2013 Preseason Player Rankings: RB

  1. Adrian Peterson (Min) – No surprise here. Six straight seasons with double digit TDs, AP will continue to be the focal point of the Minnesota offense.
  2. Doug Martin (TB) – In his debut season, Doug Martin dazzled with 1,926 yards and 12 TDs. He did have a couple absolutely outrageous games towards the end of the season that provided a healthy stat boost, but the upside is obvious. Martin will also get a huge boost from the return of two great linemen, Carl Nicks and Davin Joseph.
  3. Jamaal Charles (KC) – Turned out a remarkable 1,745 yards at 5.3YPC the season after returning from a reconstructive knee surgery, which went largely unnoticed – primary due to the heroics of AP. Charles has never posted double digit TDs, but with Hillis (or anyone else) no longer around to poach goal line work, he has a legitimate shot this year. Andy Reid’s pass-first offense will most likely keep his carries in check, but he could easily see career highs in receiving . Either way, a full strength Charles should improve upon what he did last year.
  4. Marshawn Lynch (Sea) – He won’t catch many passes, but he is about as safe of a pick as you can hope for. Losing Percy Harvin is a strong indication that Seattle’s offense will continue to be focused on the ground, and it is a virtual guarantee that Lynch will get double digit TDs. Not an injury prone player whatsoever, but probably won’t produce many absurd games like some of the speedier backs, either.
  5. Ray Rice (Bal) – With the losses of Flacco’s two primary short-mid range targets, Pitta and Boldin, and the resigning of premier run blocking FB – Vonta Leach, it seems as if Baltimore’s may be shifting back more towards the ground. Concerns seem to have him slipping in alot of drafts, but Rice could present great value if he falls outside the top 5. His pass-catching ability makes him more attractive in PPR formats.
  6. CJ Spiller (Buf) – Averaged an absurd 6.0 yards per carry last year, and posted just over 1700 yards with 250 touches. Promised to see an increased workload this year under new HC, Doug Marrone, and 2000 yards is a very strong possibility. TDs could be scarce, with Fred Jackson still hanging around.
  7. Trent Richardson (Cle) – There is word of another injury already, but TRich managed 1,317 yards and 12 TDs despite playing for the Browns, and injuries to his knee, ankle, and ribs. I would be a little hesitant of drafting him if he is injured heading into the season, but injury-free, could easily challenge for the top 5 at the position.
  8. Arian Foster (Hou) - 8/18: According to Kubiak, Foster will not play this week and his back pain has “spread into his legs”. Bad outlook for Foster at the moment. Seems to be falling out of favor with alot of people, and his receiving yardage is down, but the Philosopher has posted 47 TDs over his three seasons as the main guy in Houston.
  9. Steven Jackson (Atl) – Michael Turner managed to score double digit TDs every season in Atlanta, and SJax is a far superior runningback – who can also catch passes – who can also run effectively without a fullback on the field. This was my favorite off-season FA pickup due to how much it will open up Atlanta’s offense. I would be genuinely shocked if Jackson did not have a career year.
  10. Alfred Morris (Was) – Coming off of a monster 1,690 yard, 13 TD season, but there is worry over defenses adjusting to the zone-read, RG3′s health, and the fact that Mike Shanahan seemingly hates to rely on a single RB. Make no mistake, he will get the goal line work – especially with the Skins taking a cautious approach with RG3, and almost certainly see 300 touches making him a solid RB#1.
  11. LeSean McCoy (Phi) – This one is risky. Chip Kelly’s offense could reignite Shady, and make him a tremendous pick, considering he is being drafted in the late 1st/2nd round. However at Oregon, Kelly cycled players in and out of the offense like they were on hockey lines in order to keep a high tempo and fresh players. Keep an eye on this one, watching preseason should help determine which direction McCoy’s stock is heading.
