2013 Fantasy Football Rankings: Running Backs (Kevin Hanson)
Updated: Saturday, August 31st
Scoring: These rankings are based on standard scoring (one point per 10 rushing yards, six points per rushing touchdown plus one point per ten receiving yards and six points per receiving touchdown) and are for the 2013 season.
- For my point-per-reception (PPR) running back rankings, click here.
- For my dynasty running back rankings, click here.
With the game-breaking speed to take it to the house on any given play, Miller appears to be the strong favorite to take over as the team's featured back with the offseason departure of Reggie Bush. In limited work (51 carries), Miller averaged just shy of five yards per carry.
With Murray, you get a player with a similar outlook as McFadden: talented but injury-prone. If Murray stays healthy, something he has yet to do, he has the potential to put up some big numbers in the Cowboys' offense.
He has played in 23 games over the past two seasons and has accumulated 1,560 rushing yards on 325 carries and 430 receiving yards on 60 receptions.
Adding Travis Frederick, the top center in the draft (albeit a round or two earlier than expected), should help protect Tony Romo and improve the running game.
Vereen has the potential to be a low-end RB2 in 12-team leagues if things go right for him in 2013. Now part of the Chargers backfield, Danny Woodhead finished as the 28th most productive fantasy running back last year. Much of his workload should find its way to Vereen, who had 162 yards from scrimmage, seven receptions and three touchdowns in two playoff games for the Patriots last year.
In addition, the Patriots will look to move Vereen all over the formation to create mismatches and he's even better in PPR formats than he is in standard leagues.
Sproles missed three games last season, which contributed to lower overall numbers than his previous season. In his two years in The Big Easy, Sproles has a 16-game average of 1,227 YFS, 9.4 TDs and 88.9 receptions.
Although he has only 691 career touches (384 carries and 307 receptions), the 5-foot-6 back turned 30 years old in June.
For the first time in five decades, there were no running backs selected in the first round of an NFL draft. Selected 37th overall, Bernard was the first of five running backs off the board in the second round this year.
Not the biggest back (5-9, 202 pounds), Bernard is elusive with good vision, but he can run with power as well. In addition, he is an excellent receiver out of the backfield. In two seasons with the Tar Heels, Bernard ran for 1,200-plus yards and finished with double-digit touchdowns and 45-plus receptions both years.
With a 1,000-yard rusher already on the roster (BenJarvus Green-Ellis), Bernard might not get the same kind of opportunity that other rookie rushers could get this year. That said, I expect Bernard to see his share of the workload increase as the season progresses.
After being released by the Giants earlier this offseason, Bradshaw landed with the Colts, where he should see the largest share of touches in Pep Hamilton's offense. While dealing with lower-leg injuries for most of his career, Bradshaw has two 1,000-yard seasons in the past three years.
Chargers running back Ryan Mathews was drafted as an early-to-mid first-round pick in 2012 fantasy drafts before breaking his clavicle (and the spirits of his fantasy owners) in the preseason. He ended his season the same way he started it as he broke his collar bone again in Week 15. He has now missed at least two games in each of his three seasons and a total of 10 games during that span.
In 12 games last year, Mathews averaged only 3.8 yards per carry and scored only one touchdown, both of which are career lows. Mathews will be cheap(er) on draft day in 2013, but many fantasy owners will be reluctant to gamble on the injury-prone back.
After being buried on the depth chart in New Orleans, Ivory will have the opportunity to break out with the Jets this year. Provided he stays healthy, that is. Plenty question Ivory's durability.
Only 25 years old, the Jets traded a fourth-round pick for Ivory and then gave him a three-year contract. Ivory has 256 career carries for 1,307 yards, which is an average of 5.1 yards per carry, and eight touchdowns.
Richardson averaged 4.8 yards per carry on the season, but he had only 24 rushing yards on 16 carries in five games in the month of December. Going into the 2013 season, coach Jeff Fisher has announced that Richardson will be the team's starting running back.
Williams led the Panthers in carries per game (10.81), but he finished second on the team in rushing yards (737) behind quarterback Cam Newton (741), who also led the team in rushing touchdowns (eight). With Jonathan Stewart recovering from offseason surgeries on both ankles and being placed on the PUP list, the 30-year-old Williams will get a chance for a larger workload in 2013. The soonest that Stewart can return is in the team's seventh game.
The Broncos have parted ways with Willis McGahee, Knowshon Moreno has struggled to stay healthy and Ronnie Hillman seems to be a change-of-pace back. Considering the Broncos used their second-round pick to draft Ball, it seems he is most likely to get the largest share of the workload this year (and going forward).
