Fantasy: Post-draft listing of Top 50 tailbacks
Here are my post-draft, pre-training camp rankings for fantasy running backs — with one noteworthy caveat:
Temporarily inactive backs (like Michael Turner, Beanie Wells, Ahmad Bradshaw, Brandon Jacobs, Felix Jones, etc.) are exempt from consideration:
1. Adrian Peterson, Vikings
2. Arian Foster, Texans
3. Doug Martin, Buccaneers
4. Ray Rice, Ravens
5. Marshawn Lynch, Seahawks
6. LeSean McCoy, Eagles
7. Trent Richardson, Browns
8. Jamaal Charles, Chiefs
9. Chris Johnson, Titans
10. Maurice Jones-Drew, Jaguars
11. C.J. Spiller, Bills
12. Alfred Morris, Redskins
1. Adrian Peterson (2,314 total yards, 13 TDs last year) may be the easy choice for preseason No. 1 among running backs. But let’s tone down the expectations a bit:
For starters, no tailback in NFL history has ever posted back-to-back campaigns of 2,000 yards rushing. And curiously, Peterson has never scored multiple touchdowns in consecutive games during the regular season.
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. Doug Martin racked up 100 total yards and/or one touchdown 11 times last year. He also finished his rookie campaign with a top-five ranking in standard-scoring and PPR leagues.
Martin’s coup de grace occurred 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.
5. Of his final 11 games last season, Spiller notched 100 total yards and/or one touchdown 10 times. Within that span, he averaged 111 total yards and 0.45 touchdowns per outing.
13. Darren McFadden, Raiders
14. Frank Gore, 49ers
15. Stevan Ridley, Patriots
16. Matt Forte, Bears
17. Reggie Bush, Lions
18. David Wilson, Giants
19. DeMarco Murray, Cowboys
20. Steven Jackson, Falcons
21. Darren Sproles, Saints
22. Ryan Mathews, Chargers
23. BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Bengals
24. Jonathan Stewart, Panthers
25. Rashard Mendenhall, Cardinals
1. Tom Brady may be the center of the Patriots’ universe, routinely passing for 4,000 yards and 30 scores. However, New England has posted 17 or more rushing touchdowns in each of the last seven seasons. That bodes well for Stevan Ridley (1,314 total yards, 12 TDs) exceeding 300 touches in 2013.
2. 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.
3. 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, Marcus Lattimore 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 ends in 2013.
4. 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.
5. Jonathan Stewart (493 total yards, two TDs) is easily the riskiest pick of the top 25, especially given DeAngelo Williams’ strong finish last season (517 yards, four TDs from Weeks 14-17). Consider his No. 24 ranking to be a leap of faith, with little statistical evidence to back it up.
26. Mikel Leshoure, Lions
27. Willis McGahee, Broncos
28. Fred Jackson, Bills
29. DeAngelo Williams, Panthers
30. Le’Veon Bell, Steelers
31. Eddie Lacy, Packers
32. Bernard Pierce, Ravens
33. Bryce Brown, Eagles
34. Daniel Thomas, Dolphins
35. Michael Bush, Bears
36. Ben Tate, Texans
37. Shonn Greene, Titans
38. Daryl Richardson, Rams
1. Mikel Leshoure may be a first-rate prospect, talent-wise, but I’m a little concerned with the following stat: Against divisional foes last season, Leshoure averaged only 67 total yards and 0.17 TDs per game. Against everybody else, he averaged 101 total yards and one touchdown per outing.
2. For a two-week flash last season, Bryce Brown was the alpha rusher 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.
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 cameo-based assets this fall.
39. Donald Brown, Colts
40. Chris Ivory, Jets
41. Robert Turbin, Seahawks
42. Lamar Miller, Dolphins
43. Kendall Hunter, 49ers
44. Ryan Williams, Cardinals
45. Bilal Powell, Jets
46. Pierre Thomas, Saints
47. Montee Ball, Broncos
48. Rashad Jennings, Raiders
49. Andre Brown, Giants
50. Roy Helu, Redskins
50b. Shane Vereen, Patriots
50c. Knile Davis, Chiefs
Jay Clemons can be reached, day or night, at @FOX_JayClemons.