2013 Fantasy Football Running Back Rankings (8/4 Update)
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. Without question, he will be the first running back and first player off fantasy draft boards in 2013.
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 Christian Ponder threw for less than 200 yards in seven of the final 10 regular-season games.
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.
A workhorse back, Foster has been relatively durable despite the workload and now has three straight seasons of 1,200-plus yards and double-digit touchdowns.
If there is a concern with Foster, it's 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.
Entering camp on the Active/PUP list for a strained calf injury, Foster did not practice on Sunday due to a sore back.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The first running back selected in in the 2012 NFL Draft was Cleveland's Trent Richardson. He had a solid year (1,317 yards from scrimmage, 51 receptions and 12 touchdowns), but he was slowed with injuries (knee, ribs) all season. The team's previous running backs coach Gary Brown expects a 1,600-year from Richardson in his second or third year.
In addition, the team's new offensive coordinator Norv Turner has suggested that the target is for T-Rich to get 300 carries this season.
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 last year.
As the team begins the Chip Kelly era, it will be interesting to see exactly how his offense translates to (and is modified for) the NFL. 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.
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 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.
I would be happy with any of the top nine fantasy running backs on this list as my RB1.
The active leader in carries (2,395), by far, Jackson has a lot of tread on his soon-to-be 30-year-old legs. With eight consecutive 1,000-yard seasons, SJax should get an opportunity to finally cash in at the goal line.
Before being released, Michael Turner had double-digit rushing touchdowns in each of the past five seasons for the Falcons.
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