2014 Fantasy Football Rankings: Top 30 Running Backs

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

While there is no question who belongs in the Top 5 spots of any running back rankings, after that things get awfully questionable.  With a lot of teams moving towards timeshares, finding dependable options are becoming more and more difficult.  Who are the running backs we should target?  Who should we avoid?  Let’s take a look at how our rankings currently look:

  1. Jamaal Charles – Kansas City Chiefs
  2. LeSean McCoy – Philadelphia Eagles
  3. Matt Forte – Chicago Bears
  4. Adrian Peterson – Minnesota Vikings
  5. Eddie Lacey – Green Bay Packers
  6. Montee Ball – Denver Broncos
  7. Arian Foster – Houston Texans
  8. Giovanni Bernard – Cincinnati Bengals
  9. Doug Martin – Tampa Bay Buccaneers
  10. Zac Stacy – St. Louis Rams
  11. Marshawn Lynch – Seattle Seahawks
  12. Demarco Murray – Dallas Cowboys
  13. Le’Veon Bell – Pittsburgh Steelers
  14. Reggie Bush – Detroit Lions
  15. Andre Ellington – Arizona Cardinals
  16. Ray Rice – Baltimore Ravens
  17. Bishop Sankey – Tennessee Titans
  18. Toby Gerhart – Jacksonville Jaguars
  19. Rashad Jennings – New York Giants
  20. Alfred Morris – Washington Redskins
  21. C.J. Spiller – Buffalo Bills
  22. Ryan Mathews – San Diego Chargers
  23. Joique Bell – Detroit Lions
  24. Chris Johnson – New York Jets
  25. Knowshon Moreno – Miami Dolphins
  26. Frank Gore – San Francisco 49ers
  27. Ben Tate – Cleveland Browns
  28. Danny Woodhead – San Diego Chargers
  29. Trent Richardson – Indianapolis Colts
  30. Fred Jackson – Buffalo Bills

Thoughts:

  • There are some surprising names in our Top 10, potentially including Zac Stacy, Arian Foster and Doug Martin.  They all have some sort of risk, whether it is injury or playing time, but they all also have significant upside.  If Foster and Martin were coming off healthy seasons there would be little doubt about their potential and their inclusion this high.
  • As for Stacy, it is easy to overlook his success last season (1,141 total yards and 8 TD).  If you want to point towards his 3.9 yards per carry as a knock, it was a poor December (3.2 YPC) that really hurt him.  He was at 4.6 in October and 4.2 in November, so it’s possibly he simply wore down.  The addition of Tre Mason should help keep him fresh, but also shouldn’t hinder him overall.  With a questionable passing game, would it really be surprising to see the Rams leaning on the run once again?
  • Surprised to see Marshawn Lynch outside the Top 10?  We discussed the risks involved in selecting him earlier this preseason, so much sure to check it out by clicking here. http://rotoprofessor.com/football/?p=8704
  • There is a lot of hype surrounding Le’Veon Bell, but it’s hard to overlook his 3.5 YPC average from his rookie season.  Yes, he also is a factor in the passing game, which helps, but the risk of needing a significant number of touches helps to limit his value.  While we want to believe he’s going to get 20-25 touches every single game, it’s just not a guarantee.
  • Will the 49ers start to transition away from Frank Gore?  They have the depth, whether it’s the newly drafted Carlos Hyde or Marcus Lattimore, and Gore is on the wrong side of 30.  While he’s been a steady option throughout his career, his value is going to start regressing.
  • Ben Tate is getting a lot of hype, but would it be surprising if Terrence West quickly surpasses him on the depth chart?  There’s a lot of risk, and it’s going to be tough to trust him as more than a FLEX option.
  • Was Knowshon Moreno’s success a product of Peyton Manning?  Well, if it was then it’s a major selling point for Montee Ball this season.  As for Moreno himself, there’s a good chance that he shares time with Lamar Miller (with Daniel Thomas also in mix) and that’s going to limit his appeal.

