Running Back

UPDATED TOP 50 FANTASY FOOTBALL RUNNING BACK RANKINGS

Wednesday, 13 August, 2014

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Yesterday I updated my fantasy football quarterback rankings and today I update the running back rankings. With the platoon back system setup with every team there is no shortage of quality running backs to draft. Years ago if you were at the bottom of the order in your fantasy football drafts you had a sick knot in your stomach. That’s how coveted getting a top running back use to be.

Now you can thrive by intermixing how you draft a running back. You’re bound to get a steal late if you seek out a good system backfield. Injuries are bound to happen and an increase in carries even for a stretch of games can be a big boost to your team.

1. Adrian Peterson
I’ll stay with everyones consensus in AP. Though the Barry Sanders effect of continually playing with poor quarterbacks may start to take its toll. Most running backs that come back from a blown out knee adjust their running styles. AP hasn’t, and the Vikings have not scaled back his carries either. His ride to the top may come to an abrupt ending like LT’s did in San Diego.

2. Matt Forte
I believe the synergy offensively for the Bears may be at the peak of any team in the NFL. The way Jay Cutler and McCown moved the football with ease last year was something special. Forte doesn’t get the hype of other top five fantasy backs but has been a top producer year after year.

3. Jamaal Charles
One thing we know about Andy Reid teams is sooner or later the star running back tumbles a bit. It happened with Brian Westbrook, Duce Staley, and even a younger LeSean McCoy. He puts a lot of stress on the running back to help burden the offense. Charles isn’t going to fall off the fantasy map but he’ll take a dip in 2014.

4. Marshawn Lych
Whatever he is planning as far as retirement won’t happen this season in my eyes. The Seahawks need him to be a part of their plan to extend at another chance at getting to the Super Bowl. Based on the ESPN Magazine body issue, Lynch isn’t the workaholic in the gym, but he is a bruiser that has the might to go strong in 2014.

5. Eddie Lacy
If Green Bay wants to shift back to the success they had a few years ago they need to go back to being a power running team. It’s a huge advantage to them in their divisional games in November and December, and continues for any hosted playoff games. It allows for Rodgers to use his pinpoint accuracy even more.

6. Arian Foster
7. Montee Ball
8. DeMarco Murray
9. Alfred Morris
10.Zac Stacy
11.Le’Veon Bell
12.Rashad Jennings
13.Reggie Bush
14.Giovanni Bernard
15.Bishop Sankey
16.Chris Johnson
17.CJ Spiller
18.Toby Gerhart
19.Shane Vereen
20.Andre Ellington
21.Frank Gore
22.Ben Tate
23.Ray Rice
24.Ryan Matthews
25.Steven Jackson
26.DeAngelo Williams
27.Trent Richardson
28.Fred Jackson
29.Mark Ingram
30.Lamar Miller
31Darren Sproles
32Stevan Ridley
33MJD
34.Bernard Pierce
35.Joique Bell
36.Pierre Thomas
37.Ronnie Hillman
38Knowshown Moreno
39.Terrance WEst
40.Andre Williams
41.Shonn Greene
42.Donald Brown
43.Bobby Rainey
44.Carlos Hyde
45.Knile Davis
46.LaTavius Murray
47.Mike Tolbert
48.Stepfan Taylor
49.Bryce Brown
50.Ahmad Bradshaw

COMPARABLES: LAMAR MILLER AND THOMAS JONES

Monday, 11 August, 2014

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Marks of careers are not always a splash out the gate like fantasy owners would like. General managers and coaches are just as impatient with player development. Well, maybe not to the extent of some fantasy owners, who’ll drop a player every other day. But there is certain value in player’s still in prominent roles that have yet to reach their potential.

Going into a fantasy football draft these type of players are likely on your radar as mid-round picks. They’re low-risk because other fantasy owners are concentrating on filling their starters and likely don’t have the same mindset as you for sleepers.

Of course if this “sleeper” pick doesn’t pan out its not the end of the world. They can end up being the next Beanie Wells or transform like Thomas Jones did.