  12. Maurice Jones-Drew (Jax) – Still only 28 years old, he is going to be the focal point of the Jaguars offense, and is heading into the season healthy. While he isn’t the elite back he once was, he should still be in line for a nice bounce back year.
  13. Matt Forte (Chi)8/23 Update: Forte has been getting the goal line work so far in preseason, and has been doing a good job of it. If the shifty runner can add double digit TDs to his resume, he could easily breach the top 5 at the position. Forte has always been effective when healthy, but definitely remains injury prone. If QB guru Marc Trestman can improve Jay Cutler and the Bears offense, Forte could provide great value, though he most likely won’t see any increase in goal line work. His pass-catching ability boosts him quite a bit in PPR.
  14. Stevan Ridley (NE) – The Patriots pass-catching weapons have been decimated, leaving them with a core of question marks. Similarly, New England was able to post the 7th rated rushing offense in the NFL, largely under the radar. It would seem as if Ridley is set to build off of his 1,263 yard – 12 TD season, with the Pats relying more on the ground game. Despite this, drafting a Bill Belichick RB is always a risk; only two Patriots backs gave gotten over 200 touches in the past seven years. Shane Vereen will still likely figure on 3rd down.
  15. Chris Johnson (Ten) – Shonn Greene will probably see a good amount of goal line work, but if the Titans successfully implement the read-option, Johnson could benefit quite a bit. He still managed to finish as the 12th ranked RB in what was considered a horrid year, and the dramatic improvements Tennessee has made in their offensive line by drafting Chance Warmack, and acquiring Andy Levitre and Delanie Walker should help Johnson tremendously.
  16. Reggie Bush (Det) – Could be an absolute PPR beast, with the Detroit scheme fitting his skill set much better than Miami. A virtual lock to catch 50+ passes, Bush could be in for a career year. He has managed to stay healthy the past few seasons, though injury is still a concern, and LeShoure will almost certainly poach a decent amount of goal line work.
  17. Frank Gore (SF) – Doesn’t really catch passes or play third downs, but should still be a lock for 1,100+ yards. If the ‘Niners take a cautious/preservative approach with Kaepernick around the goal line, Gore could easily see double digit TDs, as well. The loss of Crabtree suggests that SF will continue to rely on the rush.
  18. David Wilson (NYG) – An explosive, 1st-round pick, pass-catching back who showed incredible promise in the touches he got late last year. It would appear as if Wilson is set to get the lion’s share of work in 2013, but he has had issues fumbling and with his pass-blocking (a necessity if he wants to play on 3rd down). Andre Brown will almost certainly get the goal-line work, and the Giants listed both backs as “co-starters” in their opening depth chart. Wilson possesses serious upside, but that may lead him to be overdrafted when considering the split load in NY.
  19. DeMarco Murray (Dal) – A great three down RB when healthy, but that is always a concern. Word is that he is already nursing a hamstring, but keep an eye out, because the production is undeniable when he is on the field.
  20. Lamar Miller (Mia) – Has the job outright, and reports are that he looks tremendous in camp. Daniel Thomas has never been a coach’s player, and Miller should easily get 1,000+ yards and 6+ TDs.
  21. Darren Sproles (NO) – You know what you’re getting here. A PPR monster with big play capability -who will get a small number of carries, and next to no goal line work (Though he has managed to rack up 15 TDs in two seasons). The return of Sean Payton should seemingly provide quite a boon for Sproles, though.
  22. Chris Ivory (NYJ) – This is a whole new Chris Ivory. No longer saddled by the virtually nonexistent Saints running game, Pierre Thomas, Mark Ingram, Darren Sproles, or who ever else – Ivory could be a very solid fantasy producer last year. A virtual lock for 250+ touches in an offensive that has struggled to pass the ball should spell good things for Ivory in 2013.
