Fantasy Running Back Rankings (Standard)
posted Aug 08 2013, 05:05PM
posted in NFL, Fantasy

The fantasy football season is nearing, so with my first installment you got to see where I ranked the quarterbacks for the 2013 NFL season. Now it is time to see where the running backs rank.

  1. Adrian Peterson (MIN-5)

Best back in the league, hands down, maybe even of all time.

  1. Doug Martin (TB-5)

The “Muscle Hamster” is a special back and finished 2012 as the 2nd best back in fantasy football. In 2013, Martin should be running behind a stronger line with the return of Carl Nicks and Davin Joseph. Combine that with the fact that Head Coach Greg Schiano loves to pound the ball and doesn’t trust QB Josh Freeman, you can expect another superb year for the second year product out of Boise State.  

  1. Jamaal Charles (KC-10)

Charles is truly an elite and explosive back. He will see an increase in receptions in 2013 with the hiring of new head coach Andy Reid. Considering he is already the NFL all-time leader in yards per carry for running backs (5.8 yards per carry) the added touches in the passing game will give Charles even more opportunities to make plays in space. Charles is the player Chris Johnson was hyped up to be. 

  1. Arian Foster (HOU-8)

Foster has been hampered by a nagging calf injury for a little while now. He also has a back injury he is dealing with, which has cost him to be sidelined for nearly the past two months. When you combine his injury issues with his heavy workload (nearly 1,000 times in the past three seasons) and his decline in yards per carry since becoming a fulltime starter (4.9 in 2010, 4.4 in 2011 and 4.1 in 2012) make the consensus top 2 pick too risky for my liking.  

  1. Marshawn Lynch (SEA-12)

“Beast Mode” runs hard every time he touches the rock. Even though the Seahawk o-line isn’t the most talented unit in the league (aside from Russell Okung and Max Unger) you can expect a heavy dosage of Lynch in 2013, especially with the recent injury to Percy Harvin.

  1. C.J. Spiller (BUF-12)

Spiller had an amazing 2012 campaign. The only problem for Spiller was that he didn’t get as many touches as many of the other elite backs around the league, but he made the most of the touches he got. Spiller averaged 6 yards a carry in 2012, which was the same as Adrian Peterson and best in the league for running backs. The Bills plan on getting Spiller much more involved in 2013, so, if he can maintain his 6 YPC or anywhere close to that we may have a new CJ2K on our hands.

  1. LeSean McCoy (PHI-12)

McCoy is an ultra-talented back, and should thrive in new coach Chip Kelly’s offense; however, McCoy must improve on his touchdown total (2 TD in 2012) in 2013 to warrant this high of a selection, which I do not think will be a problem. Between Kelly’s scheme and the Eagles offensive line things are looking promising for Shady to bounce back in 2013.

  1. Ray Rice (BAL-8)

Rice is about as consistent of a back as there is in terms of fantasy football. He is good for around 1,200 and 8 scores on the ground and another 600 and 2 TD through the air, and with all of the production that will be missing from the 2012 squad (to the tune of 126 receptions, 1,590 receiving yards and 11 touchdowns between WR Anquan Boldin and TE Dennis Pitta) Rice should be good for his usual, if not a little more. Bernard Pierce may cut into Rice’s workload, but there should be plenty to go around in 2013 for Ravens skill position players.

  1. Trent Richardson (CLE-10)

Richardson should be much more involved in the Browns offense in 2013, and that is not good news for opposing defenses. Richardson is like a fire hydrant and will be a force in his sophomore season. T-Rock is much better than what his paltry 3.6 YPC average in 2012 indicates (injuries played a part in Richardson’s struggles last year), and I expect that number to be significantly higher in 2013.

  1. Alfred Morris (WAS-5)

Morris came out of nowhere in 2012 to be one of the most productive backs in football. Morris is a known commodity now, but that shouldn’t slow down the bruising back in 2013. Behind Head Coach Mike Shanahan the Redskins are a run-first team, and the running game will be leaned on heavily to ease the burden on QB Robert Griffin III as he returns from a torn ACL. 

  1. Steven Jackson (ATL-6)

Jackson is a big, strong back who has withered away most of his career in St. Louis. Now that he is in Atlanta, I expect Jackson’s career to be somewhat rejuvenated. Playing for a contender and a team that he isnt the only option for will only make him that much more of a factor because defenses will not be able to solely game plan for him. Jackson is one of the safest picks in 2013. Worst case scenario Jackson gets 1,000 yards and 10 TD on the ground.