Down in Miami stock is currently set low on running back Lamar Miller. Miami spent money to bring in Knowshown Moreno and the summer spotlight has been focusing on Miami new and improved offensive system. Eyes have been completely drawn off of Lamar Miller as the focus is on Ryan Tannehill, the coaching staff, and free agent additions.

For once though, Miller will be in prime position to get a firm stake as a Dolphins running back and therefore supplant himself on the fantasy radar. As a rookie, Miami’s offense was in disarray. They had poor weapons at the receiver and tight end position and were dealing with a rookie in Ryan Tannehill. Last year’s offense just had no rhyme or reason to it. The play calling was awful and affected not only Tannehill but the entire offense.

Not to mention the big scandal with the Dolphins offensive line with Richie Incognito and Jonathan Martin. This came a year after losing offensive line centerpiece, Jake Long, to free agency to St. Louis. Throughout all the turmoil and rumor mill of what was going on with the MIami’s offensive line no one attributed the Dolphins poor ground game to it.

If anything you would of had to rate the Dolphins ground game last year above standard for the inconsistent play calling and issues with the offensive line. Stabilization is in place this year which can only mean growth for this team.

I believe Miller will have a mini-break out season for the Dolphins. Miller will be used more consistent even with the signing of Knowshown Moreno. Last year he had five games with over fifteen carries and six games with eight or fewer carries. That is a team choosing to abandon the running game similar to the Cowboys choose to.

If Miami develops a proper pattern of running the football I think Miller’s career will finally show progress.Years ago in the early 2000′s, Thomas Jones also had a rough time developing as a running back. It was not completely his fault as the Arizona Cardinals had no running game to think of developing.

Looking at both Jones and Miller you can draw comparisons of skill set and size. For the first three years of Jones career in Arizona he barely registered a 500 yard season. It took landing in Chicago and the New York Jets for Jones career to take off properly. The only difference from his tenure with those teams and Arizona was the utilization of Jones. Once he was used properly and consistently the results paid off for the teams that brought Jones in.

It’s not going to take Miller leaving Miami for the Dolphins to realize they made a mistake. They kept him on board as their starter for a reason. In practice he has shown the ability and in stints on the field he has as well.

If you’re looking for a bona-fide running back sleeper, Miller is your guy. The detraction of attention is there with the signing of Moreno. The drawback is stuck in fantasy minds due to his low touchdowns and ineffective use as a Dolphin.

Grab yourself a no-risk sleeper in Miller in the mid-rounds of your draft.

2nd and Third Tier Fantasy Running Backs To Ascend in 2014

Monday, 11 August, 2014

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Every year there are a crop of players from each respective NFL position that skies to a two-fold increase from their preseason rankings. Who will be the names we see do that from the running back position this year? Notjustagame.com profiles a few running backs to watch for a major leap in 2014.

Rashad Jennings
Sometimes veteran backs can finally get that major role and flourish for a couple of seasons. Jennings has caught the fantasy radar a few times before in starting roles for Jacksonville and Oakland. Those instances were only for a bundle of games while the starter was out with injury. In New York, Jennings should finally have an increased role especially with the retirement of David Wilson.

Lamar Miller
I’m happy that the Dolphins did not cast away Miller and write off the running back. His play on the field has shown that maybe he should not be given another chance. Miller has been far too inconsistent for a team with an inexperienced quarterback. In his first two seasons his competition was Daniel Thomas. Now he has a heralded back in Knowshown Moreno who will be emphasized in the Dolphins ground attack. It’s still Miller’s job though and he offers the better big play ability. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a Thomas Jones type of resurrection from Miller. Jones took awhile to mature on the field and ultimately the Cardinals let him go. It took joining the Bears for Jones to develop. Look for Miller to turn heads this season in a much improved Dolphins offense.

LeGarrette Blount
For some reason Blount can not latch onto a team properly. Three seasons in Tampa Bay weren’t enough to for the Bucs to keep him longer. New England utilized him a year ago as a platoon back that panned out when injuries occurred. Now he is in Pittsburgh where he seemingly will be behind workmanlike back Leveon Bell. Remember Bell isn’t the most durable back and carried the football in college at a higher rate than some professional backs do these days.

