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Top 15 Fantasy Football Running Backs for 2013

1. Arian Foster HOU - Houston Texans, Bye: Week 8
2. Ray Rice BAL - Baltimore Ravens, Bye: Week 8
3. LeSean McCoy PHI - Philadelphia Eagles, Bye: Week 7
4. Maurice Jones-Drew JAC - Jacksonville Jaguars, Bye: Week 6
5. Ryan Matthews SD - San Diego Chargers, Bye: Week 7
6. Chris Johnson TEN - Tennessee Titans, Bye: Week 11
7. Darren McFadden OAK - Oakland Raiders, Bye: Week 5
8. Adrian Peterson MIN - Minnesota Vikings, Bye: Week 11
9. Marshawn Lynch SEA - Seattle Seahawks, Bye: Week 11
10. Frank Gore SF - San Francisco 49ers, Bye: Week 9
11. DeMarco Murray DAL - Dallas Cowboys, Bye: Week 5
12. Michael Turner ATL - Atlanta Falcons, Bye: Week 7
13. Jamaal Charles KC - Kansas City Chiefs, Bye: Week 7
14. Steven Jackson STL - St. Louis Rams, Bye: Week 9
15. Fred Jackson BUF - Buffalo Bills, Bye: Week 8 

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Second Tier Starter with Upside: Fred Jackson, Buffalo Bills
In only ten games as the Bills starter, Fred Jackson rushed for 934 yards and gained 442 through the air. He was in integral part of Chan Gailey’s offense and when he went down due to injury, the Bills passing attack lost all potency. Jackson is a dual threat runner that’s capable of putting up gaudy numbers with Ryan Fitzpatrick under center. The only road block in his way is former first round pick CJ Spiller. Spiller is an undersized back in the mold of Reggie Bush and the two will share the backfield at times. Jackson is a true three down back. He will hold off the young playmaker this year and provide the boost you need to win your championship.

Sure to Disappoint: Jahvid Best, Detroit Lions
Best is an extremely talented multi-purpose back. He’s quick and elusive, he can catch the ball out of the backfield, and he’s a home run threat every time he touches the football. He’s also extremely fragile. Best has a concussion history that dates back to his college days at UC Berkeley and these issues have followed him into the NFL. Best has yet to finish a full NFL season and he's clearly prone to concussions. I would place Jahvid Best on my do not draft list for 2012.

Next great Fantasy Runner: Trent Richardson, Cleveland Browns
Richardson is the real deal. He’s a true every down back with the size and speed to run between the tackles or carry the ball outside. Not since the great Jim Brown have football fans in Cleveland had a premiere runner in the backfield that they can count on as a home run threat in this offense. Richardson is a physical back that gains yardage in chucks. He will stabilize the ground game for the Browns and allow Brandon Weeden to work the play action passing game.

What I said in 2011 ...
Premiere Rusher : Arian Foster, Houston Texans

Arian Foster burst onto the fantasy football scene in 2010 with 1600 yards on the ground and 600 yards receiving.  He also notched sixteen rushing touchdowns and two through the air.  The high-octane Houston Texans offense has been waiting for a long time for a featured runner to emerge to allow them to field a more balanced attack and Foster delivered in 2010.  Extremely active in the passing game, Foster is an elite PPR talent and his punishing run style wears down defenses allowing him to rack up the garbage time yardage in the fourth quarter.  Foster will continue his dominance in 2011.

Most Overrated Running Back: Joseph Addai, Indianapolis Colts
Year after year, the Indianapolis Colts continue to try to find an option to unseat Joseph Addai from the top of their depth chart at the running back position.   Donald Brown, Dominic Rhodes, Mike Hart ... they even gave Edgerin James's cousin Javarris a shot.  Addai is a solid runner, but he's far from an elite prospect.  He's injury prone and he's beginning to lose his effectiveness in the Colts Passing game.  The Indianapolis Colts will continue to utilize a running back by committee approach to their ground game and although Addai is the starter of this group he will produce another set of mediocre numbers in 2011.

What I said in 2010 ...
Premiere Rusher : Chris Johnson, Tennessee Titans

Chosen as my Next Great Fantasy RB only last year, Chris Johnson is a bit ahead of schedule.  His size, speed, an elusiveness are unmatched in the NFL.  Johnson really is actually a threat to take the ball to the house every time he touches it.   He leaves linebackers flat footed and can outrun event he fasted defensive backs.  With Vince Young under center the Titans will employ a lot of option plays which create more room for Chris Johnson to run.  He will hit 2000 yards again this year.

Most Overrated Running Back: Knowshon Moreno, Denver Broncos
Knowshon Moreno is going to have a tough 2010.  The hamstring injury that's been bothering him through the preseason will linger well into the regular season, drastically affecting his production throughout the year.   This injury is typically the kiss of death for fantasy success.  Moreno will play every game in 2010, but his breakaway speed will not be there and Moreno will continue to reinjure the hamstring each week.   He won't be right until next year.

