Getting a stud running back has always been a must for winging a fantasy football championship and that doesn’t change as we head into the 2014 fantasy football season. Clearly, running backs can breakout each year, but findings those gems are getting harder and harder. Therefore, targeting and drafting one of the top running backs is something all owners should try to do and most of the top names will be gone by the end of the first round. Let’s take a look at our top 10 fantasy running backs for 2014.
1. Jamaal Charles
After finding pay dirt a total of 19 times last season it is hard to not have him as our number one running back as we head into the 2014 fantasy football season. If you play in a point per reception league Charles has even more value, as he caught an incredible 70 balls last year. Based on the Chiefs offense I do not see him getting any less touches or catches this year, meaning he should be a monster again.
2. Matt Forte
The knock on Matt Forte was always the fact he never fell into the end zone. Well, he proved he could in 2013 by scoring 12 times, as the focal point of a Bears attack that turned into one of the most exciting offenses last year. If the Bears are smart they are going to use the run again to set-up the pass and Forte, in my opinion, will crack over 2,000 total yards with giving you the same touchdown production in 2014.
3. LeSean McCoy
If the Eagles did not sign Darren Sproles in the off-season McCoy might be our top overall player. The Chip Kelly offense certainly agreed with the skill set of McCoy as he produced over 2,100 total yards in 2013. McCoy can do it all, long runs, catch passes, and most importantly punch it in when on the goal line. Expect Shady McCoy to run wild again this coming season.
4. Adrian Peterson
I have seen Adrian Peterson listed as the top running back on numerous sites and I simply do not get it. He is a freak of nature and maybe the best running back in the NFL today, but fantasy wise you have to be in the right situation. The Vikings passing attack is still not prolific enough to have teams not 100% focused on Peterson every time he is on the field. It is a testament to his talents to have him ranked this high, but I cannot support passing on any of our top three for him.
5. Montee Ball
Knowshon Moreno rushed for over 1,000 yards and 10 rushing touchdowns while in the Denver last year and he did split some carries with Ball. Now, that he has landed in Miami, Ball should be the man in Denver this year and if he gets even 20 touches a game he just might end up as the top overall player in fantasy. Crazy thought right? But all of Manning’s running backs have great years and they never see eight in the box. By letting Moreno go, Denver has shown a huge vote of confidence for this second year player and you would be wise to do so as well.
6. Eddie Lacy
Lacy reminds me of the old school smash mouth running backs from the early 90s. He hits the hole hard and seems to always fall forward. With that said when breaking down his game log from a season ago, there is one troubling number and that is the fact he averaged 78.5 yards a game. Now, that is not a terrible number, but the Packers fed him the ball early and often due to all the injuries they had on the outside. I see Lacy taking a 15% decrease in touches this year, so that is the only reason for the reigning rookie of the year to be outside our top five at this position.
7. Marshawn Lynch
Every year the fantasy expert community hates on Lynch and every year he just keeps producing. Sure, at some point everyone will be right, but we are predicting that Lynch has at least one more good season in him. The line he plays behind is perfect for his running style and one should think he can certainly repeat his 1,200+ yards and double digit touchdowns again this year. For those that want to pass on him due to his ceiling not being so high, remember if Percy Harvin finally plays a full season that can open up running lanes. This could mean some longer runs out of beast mode in 2014.
8. Le’Veon Bell
I love everything about this kid, as a rookie he had a higher learning curve than most by missing part of the preseason and starting the year on the injury report. Once he did get on the field the Steelers knew they found their back of the future. Bell has great hands and really excelled once the Steelers started to run more no huddle offense. I think Bell will get the most touches out of any back this year and this only means good things for his fantasy owners.
9. Zac Stacy
Stacy really came out of nowhere last year. The Rams did everything in their power to allow Daryl Richardson his chance to shine, but clearly, he was not up to the challenge. In stepped Stacy whom almost rushed for 1,000 yards in just 14 games. There is some buzz that he has to win the job again this year, but we feel that is more of a motivational tool than anything.
10. DeMarco Murray
I know Murray is injury prone, but that is why he is ranked at number 10 instead of number 5 for the running back position. He was finally fully healthy towards the end of the season and during that time (final four games) he averaged 123.5 total yards a game. For the Cowboys to be successful they have to lean on the run and due to that, Murray has a very high ceiling. However, due to the injury history he also has a very low floor. If you can grab him as your running back two I prefer that over your bell cow due to the injury factor.
A lot can change during the NFL preseason, so be sure to check out our most up-to-date 2014 fantasy football running back rankings.