Bishop Sankey
Tennessee has always been a team that has been able to produce quality fantasy running backs. Fantasy owners may be hesitant on picking up Sankey because of Shonne Greene and the new coaching staff. Sankey slipped in the NFL draft as far as I’m concerned. In the Pac-12 he was an unstoppable machine. Look for him to be a surprise and catch fire on fantasy radars.

Bryce Brown
Out in Buffalo something just did not seem right with the way the Bills used CJ Spiller last year. It seemed like he was underutilized purposely. For how he played the year prior there really was no reason to see the production drop off mandated by the coaching staff. Look for Brown to sneak in and grab ahold of a percentage from either Jackson or Spiller.

Others: Jeremy Hill, Mark Ingram, Carlos Hyde, and Donald Brown

Is Ray Rice Being Downgraded Too Far?

Saturday, 2 August, 2014

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Ray Rice is coming off his worst season as a professional in 2013. On top of that he has created his own issues off the field and will serve a two game suspension. Upon returning to the Ravens lineup in week three fantasy football owners have to decide his value. According to fantasy football “experts” they have him downgraded in the bottom 20′s and lower 30′s for fantasy running backs.

That’s awfully low for a guy that still will receive over 200 carries and netted 1,000 yards rushing and receiving. Compared to his prior seasons in the NFL a drop in fantasy rankings was dictated. His production as a 1,000 yard back and 6-700 yards receiving fell too ultra lows.

Owners stayed patient with him for the majority of the season expecting a turn around at some point. With results unchanged in a sixteen game season it seems all fantasy pundits have wrote off Rice–in affect he has hit the running back wall.

At this low of value Rice could be considered a steal. Certainly as a back rated in the high 20′s to low 30′s he is considered a non-fantasy football starter in ten/twelve team leagues. This makes him an intriguing prospect in my eyes. Of course I did not own him in any of my leagues last year, therefore, I’m not a bitter buyer of Rice.

One back Rice could imitate in terms of fantasy football is Matt Forte. Forte, after an impressive rookie season faded back in years two and three. Most considered him a non-starter as year four came around. A new offense and personnel vastly changed Forte’s value.

Obviously the Ravens have been in a reconstructive phase offensively. Rice was their primary weapon for several years and teams were ready for that finally a season ago. That coupled with Joe Flacoo’s struggles with inadequate receiving weapons, left a team hindered offensively.

I’m not saying Ray Rice is going to surge back to a top five fantasy running back. I am saying that he can get himself back into the range of a top 20 back.

WHAT VALUE DO SAINTS RB’S HAVE?

Monday, 23 June, 2014

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Perhaps no team in football has been as tortuous as the New Orleans Saints to figure out their stable of running backs. Pierre Thomas has had the highest prime value for the Saints. He went from a high carry back to an inordinate amount of carries. Last year his fantasy worthiness almost came exclusively out of the backfield.

The Saints have used a platoon of running backs intermittently that drives fantasy owners nuts. With Darren Sproles departed to the Eagles, it leaves the same backfield of players. Is the Saints backfield being overlooked from a fantasy standpoint because of this? Likely so.

It seems odd to think about, but Darren Sproles has been a main key to Brees career. Out in San Diego, Sproles played the lightning bolt to LT. When he became a free agent the Saints went after Sproles to replace Reggie Bush’s role. He filled it admirably.

Now who will Brees have to be his Reggie Bush or Darren Sproles?

Both guys were fantasy havens for PPR leagues and combined yards of rushing and receiving. It was a toss up between Sproles and Pierre Thomas for more effective fantasy running back. Neither lit the fantasy scoreboard on a weekly basis, but did just enough to be fantasy running back three or four.

Who is going to catch the out of the backfield receptions for the Saints? Sproles had over 70 catches for the Saints each of the last three seasons.

Based on the Saints current roster, you’d have to believe the Saints are planning on reducing Pierre Thomas’s carries some more. They dwindled quite a bit last year as he boosted his performance out of the backfield. Last year he caught 77 passes for over 500 yards. Before that career season he had over 40 catches just once in his eight year career. His yards per carry dipped to a career low of just 3.7 yards last season. This should be clear evidence that the Saints want to use Thomas as their Sproles/Bush 100 percent.

