Top 10 Fantasy RBs, Sleepers, and Busts is my cheat sheet of RBs that you might want to re-consider your thoughts on before draft day. I’m using a .5 PPR CBS scoring system.
Fast Fact: History shows that usually only 5 out of the top 10 fantasy RBs return to the top 10 the following year, 3 out of the top 5 plus 2 others.
Here’s last year’s top 10;
7) C. Johnson
10) R. Bush
Here’s my top 10;
10) Arian Foster: The Injury Factor, and questions at QB put him at # 10. Houston still has an O-line that can run block, but defenses will be crowding the line. If you think he can stay healthy, and Fitzpatrick can keep defenses honest then move him up a couple rungs.
9) Eddie Lacy: Possibly this year’s Trent Richardson. Well not quite. He won’t totally fall of the radar but McCarthy wants to run a lot more plays in an up tempo offense in 2014 and, has expressed a desire to get James Starks more involved. Starks had an impressive 5.5 YPC and a higher % of gains over 20 yards than Lacy. The concussion factor drops Lacy down my rankings a bit this season but he should get enough goal-line carries and TDs to keep him in the top 10.
8) Le’Veon Bell: According to PFF analysis, the Steelers are 31st in the NFL in run blocking, and haven’t done much to improve there in the off-season. The Steelers will be throwing a lot this year, but Bell will get his touches. He had 45 receptions last year, look for about 65 this year. That gets him into the top 10.
7) Jamal Charles: If you guessed Jamal Charles was out of the top 5, then you are on the ball man. Everybody loves Charles so I know some of you are dazed and confused that I have him ranked so low on my list. It’s my first “out on a limb prediction” of the 2014 fantasy season, and it caught you off guard. Allow me the opportunity to de-confusify you before you pile on.
First of all losing 3 top O-lineman, and having the 7th toughest schedule in the league has to hinder his production right? PFF analysis has the Chiefs O-line ranked at #32 in the NFL, and he plays against the NFC West this year! but that’s not all, the lack of another playmaker on the Chiefs offense makes them a one trick pony, and defenses will be ready. His touches will go down, and as Kansas City will be throwing more as they fall behind in games. I’d be willing to bet he won’t score 19 TDs again this season.
I’d trade down and let someone else burn their top selection on him. Then you grab one of my top 5 RBs, or a stud receiver and possibly get an extra pick or 2 out of the deal. This isn’t an exact science. You gotta take chances to win in a competitive league.
6) Montee Ball: With Knowshon Moreno out of the picture Ball has no competition for touches. Only a very tough schedule slows him down, at least he has Peyton, Welker, the two Thomases, and Sanders to keep defenses honest.
5) Giovani Bernard: Bernard gets my Break-out Player of the Year Award. Hue Jackson will be calling the plays in Cincy this year and things are going to change. Darren McFadden had his best 2 seasons under Jackson’s tutelage averaging 6.1 YPT, and an NFL high 5.6 YPC, and that was with a very mediocre O-line, and QB. The Bengals O-line is the #5 ranked run blocking unit in the league according to PFF analysis. With Jackson vowing to limit Dalton’s passes and ramp up the running game I expect Bernard to have a much bigger workload this season. Don’t be surprised if he puts up 1800 yards, and scores 8 TDs as the #1 back, and the best part is you can probably get him in the 2nd or 3rd round depending on the size of your league. There is the remote possibility that Jeremy Hill really impresses in pre-season and they decide to use him more on 1st or 2nd down. I’ll keep you posted on this and any other important fantasy news I come across via my tweets.
4) DeMarco Murray: With one of the best O-lines in the league Dallas will try to control the clock to keep their terrible defence off the field. New OC Scott Linehan’s well documented use of the RB in the pass game will help Murray to easily surpass the total of 53 he caught in 2013. Last year both Bush, and Bell had over 50 catches out of the backfield for Detroit. Murray has no real threat to his touches in the Cowboy backfield, and he is in a contract year.
3) Matt Forte: Forte ranked 2nd in touches in the NFL last season behind only Philly’s McCoy. Offensive genius Marc Trestman will spread the ball around, using all his weapons to keep defenses honest so Forte shouldn’t see many stacked boxes. He has no competition for touches, and should lead the league in that category in 2014. Look for 80 receptions and another huge season.
2) Adrian Peterson: This guy racked up over 1400 yards last year in an offense without a QB! With OC Norv Turner coming on board from Cleveland, I’ll be targeting at least 2 other Minnesota players a little earlier on my draft board as well as Peterson. I expect he will stay in the game more often on 3rd down, and should double his modest 29 catches from last year under Turner.
1) LeSean McCoy: McCoy totalled close to 2200 yards in 2013, and there’s still room for improvement. With the #1 ranked run blocking unit in the NFL , and a weak schedule McCoy is poised to have his best season ever. Sure Sproles will have a role in the offence, mainly because of the sheer number of plays Kelly wants to run in a game cannot be handled by one back, but make no mistake about it McCoy is the man in Philly as long as he’s healthy. Let the MVP chants begin in Philly!
BUSTERS: These players will fall short of expectations.
Marshawn Lynch: Don’t get me wrong Marshawns not going to an outright bust, but he will be disappointing if you draft him in the top 10. Seahawks are planning on more of a RBBC (running back by committee) approach during the regular season as Lynch begins to show signs of wear. He touched the ball over 400 times in 2013, and plays in one of the toughest defensive divisions in the NFL.
Toby Gerhart: Gerhart gets my Bustaroosk Award for RBs. He is the designated sleeper of all fantasy prognosticators this season, don’t ask me why cuz I don’t see it. Gerhart is a big straightforward runner with pedestrian speed, and little ability to make guys miss. Jacksonville’s O-line is average, and the team lacks a playmaker to keep the defense honest. Teams will be loading up the box to stop him. He’s a 2 down back in an offense that will most likely be passing the ball 60% of the time as they fall behind. He already has a bit of an injury history despite touching the ball only 250 times over his 3 year career.
“out on a limb prediction” #2: He’ll play in maybe 13 games this season due to nagging injuries, and when he does play I believe he will be ineffective. In 3 years he won’t even be in the league. Let’s call it a hunch.
Sleepers: These guys will surpass expectations.
Rashad Jennings: Close to the top 10 in YPT last year. This guy has lots of tread left on his tires. The Giants are installing the west coast, running back friendly offense, and HC Coughlin said he plans on making Jennings a bell-cow type, 3 down workhorse. He has good hands and is a load to bring down. He could break into the top 10 with a little luck.
Ahmad Bradshaw: I’m not saying to draft him early, I’m saying to draft him late. Most people are just handing the starting job to Richardson despite Bradshaw averaging 4.5 YPC compared to Richardson’s puny 2.99 YPC in 2013. I know they want Richardson to be the guy in Indy, but Bradshaw will get his chances. The Colts have the easiest schedule in the NFL, and Bradshaw is in a contract year.
Feel free to correct me on Twitter, or ask any other fantasy questions you may have.