2010 Fantasy Sleeper: Shonn Greene, New York Jets
The New York Jets are primed to make a run at the Super Bowl for the 2010 season.  They're returning the number one rated defense in the NFL, they have a strong offensive line, and finally a franchise quarterback in Mark Sanchez.  Last year they had the number one running offense in the league and due to the progress of Shonn Greene, the Jets brass felt comfortable enough to let their 1400 yard, #1 running back walk.  Shonn Greene is a special back, he will pick up where Thomas Jones left off and he will run behind an All-Pro, behemoth offensive line that the Jets have been building through the draft to make this Super Bowl run.

Sure to Disappoint: Joseph Addai, Indianapolis Colts
Joseph Addai was very mediocre last year.  He looked great in the Super Bowl, but I believe his time has passed.  Addai might be a solid option as a Fantasy back for this year, but he will not be an elite option.   Donald Brown is breathing down his neck for playing time, former Michigan Wolverine Mike Hart is a solid change of pace back, and I'm not sure how long Addai will be able to hang on to the starting spot.

The Next Great Fantasy RB: Ryan Matthews
His selection by the San Diego Chargers in the 2010 draft solidified this featured back's role as the top fantasy football rookie this year.  Ryan Matthews has excellent size and is a powerful inside runner who will flourish under the guidance of Norv Turner.  With a strong offense led by All Pro quarterback Philip Rivers, Matthews will have plenty of support making for a more gradual adjustment to the pro game.

What I said in 2009 ...
Premiere Rusher : Adrian Peterson, Minnesota Vikings
Peterson had an incredible 2008.  Rushing for 1760 yards on the ground and scoring 10 touchdowns.  He's a young back, I'm not too concerned about the number of carries he received last year and I expect him to get into the endzone more on 2009.  Petereson will lead his Vikings deep into the playoffs especially if they can get a deal done with Brett Favre. 

Most Overrated Running Back: Clinton Portis, Washington Redskins
Clinton Portis is nearing the twilight of his career.  As a rookie starter in Denver he excelled in Mike Shanahan's zone blocking scheme, but as a system back, the move to Washington never quite agreed with Portis.   He tenure in the Capitol City has been marked by injuries and inconsistent production.  I don't expect much from Clinton Protis this year. 

2010 Fantasy Sleeper: Ray Rice, Baltimore Ravens
Ray Rice was drafted in Baltimore to be the primary back in the Ravens ground attack.  Everything I've heard in training camp has been about how coaches are impressed with Rice's elusiveness and ability to catch balls out of the back field.  This year Rice will assert himself over Willis McGahee as the three-down primary option that Ozzie Newsome envisioned when he draft Rice.

Sure to Disappoint: LaDanian Tomlinson, San Diego Chargers
Tomlinson's best years as a running back are finally behind him.  He's had an exceptional run, but being on the other side of thirty, coupled by the fact that the Chargers actually franchise tagged Darren Sproles tells me that they've lost confidence in LT.   I expect and RBBC situation to play out in San Diego and and a pass-first offensive mentality as Philip Rivers takes over this team.

The Next Great Fantasy RB: Chris Johnson, Tennessee Titans
2009 is destined to be the year of Chris Johnson.  This guys is too elusive and too fast to continue to play second fiddle to LenDale White.  I expect Chris Johnson to take over as the primary option in the Titan ground game and furthermore I think he has the tools to make the most of his increased workload. 

What I said in 2008 ...
Premiere Rusher : LaDanian Tomlinson, San Diego Chargers
No one has been as consistent as LaDanian Tomlinson in fantasy football over the last five years. LaDanian Tomlinson is a fantasy football manager's dream. He is the focal point of a playoff caliber San Diego Chargers football team and is easily considered it's most valuable player. Tomlinson is a threat to go the distance from any position on the field, he routinely posts multiple touchdown games, and is dangerous catching balls out of the backfield. The San Diego offense also represents one of the few single back sets in the NFL that utilizes Tomlinson as an every down back, maximizing his touches each week. Leading all running backs in the statistical categories of rushing, receiving, and touchdowns, Tomlinson is a slam dunk to go number one overall in most fantasy football drafts. He makes weak fantasy football owners look like gods.

Most Overrated Running Back: Reggie Bush, New Orleans Saints
I don't like Reggie Bush, you can see it in my comments from last year ... and I was right. Last year Reggie Bush posted 581 yards rushing, 417 yards receiving, and only four touchdowns. He may have shoe ads and all types of endorsements, but Reggie Bush is a nitch player. He's great change of pace back, the type of guy that can spark your team to a win, but he's not an every down back and is most successful in a supportive role. He's also not a durable running back, spending four weeks on the sidelines recovering from a knee injury. With Duce McAllister still in the fold in New Orleans, I look for both of these guys to be sharing touches, which will ultimately hurt Bush's production. Do yourself a favor an leave him alone on Draft Day.