That leaves the big void of whom will be the Saints main tail back for rushing the football. Mark Ingram has been nothing short of a disappointment in his stint as a Saint. The former Heisman Trophy winner has struggled with injuries and consistency. One bright sign from Ingram was his finish to the 2013 season. He had two games in which he came close to 100 yards, including in a playoff victory over the Eagles. In the divisional round he did have a costly fumble against the Seahawks though.

The Saints other two running backs are Khiry Robinson and Travaris Cadet. Robinson had spots a year ago where he looked like he would overtake the main running back duties. It just never materialized and left fantasy owners regretful on taking a flyer on him.

Maybe that was a move warranted for this upcoming season. Robinson will likely have a fair amount of carries with Ingram. For now it’d be hard to rank one higher than the other. You’d expect the Saints to give Ingram every chance to gain the upper hand on the time split, but Ingram’s proven to drop the ball when given opportunities.

I’d still downgrade Ingram and have an asterisk on Cadet stealing some thunder from both. New Orleans has too many receptions and carries available to have fantasy eyes drifting. If you’re anti-Ingram take your shot in later rounds on Cadet or Robinson.

JUNE RB FANTASY FOOTBALL RANKINGS

Monday, 16 June, 2014

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1. Jamaal Charles- In Philadelphia, Andy Reid was able to develop the Mr. do it all running backs. That certainly has occurred in Kansas City. Charles was already a top five back before Reid, and now is cemented as the top back heading into 2014.

2. Matt Forte- I have Forte ranked a bit higher than most as he just plays at the steady level. You can count on him to have a balanced game each time he steps out onto the field. Other backs don’t make up their fantasy points if they suffer a lackluster rushing week like Forte does. He consistently gets you a solid amount out of the backfield.

3. Adrian Peterson- Teams truly attacked to shut down a hopeless passing game from the Vikings. Even the unworldly Peterson couldn’t shed the defenders they had in the box. The bright side is the Vikings cut ways with Josh Freeman and have directed Christian Ponder to the bench. The job will be in the hands of Matt Cassel and Teddy Bridgewater. Peterson’s season should be somewhere in between two years ago and this past season, which would please fantasy owners.

4. Le’Veon Bell- I loved the workmanlike demeanor Bell displayed last season. He was a gem for fantasy owners off the waiver wire. Typically backs that catapult from a great waiver wire pickup, tend to skyrocket the next season. Pittsburgh has been one of those teams that’s been supplanted and dormant. If Bell becomes the proper focus, Pittsburgh could contend as the division winner once again.

5. LeSean McCoy- McCoy could truly be ranked higher, but I have him slightly lower because Chip Kelly will utilize the depth of the Eagles more than the Chiefs, Steelers, Vikings, and Bears. There is no question that McCoy has Jamaal Charles type of capability on any given week.

6. Eddie Lacy
7. Gio Bernard
8. Arian Foster
9. Marshawn Lynch
10. Montee Ball
11. DeMarco Murray
12. Reggie Bush
13. Alfred Morris
14. Andre Ellington
15. Doug Martin
16. Zac Stacy
17. Knowshown Moreno
18. Toby Gerhart
19. Ryan Matthews
20. Rashad Jennings
21. CJ Spiller
22. Ben Tate
23. Chris Johnson
24. Bishop Sankey
25. Shane Vereen
26. Ray Rice
27. Joique Bell
28. Trent Richardson
29. Frank Gore
30. Darren Sproles
31. Steven Jackson
32. MJD
33. Fred Jackson
34. Darren McFadden
35. Lamar Miller
36. Pierre Thomas
37. Danny Woodhead
38. Terrance West
39. Chris Ivory
40. Tre Mason
41. Bernard Pierce
42. Stevan Ridley
43. DeAngelo Williams
44. Mark Ingram
45. Donald Brown
46. Ahmad Bradshaw
47. Bobby Rainey
48. Latavius Murray
49. James Starks
50. LeGarratte Blount