Friday, June 7, 2013

2013 Fantasy Football: Running Backs

1. Adrian Peterson: There is no disputing that Adrian Peterson is the greatest active running back in the National Football League. Peterson rushed for more than 2,000 yards last season in the wake of an ACL injury. Peterson's knee will only strengthen over time, and it is very likely the Minnesota Vikings rely heavily on their star running back in 2013. Opposing defenses will focus on the AP due to the poor passing game in Minnesota, so it is highly unlikely Peterson replicates the same statistics seen in 2012.

2. Arian Foster: In the category of yards per carry, running back Arian Foster has seen a gradual decrease in production over the past three years. In 2012, Foster averaged 4.1 yards per carry, which is good, but not elite. Foster made up for it by scoring 15 touchdowns over the course of the season. Foster is no Adrian Peterson, but is clearly worth the second overall pick in the draft.

3. Marshawn Lynch: "Beast Mode" has finally taken the league by storm, as Marshawn Lynch's pure tenacity proves to be a challenge on opposing defenses. What Lynch lacks in size is made up for with speed and strength, as the Seahawks running back ran for 1,590 yards and 11 touchdowns. Despite the addition of wide receiver Percy Harvin, head coach Pete Carroll has said he will center his team around the running game in 2013. Lynch's consistency makes him extremely valuable in fantasy football, and is a valuable pick up after AP and Foster.

4. Ray Rice: A large part of Baltimore' success in 2012 can be credited to running back Ray Rice, who played a key role for Baltimore throughout the postseason run. Ray Rice saw a decrease in attempts in 2012, but by averaging 4.4 yards per carry, Rice ran for 1,143 yards. At age 26, Ray Rice should be entering the prime of his career, yet his productivity has gradually decreased over the years. Bernard Pierce, who proved himself as a consistent rusher, will also steal attempts from Ray Rice in 2013.

5. Alfred Morris: Alfred Morris, a sixth-round pick out of Florida Atlantic, broke out as a star in Week 1, and then consistently posted sensational fantasy points week in and week out. Morris' 1,613 rushing yards ranked third all-time among rookie running backs, and there is no reason why Morris can't replicate these same numbers in 2013. In fact, Robert Griffin III is injury-prone, so when RGIII is off the field, Morris will be the main guy to help move the chains.

6. Doug Martin: In a Week 9 game against the Oakland Raiders, Doug Martin caught the eyes of football fans everywhere when he rushed for 251 yards and four touchdowns, a grand total of 51 fantasy points. Martin's inconsistent play after Week 9 is worrisome as a fantasy owner, because who says Martin can replicate such numbers again. Defenses will begin to focus on Martin unless Josh Freeman can elevate his game; otherwise, "The Hamster" may be at risk of extinction.

7. LeSean McCoy: After coach Andy Reid was fired, The Philadelphia Eagles brought in Chip Kelly from Oregon, a coach who loves to utilize the run game in order to win. LeSean McCoy will be extremely valuable to Kelly in 2013, despite missing a large portion of 2013 with a concussion. When LeSean McCoy was healthy, he averaged 11.25 fantasy points per game, even though he scored just 2 touchdowns in 12 games. McCoy likely had an off-year, and will bounce back when Chip Kelly makes his debut in Week 1.

8. Trent Richardson: Trent Richardson's rookie season was a gleam of hope for the Cleveland Browns organization, who have had just one winning season in the past 10 years. Richardson is a one man show, with a weak quarterback in Brandon Weeden and a practically non-existent offensive line. The heavy work-load last season led to several different injuries, and unless the Browns supply an improved supporting cast, Richardson will continue to be at risk of injuries.

9. CJ Spiller: When running back Fred Jackson was injured in 2012, CJ Spiller jumped in to rescue Buffalo's running game. Spiller's extraordinary speed allowed him to rush for 1,244 yards and an extraordinary 6.0 yards per carry. The Buffalo Bills believe Fred Jackson is a better running back closer towards the end zone, so Spiller is unlikely to score any touchdowns next season; however, if Fred Jackson is injured once again, CJ Spiller will transform into one of the most valuable rushers in the league.

10. Jamaal Charles: Jamaal Charles underwent surgery to repair his ACL in 2012, yet he still managed to rush for 1,509 yards, a career high. Throughout his career, Jamaal Charles has averaged 5.8 yards per carry, but he has trouble finding the end zone. Under Andy Reid's new scheme as head coach, Jamaal Charles' speed and agility will make him a fantasy football star.