  23. Ahmad Bradshaw (Ind) – Although the new Colts offensive coordinator, Pep Hamilton, formerly coached Luck at Stanford, he remains a 55% run play-caller. This is a continental shift from the NFL-5th ranking 627 passes Bruce Arians had Andrew Luck throwing last year. While the two numbers will most likely meet in the middle, expect the Colts to be more balanced this year – and Bradshaw could be a very nice value pick for where he is being drafted.
  24. Giovani Bernard (Cin) - Provides huge upside with an explosive, three down skill set akin to someone like Doug Martin. Despite this, BJGE is still initially slated to receive a large amount of carries and goal line work. If he wins the job outright, or the law-firm gets injured, expect his stock to skyrocket.
  25. Darren McFadden (Oak) – Oakland is transitioning to a zone-block running scheme, which has serviced McFadden tremendously well in the past. Despite this, he has never missed less than three games in a season due to injury (and is averaging closer to 5). The talent is there, and this pick could win your league for you if it pans out – but that is one gigantic “if” that I would feel more comfortable letting someone else in my league find out the answer to.
  26. Montee Ball (Den) – Will almost certainly enter the season as the Broncos #1, but Ball doesn’t have the best hands, and Denver will continue to be a passing offense. Will likely get 200+ carries and goal line work, but Ronnie Hillman will probably work 3rd down.
  27. Le’Veon Bell (Pit) - Update 8/23: There have been varying reports as to the extent of Bell’s injury, though his value will see a significant drop nonetheless. He looks to be out anywhere from 1-6 weeks. Is the clear cut #1 RB in a Pittsburgh team that is trying to get away from the – “let Roethlisberger scramble around and make plays” scheme. Has the ability to both play every-down, and get the goal line work – very rare these days among fantasy RB’s. If he has a strong preseason, don’t be surprised to see his draft stock shoot up.
  28. Ryan Mathews (SD) – Ryan Mathews has potential and is brittle. Not much has changed in his report since he entered the league. The Chargers terrible offensive line won’t help, and he doesn’t do much around the goal line. He does see a boost in PPR leagues, but I wouldn’t want him at anything higher than as a backup flier.
  29. Shane Vereen (NE) – All reports coming out of New England indicate that Belichick is trying hard to get Shane Vereen in on as many sets as possible – lining him up in the slot wide receiver role, as well as in the backfield. He showed great pass-catching ability last season, as well as in week 1 of preseason this year. Danny Woodhead is no longer around, and Belichick loves to find mismatches about as much as he seems to love shifting around his running-backs. Vereen could see way more total snaps this year than anyone expected.
  30. Rashard Mendenhall (Ari) – The Cardinals offensive line is still shaky, even with the addition of Jonathan Cooper. It also remains to be seen what Mendenhall has left in the tank, as many value Ryan Williams as a higher talent at this point. Keep posted on this one.
  31. Eddie Lacy (GB) – Not much as far as pass-catching goes, but he will battering ram it in for Green Bay in the goal line. You could do a lot worse at this point.
  32. Andre Brown (NYG) – Listed as a “co-starer” on the opening depth chart, Brown is in line to receive far more than just the goal line work. He filled in tremendously with Ahmad Bradshaw injured and David Wilson’s pass-blocking and ball security not deemed up to par by Coughlin last season. He was able to score in all but one game he started, and though the Giants will look to implement Wilson in a big way this year, his touchdowns should remain largely intact.
  33. DeAngelo Williams (Car) – Will possess more value if he is moved out of Carolina. With Tolbert, Jonathan Stewart, and Cam Newton all vying for goal line looks, he won’t fare too well.
  34. Jonathan Stewart (Car) – Same issues as Williams.
  35. BenJarvus Green-Ellis (Cin) – His upside is goal line work, and that’s about it. Bernard is the preferred/future back.
  36. Mark Ingram (NO) – Should see the bulk of goal line carries for New Orleans. Though Chris Ivory moved on, Pierre Thomas and Darren Sproles will still figure heavily.
