2014 Fantasy Football Rankings
This is part 2 of our 4 part series, Fantasy Football 2014. Running Back is the most difficult position to predict from year to year. No other position sees such a dramatic turnover in the top 10 rankings between seasons as do running backs. Injuries, coaching changes, offensive line changes and short life spans all contribute to the volatility of this position. In fact, no RB has remained number one for back to back seasons since LaDainian Tomlinson did it in 2006-07. Having said that, we like McCoy better than any RB in 2014. Enjoy!
- LeSean McCoy – Phi. McCoy is the engine that makes Philly’s offense hum. We don’t have concern for Sproles stealing carries or catches anymore than Brown last year. The Eagles fast-paced offense requires McCoy to take some breathers once in a while. Look for McCoy to break off huge chunks of yards at a time. Defenses simply can’t keep up.
- Jamaal Charles – KC. Charles is the full package. He’s the ultimate three down weapon. He can run and catch and can take it to the house on any given play. Jamaal Charles scored 19 times in 2013! We placed him one spot behind McCoy only because our historical RB analysis shows us that RBs peak in year 6 and drop 13% in production in year 7 n average. Charles is entering his 7th season.
- Matt Forte – Chi. Forte, like McCoy and Charles, is a three down back and the focal point of the Bears offense. Trestman knows how to utilize him and we don’t see his workload changing in 2014. The fact that his surrounding cast is talented only helps Forte because Cutler, Marshall, and Jefferey can convert on 3rd down and move the chains.
- Eddie Lacy – GB. After a slow start in the first four weeks, Lacy lived up to the rookie hype in 2013 and sure made a believer out of us. After several mediocre running backs passed through Green Bay over the last few years, Aaron Rodgers now has a solid option to salt away the lead in the fourth quarter. His stock is definitely rising. We especially love young running backs in year two and three. Lacy compiled 1,178 rushing yards and 11 TDs in 2013 even missing a couple games due to concussion. Look for Lacy to finish easily in the top 10 and probably in the top 5.
- Adrian Peterson – Min. Peterson is still a monster to try and stop, but he has some wear on the tires. At some point, his numbers are going to decline. Readers will think we’re crazy for listing him at #8 (many will have him #1). This will be Peterson’s 8th season. While he should be a lock to finish in the top 10, I don’t see him in the top three this year. Peterson got nicked up a bit toward the end of last year. Eventually, all RBs will breakdown. His hard-nosed running style that often initiates contact could make Peterson the player to avoid within the first five picks of your draft.
- Marshawn Lynch – Sea. Beastmode proved once again that he can carry the rock – a lot. He topped 300+ carries for the second year in a row and he’s still in his prime. Most importantly, Seattle is one of the few teams that impose a run first mentality, which boosts Lynch’s value even more. Lynch rarely comes out of the game and he gets all of the goal line carries. Russell Wilson is good enough to move the chains with his arm or feet on 3rd down, which gives Lynch more opportunities.
- DeMarco Murray – Dal. The knock on Murray as everyone knows is his ability to stay healthy. If health was a non-factor, Murray would be a top 10 RB easily. In 2013, Murray started 14 of the 16 games for the Cowboys averaging more than five yards per carry and even hauling in 53 receptions. The good news is that he has zero competition for carries in Garret’s offense, however, the Cowboys prefer to throw the ball most of the time and there’s always a chance for injury with DeMarco.
- Doug Martin – TB. We loved Doug Martin heading into last season. He was in his second season and had all-pro linemen Davin Joseph and Carl Nicks returning from injury. The Bucs, however, quickly fell apart. Josh Freeman was awful. The line couldn’t open holes. After a slow start, Martin was shutdown midseason due to a torn labrum. It was so disappointing that many owners will overlook his amazing season from two years ago. Martin will once again be an RB1 and should go in the first two rounds of your 2014 draft.
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- Monte Ball – Den
- Geo Bernard – Cin. Bernard was one of the most exciting players to watch last season. He could make a huge leap in production this year, but it depends on whether the workload will increase. Will the Bengals see Bernard as the focal point or do they see him a complimentary player. The fact that he can catch the ball well and is such a weapon in space makes Geo a solid RB2 heading into 2014.
