Top 50 Fantasy Football Running backs Part III
26. Lamar Miller, Miami Dolphins:
-With Reggie Bush in Detroit, Lamar Miller is the favorite to take over as the lead back role in Miami. Miller should get a large percentage of the carries and could be an adequate weapon out of the backfield. He’s an intriguing sleeper option, but there is a concern with how the offensive line will hold up in Miami.
27. DeMarco Murray, Dallas Cowboys:
-The good news is Murray plays on an offense with a number of weapons and a good quarterback. Also the Cowboys offensive line should be improved. The Bad news is Murray has been injury prone thus far in his career, and while the line is improved it remains one of the weakest in the NFL.
28. Ryan Mathews, San Diego Chargers:
-Mathews is the likely starter in San Diego, but he’s shown himself to be inconsistent and injury prone and will run behind possibly the worst line in the league this year. He also isn’t a big touchdown threat and will get subbed out on third downs for Danny Woodhead, limiting his catches.
29. Willis McGahee, Denver Broncos:
-Though I expect Ball to be the primary back in Denver it is far from certain. The Broncos offense was running at it’s peak last year with McGahee and they could give him another shot if he’s healthy.
30. Mark Ingram, New Orleans Saints:
-Despite being part of the largest running back by committee in the league and dealing with his share of injuries, Ingram has led the Saints in rushing attempts and touchdowns each of these last two years. He doesn’t offer much in the passing game, but if he stays healthy he should see his carries and rushing TD’s rise this year.
31. Andre Brown, New York Giants:
-Though David Wilson is the starter the Giants are notorious for splitting carries and snaps. Brown should see a fair workload this year, and will likely poach some red zone touchdowns.
32. Shane Vereen, New England Patriots:
-With Danny Woodhead moving on, Shane Vereen is the most likely back to benefit. In that offense he could still see 100 carries and 35+ catches, which could end up putting him over 750 combined yards.
33. Jonathan Stewart, Carolina Panthers:
-Stewart plays as the top back in the Panthers running back by committee approach (and of course Cam Newton). Though his numbers have been down some, he could see a boost this year as the Panthers may try to emulate the approach of some other read option teams and feature their backs a bit more.
34. Rashard Mendenhall, Arizona Cardinals:
-Bruce Arians is on record of being against running back by committee style rushing attacks which bodes well for Mendenhall to be the feature back. He’s not a great option, but if he gets 250 carries the raw numbers will be there.
35. BenJarvis Green-Ellis, Cincinnati Bengals:
-Though they drafted Giovanni Bernard, Green-Ellis will likely see the majority of the workload. He will also get a fair amount of goalline work as well. He’s not much of a receiver though so those yards won’t be there for him.
36. Isaiah Pead, St. Louis Rams:
-The Rams running back situation is probably the most unsettled in the league. Pead was the team’s 2nd rounder in 2012, and while he was clearly in the dog house last year, it sounds like he’ll have a shot to win this job. If he wins the top spot, he could be a solid fantasy option. The Rams offensive line should be much improved and they now have a number of weapons for Sam Bradford, which should make the running backs job that much easier.
37. Giovanni Bernard, Cincinnati Bengals:
-Though he’ll be splitting carries with Green-Ellis and probably won’t get that many touchdowns, Bernard could be an interesting guy. He’s got big play ability and could get a lot of targets as a weapon out of the backfield.
38. Fred Jackson, Buffalo Bills:
-Though Spiller is the primary back, don’t count out Fred Jackson. Yes injuries limited him the last two years, but he should be fully healthy and the Bills figure to be among the league leaders in rushing attempts. Even if Spiller is fully healthy, Jackson could get 100+ carries and 30+ catches.
39. Darryl Richardson, St. Louis Rams:
-If Pead doesn’t win the Rams job Richardson is another viable option. He played well when given a chance last year and if he can get 250 touches the production should be there.
40. Marcel Reece, Oakland Raiders:
-Reece is primarily a FB/H-back, but last year thrived when moved to tailback due to Darren McFadden‘s injury. He should be given more looks this year as a third down back and given additional carries and targets. Even if McFadden were to stay healthy (which is a big IF), Reece should have a little value.
41. Joseph Randle, Dallas Cowboys:
-Randle is a late round rookie for the Cowboys, but is an interesting late round flyer. Given DeMarco Murray‘s injuries the last two years it is likely that Randle will get some time this season.
42. Mikel Leshoure, Detroit Lions:
-Though Reggie Bush will be the primary rusher, Leshoure will likely get his fair share of carries. He’s also likely to be the touchdown vulture in Detroit and could end up with a pretty respectable number there. Another thing to consider is Bush’s injury history, making Leshoure a nice late round pick.
43. Stephan Taylor, Arizona Cardinals:
-Though there are a number of backs competing for the Cardinals job, Taylor is my favorite. While he probably won’t win the job outright, Rashard Mendenhall has had some injury issues and his play has been down recently. If he falters or is injured Taylor should get a look at the job.
44. Jonathan Franklin, Green Bay Packers:
-Though I suspect Eddie Lacy to be the primary back, Franklin is no slouch in his own right. He also has some potential as a quicker receiver out of the backfield, and the Packers could perhaps look to emulate some other potent passing teams like the Patriots and Saints which heavily feature a back in the passing game.
45. Bernard Pierce, Baltimore Ravens:
-Were Ray Rice to go down Pierce would be a great bet to put up near equal production. While he’ll still get some carries and catches he’s only ever playable if Rice is out. Given that Rice has not missed a game since he’s become a starter it’s not as safe as a bet as some other guys. Still Pierce is a talented back, and has the potential for some nice value.
46. Ben Tate, Houston Texans:
-Tate should see an increase amount of carries this season, though he’s not likely to siphon off enough carries unless Foster were to go down. Still he’s a nice handcuff running back to have in that eventuality given how much the Texans run the football.
47. Bryce Brown, Philadelphia Eagles:
-The Eagles figure to be a run heavy team this year so having McCoy’s back-up makes a lot of sense. He’ll get some carries regardless, but it’s unclear if he’ll be a TD vulture or contribute enough as a receiver to warrant any more consideration.
48. Zac Stacy, St. Louis Rams:
-Stacy is a real sleeper for the Rams starting role. He might not get it from day one, but he could earn it down the line. This will become more clear through the preseason, but he’s an intriguing guy to watch.
49. LaMichael James, San Francisco 49ers:
-Though Frank Gore is the primary back in San Francisco, James could see an expanded role this year. Particularly if he proves himself as a receiver. Given that Gore has had some injury issues in the past, he’s a nice back-up to carry.
50. Danny Woodhead, San Diego Chargers:
-With Ronnie Brown there it is unclear just how many carries Woodhead would receive even if starter Ryan Mathews went down with injury. The one thing that is known is that Woodhead will be the 3rd down back. Though he might not put up Darren Sproles numbers he could get 40-50 catches and 400-600 yards.