That said, John Fox has had a history of using a committee approach at running back and Hillman is back atop the team's depth chart.
In college, Ball rushed for 5,140 yards, caught 59 passes for 598 yards and scored a total of 83 touchdowns.
Last year was a year to forget for Mendenhall. Returning from a torn ACL he suffered in the final game of the 2011 season, he rushed for only 182 yards and no touchdowns on 51 carries in 2012.
When he had his most productive seasons with the Steelers (2009 to 2011), Bruce Arians was the team's offensive coordinator. Now the pair is reunited in Arizona as Mendenhall signed a one-year deal with the Cardinals.
The team has Ryan Williams, who has really struggled with durability, and drafted Stepfan Taylor and Andre Ellington, two backs I like longer term. Arians has a history of featuring one guy and based on his history with Arians, Mendenhall would seem to have the best shot at being the guy.
Mendenhall left the third preseason game with a knee injury, the same knee as his torn ACL a couple of years ago, and the team lost Jonathan Cooper to a broken leg. Until more is known about Mendy's knee, I'd hold off on drafting him here.
Through two NFL seasons after being selected in the first round, Ingram has failed to live up to his vast potential. A major part of the problem has been his health, but he is 100 percent for the first time of his professional career, per Larry Holder of New Orleans Times Picayune.
If he can stay healthy for the full season, the 23-year-old running back could be in store for a career year in the Saints' high-powered offense. Holder writes that a 1,000-yard and 10-TD season is "not unrealistic" for Ingram this year.
The Law Firm failed to score double-digit touchdowns for the first time in three seasons, but he set career highs in carries (278), rushing yards (1,094) and receptions (22) last season. Less than a dynamic back, Green-Ellis and Shonn Greene were the only backs in the league to reach the 1,000-yard milestone with an average of less than 4.00 yards per carry.
With the Bengals drafting Gio Bernard with the 36th overall pick in this year's draft, it's unlikely that Green-Ellis rushes for 1,000 yards for a second straight year. As noted earlier, it's possible that Bernard sees an increased role at the expense of BJGE as the season progresses.
Of all rookie running backs, I believed Bell stepped into a situation that was most beneficial for his 2013 outlook. Offensive coordinator Todd Haley had referred to Bell as a "three-down back."
Finishing fifth in the country in rushing (1,793 yards), Bell (382 carries) carried the rock more than any other collegiate back. A big back (6-2, 230 pounds), Bell has the ability to catch the ball out of the backfield for a back his size as evidenced by his 67 receptions over the past two seasons and get the goal-line touches as well.
After missing the team's first preseason game due to a knee injury, Bell made a quick appearance in the team's second preseason game before leaving with a foot injury. To make matters worse, Bell has a Lisfranc injury and is expected to miss the next 6-8 weeks although he has already shed the walking boot, which is an encouraging sign.
If there's a bright spot here, Bell does not appear to need surgery and the Steelers have their bye in the middle of that 6-8 week window (see schedule).
Although PT has never had more than 147 carries in a season, he has been productive (4.8 yards per carry) when given the opportunity and is an excellent receiver out of the backfield (50 catches two years ago) as well.
On my list of fantasy football sleepers for 2013, Woodhead was one of the most productive under-the-radar fantasy running backs last season. He finished with 301 rushing yards, 446 receiving yards on 40 receptions and a total of seven touchdowns.
Playing behind the injury-prone Mathews also means that Woodhead may (read: will) get an opportunity or two to play a much more prominent role within the offense for a few weeks.
As noted earlier, McCoy has suggested that the Chargers will employ a rotation at the position.
As a rookie, Pierce carried the ball 108 times and averaged more yards per carry (4.93) than Rice (4.45) by almost a half-yard per carry. Part of that can be attributed to Pierce's ability to break tackles. He broke tackles at a rate (16.5 percent) nearly double that of Rice (8.5 percent). In fact, Pierce ranked fifth in the NFL among running backs in this category.
The biggest drawback with owning Tate is that he plays behind one of the best and most productive running backs in the NFL. While Arian Foster had 351 carries last season, Tate had only 65 (in 11 games).
Two seasons ago, Tate had 175 carries for 942 yards and began his professional career that season with back-to-back 100-yard games.
Although the Texans activated Arian Foster from the Active/PUP list, Tate is a must-own for Foster owners as he becomes a must-start option in the event Foster misses time.
With Michael "The Burner" Turner released this offseason, Rodgers will still be a change-of-pace back except to a more talented runner: Steven Jackson. Better in PPR formats, Rodgers had 53 receptions last year for 402 yards. He also had 94 carries for 362 yards.