  37. Daryl Richardson (StL) – Showed glimpses of some serious potential last year as a rookie. The Speedy second year player is the starter, though questions are floating around as to whether he has the size to handle a full workload. Isaih Pead will figure, but Richardson gets a definite boost in PPR formats for his great pass-catching abilities.
  38. Bryce Brown (Phi) – Posted a couple monster weeks last year when Shady was injured, and if Chip Kelly rotates his offense like he did at Oregon, Brown will get some good touches this year. About as talented a handcuff as you are going to find, if McCoy gets injured it could leave Brown in top 10-15 RB territory.
  39. Fred Jackson (Buf) – Will take the goal line work in Buffalo, and cut into CJ Spiller’s touches. If either get injured, expect a decent boost in value to the other.
  40. Ben Tate (Hou) – There has been alot of talk about Arian Foster wearing down from the heavy workload the past three seasons. Tate is a strong handcuff with proven NFL success.
  41. Ronnie Hillman (Den) – Has shown some potential, and is a good pass-catcher – which fits in nicely under Peyton Manning in Denver. As far as gambles go, if he wins the job he will provide tremendous value for where you can draft him, though Montee Ball is the outright favorite. He is more likely to get serious playing time than other handcuffs who rely on injury for carries.
  42. Isaih Pead (StL) – Has a chance to win the starting job in St. Louis, though Daryl Richardson is the favorite. Despite this, Pead’s size is more suited to the workload of an every-down back, and he should at least get some goal line work.
  43. Bernard Pierce (Bal) – Looked very impressive in the few carries he has gotten for the Ravens, and they’re willing to trust him more. He will no doubt cut into Ray Rice’s workload, and could get some goal line looks, as well.
  44. Joseph Randle (Dal) – If you’re scared to draft DeMarco Murray because of his injury history, then Joseph Randle should be pretty high on your list of later-round targets. The rookie will be the regular Dallas RB if Murray bites the dust again. Reports are that Lance Dunbar is making waves at training camp, so keep an eye out incase he beats Randle for the #2.
  45. Ryan Williams (Ari) – Has the potential to beat out Mendenhall and have a breakout year, but can he stay healthy? He has a bad history of knee injuries. Regardless, the upside is high enough and his ADP is low enough that Williams warrants a pick late in the draft.
  46. Danny Woodhead (SD) – Was able to produce enough to be a top 25 runningback last year, and moving to San Diego might actually help him. No one trusts Ryan Mathews to stay healthy. Woodhead should figure at least partially in the SD backfield, and could be in for a bigger role if Mathews gets injured like usual.
  47. LaMichael James (SF) – Apparently Jim Harbaugh figured out a way to make Frank Gore stop being injury prone, because he hasn’t missed a game since Harbaugh took the reins. Assuming Harbaugh isn’t practicing some sort of crazy voodoo, Gore’s age will catch up with him sooner or later, and LaMichael James could become very valuable in the ‘Niner’s run-heavy offense.
  48. Michael Bush (Chi) – Oft-injured Matt Forte handcuff. Used to be a goal line workhorse for Chicago, but not last year. Remains to be seen how new HC, Marc Trestman will use him.
  49. Stefan Taylor (Ari) – Here are two very realistic possibilities: 1) Rashard Mendenhall sucks.. 2) Ryan Williams gets injured. Voila, Stefan Taylor is the starting back for the Cardinals.
  50. Mikel Leshoure (Det) – Didn’t blow anyone away last year, but was coming off a torn achilles. A year off surgery, he will handcuff a guy people seem to have forgotten was once considered horrendously injury prone – Reggie Bush.

About John Warmkessel

Operator & head writer for 1UP Fantasy Sports. Contact me at the email provided, or via the contact form on the home page of the website. Follow on twitter @1UPfantasy for up to date player advice, gameday Q & A, and more.
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One Response to 2013 Preseason Player Rankings: RB

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