be surprised if it’s even better.

7. Ray Rice: Hey diddle diddle, Ray Rice up the middle.  Ray is a terrific running back.  A threat whether running or receiving.  The #6 scoring running back in fantasy football last year.  Why is he so low on my list?  Two reasons: First, I feel the guys I put above him will outscore him next year and secondly, because I feel he has the best backup of any guy on this list (sorry Ben Tate).  Buy Rice up, he won’t disappoint you.  He will still put up great numbers.  I just think he will slip a little bit as they try to rest him more often and give Bernard Pierce more carries.

8. Trent Richardson: Trent Richardson was the 3rd overall pick in last years NFL draft.  He was a consistent top-3 pick in dynasty drafts everywhere.  He has a ton of talent.  His ADP is climbing this year as we speak.  He is a beast in the redzone.  He racked up 950 yards and 11 TDs last year despite playing hurt for a majority of it.  Did anyone predict him catching 51 passes as well?  Feel free to grab him in the late part of the first round and plug into your lineup every week.  I want to see him improve on his 3.6 YPC before I move him up this list.

9. Marshawn Lynch: “Beast Mode” is an intriguing candidate.  The guy single-handedly made Skittles a relevant candy again.  That in itself is an amazing feat.  But the guy can run, going over 1,200 yards and double digit TDs the past two seasons as he has reestablished himself in Seattle.  He is the driving force behind what makes the Seahawks click and I don’t see that stopping any time soon.  Despite the fact we think of him as being in the league for ten years, Lynch is only 26.  He has many more years to run over LBs and celebrate with a Skittle or two.

10. Alfred Morris: Tell me if you have heard this one before.  Undrafted or late round running back gets selected by Mike Shanahan and becomes a fantasy sensation.  Oh you have seen this before?  Then why wasn’t Alfred Morris picked by anybody in fantasy football unless you were drafting at the end of preseason?  The entire Redskins’ camp we heard Roy Helu or Evan Royster.  Helu’s ADP was up to a 4th round grade at one point last offseason.  Morris stole this job and literally ran with it, going for 1,613 yards and 13 TDs in Shanny’s zone blocking scheme.  Unless we see some more Shanahanigans, I fully expect the same output if not more in the beginning of the season as the Skins lean on him more until RGIII comes back.




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