Running backs are possibly the most overrated position in fantasy football, but drafting the right two to fill your fantasy roster, and drafting capable backups, can lead your team to victory. Last season had several surprises at running back including the quick return to dominance of Adrian Peterson, the rise of a star in Doug Martin, and several other surprises and disappointments. 2013 looks like an especially strong season for running backs, but make sure to choose wisely.
Here are the top 10 running backs to draft for the 2013 NFL season:
#10. Chris Johnson – Tennessee Titans
2012 Statistics: 1,243 Rushing Yards, 4.5 Yards Per Carry (YPC), 6 Rushing Touchdowns, 36 Receptions, 232 Receiving Yards, 0 Receiving Touchdowns, 5 Fumbles.
Analysis: Chris Johnson was a disappointment from a fantasy perspective for most of the 2012 NFL season. Although he performed better than his statistics in 2011, for a running back who gained over 2,000 yards in 2009, his production is still not what is expected of him. Johnson had 1,243 rushing yards and six touchdowns. He will look to start off 2013 strong, after having a very tough first five games last season. In the first five games of 2012, Johnson had four games with under 25 yards rushing and no touchdowns in all five of those games. I do expect him to have a better season after finishing the year stronger than he started.
2013 Prediction: Rushing Yards 1,478, 4.9 YPC, 9 Rushing Touchdowns, 28 Receptions, 195 Receiving Yards, 1 Receiving Touchdown, 4 Fumbles.
#9. C.J. Spiller – Buffalo Bills
2012 Statistics: 1,244 Rushing Yards, 6.0 YPC, 6 Rushing Touchdowns, 43 Receptions, 459 Receiving Yards, 2 Receiving Touchdowns, 3 Fumbles.
Analysis: C.J. Spiller is talented enough to be a top five or even top three fantasy running back, but the fact that the Buffalo Bills have another solid running back in Fred Jackson limits Spiller’s value and production. Spiller was tied for 1st in the league among running backs in yards per carry, average 6.0 yards a rush, tying league leader in rusher Adrian Peterson. Due to splitting time with Fred Jackson, he had 1,244 yards rushing and 6 rushing touchdowns. He is a good pickup for your fantasy team, especially if Fred Jackson is traded or is not performing well.
2013 Prediction: 1,410 Rushing Yards, 5.7 YPC, 8 Rushing Touchdowns, 47 Receptions, 498 Receiving Yards, 4 Receiving Touchdowns, 5 Fumbles.
#8. Trent Richardson – Cleveland Browns
2012 Statistics: 950 Rushing Yards, 3.6 YPC, 11 Rushing Touchdowns, 51 Receptions, 367 Receiving Yards, 1 Receiving Touchdowns, 3 Fumbles.
Analysis: Some players live up to the hype, some fail to live up to the hype. In 2012, Trent Richardson proved he was overrated and failed to play up to the expectations of others. He averaged only 3.6 YPC despite having a respectable 11 rushing touchdowns. Richardson failed to reach 1,000 yards rushing even though he had 267 carries. The Cleveland Browns should be able to improve their offense, giving Richardson more opportunities and hopefully more yards per carry.
2013 Prediction: 1,345 Rushing Yards, 4.4 YPC, 13 Rushing Touchdowns, 45 Receptions, 407 Receiving Yards, 3 Receiving Touchdowns, 4 Fumbles.
#7. Ray Rice – Baltimore Ravens
2012 Statistics: 1,143 Rushing Yards, 4.4 YPC, 9 Rushing Touchdowns, 61 Receptions, 478 Receiving Yards, 1 Receiving Touchdown, 1 Fumble.
Analysis: Running back Ray Rice was the 2nd most popular draft pick in all ESPN fantasy football leagues last season, but did not come close to producing like it. Although the Baltimore Ravens did not give him the ball enough, as he had under 20 carries in ten of sixteen games, averaging only 4.4 yards a carry was his second lowest average over the past four seasons. With a new offensive coordinator, the Ravens will look to involve Rice much more in the offense, but the emergence of running back Bernard Pierce as a backup, and wanting to keep him fresh, will limit his potential output.
2013 Prediction: 1,384 Rushing Yards, 4.7 YPC, 10 Rushing Touchdowns, 55 Receptions, 421 Receiving Yards, 2 Receiving Touchdowns , 3 Fumbles.
*Note : If you are in a point per reception (PPR) league, Rice has significantly more value, and should be a little higher on this list for your league due to his pass catching ability and output.
#6. Jamaal Charles – Kansas City Chiefs
2012 Statistics : 1,509 Rushing Yards, 5.3 YPC, 5 Rushing Touchdowns, 35 Receptions, 236 Receiving Yards, 1 Receiving Touchdown, 5 Fumbles.
Analysis: Jamaal Charles had a solid overall season other than not being able to find the end zone. The Kansas City Chiefs struggled all year and will be under new coaching in 2013. Charles struggled at times, as he had three games with 10 yards or less. Look for Charles to get a lot of opportunities in a new offensive system.
