The running back position has been the most frustrating to deal with during the first five weeks of the 2013 season. Everyone rushed to grab not just the elite options, but second and third tier players worked their way into the early second round according to ADP data and, only now, as things shake out a bit, is it really possible to see just how big a mistake that was.
Sure, most of the elite backs are doing their thing just fine, with a banged up C.J. Spiller potentially the biggest disappointment of the group so far. We’re not all that concerned about Spiller and while he drops to the back end of the top-10, the talent to dominate is evident. Let’s take a quick trip through the tiers before we lay out our top-70 running backs for the rest of the 2013 season.
Lesean McCoy is making a case for the top spot in Chip Kelly’s run-heavy offense, but we’ve seen just a half of football with Nick Foles at the helm and, upon first impression, it did not appear that the running lanes we as open as they understandably are when Michael Vick is back their. That’s not to say that Shady won’t continue to be a fantasy beast, but the uncertainty is enough to keep him out of the top spot…. Jamal Charles also makes a compelling case to be the lead back as no other player in the NFL has gained over 100 total a yards and scored a touchdown in each game so far this season… At the end of the day, it remains Adrian Peterson — who is already past his Week 5 bye — rising to the top of the list… Arian Foster stumbled out of the gates, but he is running hard now and the Texans badly need to lean on the run game to take some pressure off of their scuffling quarterback… Lynch is becoming one of the most bankable plays in the game, even with Seattle’s banged up O-Line… With the heavy workload back in place, Ray Rice is not going anywhere… Matt Forte gets the nod in the top-tier despite a lack of touchdown potential, as does Reggie Bush, who is looking more like a workhorse back than ever.
Eddie Lacy looks to have both the talent and the offense to find himself in the top-10 more often than not, but will the Packers feed him the rock enough to be a true stud… Though Frank Gore keeps chugging along, his value gets a slight hit with the Niners so willing to go to Kendall Hunter or Anthony Dixon at any point in the game… We didn’t really want to put Knowshon Moreno in tier two, but he’s forced our hand as he remains the bell cow in Peyton Manning’s electric offense… Demarco Murray has looked solid of late, we’re just not confident he stays healthy.
Lamar Miller opens up the third tier and, perhaps, represents the best buy-low of this group as he heads into the bye week. Miami’s offensive balance is clearly out of whack and they need to get back to running the football sooner-than-later…. One of the most difficult players to place here is Gio Bernard. He clearly has the talent to be a fantasy force, but BenJarvis Green-Ellis is not going away this season… Fred Jackson checks in as a legitimate flex play in standard leagues and while he may lose a little bit of his recent workload to a fully healthy C.J. Spiller, the goal line work will continue to come… Assuming the neck injury is just a short-term issue (already ruled out for Week 6 if he can get back for Week 7 the rankings doesn’t change much), we’re keeping the faith on David Wilson. The Giants need him to be effective to have success and he should be able to build on a solid Week 5 (prior to the injury) that saw him hit pay-dirt for the first time this season.
A week ago, Bilal Powell appeared locked in as a RB2. Since, Chris Ivory returned and ran well and Mike Goodson also found himself back into the mix. This backfield is trending towards a three-headed monster (read: three-headed mess)… Ryan Mathews tumbles to the fourth tier and below teammate Danny Woodhead. The work has been there for Mathews, it’s just the production that has yet to show up. Add in his Week 5 concussion and owners are going to need a severe head injury to forget their draft-day mistake… Zac Stacy emerged on the scene with 78 yards on 14 carries as the starter in Week 5 and we are buying… If you haven’t seen Andre Ellington in the open field, then you need to first watch him nearly break Darelle Revis’ ankles, then cut Rashard Mendenhall and, finally, embrace Ellington as a legitimate fantasy add. He’ll vault into tier three as soon as he becomes the starter.
Beyond the top four groupings, we’re looking at mostly handcuffs and fliers with player’s likely holding the most value for those who own the starter on their respective teams.