  1. Matt Forte (CHI-8)

One of the reasons for the termination of Lovie Smith was the Bears management did not feel Forte was a big enough part of the offense. New Head Coach Marc Trestman has come out and said that Forte will be a key cog in the new look Chicago offense. The main issue concerning Forte is his lack of scores, but with the improved Bears offensive line I think Forte has a chance to improve on his TD numbers.   

  1. Stevan Ridley (NE-10)

Ridley runs behind one of the best lines in football, and should see more carries with the Patriots losing 4 out of their top 5 receivers from last season (Wes Welker, Brandon Lloyd, Aaron Hernandez and Danny Woodhead). Don’t be surprised if Ridley leads the league in rushing TDs in 2013. 

  1. Maurice Jones-Drew (JAC-9)

Mo Jo has been one of the league’s top backs for a few years now. Heading into the 2013 campaign, he is coming off a serious Lisfranc injury and will likely find his team playing from behind for the majority of the season making it a difficult decision to comfortably take the 5’7” back. Ultimately, the Jaguars have been inept at QB for several years now, and Mo Jo still always seems to find a way to get his. Mo Jo should be good for about 1,000 yards and 9+ scores on the ground making him a solid option in rounds 2 or 3. 

  1. Chris Johnson (TEN-8)

Johnson will be running behind a much improved Titan offensive line in 2013. Johnson is a one trick pony in my book, but at the end of the day speed kills and Johnson has a lot of it. Behind the revamped line, 1,500 yards is not out of the question for CJ2K, but don’t expect too many goal line carries with the offseason acquisition of Shonn Greene.  

  1. Frank Gore (SF-9)

Frank Gore was a great back for many years, but his play has declined over the past few years. Fortunately for Gore, he gets to run behind the most physical offensive line in football. The Niners have the best run blocking line in the league, and it’s not even close. The Niners o-line is full of road graders. LT Joe Staley, LG Mike Iupati, RG Alex Boone and RT Anthony Davis are among the best run blockers at their positions, which is why any back running behind them will succeed and produce.  

  1. Darren McFadden (OAK-7)

McFadden has been plagued by injuries since entering the NFL, but playing in contract year gives him even more incentive to push through injuries that otherwise would force him to miss time. Playing for a contract, as well as, changing from zone blocking to power blocking should be enough for the talented back to have a monster year in 2013, if he decides to play all 16 games.

  1. DeMarco Murray (DAL-11)

Murray similar to McFadden can’t seem to stay healthy, but unlike McFadden Murray doesn’t have the added motivation of playing for a new contract, so he’s a “boom” or “bust” type back. Draft at your own risk.


  1. David Wilson (NYG-9)

Wilson has the athleticism and ability to be an elite back in the NFL, but the question is whether he can handle the “other” duties required to be an every down back in the NFL? If Wilson protects the football and his quarterback, he may have a breakout 2013 campaign.   

  1. Lamar Miller (MIA-6)

Miller is explosive and has speed to burn. The Dolphins offensive line is shaky, but Miller doesn’t need much to explode to the second level of defenses. He only has a handful of carries as a professional, but I expect big things from the University of Miami product, if he can stay healthy for the whole year.

  1. Le’Veon Bell (PIT-5)

The first rookie on the list, Bell is slated to be the starter for the Steelers from opening day. He is a big back with great hands, and will be called upon to have a sizeable role in the Pittsburgh offense. The team wants to take some of the pressure off of QB Ben Roethlisberger and with an offensive line that is far from elite, the best way to do that is to run the ball with the 245 pound Michigan State product. Bell is a downhill runner and would not surprise me if he scores double digit TD in 2013.

  1. Montee Ball (DEN-9)

Ball, the second rook on the list, will benefit far more from his teammates than Bell will in Pittsburgh. Ball gets to play with one of the greatest QB of All-Time in Peyton Manning, a plethora of premier receivers and a stout offensive line. The Broncos will find themselves in the red zone more times than most times, so Ball should be able to rack up a significant amount of TDs as a rookie.

  1. Chris Ivory (NYJ-10)

Chris Ivory is a violent runner, who didn’t get much notoriety because he was a part of a 4-headed rushing attack in New Orleans. In New York, he is the lead dog and should be good for close to 10 TD. The Jets offense is abysmal, but with C Nick Mangold and LT D’Brickashaw Ferguson leading the way Ivory should be able to generate some offense through the ground, and particularly in the red zone.

  1. Darren Sproles (NO-7)

Sproles is a beast in PPR leagues, but should see enough touches both through the air and on the ground to make him a viable RB2 or FLEX option in standard leagues, as well. The Saints offense will have to generate lots of points if they hope to compete in 2013, and with the options thin behind Jimmy Graham, Marques Colston and Lance Moore expect Sproles to be a bigger part of the passing game and with the departure of Chris Ivory in the running game too.

