2013 Fantasy Football Rankings (8-31 Update): Top 65 Running Backs
For the first time in 50 years, there were no running backs selected in the first round of the (real) NFL draft.
In fantasy football drafts, however, it is likely that your first-round pick will be a running back unless you select Detroit's Calvin Johnson.
Based on average draft position (ADP) data from Fantasy Football Calculator, 11 of the first 12 picks in mock drafts recently have been running backs.
Here are my fantasy running back rankings for 2013 (standard scoring):
Heading into the 2012 season, there was plenty of uncertainty surrounding Peterson.
Fast forward one year and there is one certainty with Peterson, the league's reigning MVP: He shouldn't be underestimated.
Peterson, who tore his ACL and MCL in December 2011, defied the odds and nearly broke the single-season rushing record in 2012. He fell eight yards short of tying Eric Dickerson's record of 2,105 rushing yards.
While he was good in the first six weeks of the season, Peterson was even (much) better in the final 10 games. After after the season ended, we found out that he was playing through a sports hernia down the stretch.
During that 10-game span, Peterson rushed for 1,598 yards and 10 touchdowns in addition to catching 20 passes for 88 yards and a score. He averaged 6.80 yards per carry and nearly 160 yards rushing per game during that stretch.
In addition, Peterson rushed for 100-plus yards in nine of those 10 final regular-season games and had at least 199 rushing yards three times.
Even more remarkably, he did this with a low-powered passing game. Percy Harvin did not play in Weeks 10 through 17 and the team's quarterback threw for less than 200 yards in seven of the final 10 regular-season games.
The Muscle Hamster started slowly, but he finished fifth in the NFL in rushing (1,454 yards). The only player to rush for more yards in Tampa Bay franchise history was James Wilder (1,544 yards in 1984).
Not only did Martin finish fifth in rushing, but he also finished fifth among running backs in receiving yards (472) on 49 receptions. Even better, the only running back with more yards from scrimmage than Martin (1,926) was Peterson (2,314).
One thing working in favor of his continued success is better health for the team's talented starting guards, Carl Nicks and Davin Joseph, who missed 25 games between them. That said, Nicks could miss some time to start the season.
Spiller rushed for 1,244 yards despite getting only 207 carries. In addition, he finished with 43 receptions for 459 yards. Assuming a larger workload in 2013 under new coach Doug Marrone, Spiller should have a realistic shot at getting 2,000-plus yards from scrimmage.
The team's website recently discussed the possibility of Spiller becoming the next 2,000-yard rusher with the possibility of up to 30 touches per game.
Charles had the fourth-highest rushing total (1,509 yards) last season, but he took an interesting path to get there. Charles had two games with more than 225 rushing yards and a total of seven games with at least 100 yards. That said, he also had three games with 10 yards or less. Coincidentally, both of his 200-yard games were preceded by one of those games of 10 or less yards.
Playing in Andy Reid's offense, Charles should see his reception totals increase, perhaps significantly, based on comments from Charles and offensive coordinator Doug Pederson. He has never had more than 45 receptions in a season, but I would be shocked if he had less than 50 this year.
Although Foster rushed for 1,424 yards last year, that was a moderate disappointment. Leading the league in carries (351), Foster finished sixth in the league in rushing and averaged a career-low 4.1 yards per carry in 2012. That said, he rushed for a season-high 15 scores.
Foster has three straight seasons of 1,200-plus yards and double-digit touchdowns and no player has more YFS (5,702) or touchdowns (47) than Foster during that stretch.
Even though he has been relatively durable, one of the concerns with Foster is that his recent heavy workload will catch up with him. Over the past three seasons including the playoffs, Foster has 1,243 touches (1,061 carries and 182 receptions), which averages to nearly 415 touches per season.
Or should I say is catching up with him?
Until being activated today from the Active/PUP list due to his calf/back, Foster had not practiced since initially suffering a calf strain during OTAs. If you draft Foster, it makes sense to make sure that you secure Tate as a handcuff.
Lynch finished third in the league in rushing with a career-high 1,590 rushing yards. It was Lynch's fourth 1,000-yard season and he has now back-to-back seasons with 1,200-plus yards and double-digit touchdowns.
With quality backups in Robert Turbin and second-round pick Christine Michael, the Seahawks may look to give Lynch a few less touches in 2013.
Over the past three seasons, only Darren Sproles (220) has more receptions than Rice (200). The only player with more yards from scrimmage than Rice (5,465) during that span was Arian Foster (5,702). Along with Peterson (5,062), only three backs have 5,000-plus YFS in the past three years.
With Rice, however, there is some concern with the presence of Bernard Pierce, a talented back in his own right. That said, he still should be a first-round pick in fantasy drafts this fall.
Although he failed to rush for 1,000 yards and he averaged only 3.6 yards per carry, Richardson, a top-three pick in the 2012 NFL Draft, was slowed with injuries (knee, ribs) all season.
The glass-half-full view would be that he still managed to finish 11th in fantasy points among running backs despite those facts. To go along with his 1,317 yards from scrimmage, Richardson finished with 51 receptions and 12 touchdowns. No other running back had 50-plus receptions and rushed for double-digit touchdowns.
Going into the new season, the team's new offensive coordinator Norv Turner has suggested that the target is for T-Rich to get 300 carries this season provided he can stay healthy.
The 2012 season was a huge disappointment for McCoy (and the Eagles as well). Following a monster season of 1,309 rushing yards and a league-high 17 rushing touchdowns in 2011, McCoy set a career low with two rushing scores and missed four games due to a concussion.
McCoy should thrive in Chip Kelly's offense. While I don't think we ever see 17 rushing touchdowns from McCoy again, he should finish with 1,600 to 1,800 yards from scrimmage and around 60 receptions this year.
Although he set his career highs as a rookie with 1,715 yards from scrimmage (YFS) and 12 total touchdowns, Forte has had five straight seasons with 1,400-plus YFS. If it weren't for a knee injury that forced him out of the final four games of 2011, he might have reached 2,000 YFS. (He was on pace for 1,983 that year.)
Playing in Marc Trestman's offense, it's possible that Forte sets new career highs in YFS and/or receptions in 2013.