2013 RB Rankings
Looking ahead to the 2013 fantasy football season there are quite a few running backs who will all compete to finish as a top-15 back. It should be an interesting season with a number of rookie and sophomores looking to change the fantasy landscape. We will attempt to split the running backs into tiers to allow for better assessment come draft day.
Yes, Adrian Peterson resides atop the tier mountain all by himself. There are arguments for the inclusion of others, but after witnessing last year’s historic and miraculous campaign from Purple Jesus someone will have to force their way into this tier for next year.
Tier two is an elite tier of running backs who will all vie to be fantasy’s number one runner, especially in PPR formats where the gap between AP and this tier is not as profound and some may even say negligible. This tier includes the ‘muscle hamster’ Doug Martin, Jamaal Charles and Arian Foster, three running backs who can eclipse 2,000 yards from scrimmage as they are expected to flirt with 1,500 rushing yards and over 50 receptions a piece. I have Martin on top of this tier due to the inherent injury risks of Spiller and Charles and a healthy, contract-year motivated Ben Tate nipping at Arian Fosters heels.
While not as elite as those ranked in the higher tiers, all of these running backs have the potential for a top-5 fantasy finish for the 2013 season. This tier includes the talented Darren McFadden, CJ Spiller, the finally free Steven Jackson, ‘Beast Mode’ Marshawn Lynch, Ray Rice, sophomore sensation Alfred Morris, Maurice Jones-Drew and LeSean McCoy. While the end of this tier brings us to 13 total running backs ranked, we have them all tabbed as RB1’s.
This is where it gets interesting folks, all of these running backs are capable of top-15 finishes and would likely all be ranked in the top-15 a few years ago when the league was not littered with so many mega talents at the running back position. Tier four boasts former fantasy first rounders Frank Gore, DeMarco Murray, Matt Forte, Chris Johnson and Darren Sproles all of whom would be amazing RB2’s for any fantasy squad. This tier also houses rookies Montee Ball and LeVeon Bell, both of whom are destined to make a splash in their inaugural campaigns. Stevan Ridley, Lamar Miller and Reggie Bush round out this talented tier.
Running back depth is always key to fantasy championships and these five backs will carry many owners to win their fantasy leagues. This electric RB2 tier includes Jonathan Stewart, Ryan Mathews, Chris Ivory, Ahmad Bradshaw and David Wilson. This quintuplet is filled with fantasy goodness and health permitting they will all vie for a top-15 finish this season. Yes, we are now at 28 running backs ranked but that is how much talent there is at the running back position this year.
Tier six currently consists of only a trio of running backs who would find themselves in a higher tier if not for a legit question mark in their depth charts. Giovanni Bernard is a fantasy darling in the making but will have to steal the featured job from the reliable, yet unspectacular BenJarvus Green-Ellis before he is truly unleashed on the fantasy world. Eddie Lacy is a mega talent who would have cracked the top-20 in our rankings had the rich not got richer and added the equally talented Jonathan Franklin two rounds later. Finally Rashard Mendenhall will be handed the feature job in Arizona but has to contend with a potentially finally healthy Ryan Williams and interesting rookies Andre Ellington and Stepfan Taylor.
Tier seven features four runners who have legit top-20 talent but have different factors conspiring against a potential finish as an RB2. Mark Ingram is finally healthy but will be forced to platoon with Darren Sproles and Pierre Thomas both who have proven to be more versatile thus far in their NFL careers, with that said Ingram has the most talent of all three and may finally breakout given Sean Payton’s promise to lean more heavily on the run game and with potential for 225-250 touches. Shane Vereen is an electric talent but has been incessantly banged thus far in his NFL career but with the shocking depletion of talent on the Patriots roster he has the potential for 200 total touches including 50+ in the passing game. Mikel LeShoure finished as a top-20 back in 2012 despite missing the first two games of the season and finished ahead of names like DeMarco Murray, LeSean McCoy, Darren McFadden, Darren Sproles and Ryan Mathews. If he is finally 100% healthy he can form a deadly 1-2 combo with newly acquired Lion and PPR dynamo Reggie Bush. BJGE finished as the 19th ranked back in the standard ESPN game one point ahead of LeShoure and he remains the Volvo of running backs, the only problem is the Bengals just acquired a brand new Audi in rookie Giovanni Bernard. Danny Woodhead also joined this tier with news he will be the Chargers passing down back and his budding chemistry with Phillip Rivers.
Tier eight can be labeled the super backup tier and consists of players who all have the talent to start for their respective teams. First on the list is Ben Tate who is arguably as talented as Arian Foster, ditto for Jonathan Franklin behind Lacy in Green Bay. Fred Jackson is a former top-25 back while DeAngelo Williams has been fantasy’s top back. Andre Brown managed 5.3 YPC last year and totaled 8 TD’s in the eight games he had a carry. Zac Stacy seems to be the no-brainer pick to assume the feature back job in St. Louis by mid-season while Michael Bush is every bit as versatile as incumbent starter Matt Forte, Bush may end up being the goal-line back as well. Isaiah Pead has a chance to secure the starters label once he returns from suspension while Ryan Williams is just as talented as Rashard Mendenhall if healthy and confident. Finally Pierre Thomas will backup both Sproles and Ingram, but can really breakout if one of them succumbs to injury.
Tier nine features another set of high upside handcuffs and one potential starter. We have Daryl Richardson ranked below both Stacy and Pead because while he is the most complete back on the Rams roster, he is a sort of ‘jack of all trades, master of none’ with Pead being the superior open field player and Stacy the superior inside, between the tackles runner. Bryce Brown set the fantasy world on fire when McCoy went down with an injury last year but he still shies away from contact, bouncing too many runs to the outside and has yet to cure his serious case of fumblitis. Bernard Pierce is one of the top backups in the league and is a sure-fire RB2 if Rice goes down with an injury. Daniel Thomas is now considered a bust by many fanalysts but I am not among them. Thomas needs to understand that he needs to hit holes hard and not dance around in the backfield but the skill set that made us all drool when he was entering the league is still there. Shonne Greene will be looking to reprise the Lendale White role in Tennessee while Moreno remains the Broncos best pass protector which should lead to major snaps in Denver’s backfield.
Tier ten is the best of the rest and includes talents like Christine Michael, Ronnie Hillman, Kendalll Hunter, Marcel Reece and more. This tier has a chance to make an impact if injuries strike and may also merit consideration as bye week fillers.
These rankings are fluid and will be changing daily so be sure to check back as often as needed to help you succeed in your fantasy football drafts.
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Written by Win My Fantasy League Senior Sports Writer/Fantasy Sports Analyst Raju Byfield (Rizzla).