2013 Prediction : 1,427 Rushing Yards, 4.9 YPC, 9 Rushing Touchdowns, 41 Receptions, 314 Receiving Yards, 2 Receiving Touchdowns, 3 Fumbles.
#5. Alfred Morris – Washington Redskins
2012 Statistics : 1,613 Rushing Yards, 4.8 YPC, 13 Rushing Touchdowns, 11 Receptions, 77 Receiving Yards, 0 Receiving Touchdowns, 4 Fumbles.
Analysis : Alfred Morris was one of the best surprises all year for fantasy owners. Although he went undrafted in most fantasy leagues, Morris had the second most rushing yards out of all running backs and also had the second most rushing touchdowns. I don’t expect a full sophomore slump, but I do expect Morris to take a small step back next season as defenses prepare for him and Robert Griffin remains a dangerous threat to run with the ball.
2013 Prediction : 1,498 Rushing Yards, 4.6 Yards Per Carry (YPC), 12 Rushing Touchdowns, 18 Receptions, 117 Receiving Yards, 1 Receiving Touchdown, 4 Fumbles.
#4. Marshawn Lynch – Seattle Seahawks
2012 Statistics: 1,590 Rushing Yards, 5.0 YPC, 11 Rushing Touchdowns, 23 Receptions, 196 Receiving Yards, 1 Receiving Touchdown, 5 Fumbles.
Analysis: Marshawn Lynch met and exceeded fantasy owner’s expectations with a very strong season. Lynch was third in yards rushing and finished the season very strong with four straight games of 100 yards rushing and scored 6 total touchdowns during that period. He was one of the most dependable running backs in all of the NFL last year, and should see more opportunities as quarterback Russell Wilson continues to develop and become someone that defenses are forced to focus on.
2013 Prediction: 1,760 Rushing Yards, 5.5 YPC, 10 Rushing Touchdowns, 17 Receptions, 156 Receiving Yards , 2 Receiving Touchdowns, 6 Fumbles.
#3. Doug Martin – Tampa Bay Buccaneers
2012 Statistics: 1,454 Rushing Yards, 4.6 YPC, 11 Rushing Touchdowns, 49 Receptions, 472 Receiving Yards, 1 Receiving Touchdown, 1 Fumble.
Analysis: Doug Martin was one of the breakout stars of the 2012 NFL season. He single-handily won many owners a couple of games this season with 4 games of over 125 yards and at least one touchdown, including a 251 rushing yard game with 4 touchdowns against the Oakland Raiders. Martin is a dual threat as he is also effective in the passing game. Martin is a great pickup for your fantasy football team, and should be picked up as soon as Arian Foster and Adrian Peterson are off of the board.
2013 Prediction: 1,573 Rushing Yards, 4.7 YPC, 13 Rushing Touchdowns, 38 Receptions, 364 Receiving Yards, 2 Receiving Touchdowns, 3 Fumbles.
#2. Arian Foster – Houston Texans
2012 Statistics: 1,424 Rushing Yards, 4.1 YPC, 15 Rushing Touchdowns, 40 Receptions, 217 Receiving Yards, 2 Receiving Touchdowns, 3 Fumbles.
Analysis: Arian Foster was the overall top choice in the majority of fantasy football leagues, but he left owners wanting more at the end of the 2012 NFL season. Foster was 6th in the NFL with 1,424 rushing yards, but did have 15 rushing touchdowns and 2 receiving touchdowns. He had four games with less than 50 yards rushing, but still scored a touchdown in three of those four games. Although he looses the top spot to Adrian Peterson, Foster is still a very solid fantasy draft pick who should help out every fantasy team that drafts him.
2013 Prediction : 1,607 Rushing Yards, 4.5 YPC, 12 Rushing Touchdowns, 43 Receptions, 285 Receiving Yards, 1 Receiving Touchdown, 4 Fumbles.
#1. Adrian Peterson – Minnesota Vikings
2012 Statistics: 2,097 Rushing Yards, 6.0 YPC, 12 Rushing Touchdowns, 40 Receptions, 217 Receiving Yards, 1 Receiving Touchdown, 4 Fumbles.
Analysis: Adrian Peterson nearly had the greatest season of any running back in the history of the NFL – missing the all time rushing yards in a season record by only 9 yards. His historic season came less than a year after having a surgery that was sure to demand a long recovery and hamper his results for the upcoming season or two. The fact that Peterson actually did have a slow start to the season when considering how he finished the season is scary. Peterson started the 2012 season with six games in which he did not have over 105 yards in any of those games. He finished the year by having over 105 yards in nine of his last ten games, including seven in which he had over 150 yards rushing. It is hard to believe, but he may have an even better season in 2013. Adrian Peterson is easily the best running back to draft for your fantasy football team, and the overall top player to draft regardless of position. If he is still available when it is your time to draft, you need to take him.
2013 Prediction: 2,174 Rushing Yards, 5.6 YPC, 14 Rushing Touchdowns, 29 Receptions, 165 Receiving Yards, 2 Receiving Touchdowns, 5 Fumbles.
*All statistics from NFL via NFL.com
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