The SportsMan Running Back Class Of 2013
The sky is blue. Water is wet. Running backs will go early and often in round one of fantasy drafts. These are the top three rules in the book of obviousness. In fact, in my rankings there are only two non-running backs in my top 12 (Aaron Rodgers and Calvin Johnson). There isn’t any secret as to who the top rusher is but the debate starts at number two. Here’s a look at how they stack up in my top 12 (if you’re wondering why I do top 12, see my article on top QBs).
#1. Adrian Peterson
This isn’t breaking news. Peterson should really star opposite Ben Affleck in the next Superman movie because he really is a man of steel from another planet. Doctors believe a player is better in his second full season after an ACL surgery. Can you even imagine Peterson improving on 2314 total yards and 13 TDs? Purple Jesus is the top pick in every single draft you will participate in.
#2. Arian Foster
I’ve heard it all…Foster is an injury risk, Fosters YPG declined last year, Fosters receiving yards took a Mark Spitz type dive last year. So friggin what?? Arian Foster is a touchdown machine!! 47 scores in 45 games over in the last three seasons. That’s all you need to know. Even with the decline in numbers last year Arian finished second in RB scoring. Matt Schaub and Andre Johnson will keep defenses from stacking the box and if Foster is available when you pick you better grab him and fast (unless you pick first, of course).
#3. Doug Martin
Martin can run and catch the ball. That’s a lethal combo and he is THE Tampa offense. Sure people remember the Fantasy playoff dud against a terrible Saints defense in which Martin had only 16 rushing yards and no scores. That aside, Doug is in a heavy run offense under Greg Schiano and has a full season of experience now. Martin will go second overall in a lot of leagues this year.
#4. Ray Rice
Rice is the top guy in PPR leagues. He has had 60 or more catches in three straight seasons. In non-PPR leagues he’s still as safe as they come. He has had 2000+ yards from scrimmage in two of the last three seasons. He has only missed two games in his career and none in the last two seasons. Pencil Ray in for 1,500+ total yards and 10 TDs this year.
#5. Jamal Charles
Charles doesn’t light up the scoreboard with his TD totals (5 in each of his last two full seasons) but he makes up for it with his ability to put up yards, even in a Chiefs offense that plays from behind quite a bit. New coach Andy Reid likes to use his backs in a plethora of ways so expect Charles catch total to skyrocket.
#6. Marshawn Lynch
Last season Lynch put up career highs in yards (1,590) and YPC (5.0). He also had an astounding ten games with 100 rushing yards as well. The emergence of Russell Wilson as a viable threat in the passing game will allow Lynch to exploit holes in the defense. The only risk with Lynch is his age and the chance he starts to hit a wall being that he is 27 going into the season. Still, the payoff to drafting Lynch in the first round will be huge for anyone holding a mid-first round pic.
#7. Trent Richardson
Even with having to fight through injuries last season Richardson managed 1.317 total yards and 12 TDs. He is now fully healthy and new offensive coordinator Norv Turner will surely take full advantage of that in his run heavy offense. Cleveland’s offensive potential is extremely weak so Trent will be the focal point of it all. Barring any injuries Richardson should have no problem topping 1,000 yards rushing, 400 yards receiving and double digit scores.
#8. C.J. Spiller
Spiller had only 207 carries last season due to splitting time with Fred Jackson. He still finished seventh in RB scoring!! Spiller is expected to get top running duty this season and with the Bills expecting to start a rookie QB expect them to run the ball a lot. New head coach Doug Marrone has a history of calling a run-heavy offense back in Syracuse. Expect Spiller to be gone within the first ten picks.
#9. Alfred Morris
As a Giants fan I hate Morris. As a fantasy owner I love Morris. I picked him up off waiver wires last season and he is now one of my keepers. With RGIII knee a concern the Redskins should rely on Morris to carry the offensive load this year. Morris finished second in rushing yards last season but it is unreasonable to expect the same. Still, Morris should be good for around 1,500 total yards and 10-13 touchdowns.
#10. Matt Forte
Forte is one of the best backfield receivers in the game and having Marc Trestman as head coach won’t hurt that one bit. Trestman likes to throw so Fortes receptions should stay at the 50 catch mark. The downside to Matt is that he looses goal-line carries to the bigger Michael Bush. With that being said he should still amass the 1,400 total yards he’s averaged the past two seasons. Forte will be gone in the early-to-mid second round
#11. Steven Jackson
Jackson put up solid numbers on terrible St. Louis teams. He now gets a high powered offense around him. Even though he turned 30 last month, there shouldn’t be a problem with him turning in a ninth straight 1,000 yard season. QB Matt Ryan likes to spread the ball around and Jackson is a more than capable receiver and a 10 TD total is more than reasonable to expect.
#12. Maurice Jone-Drew
Rounding out the list is the Jaguars workhorse. Health issues can’t totally be ignored as MoJo required Lisfranc foot surgery last season. He’s now at full strength and when healthy Jones-Drew is a steal in the late second round. He’s pretty much a guarantee for 1,100 yards rushing and 8-10 total TDs. Maurice is the only option the Jags have on offense and he has always come through (last seasons injury yer aside). He’s first round potential and the reward for stealing him may be the difference for one fantasy owner this year.
Running backs are always the most important part of any fantasy team so make sure one of these backs in starting for you come week 1. Next up we’ll look at the receiver position. After Calvin Johnson, where does everyone else fall? I’ll let you know. Also, as always, feel free to send any fantasy questions to me via twitter @nySportsMan21