  1. Reggie Bush (DET-9)

Bush grades very similarly to the man at #24, Darren Sproles. Both players are more known for their receiving prowess than their ground game. They are also both members of pass-first teams, and should generate about 1,200 total yards and approach 10 total TD in 2013.

  1. Eddie Lacy (GB-4)

There has been a lot of buzz surrounding Lacy, thus far, in training camp, and most of it is not good. There have been reports that Lacy has gained a significant amount of weight, but the Packers deny the allegations. Ultimately, anytime you have a QB as good as Aaron Rodgers there will be more 6 and 7 man fronts, which should enable the running backs to gash opposing defenses. The Packers have not had any type of significant rushing attack for years so Lacy has the opportunity to see the most carries and goal line looks than any other back in Green Bay this year.

  1. Ahmad Bradshaw (IND-8)

The Colts will be a much more balanced offense in 2013, and will look to run the ball a lot more than in 2012. This could enable Bradshaw to have a huge 2013 campaign if he stays healthy, but that’s a big “if” for a guy who has missed six games the past two years, and has been hampered by a plethora of other injuries, as well.

  1. Shane Vereen (NE-10)

Vereen will have a much larger role in 2013 than he did in 2012. Vereen will be asked to line up all over the field for the Patriots in order to help minimize the loss of several valuable weapons from last season. Much of Vereen’s impact in 2013 will likely be through the air rather than as a back (similar to Darren Sproles and Reggie Bush).

  1. Ryan Mathews (SD-8)

Mathews can’t stay healthy, and when he did manage to get on the field he was terrible in 2012. Mathews scored one rushing TD on nearly 200 carries in 2012, while averaging a woeful 3.8 YPC. I acknowledge that the Chargers offensive line was abysmal last year, and the Mathews may not have been 100 percent all year, but those numbers are a far cry from what you expect from a fantasy relevant back regardless of the situation.

  1. Gio Bernard (CIN-12)

Bernard is a playmaker and will have a bigger impact late in the season than he will the first few weeks of the year. Bernard was a threat all over the field while at North Carolina. Bernard obviously was a great running back, but also was a threat as a receiver and on special teams in the return game. Bernard displays exceptional vision and I expect him to supplant current starter BenJarvus Green-Ellis before the season is over.

  1. DeAngelo Williams (CAR-4)

Williams has been forced to split carries with fellow RB Jonathan Stewart for the majority of his NFL career, but with Stewart trying to rehab from several ankle surgeries, Williams might be asked to take on a bigger role in 2013. Williams did not take advantage of this opportunity last season with Stewart missing a handful of games, but 2012 was one of Williams’s worst years as a pro. In 2013, with the Panthers looking to move to a more conventional offense and Williams finishing last year strong with four TD in the Panthers last four games D-Will looks to be a solid FLEX option heading into the season.

  1. Andre Brown (NYG-9)

Should be able to vulture away many goal line TDs away from the younger and more gifted David Wilson. Brown had a good year in limited action in 2012, so 700 yards and 9+ TDs in an expanded role in 2013 do not seem out of the question in 2013.  

  1. BenJarvus Green-Ellis (CIN-12)

The Law Firm will be looking to split carries with rookie Gio Bernard this year, but BJGE should still be the Bengals goal line back in 2013. BJGE looks to be have more value early in the season than he will as the season wears on since Gio will likely receive a larger workload as the year progresses.

  1. Daryl Richardson (STL-11)

The Rams RB committee is one of the toughest to call in 2013. Richardson is said to be the starter, but Isiah Pead and rookie Zac Stacy are also expected to be in line for touches. Richardson made the most of his limited carries in 2012 finishing the year with a 4.8 YPC average.

  1. Mark Ingram (NO-7)

The former Heisman trophy winner has had a pretty rocky start to his NFL career, thus far, but many are hoping this is the year the third year RB breaks out.  With Chris Ivory gone Ingram will only have to split goal line duties with Pierre Thomas, which is more than he could say last year. Ingram has yet to break the 200 carry threshold, and may not be able to in 2013 either. The hope for Ingram, is that he becomes a more efficient runner (3.9 career YPC) and a better finisher at the goal line (5 TD per year), which will be much needed if the Saints hope to be a contender in 2013. 

  1. Rashard Mendenhall (ARI-9)

Mendenhall’s durability issues have been well noted, and he is still having some problems with tendinitis in his right knee. The same knee which he had surgically repaired in 2011. Mendenhall missed ten games last season, but when healthy he is a solid fantasy back with a penchant for reaching the end zone. Watch out when drafting Mendenhall. Though the Cardinals have improved their offensive line from last season, Mendenhall is a volume runner and needs a lot of carries to accumulate substantial yards, pair that with his injury history and the risk of Mendenhall may outweigh the benefits.