2008 Fantasy Sleeper: Rudi Johnson, Cincinnati Bengals
Rudi Johnson had a very disappointing, injury plagued, 2007 season and the Cincinnati Bengals offense struggled as a result. Last year Rudi posted 497 yards rushing and three touchdowns, but I expect him to bounce back in 2008. Johnson is a great between the tackles runner and is an every down back capable of punching it into the end zone. Without much competition in the Bengals backfield, Carson Palmer and Co. will rely heavily on Rudi to provide the strong ground attack that was severely lacking in 2007.

Sure to Disappoint: Michael Turner, Atlanta Falcons
Call me crazy, but I'm predicting that Michael "the burner" Turner will be a huge bust in Atlanta. There is a reason that backup running backs in the National Football League are relegated to the bench ... and it's not that they're being held back by the talents of another. Rarely does a backup running back leave via free agency to become a stud in another city. In most of the cases where a solid backup leaves to become the starter for another team, he remains mediocre in fantasy football circles. Think about it, do the names Chester Taylor, LaMont Jordan, Derrick Blaylock, Jesse Chatman, or Kevan Barlow strike you as fantasy studs? Michael Turner will be another in a long line of promising backup running backs that simply couldn't get it done when called upon to be the focal point of an offense.

The Next Great Fantasy RB: Earnest Graham, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Bucs were smart to lock this guy up in a multi-year contract because in Earnest Graham, John Gruden finally has the workhorse every-down back he has been missing in Tampa. Cadillac Williams had a fantastic rookie campaign, but as predicted on draft day, he is injury prone. The release of Michael Pittman and acquisition of Warrick Dunn, coupled with the placement of Cadillac Williams on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list paves the way for Earnest Graham to lock down the starting running back position in Tampa. At 5'9" 225 lbs, Graham is the battering ram John Gruden will use to open things up in the passing game for the Bucs. He will build upon his surprising 2007 campaign in which he posted 898 yards on the ground, 324 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns in eleven games as the starter. This guy is a stud.

What I said in 2007 ...
Premiere Rusher : LaDanian Tomlinson, San Diego Chargers
LaDanian Tomlinson is the engine that drives the San Diego Chargers offense and should be the engine that drives your fantasy football team.  Since his entry into the National Football League, Tomlinson has dominated opposing defenses and amassed an awesome statistical resume that has made champions of the weakest fantasy football owners.  Tomlinson is the essence of the complete back.  He runs hard, blocks, catches balls out of the backfield, and scores touchdowns ... lots of touchdowns.  Tomlinson dropped 31 touchdowns on NFL opponents last year to set the single season touchdown mark.  With Norv Turner returning to the San Diego Chargers, we can expect a solid dose of LaDanian Tomlinson on a weekly basis.  

Most Overrated Running Back: Reggie Bush, New Orleans Saints
A lot of people will disagree with me because the NFL is so enamored with the unique talents of Reggie Bush, but the fact of the matter is that although versatile, Reggie Bush is still sharing the Saints backfield with Deuce McAllister.  I realize that the Indianapolis Colts and Chicago Bears popularized the running back by committee approach on their way to the Super Bowl last year, and however successful it may be in the National Football League, that success does not translate to Fantasy Football.   As long as Deuce in healthy and in New Orleans, downgrade Reggie Bush on your fantasy football cheat sheets.

2007 Fantasy Sleeper: Travis Henry, Denver Broncos
I don't know how much of a sleeper Travis Henry is, but anyone that has watched this guy play football understands how well his running style will mesh with the Denver Broncos zone blocking scheme.  Travis is a one-cut, bruising back that has one of the best stiff arms I have ever seen on the National Football League.   Travis is powerful, he plays hurt, he doesn't miss games, and he's a team player.  The Broncos will enjoy having him in the locker room and fantasy football owners will thoroughly enjoy the extreme yardage and touchdowns Travis adds to their bottom line now that he has joined the premiere rushing system in the NFL.

Sure to Disappoint: Lawrence Maroney, New England Patriots
Lawrence Maroney had a breakout season for the New England Patriots last year, but I'm predicting the sophomore slump for 2007.  The Patriots cut Corey Dillon who was their goal-line back this year and this would indicate a confidence in Maroney, but I believe this will be the Tom Brady show in New England.  With the weapons that Tom has at his disposal, touchdowns through the air will be at an all-time high in New England.  the fact that Maroney has spent the entire training camp in a red no-contact jersey as he recovers from off-season shoulder surgery concerns me greatly.  Something is not right in New England ...

The Next Great Fantasy RB: Marshawn Lynch, Buffalo Bills
It may not be this year, but Marshawn Lynch will blossom at the running back position in Buffalo.  Lynch is a dual threat rusher, able to catch the ball out of the backfield and run the ball effectively between the tackles.  Nothing stands in his way in Buffalo, which has a roster and a system suited to making Lynch a star.  The starting running back position for the Buffalo Bills is his job to lose and the city of Buffalo is looking to embrace another rising star at the running back position after the Willis McGahee debacle.   Marshawn Lynch will prove to be that star.




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