The 2013 NFL season saw many superstars emerge as they either showed success in turning the corner, built on previous seasons of success or emerged out of nowhere. The prime example from last season of an emerging star was Alfred Morris. The Peyton Manning and Adrian Peterson comeback stories stole the headlines and were easy selections for players of the year. This season saw a similar cast of characters rise to the top and prove they are indeed the crème de la crème.

Peyton Manning is in the mist of his statistically best season yet as a professional; eclipsing the 50 passing touchdown plateau and now owning the single season TD record and passing Tom Brady in the process. As Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year it would be far too easy to anoint Peyton as the Fantasy Player of the year. Instead we look at the running back position where there are a few players, aside from future hall of fame Adrian Peterson, that proved worthy of consideration.

The 2013 fantasy football player of the year, Jamaal Charles, was able to drive his team back to the playoffs for the first time since the 2010 season. Coming off the heels of a 2 win season, the turnaround in Kansas City is remarkable for any sport. While they are assured the wild-card position as the #5 seed they will attempt to win their first playoff game in 20 years.

Under the new leadership and regime of Andy Reid the defense has continued to be the team’s strength and calling card. However, the emphasis on the ground game has allowed for Charles to shine bright as ever and to grind out the yards between the tackles, bust large gains and be a continual target and touchdown machine in the passing game. Alex Smith’s limitations in throwing the ball far down the field have opened up Charles for screen plays and play-action out of the backfield too. In fact, Jamaal Charles led all NFL running backs with 693 yards and 7 receiving touchdowns on 70 receptions.

Charles also has been as much as workhorse as Adrian Peterson has been. Jamaal currently leads the league with 12 rushing touchdowns and is closing in on 1300 yards rushing. He has been every fantasy football owner’s dream this season. He even has one less fumble than the reliable Peterson this year. It would be difficult to argue that Kansas City would be the same team without him this year.

LeSean “Shady” McCoy and Marshawn “Beast Mode” Lynch are two very deserving candidates as well. However, as instrumental pieces to their teams they were expected to do a ton for their teams entering the season to make the playoffs. As proven entities on playoff-caliber teams, both Shady and Beast Mode are elite but not as valuable as Charles has been to the Chiefs this year.

Some honorable mentions to this list, that have not already been mentioned are Jimmy Graham, who continues to redefine the tight end position in a high-octane New Orleans offense. Matt Forte, who continues to be a dual threat in the Bears’ re-invigorated attack under their rookie coach. Cam Newton, who has found a way to turn the Panthers into a winner and finally turned his frown upside down. Drew Brees has been a statistical machine for fantasy owners. Calvin Johnson has put up Megatron-type numbers again this year despite his recent struggles. Last but not least, Knowshon Moreno who gets far less love than Peyton Manning in the Bronco’s offensive attack.