Fantasy Fox: Early look at the top 60 tailbacks
MAY 21, 2014 6:56a ET
Here are my inaugural rankings of the top 60 running backs in standard-scoring leagues ... as post-draft minicamps open throughout the NFL:
1. Jamaal Charles, Chiefs
2. LeSean McCoy, Eagles
3. Adrian Peterson, Vikings
4. Doug Martin, Buccaneers
5. Eddie Lacy, Packers
6. Marshawn Lynch, Seahawks
7. Matt Forte, Bears
8. C.J. Spiller, Bills
9. Zac Stacy, Rams
10. Arian Foster, Texans
11. Alfred Morris, Redskins
12. Le'Veon Bell, Steelers
13. Reggie Bush, Lions
14. Chris Johnson, Jets
15. DeMarco Murray, Cowboys
16. Montee Ball, Broncos
17. Knowshon Moreno, Dolphins
18. Ryan Mathews, Chargers
19. Giovani Bernard, Bengals
20. Rashad Jennings, Giants
1. It's crazy to expect Jamaal Charles (1,980 total yards) to replicate last year's 19 touchdowns, considering he had only 24 scores from 2008-12. But he's still a viable candidate for double-digit scores ... and maybe 2,000 yards from scrimmage.
2. LeSean McCoy (2,146 total yards, 11 TDs last year) will undoubtedly sit atop many draft boards come August. But for me, it's a simple numbers game ... as in McCoy has little chance of matching or eclipsing his 2013 tally of 366 touches -- including a career-high 314 carries.
Still, No. 2 is nothing to sneeze at, especially with Darren Sproles backing up Shady in Philly.
3. Speaking of McCoy ... he might have done the fantasy world a major favor this week, after publicly trumpeting himself as the NFL's best running back -- a respectful, but nonetheless tangible snub at Jamaal Charles and Adrian Peterson.
Heading into his age-29 season, Peterson remains a physical freak, rolling for 1,400-plus total yards six times and notching double-digit touchdowns in each of his seven NFL seasons.
That aside, he likely doesn't have the capacity for 16-18 touchdowns -- like Charles and McCoy.
4. Eddie Lacy (1,435 total yards, 11 TDs) logged 17 or more touches 11 times last season -- a superb number for a rookie back in a pass-first offense. Year 2 could yield a tiny bump in touchdowns.
5. Matt Forte (1,933 total yards) remains a no-brainer Round 1 pick for Points Per Reception leagues.
However, Arizona tailback Ka'Deem Carey (2,058 total yards, 20 TDs for 2013) will likely cut into the fantasy star's overall chances. (Forte logged 363 touches in 2013.)
6. At first blush, Arian Foster (725 total yards, two TDs) is a risky choice for No. 10. But the Texans dynamo has earned the benefit of the doubt here:
Against the Seahawks, 49ers and Rams last year (three straight weeks) -- before going down with a substantial back injury -- Foster notched 487 total yards and one TD.
21. Frank Gore, 49ers
22. Steven Jackson, Falcons
23. Ben Tate, Browns
24. Ray Rice, Ravens
25. Stevan Ridley, Patriots
26. DeAngelo Williams, Panthers
27. Bishop Sankey, Titans
28. Andre Ellington, Cardinals
29. Trent Richardson, Colts
30. Darren Sproles, Eagles
31. Darren McFadden, Raiders
32. Joique Bell, Lions
33. Shane Vereen, Patriots
34. Danny Woodhead, Chargers
35. LeGarrette Blount, Steelers
36. Toby Gerhart, Jaguars
37. Pierre Thomas, Saints
38. Maurice Jones-Drew, Raiders
39. Fred Jackson, Bills
40. Lamar Miller, Dolphins
1. On track record alone, Frank Gore (5,342 total yards, 26 TDs from 2011-13) deserves a top-20 ranking.
But his backups -- 49ers rushers Kendall Hunter, Marcus Lattimore (fully recovered from 2012 knee injury) and rookie Carlos Hyde (35 TDs his last two years at Ohio State) -- are simply too good to collect sparse touches over a full season.
2. Of his final six games last year, Steven Jackson (turns 31 in July) crossed the threshold of 90 total yards and/or one touchdown five times.
On the flip side, the Falcons back isn't a good injury bet for 15 or 16 outings in 2014.
3. It's hard to tell if DeAngelo Williams (1,176 total yards, four TDs last year) has real competition in the Carolina backfield ... or if names like Jonathan Stewart, Kenjon Barner and rookie Tyler Gaffney just sound better on fantasy paper.
In 2013, Williams notched 90 total yards and/or one touchdown seven times. Not bad for a guy in his 30s.
4. Titans tailback Bishop Sankey draws the highest ranking of any rookie playmaker -- the dual result of his immense talent (LeSean McCoy doppelganger) ... and Tennessee needing a home-run, full-time back to take the place of the departed Chris Johnson (now with the Jets).
5. Ray Rice (981 total yards, four TDs last year) may have eluded the courts for his offseason arrest (allegedly punching his girlfriend-now-wife in a hotel elevator), but he's still a candidate for an NFL suspension.
If that's the case, sitting out 4-6 games would hinder Rice's chances of 1,100 total yards and/or eight-plus touchdowns.
6. I haven't lost fantasy faith in Colts tailback Trent Richardson (723 total yards, four TDs). Indy will give him every chance to succeed this season ... otherwise, Donald Brown wouldn't have signed on to be the Chargers' third-string back in 2014.
7. Love the Jaguars' draft class (QB Blake Bortles, WR Marqise Lee, WR Allen Robinson, RB Storm Johnson) ... loathe that Toby Gerhart (free-agent signee) remains Jacksonville's top rushing option (for now).
Of Gerhart's four career outings of 19-plus touches (with the Vikings) ... he amassed 100 total yards just once.
41. Bernard Pierce, Ravens
42. Shonn Greene, Titans
43. Mark Ingram, Saints
44. Jeremy Hill, Bengals
45. Knile Davis, Chiefs
46. Carlos Hyde, 49ers
47. Christine Michael/Robert Turbin, Seahawks
48. David Wilson, Giants
49. Matt Asiata, Vikings
50. James Starks, Packers
51. Bryce Brown, Bills
52. Tre Mason, Rams
53. Donald Brown, Chargers
54. Christopher Ivory, Jets
55. Roy Helu, Redskins
56. Ahmad Bradshaw, Colts
57. Joseph Randle, Cowboys
58. Storm Johnson, Jaguars
59. Jacquizz Rodgers/Devonta Freeman, Falcons
60. Jonathan Stewart, Panthers
Jay Clemons can be reached via Twitter, day or night, at @FOX_JayClemons.