Originally written on isportsweb.com  |  Last updated 7/20/13

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - DECEMBER 13: Brett Favre #4 of the Minnesota Vikings hands off the ball against the Cincinnati Bengals to teammate Adrian Peterson #28 on December 13, 2009 at Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Vikings defeated the Bengals 30-10. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Reigning NFL MVP Adrian Peterson has set his own bar at 2,500 rushing yards this upcoming season. Do you think he’ll be successful in eclipsing that record? For those of us who enjoy to assemble an imaginary team of real life football players and score points based on those players’ actual statistical performance or their perceived contribution on the field of play, we know it’s never to early to talk fantasy football. We are only a few weeks away for the NFL preseason games to kick off, which also means fantasy leagues are about a month away to beginning their fantasy football drafts. So I am here to help with ranking the top players in each skill position, which I will also compare my picks to those that were made from ESPN.com and NFL.com analysts. Today we will begin with the top 5 NFL fantasy running backs in 2013. Here are my top 5 backs compared to other cites top 5: 1. Adrian Peterson, Minnesota Vikings- ESPN.com (1) NFL.com (2) The 2013 projections on NFL.com has Adrian Peterson rushing for 1,874 yards and 11 rushing touchdowns, while collecting 284 receiving yards and 2 receiving touch downs. Last year, Adrian Peterson shocked the entire NFL by eclipsing the 2,000 rushing yards mark, which came a season after he suffered a torn ACL and MCL. Peterson’s 2,097 total rushing yards were only 9 yards away from breaking Eric Dickerson’s single season rushing record. Peterson’s 2,314 all-purpose yards earned him the 2012 NFL MVP Award and the 2012 AP Offensive Player of the year Award. After telling reporters that he has his own bar set at 2,500 rushing yards this season, you can expect Peterson to also run wild in 2013. 2. Arian Foster, Houston Texans- Espn.com (2) NFL.com (1) The 2013 projections on NFL.com has Arian “The Barbarian” Foster rushing for 1,483 yards and 14 rushing touchdowns, while collecting 621 receiving yards and 3 receiving touchdowns. Arian Foster finished 2012 with 1,424 rushing yards, which ranked him 6th among all running backs in the league. It wasn’t his best year as a running back, but he still showed you that even not at his greatest, he can rank among the best at his position. The Houston Texans rely heavily on Arian Foster, which is why I won’t be surprised if he was the number one back by the end of 2013 in terms of fantasy points. If the Texans look to take the next step forward as a team, in terms of making it to the conference championship, or even the Super Bowl, a lot will rely on Foster’s performance. Which is a good thing to hear if you’re a Texan fan, or an Arian Foster fantasy owner. 3. Ray Rice, Baltimore Ravens- ESPN.com (4) NFL.com (7) The 2013 projections on NFL.com has Ray Rice, a.k.a. “Hey diddle diddle, Ray Rice up the middle,” rushing for 1,157 yards and 8 touchdowns, while collecting 460 receiving yards with 3 receiving touchdowns. This is the first of many players that I disagreed with the analysts of ESPN.com and NFL.com. Last season, Ray Rice finished 11th among all running backs in total rushing yards with 1,143. The reason I have him so high on my board this year is because the Baltimore Ravens roster has had a complete makeover on both sides of the ball from last season. Players like Ed Reed, Ray Lewis, and Anquan Boldin will not suit up for the black and purple in 2013. Next to Joe Flacco, Ray Rice has become a pivotal team leader for this 2013 Ravens ball club. I believe Joe Flacco will have trouble with the passing game this season since Mr. Ole reliable, Anquan Boldin, won’t be there to help him move the sticks. Therefore the workload for Ray Rice will increase, which also means higher fantasy numbers for the Rutgers University graduate. 4. Marshawn Lynch, Seattle Seahawks- ESPN.com (3) NFL.com (4) The 2013 projections on NFL.com has Marshawn “The Dawn” Lynch rushing for 1,578 yards and 12 touchdowns, while collecting 218 receiving yards with no receiving touchdowns. Marshawn Lynch finished 2012 with 1,590 rushing yards, which ranked him 3rd among all NFL running backs last season. With the acquisition of Percy Harvin to play along side Sidney Rice, the passing game for the Seahawks, which is led by second year quarterback Russell Wilson, will alleviate defenses from putting 8 in the box to stop the rushing game. Which all sums up to being a great season for “Skittles Man” to eat more skittles (scoring more touchdowns). I believe the Seahawks will be one of the most balanced teams in the NFL, which will make them a legitimate Super Bowl contender in 2013. But it all begins with their ground attack, where Marshawn Lynch hopes to have them covered. 5. Jamaal Charles, Kansas City Chiefs- ESPN.com (6) NFL.com (5) The 2013 projections on NFL.com has Jamaal Charles rushing for 1,654 yards and 4 touch downs, while collecting 429 receiving yards and 2 receiving touchdowns. Charles finished the 2012 season 4th among all running backs with 1,509 rushing yards. If you asked me which player has the most potential for a breakout year in 2013 my answer would be Jamaal Charles from the Kansas City Chiefs.  Here is 3 reasons why: 1. He finally has a coach who understands him and is offensive oriented with former Philadelphia Eagles head coach Andy Reid. 2. He has a legitimate quarterback in Alex Smith who will help out Charles’ running game by keeping the secondary honest to the passing game. 3. Look at his numbers in 2012. He did all of this with having guys like Matt Cassel and Brady Quinn playing quarterback, Todd Haley and Romeo Crennel calling plays on offense, and his team finishing as the statistically worst team overall, ending the season with a 2-14 record. You can ask any running back in the NFL how much of a difference it makes in their running if they had something to play for. If you don’t believe me, pay attention to Atlanta Falcons new starting running back Steven “action-pack” Jackson this season. His performance on the field will tell it all. Tune in tomorrow to read who I, and other websites, have as our 6-10 fantasy running backs in this upcoming 2013 season. Follow me on Twitter: @MrOT3
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