Top 50 Fantasy Running back Rankings: Part II
11. Stevan Ridley, New England Patriots:
-Ridley should once again be one of the better fantasy backs this year, after he broke out for 1,300+ combined yards and 12 touchdowns. Though like Alfred Morris, Ridley was a non-factor in the passing game (just 6 catches), he’s probably more likely to see his numbers go up. Danny Woodhead left in free agency and his 70+ carries and 40 catches are going to need to go to other sources. Though Ridley won’t be the only back benefiting, he could see a bit of a jump in his targets, while gaining 20+ carries. He’s also the likely primary goalline back, and should get 10+ TD’s.
12. Frank Gore, San Francisco 49ers:
-There are some concerns with Frank Gore as he had just three 100 yard games last season, and once again saw less than stellar passing numbers, but there are some positives as well. Gore has played in all 16 games in back-to-back years, and has gotten over 1,200 rushing yards each of those seasons. Though he’s come up short of 10 total TD’s, he had 9 last year and 8 the year before so he’s still in that range. If his receiving numbers could rise back to the 400 yard range, he could be a much better fantasy option.
13. Chris Johnson, Tennessee Titans:
-Johnson is coming off back-to-back disappointing seasons, but there is a lot of reason to think things will get better for Johnson. For one thing the Titans really bolstered their offensive line and blocking this offseason. For another Tennessee seems much more committed to the run this season. Johnson should get a lot of touches and yards, but touchdowns will keep him from being higher on this list as both QB Jake Locker and RB Shonn Greene will likely take the lion’s share of those touches around the goalline.
14. Steven Jackson, Atlanta Falcons:
-Jackson moved on to Atlanta and should be in line for a pretty productive fantasy season. He’s still getting up there in age so the Falcons are likely to limit his carries somewhat, but he’s a good bet for 1,000+ rushing yards and 10 TD’s. How much he adds through the air will be the real question going forward to see whether he’s a top ten back or not.
15. David Wilson, New York Giants:
-Wilson was in the dog house early last season, but when given some chances late in the year he really produced. Wilson will have to share the load somewhat, but he’s probably a fair option for at least 1,500 yards combined and 7-10 touchdowns. His rushing probably won’t be much more than 1,000-1,200, but he should be a good bet to add 400-600 receiving yards.
16. Reggie Bush, Detroit Lions:
-Despite the fact that Lions running backs have been poor fantasy options in recent years, Bush could be the back to change all of that. The Lions threw the ball a ton to their running backs last season and Bush could be in line for 75-90 targets, and 60-75 catches. It would not be shocking to see 750 yards or more through the air. Though he might not run as much as some other backs, he’ll likely be in a position for 1,000 plus yards on the ground. The real questions surrounding him are his touchdowns and health. He very well could be a sub 10 TD guy (despite all the touches), and he’s not the safest bet for 16 games.
17. Maurice Jones-Drew, Jacksonville Jaguars:
-Jones-Drew should be fully healthy and ready to go this year. Jacksonville also bolstered their offensive line, and has some receiving weapons to take the pressure off Jones-Drew. Unfortunately they continue to have the worst quarterback situation in the league which will seriously hold him back. He still should do fairly well in terms of total yardage, but his touchdowns are likely going to be lower as he won’t have near the red zone opportunities as backs on good teams.
18. Matt Forte, Chicago Bears:
-Forte is a safe bet for 1,000+ yards on the ground and 350-600 yards through the air. He’s not much of a touchdown machine which is a problem, but should be a decent fantasy option. The Bears made some improvements to their offensive line, which could put Forte in line for his best year yet. Still the lack of TD’s are a concern as he’s had just a total of 10 TD’s over the last two years combined.
19. Le’Veon Bell, Pittsburgh Steelers:
-Bell is the first rookie on the list given that the Steelers are expected to increase their rushing attack this year, and Bell should end up as the primary option. Bell could be in line for 1,200+ yards and 10+ rushing touchdowns. He’s also a better receiver than given credit for and could add a couple hundred yards that way as well.
20. Eddie Lacy, Green Bay Packers:
-Lacy is primed to be a starter as well (though he may share more time) and could end up putting up pretty nice numbers as a rookie. He’s a power rusher and will get a fair amount of red zone carries. The big question is how much will the Packers try to utilize the rush now that they have some running backs. If they do like the Patriots did last year, Lacy could be a nice mid-round steal.
21. Vick Ballard, Indianapolis Colts:
-Despite not getting much playing time for the first quarter of the season Ballard still managed over 900 total yards. He’s inline to be the Colts feature back this year and should be able to crack 1,000 yards pretty easily. Over the course of a full year he could be capable of 300+ receiving yards as well. Also, with the Colts new offense the run is more likely to be featured. The big question though is how much will he be featured around the goalline? Last year Ballard had just two rushing TD’s and just three total. That number will go up, but if it just maxes out at five he won’t be that special. Ballard though is a big back who should do well near the goalline. With the Colts bolstering their line he’s a nice sleeper pick.
22. Monte Ball, Denver Broncos:
-This running back situation is very much up in the air with Knowshon Moreno, Willis McGahee and Ronnie Hillman in the mix as well. I’m expecting to see a Moreno get released and Ball and McGahee be the primary ball carriers. Though John Fox typically doesn’t use rookie RB’s, Ball could be the exception to the rule.
23. Chris Ivory, New York Jets:
-One of the best moves the Jets made draft weekend was trading a fourth round pick to the Saints for Ivory. He’s not a star running back, but he’s been very solid when he’s been given the opportunities. He’s in line to be the feature back and should remain in for goalline situations. He’s not much of a receiver, but the big issue surrounding him is the overall weakness of the Jets offense which will hold him back.
24. Darren McFadden, Oakland Raiders:
-McFadden just can’t stay healthy and has yet to play in more than 13 games in a season. Last year he saw his yards per carry plummet, but it is likely it will bounce back up. McFadden can also be an effective weapon out of the backfield, but questions at quarterback holds back his overall potential. Another big question mark is what could be the worse defense in the league. The Raiders could be behind early in a lot of games which could really negate McFadden’s value.
25. Darren Sproles, New Orleans Saints:
-Even in a non-PPR league Sproles could have some real nice fantasy value. In two years in New Orleans Sproles has 161 catches for 1,377 yards and 14 touchdowns. His receiving value alone last year was worth 108 points (based on standard scoring) and that is with him missing three games. Sproles rushing value took a hit some last year, but it’s likely they will try to increase his role this season. Sproles is a lock to get about 130-150 fantasy points, but the downside is he doesn’t really have the potential to be a 180-200+ point guy.