Running backs in most league settings will essentially be the bread and butter of your respective fantasy teams. Some important aspects when choosing your RB is to see if their team is a run oriented team, has a good offensive line, has a good offense, and if the RB is a good pass receiver. Having these qualities helps to assure that your back will get the most production and is almost never phased out of the game, like when a team is down and is passing the ball more in attempt to play catch up, a good receiving back will not be negated in fantasy value.
This would lead to the reasoning that most fantasy reports would have Chris Johnson listed above Adrian Peterson. Peterson has, however, been working on his hands and was able to prove himself last season enough to keep Chester Taylor off the field for more passing situations. So if you get stuck with the first overall pick in your draft you probably be stuck with 1a or 1b. My money would be on Peterson. Peterson has proven consistency, will get goal line carries, and is on an offense that has other weapons that will keep defenses from smothering the run game. This is not a knock on Johnson; if he’s there and you want him you’re not gonna lose out by taking him. Just bear in mind that Johnson will not repeat the same numbers from last season and Jeff Fischer and the Titans will not overuse their new star back.
The top 10 RBs are likely to go quick and without much thought in most leagues so here a few backs that will likely fall under the radar.
Ryan Grant – Grant may not be far down on a lot of lists, but Grant is still not a priority on a lot of fantasy owner’s minds. The Packers O-line was banged up last season and Grant only rushed 282 times. Grant did, however, manage 11 TDs behind that line. Bryan Bulaga will help create a little stability on the O-line which Grant could benefit from. Though Aaron Rodgers could shark a few running TDs like he has over the past 2 season, Grant could benefit from extra carries late in the game if the Packers continue as a high scoring offense.
CJ Spiller – He’s coming in as a rookie on a bad team I know. But if you saw Spiller in college you saw that he shined on a Clemson team that wasn’t that great either. Spiller is an explosive player with great burst and is an even better pass catching back. Even if he is splitting time in a rotation in Buffalo he will get touches and will probably be used in return duties where he also excelled while at Clemson. Spiller will likely get more time if and when Marshawn Lynch is cut or traded from Buffalo.
Michael Bush – Oh my god it’s a Raider. The Raiders have been a barren wasteland for most fantasy owners since the arrival of JaMarcus Russell. Now there seems to be a bit of optimism with the arrival of Jason Campbell, who isn’t necessarily the answer for the team, but will be able to generate enough respect for the pass to open up the run game. Michael Bush, when given the carries, showed the ability to be a good starting back. He piled up 119 yards on 14 carries and 133 yards on 18 carries. So when given the opportunity to carry the ball Bush can put up numbers. He runs with more power than Darren McFadden and is a better option on the goal line. In all likelihood the starting nod will be given to McFadden, but he hasn’t shown the ability to be an every down back. Bush will be a great late round pick or a player to keep an eye on in waivers since he may not be drafted in most leagues. Keep an eye on the preseason games and training camp to get a better idea of where the Raiders stand. If Bush is named the starter he’ll be a solid pick up.
Justin Forsett – Seattle has rotation of backs that they couldn’t seem to decide on last season. It might be the same this season, but my money is on the fact Forsett will win the starting spot. He’ll have to compete with Julius Jones and Leon Washington. Jones has shown an inability to be a consistent starter and Washington is more likely to serve as a backup leaving Forsett to build off of the spark that he gave the team every time he was in last season. He is small though, at 5 foot 8, so he may have to compete for goal line carries with Jones. The fact that Seattle has brought in Alex Gibbs will benefit Forsett the most. He should excel in Gibbs’ zone blocking scheme. Keep an eye out. If Forsett is named the starter he is worth a late 2nd to 3rd round pick in most league settings. If not he’s worth a mid to late round draft pick.
Marshawn Lynch – Another Buffalo player? Ok hear me out on this one. Lynch is on bad terms with the Bills and is likely on his way out. It is because of this that he has potential. Lynch is a 1,000 yard back and an all around back as well with some baggage. If Lynch is cut or traded there are a few teams he could go to and start at. If he’s cut, New England could grab him and he would stand above most of the backs there and would be behind a good line on a good offense. Also Philadelphia may not be so high on LeSean McCoy and Lynch could fill in nicely there. Lastly, Indianapolis could use a more solid back who can break tackles, but would be a long shot since they picked up Donald Brown with a first round pick last season. If he’s traded, you can cut out the division rival Patriots, and probably add team like Cleveland or Denver. If Spiller shows he can play and both he and Fred Jackson are healthy Lynch could be out. Either way, if Lynch is anywhere but the Bills this season he has the potential to be a great sleeper.
About the Author
Written by David Willow
My name is David Willow. Your NFL and Fantasy Jedi. I have lived in Dallas, TX most of my life. I have been following both football and basketball since I was a child. I love being able to research and analyze different players and teams. I've been a fantasy sports enthusiast for around 8 years with some titles to back that. I have a Bachelors degree in History with a minor in English. Other hobbies include me being part of an acting workshop for five years, playing guitar, and working out. Hit me up with any comments, questions or opinions.