Fantasy Fox: Top 50 tailbacks for 2013

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:

1-12

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


Quick Hitters

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.

13-25

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


Quick Hitters

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.

26-37

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


Quick Hitters

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.

38-50

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


Jay Clemons
can be reached, day or night, via Twitter at @FOX_JayClemons.