Fantasy Fox: Top 70 tailbacks heading into HOF weekend

Here are my updated rankings for the top 70 running backs in standard-scoring leagues … heading into Hall of Fame weekend:


1. Jamaal Charles, Chiefs
2. LeSean McCoy, Eagles
3. Adrian Peterson, Vikings
4. Matt Forte, Bears
5. Eddie Lacy, Packers
6. Marshawn Lynch, Seahawks
7. Doug Martin, Buccaneers
8. Le’Veon Bell, Steelers
9. C.J. Spiller, Bills
10. Zac Stacy, Rams
11. Alfred Morris, Redskins
12. Arian Foster, Texans
13. DeMarco Murray, Cowboys
14. Chris Johnson, Jets
15. Reggie Bush, Lions
16. Montee Ball, Broncos
17. Ryan Mathews, Chargers
18. Giovani Bernard, Bengals
19. Knowshon Moreno, Dolphins
20. Rashad Jennings, Giants

Quick Hitters

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 certainly be No. 1 on a lot of draft boards come August. But for me, it’s a simple numbers game … as in McCoy has very little shot of matching or eclipsing his 2013 tally of 366 touches — including a career-high 314 carries.

Still, sitting at No. 2 is nothing to sneeze at, especially with Darren Sproles backing up Shady in Philly.

3. 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. However, he likely doesn’t have the capacity for 16-18 touchdowns — like Charles and McCoy.

And before you fire off an angry email disputing the above statement, just remember Peterson has only eclipsed 13 TDs once in his Hall of Fame-worthy career — 18 in 2009.

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, but 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. Arian Foster (725 total yards, two TDs) is a risky choice for No. 10. However, heading into his age-28 season, 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.

7. Ryan Mathews’ excellent finish to last season — 92 total yards and/or one touchdown in 10 of his final 11 games — makes him a stealth pick for Round 3.

The only downside here: Mathews (1,444 total yards, seven TDs) had very little impact with the Chargers’ passing game last season, catching only 26 balls for 189 yards and one TD.

Of course, that’s a small price to pay for a guy who averaged 27 touches in his last five outings.


21. Frank Gore, 49ers
22. Stevan Ridley, Patriots
23. Bishop Sankey, Titans
24. Ben Tate, Browns
25. Steven Jackson, Falcons
26. Andre Ellington, Cardinals
27. DeAngelo Williams, Panthers
28. Trent Richardson, Colts
29. Joique Bell, Lions
30. Darren McFadden, Raiders
31. Darren Sproles, Eagles
32. Toby Gerhart, Jaguars
33. Ray Rice, Ravens
34. Shane Vereen, Patriots
35. Danny Woodhead, Chargers
36. LeGarrette Blount, Steelers
37. Lamar Miller, Dolphins
38. Bernard Pierce, Ravens
39. Maurice Jones-Drew, Raiders
40. Pierre Thomas, Saints

Quick Hitters

1. Frank Gore (5,342 total yards, 26 TDs from 2011-13) certainly looks better as a potential "workhorse" today, compared to last week — when Kendall Hunter (torn ACL), LaMichael James (elbow) Marcus Lattimore (knee, hamstring) were all expected to cut into the veteran’s touches

From Weeks 3-16 last year, spanning 13 games, Gore notched 100 total yards and/or one TD nine times. He also enjoyed two outings of multiple scores during that time.

2. I pledge to seriously consider Bishop Sankey (2,174 total yards, 24 TDs at Washington last year) in Round 6. For starters, he’s the highest-ranked rookie rusher — by a long shot — and the Titans absolutely need a full-time, home-run back to take the place of the departed Chris Johnson (now with the Jets).

In short, Sankey will be a household name in fantasy circles sooner than later, thanks to this golden opportunity. And I’d be saying the same thing about Lache Seastrunk … if he was the Titans’ major tailback pick in the draft — instead of ending up in the Redskins’ crowded backfield.

3. For the time being, we won’t freak out about Steven Jackson’s left hamstring injury — one that will keep him out of preseason action altogether.

Yes, he missed the better part of seven games last year to a right hamstring injury … but that doesn’t mean S-Jax won’t be at/near 100-percent healthy midway through the Falcons’ exhibition slate.

Of his final six games last year,  Jackson (turned 31 last week) crossed the threshold of 90 total yards and/or one touchdown five times. On the flip side, the Falcons back isn’t a good bet to play 16 times in 2014.

4. 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 Fozzy Whittaker just sound better on paper, fantasy-wise.

In 2013, Williams notched 90 total yards and/or one touchdown seven times. Not bad for a guy in his 30s.

5. I haven’t lost fantasy faith in Colts tailback Trent Richardson (723 total yards, four TDs). Indy will give him (and Ahmad Bradshaw) every chance to succeed this season … otherwise, Donald Brown wouldn’t have signed on to be the Chargers’ third-string running back.


41. Chris Ivory, Jets
42. Fred Jackson, Bills
43. Jeremy Hill, Bengals
44. Jacquizz Rodgers, Falcons
45. Knile Davis, Chiefs
46. Christine Michael, Seahawks
47. Terrance West, Browns
48. Matt Asiata, Vikings
49. Ahmad Bradshaw, Colts
50. Charles Sims, Buccaneers
51. James Starks, Packers
52. Tre Mason, Rams
53. Donald Brown, Chargers
54. Shonn Greene, Titans
55. Mark Ingram, Saints
56. Carlos Hyde, 49ers
57. Devonta Freeman, Falcons
58. Roy Helu, Redskins
59. Andre Williams, Giants
60. Lache Seastrunk, Redskins
61. Joseph Randle, Cowboys
62. Jonathan Stewart, Panthers
63. Ka’Deem Carey, Bears
64. Lorenzo Taliaferro, Ravens
65. Andre Brown, Texans
66. Storm Johnson, Jaguars
67. Latavius Murray, Raiders
68. Ronnie Hillman, Broncos
69. Robert Turbin, Seahawks
70. Stepfan Taylor, Cardinals
70a. Bryce Brown, Bills


Jay Clemons, the 2008 Fantasy Football Writer of the Year (Fantasy Sports Writers Association), can be reached via Twitter, day or night, at @FOX_JayClemons.