In the previous RB rankings we had 3 elite 1st round RBs and 7 other guys that you should look to draft in the 2nd and 3rd round. With running backs 11-20 we will look at some other guys that you should be targeting in the fourth round and later.
11. Marshawn Lynch: The only thing keeping Lynch out of my top 10 is that he just got a big new contract and I’m scarred he’s going to go back to running the ball the way he did pre-Wild Card game against the Saints. He’s been one of the most fun RBs to watch since that game but with that new contract I’m not convinced he wants to continue to drive through tacklers and take on extra hits. I still think he’ll play in the majority of his games this year and he has no threat to take away carries so I think he could be a very good number 2 running back on your team. There is no way I’m taking him in the top 3 rounds and I still think there are people behind him on this list with more potential.
12. Trent Richardson: Unfortunately for Richardson the Browns have a pretty pathetic receiving corps and a rookie QB behind center. He’s going to be facing a constant 8-9 man box but if the Cleveland defense can keep games close, Richardson will be given every chance to break the game open. He could put up some big numbers in games outside the AFC North so the potential is definitely there. He’s a pretty good receiver out of the backfield and I expect him to play all 16 games this year so ending up number 12 or lower at the end of the year isn’t a stretch.
13. Steven Jackson: Jackson is still a very good running back but the team around him isn’t. With no proven WRs, a bad offensive line and a still maturing QB, Jackson is going to face a lot of 8 and 9 man fronts. He’s going to have to do a lot on his own but he is also going to be given the ball 25+ times a game so he should be able to give you a constant 12-15 points every week. I don’t see the potential for many 20+ fantasy point games so I wouldn’t get him until the 4th round at the earliest but if you prefer consistency from your players on a week-to-week basis Jackson is your man.
14. DeMarco Murray: If Murray can stay healthy all year he could be top 5 fantasy back. The Dallas passing offense is so dangerous Murray can’t be given a lot of respect from defenses and so he will be seeing a lot of 7 man fronts with a lot of DBs on the field. He’s had injury problems in college and his rookie year last year so he is a VERY risky player to draft. He easily has the most potential on this list but that injury risk keeps him at 14 on my list. If you already have one of the top 3 RBs Murray’s risk/reward is too good to pass up and could easily deliver you to the playoffs.
15. Michael Turner: Turner was a top 5 back last year but he’s another year older and the Falcons are developing into a pass first team. It’s still hard to put him at only 15 on this list after how great he has been the past four years but all good things must come to an end eventually. Like Steven Jackson I think he will be a consistent player but he has little upside to me. I wouldn’t draft Turner before my QB, 2 WRs, RB and TE so he’s a 6th round player to me but I imagine he will still go around the 4th in many drafts.
16. BenJarvus Green-Ellis: I am very high on the “Law Firm” this year. Marvin Lewis is committed to running the ball so Green-Ellis will be a workhorse running back this year (something that isn’t certain outside the top 10). He will have to play some tough defenses this year and Green-Ellis will be lucky to get a reception a game so his value does take a bit of a hit. I still think a 1000 yard, 8 touchdown season is possible for Ellis and he can be a consistent number 2 RB on your team like Jackson and Turner.
17. Darren Sproles: If you play in a PPR league like me Sproles is a borderline top ten RB this year. He’s only going to get you 30-40 yards a game on the ground but once you add in his receiving yards its around 80 (add in 5 points for catches and it’s around 17 points every week not including touchdowns) in total a game. I do think Mark Ingram will take some carries from Sproles but Sproles is still going to be in the game every third down and be a threat.
18. Jamaal Charles: As long as Charles can stay healthy there should be no concerns about Peyton Hillis potentially taking over the starting job in KC. Charles is only two years removed from being a top 5 fantasy back so the guy can definitely still be a fantasy stud. The only thing that worries me about Charles is that his conditioning might not be where it should be. He’s pretty much missed the entire year last year so it’s been a while since he has been in football shape. I see his year being similar to Chris Johnson’s last year where he has some stinkers, some average games and a few great ones.
19. Frank Gore: Unfortunately for Gore the 49ers have a ton of depth at RB. I still think he’s a good player and he will play in the majority of games this season but I don’t see him getting 20+ touches a game anymore. If one of the guys behind him on the depth chart get hot Gore’s value takes an even bigger hit. I think he will be a top-ten RB for his first 6-8 games than become less valuable down the stretch and end up where he is ranked.
20. Roy Helu: Helu had 3 straight 100 yard games in weeks 12-14 so the guy can perform when given the chance. Unfortunately for fantasy owners, Helu’s head coach is known for playing RB carousel so there’s no telling if Helu will start for the entire season. I’m sure Shanahan wants to keep his franchise rookie QB upright the best he can so Helu should touch the ball 20+ times a week (assuming he’s still the starter). With Shanahan being the equivalent of the Devil in terms of fantasy football I would hesitate to draft Helu and expect big things all year.