  1. Vick Ballard (IND-8)

Ballard was demoted to second string upon the signing of veteran Ahmad Bradshaw, but luckily for Ballard Bradshaw is known for missing time due to injuries, so Ballard should be in line for a decent workload if anything happens to the former Giant. Bradshaw’s propensity for getting injured and the Colts new offensive scheme bode well for Ballard’s stock in his sophomore year in the NFL.

  1. Bernard Pierce (BAL-8)

Pierce is a violent runner, and should see an expanded role in 2013. The Ravens need to preserve the legs of their Pro Bowl RB Ray Rice who has accumulated 1,100+ carries over the past four years, and Pierce will be the one to spell the veteran. 

  1. Ben Tate (HOU-8)

Tate is an exceptional athlete, and a solid back when healthy, but he has hard time staying healthy. Tate should be drafted primarily as a handcuff for Arian Foster.

  1. Ronnie Hillman (DEN-9)

Hillman is listed as the starter for the Broncos, as of now, but I can’t say that I see that lasting all season. Hillman is a solid change of pace back and could play a role similar to a Darren Sproles, but Hillman is not an every down back, and that will be proven once the season kicks off. 


  1. Fred Jackson (BUF-12)

Jackson is a solid NFL back, and will be a handcuff to C.J. Spiller, a back who has shown that his durability is not his strong suit. Jackson is a quality NFL back and if anything happens to Spiller throughout the course of the year, should be a solid contributor for fantasy owners.

  1. Isaiah Pead (STL-11)

Pead is probably the most well-rounded back in St. Louis, but will have to battle Daryl Richardson for touches and Zac Stacy for goal line looks. It will be interesting to see how this battle shakes out, but for now Pead looks to be stuck in a log jam in the Rams backfield. 

  1. Mikel Leshoure (DET-9)

Leshoure will likely be the Lions goal line back, but between the newly acquired Reggie Bush and Joique Bell I don’t expect him to crack 200 carries again in 2013.

  1. Johnathan Franklin (GB-4)

The other RB the Packers drafted in this past NFL Draft was UCLA speedster Johnathan Franklin. Franklin has a shot at signicant playing time if he can impress in the pre-season or if fellow rookie Eddie Lacy struggles to start the season. Between Lacy and Franklin one of the two rookies are bound to have a decent year. At least, that’s what the Packers are hoping for.  

  1. Bilal Powell (NYJ-10)

Powell has been impressing many at Jets training camp and has a shot of supplanting current projected starter Chris Ivory. Powell is currently listed as the #1 RB on the Jets unofficial depth chart, but most anticipate Ivory will start the year as the Jets starter. The only problem is that Ivory has never even broke the 150 carry mark in his three year NFL career, and is already dealing with a nagging hamstring, so Powell maybe a solid value late in the draft.

  1. Zac Stacy (STL-11)

The bulk of Stacy’s production looks to come from TDs in 2013 as he is the odds on favorite to be the Rams goal line back, but if newly acquired Terrance Ganaway takes the role from Stacy consider Stacy undraftable until further notice.

  1. Bryce Brown (PHI-12)

Brown is a talented back that should see a handful of touches in new Head Coach Chip Kelly’s offense, if he can get his act together. Brown has had a pretty poor showing so far in camp, and with Washington product Chris Polk shining, Brown may not be in line to spell LeSean McCoy for much longer in Philadelphia.   

  1. Michael Bush (CHI-8)

Bush is a safe bet to be the Bears goal line back again this year since starter Matt Forte is one of the worst in the league in goal line situations; however, Bush only managed 5 scores in 2012, and I can’t see that number increasing by much in 2013. Forte’s injury history makes Bush someone to keep tabs on if something inevitably happens to Forte.  

  1. Shonn Greene (TEN-8)

Greene is likely going to take over goal line duties in Tennessee, which should equate to about 7-8 TDs for the former Jet. Titans starter Chris Johnson is one of the more durable backs in the league so don’t expect much more than an occasional TD for Greene.  

  1. Ryan Williams (ARI-9)

Williams was an absolute monster as a redshirt freshman, while at Virginia Tech, but his career has been plagued with injuries ever since. Williams showed absolute nothing in four out of the five games he played for the Cardinals in 2012, and with the addition of Rashard Mendenhall through free agency and Stepfan Taylor and Andre Ellington through the draft 2013 looks to be the last shot for Williams with the Cardinals.  

Kayvon Padidar
I am 24 years old and a military veteran. I recently graduated from The Ohio State University and was born and raised in Columbus, Ohio. I am a sports...

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