Here’s a look at my pre-draft rankings for fantasy running backs in 2013 — with two noteworthy caveats:
***Members of the 2013 NFL rookie class (Eddie Lacy, Gio Bernard, Marcus Lattimore, Andre Ellington) are not included, although that will change in three weeks.
***Temporarily inactive backs (like Michael Turner, Beanie Wells, Ahmad Bradshaw, Brandon Jacobs, Tim Hightower, etc.) are exempt from consideration:
1. Adrian Peterson, Vikings 2. Arian Foster, Texans 3. Doug Martin, Buccaneers 4. Ray Rice, Ravens 5. Trent Richardson, Browns 6. Marshawn Lynch, Seahawks 7. LeSean McCoy, Eagles 8. Jamaal Charles, Chiefs 9. Maurice Jones-Drew, Jaguars 10. Chris Johnson, Titans 11. Alfred Morris, Redskins 12. C.J. Spiller, Bills
1. After publicly doubting Peterson’s Week 1 return to the lineup last year — at least from a high-performance standpoint — I will now shut my trap and just let things play out in 2013.
However, I will say that Peterson (2,314 total yards, 13 TDs last year) is not a strong candidate for back-to-back rushing campaigns of 2,000 yards. No man in NFL history has accomplished the feat.
2. Yes, Arian Foster had his Daddy Downer moment at the worst possible time last season, tallying only 29 total yards against the Vikings in Week 16 — universally Super Bowl Week in fantasy leagues. However, of his last five games (including Week 16 and the AFC playoffs), Foster still averaged 128.8 total yards and 0.8 touchdowns.
3. Of Doug Martin’s 16 games last season, the then-rookie rusher racked up 100 total yards and/or one touchdown 11 times. He also finished his rookie campaign with a top-five ranking in standard-scoring and PPR leagues.
Martin’s coup de grace, though, came in Week 9, when he steamrolled for 272 total yards (251 rushing) and four TDs against the Raiders — easily the greatest single fantasy outing, among tailbacks, for 2012.
4. Last season, Marshawn Lynch (1,590 rushing yards, 12 total TDs) twice rushed for 100-plus yards in four straight outings (Weeks 7-10; Weeks 14-17). Prior to that, the Seahawks bruiser had never accomplished the feat.
For the year, Lynch also accounted for 93 total yards and/or one touchdown in 14 games — highlighted by a 128-yard, three-TD demolition in Week 14, fueling the Seahawks’ 58-0 whitewashing of the rival Cardinals.
13. Darren McFadden, Raiders 14. Frank Gore, 49ers 15. Stevan Ridley, Patriots 16. DeMarco Murray, Cowboys 17. Matt Forte, Bears 18. Reggie Bush, Lions 19. David Wilson, Giants 20. Steven Jackson, Falcons 21. Ryan Mathews, Chargers 22. Darren Sproles, Saints 23. BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Bengals 24. Fred Jackson, Bills 25. Rashard Mendenhall, Cardinals
1. Of the eight games he logged 15 or more touches last season, Darren McFadden averaged 100.7 total yards and 0.25 TDs — solid numbers for a Raiders offense that was in complete disarray. As a bonus reason for keeping the faith, Run DMC turns just 26 in August.
2. On talent alone, Frank Gore (1,448 total yards, nine TDs last year) is a top-10 consideration among fantasy backs. But with Kendall Hunter, LaMichael James and Father Time (Gore turns 30 in May) nipping at his heels … one would have to think, conservatively, that Gore’s streak of seven consecutive years of 1,300-plus total yards might end in 2013.
3. Steven Jackson (turns 30 in July) is 17 months younger than ex-Falcons back Michael Turner, but he has also logged 756 more professional carries than his counterpart. One last thing: Jackson notched 20 total touchdowns for the Rams from 2009-12 — a figure that was easily dwarfed by Turner (44 TDs) in that same span.
26. Jonathan Stewart, Panthers 27. Mikel Leshoure, Lions 28. DeAngelo Williams, Panthers 29. Willis McGahee, Broncos 30. Bryce Brown, Eagles 31. Daryl Richardson, Rams 32. Michael Bush, Bears 33. Bilal Powell, Jets 34. DuJuan Harris, Packers 35. Lamar Miller, Dolphins 36. Ben Tate, Texans 37. Robert Turbin, Seahawks
1. For a two-week flash last season, Bryce Brown was The Man in fantasy football, demolishing the Panthers (Week 12) and Cowboys (Week 13) for 372 total yards (347 rushing) and four touchdowns. For early April, that makes him a must-handcuff to LeSean McCoy’s lucky drafters.
2. DeAngelo Williams racked up 210 yards rushing and two TDs in Carolina’s Week 17 triumph at New Orleans; and for the final four weeks (sans Stewart in the lineup), D-Will averaged 126 total yards and one TD.
3. In a perfect world, Robert Turbin (Seahawks) and Bernard Pierce(Ravens) would be primed for top-15 numbers in 2014, as heir-apparent franchise backs to Marshawn Lynch and Ray Rice. But barring major injury to either superstar, Turbin and Pierce are only specialized, cameo-based assets this fall.
4.Somebody has to win that job in Green Bay. Why not go with the fastest and most explosive back amongst the trio of Harris (251 total yards, two TDs in his last three games), James Starks and Alex Green?
5. For the upcoming draft, no one needs a tailback upgrade like the Steelers. Jonathan Dwyer or Isaac Redman simply won’t cut it for a cornerstone franchise that must run the ball in November and December.
38. Shonn Greene, Titans 39. Pierre Thomas, Saints 40. Bernard Pierce, Ravens 41. Ryan Williams, Cardinals 42. Donald Brown, Colts 43. Jonathan Dwyer, Steelers 44. Ronnie Hillman, Broncos 45. Vick Ballard, Colts 46. Marcel Reece, Raiders 47. Daniel Thomas, Dolphins 48. Mark Ingram, Saints 49. Shane Vereen, Patriots 50. Andre Brown, Giants