*** Make sure to pre-order Rotoprofessor’s 2014 Fantasy Football Draft Guide!!  The guide comes complete with projections of over 350 players, expended rankings, sleepers, and so much more (including constant updates up until opening day).  For just $6 you will get everything you need to dominate your fantasy league and one lucky subscriber will win a free autographed Brett Favre 8×10!  For more information and to place your order, click here. ***

Make sure to check out all of our 2014 rankings:

Top 10 Rookie Running Backs For 2014
2014 Fantasy Football Rankings: Top 5 Rookie Quarterbacks

16 comments

  1. Husky8585 says:

    Trent Richardson at #29 seems awfully low. Trent Richardson should have an rb2 season. Richardson plays on a good team (Colts will be rushing, not passing, in the 4th quarters of games), Richardson plays in a good offense (lots of red zone attempts), Richardson’s competition of Ballard (ACL) & Bradhaw (neck surgery) is on the verge of medical retirement, Colts are heavily invested in Richardson’s success (gave up a 1st round pick for him), Richardson plays in an offense with Andrew Luck (passing and QB rushing ability) so Richardson will see several 6 man boxes, Richardson also has very little tread on his tires as he has few career rushing attempts, few rushing attempts last season. Finally, unlike so many running backs ahead of him on this list (*cough Doug Martin, Alfred Morris, Marshawn Lynch *cough) Richardson will be a 3 down back and get the passing down work.

    Aside from situation, Trent Richardson is a fomer 3rd overall pick who is still very young (he’s younger than several of last year’s rookie running backs like Eddie Lacy, Montee Ball, and Andre Ellington) so he has room to grow. An offseason with the playbook, and a fresh start this season will do wonders this season. Expect an RB2 season out of Richardson at an RB3 or RB4 cost.

    • Would it surprise me if Richardson produced like a RB2? Absolutely not, but I’m also not going into the season expecting it. We have to remember, even in his rookie season he only averaged 3.6 YPC and it was his ability to find the end zone that really saved him (12 total TD).

      I agree that he should get the bulk of the carries, but that doesn’t necessarily mean success. The offense should run through Andrew Luck and company and there are definite risks involved in investing in him. Taking him as a RB3/4 is obviously worth the gamble, but I would try to avoid going into the season depending on him.

      • Husky8585 says:

        Rotoprofessor, was your reasoning behind ranking Ray Rice #16? Rice is in a terrible situation. He’s likely facing a 4-6 game suspension, the Ravens drafted a rb, and there are rumblings that Pierce is going to start the season as the starter and never look back, even when Rice returns.

        This is all before getting to his ability, which is questionable at this point given his career workload, and what he displayed on the field last season. Rice should not be relied on by anyone in fantasy this season, and he certainly should not be drafted as a top 20 running back.

        • As of right now I’m assuming two things with Rice:

          1) He’s healthy
          2) I have not yet taken the suspension into account, because it’s not official and is an unknown. Once it’s announced, if it is, he’s going to drop significantly.

  2. Joemama says:

    Roto,
    Your thoughts on Shane Vereen? Not in the top 30 gives me an idea of what you think.
    Thanks,
    Joemama

  3. Andy says:

    Hi Roto, here are my fantasy team this year
    QB Matthew Stafford
    WRs: Calvin Johnson, Alshon Jeffery, Antonio Brown, Emmanuel Sanders, Jeremy Maclin, Terrenace Williams
    RBs: Arian Foster, CJ Spiller, Trent Richardson, Shane Vereen, Pierre Thomas, Joique Bell
    TE: Jason Witten

    I see Lamar Miller, Carlos Hyde, Kenny Stills, Sammy Walkins, Rueben Randle are still available,
    Who should I pick and who i should drop? Thanks.

  4. Love the gutsy calls — especially on Lynch. The guy has AVERAGED 300 carries the past three years. And threatening to retire after winning a Super Bowl might signal the guy is playing for the money, or is emotionally spent… or both. 🙂

  5. Omer says:

    Hi Roto,

    I’ve been offered the following trade in a 3-player keeper non-PPR league with 14 teams (my current keepers are Zac Stacy & Keenan Allen):

    I give Doug Martin + 11th overall pick
    I receive Reggie Bush + 2nd overall pick

    Top of the draft has Montee Ball, Toby Gerhart, Andre Ellington.

    • Basically you are probably looking at Bush/Ellington for Martin/11th (I don’t think Ball would be there at #2, but if he was I’d def. make the deal).

      I guess that’s the decision. Bush isn’t quite as valuable in a non-PPR and Ellington could be limited as well. It does give you better depth, but I like Martin the best of the three.

      Like I said, if you think Ball is going to fall to #2 then pull the trigger. Otherwise, I’d be on the fence.

  6. Sam says:

    I was just sent a trade to get zach Stacy and andre Johnson for leveon bell and golden tate. Given that bell was just charged with a dui and possession of marijuana is that a good deal to take?

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