- Zac Stacy – StL. The Rams may finally have the running attack they’ve needed to compliment Sam Bradford. Stacy finished in the top 20 among RBs and prorated over an entire season would have finished in the top 10. We like Stacy a lot and Jeff Fisher loves to run the ball. He’s quick, elusive and has great balance and vision. Look for a big 2014 out of Stacy.
- Le’Veon Bell – Pit. The Steelers are high on Bell. Tomlin is going to give him the ball early and often.
- C.J. Spiller – Buf. Spiller had perhaps the most disappointing season among running backs last year. He’s much too talented to follow-up that performance with another bust. Spiller is electric and can take the ball to the endzone on any play. It’s unlikely that he will carry the ball 300 times, but Spiller will improve his numbers greatly in 2014.
- Rashad Jennings – NYG. Recently moved from Oakland to New York; keep an eye open for Rashad Jennings. Whoever ends up with the primary role in New York could see a productive 2014. Tom Coughlin likes to pound the rock and will be looking for a horse to carry the G-men this season.
- Alfred Morris – Was. Morris is a real wildcard leading into 2014. With coaching changes in DC, it’s hard to tell what kind of workload this 3rd year back will have. He’s immensely talented and has great vision, but the Redskins often fell behind early and then abandoned the run last year. We hope that Gruden will target a balanced approach of run and pass, but it’s hard to tell at this point. Hopefully, the health of dual threat RG3 will aid Morris in 2014.
- Andre Ellington – Arz. Ellington is an intriguing player, but I’m skeptical that the Cardinals will make him an every down back.
- Shane Vereen – NE Vereen may have been a top 15 RB if it weren’t for a broken wrist in week 1.
- Fred Jackson – Buf
- Bishop Sankey – Ten
- Arian Foster – Hou. It’s always sad to see fantasy kings fall from the top. The once dominant running back may never reach the pinnacle again. Foster disappointed last year, much the same way Spiller and Martin did. He started slowly, due to preseason injuries and then became injured again in week 7. On top of that, the Texans had issues at quarterback and most notably run blocking by the previously dominant offensive line. Foster won’t have to share carries with Ben Tate in 2014, but given a new coaching regime in Houston, we think it’s a stretch for him to reach the top five this coming season.
- Reggie Bush – Det. Bush surprised many by remaining healthy most of last season. He’s a threat to carry the ball 200 times and catch it 70 more.
- Chris Johnson – NYJ. CJ still has plenty of gas in the tank. If free agency finds him in a favorable location, he might just remain a top 10 back. He quietly posted top 10 numbers last year.
- Ryan Matthews – SD. I’m still not a believer.
- Frank Gore – SF. Gore might produce until he’s 40. We keep waiting to see younger backs eat into his touches and Harbaugh keeps feeding old reliable.
- Ben Tate – Cle. He’s finally got his chance to be the primary RB.
- Toby Gerhart – Jax
- Joique Bell – Det
- Lamar Miller – Mia. Underutilized talent in 2013. It’s anyone’s guess how the Dolphins use Miller this season.
- Ray Rice – Bal. Too young and talented to drop off the radar at age 27.
- Carlos Hyde – SF
- Danny Woodhead – SD
- Knowshon Moreno – Den. It’s unlikely that Knowshon will repeat last year’s performance, especially if he ends up somewhere outside of Denver. Product of the system.
- Trent Richardson – Ind. It’s the Andrew Luck show in Indy and the sooner the coaches realize it, the better the Colts will be.
Running Back rankings will be fairly fluid in the next few months. Free Agency and the NFL draft can impact any of these players’ values. As draft day nears, we’ll have a better sense for the new coaching staffs and how they plan to utilize their offensive weapons. FantasyFootballAid will keep you informed on all the rising and falling stock. See the full list of the top 50 RBs here.
Lastly, check out the Wide Receiver rankings coming soon!