The 2014 Summer is coming to a close which means that the fantasy football drafts are heating up. After the third pre-season game is the best time to hold your drafts because that is when teams are finalizing both depth charts, as well as final rosters. Over the next couple of days I will be ranking the top 40 running backs and here are numbers 1 through 10.
1. LeSean McCoy- Shady should be the number 1 pick taken in most drafts as he is clearly in my eyes the best back in the league with a coach who has a run-first approach. 2013 was a career year for LeSean as he finished with 314 carries for 1,607 rushing yards with 7 TD’S. McCoy added in 52 receptions for 539 receiving yards and 2 TD’S. The Eagles have lost Desean Jackson to Washington, so he may eclipse the 314 carries from last year. The addition of Sproles will take about 10-15 receptions away from McCoy but Kelly says that they have packages where they will both be on the field at the same time. He is a slam dunk number one pick in all drafts as an elite RB1.
2. Jamaal Charles- The only other option at number 1 that I would consider is indeed Charles. Charles was absolutely a beast last year as he finished last year with 1,287 with a combined 19 total TD’S. Charles chipped in with 70 receptions for another 693 yards. The talent that he has is very impressive as he is capable of taking it the house from anywhere on the field but I do have some question marks that give me just a bit of trepidation. The Chiefs offensive line will be in transition, and it will also be hard to duplicate 19 total TD’S. Regardless of that Charles is a supreme talent that is to hard to pass up on as he will finish with around 1,200-1,400 rushing yards and will most likely be the team’s leading WR as Alex Smith loves the check-down and are very limited outside with only Dwayne Bowe as a threat which is not saying much. He is an an elite RB1 and is a great start to your team.
3. Matt Forte- I love Matt Forte this year as he is a great compliment to the Chicago Bears offense as they are pass first. Forte can catch the ball out of the backfield as well as hit the hole hard, and has good enough speed to break it outside. Opposing defenses will not be able to stack any boxes as they will have to worry about Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffery, and Martellus Bennett will occupy the middle linebacker, or safety, or even both. There should be plenty of yards to gain through both the air, and ground this season. Forte will also be the team’s goal-line back which only makes him a better pick and considering all that he’s still very underrated. Great pick as an RB1.
4. Adrian Peterson- Everybody knows that AP is a freak of nature and an elite back but I’m personally not loving to “have to” take him as I would in year’s past. I’m not saying that I’d bump him down to like 6, or 7 but the problem that I have is I know that the yards will be their but I’m doubting if he could reach 10 total TD’S and regardless if Norv Turner is there or not he has only reached over 40 receptions twice. I personally feel that Patterson could be a nice threat out wide in a Percy Harvin like role, but their receiving corps and Quarterbacks will make it hard to score points. That negative aspect aside I don’t doubt that Peterson could have a top 3 finish but I do think him being in the top 3 are contingent on the other question marks of this offense. In other words “It’s not you..It’s me.”He is still a solid pick in round 1 as your RB1.
5. Eddie Lacy- The second year back from Green Bay is a guy who gained plenty of confidence especially as the season went on even with Matt Flynn at Qb for a couple of weeks. He finished his rookie season with 284 carries and 1,178 rushing yards and chipping in with 35 receptions for another 257 yards. His 11 Td’s may be hard to duplicate especially if Rodgers stays healthy, but I think after losing Rodgers for most of the second half of the season that they may lean a bit more on Lacy. Opening up the run game more would open up the pass game and Rodgers is completely lethal on play action. Lacy is a guy who you can use as your RB1 as he will get his on this explosive offense.
6. Montee Ball- Montee should see the ball a lot more this season than last as he is locked in as the starting running back in this high powered offense. He didn’t have a terrible year at all last season even though Knowshon Moreno was the every week starter. Ball finished with 119 carries for 558 yards with 1 TD which would give him 4.7 yards per carry. He also can chip in some receptions as he is a capable receiver. The Denver offense is lethal and Ball will see plenty of 6-7 boxes because of the fear of Peyton Manning. He projects around 270 carries for about 1,400 yards and about 30-40 catches for about 500 yards.He has only been in the league for his second year so those numbers are no guarantee but he is a great RB2. He doesn’t quite make the first-tier of backs but he would start the second tier.
7. Demarco Murray- I love Murray as a second round pick but the only concern is that he has not played a full 16 game season so he does come with a bit of risk/reward. The reward is that this guy can flat out play and is a decisive runner who does play a bit physical. The Cowboys offensive line will be able to create rushing lanes as they have a lot of talent upfront. Scott Linehan may give some opportunities to Joseph Randle, and Lance Dunbar but they should run the ball a bit more this season because they don’t have a good defense which could take more time off the clock and not expose their defense. One things for sure is that Murray if healthy could finish in the top 5 this season at RB and should definitely have a career high in both receptions and receiving yards this season under Linehan.
8. Giovani Bernard- Once you pass a number of the top backs a lot of guys you draft based on talent, upside, or situation. I’m not in love with Bernard by any means but he does have talent, upside, and a situation where he can be the workhorse if he takes advantage of it. In his rookie season in which he split time with Benjarvis Green Ellis , Bernard finished with 170 carries for 695 yards and 8 TD’S which equates to 4.1 yards per carry. That is not a great number for any back especially a burner. He should get plenty of volume in the pass game and see anywhere from 17-20 carries and some goal-line work. If he doesn’t produce in the first couple of games Jeremy Hill will find himself a bigger role on the team but as of right now Bernard is a fine RB2.
9. Doug Martin- Doug is a guy who’s value had dropped as their was talk that Tampa Bay was going to a committee backfield approach wit Lovie Smith.In the weeks after he is starting to look like a steal in his early round 3 A.D.P. Clearly Martin is the most talented runner on the depth chart even though Bobby Rainey is a nice change of pace back. With an offense that could mirror the Chicago Bears with 2 big WR’S and Josh McCown at Qb Martin could be a cheaper version of Matt Forte. Lovie said last week that Martin is his bell-cow and the whole using different backs had everybody up in arms. Martin is a great value pick in the third round as a RB2 if you can get him, but I’d go as far as drafting him in the middle to late second round. He’s starting to gain serious momentum.
10. Le’Veon Bell- Bell and Legarrette Blount were both arrested last week for possession of marijuana. People may be afraid to take Bell due to a possible suspension but the way it always works out is that these things take time so it may not affect his playing status for this season. Bell finished last year with 244 carries and 860 yards with 8 TD’S. He finished with 45 receptions for 399 yards so he is capable of being out there on all three downs. Having Blount should decrease Bell’s Td numbers as he will get the goalline work but Bell should finish with over 1,150 yards or so especially after missing three games last season. He is a great RB2.