In case you are one of the lucky few who put their fantasy football draft off until the last minute, here is the final segment of my fantasy football rankings revisited. We will finish with the most important position in the world of fantasy: the running backs.
Now, hopefully you didn’t miss the debate over real world value versus fantasy value when it comes to the quarterback and running back positions. If you did, here is a quick recap: in the real world, quarterbacks rule; in the world of fantasy football, the running back conquers all. Therefore, when it comes to your fantasy draft, be sure to target running backs early and often if you want the best chance at competing this season. Surely there are exceptions to this rule—think Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees—but they are few and far between. Also, remember that if your first and/or second round draft pick is considered injury prone, you should draft a fantasy handcuff.
A “handcuff” in fantasy football is generally the next player up on the depth chart in the event your fantasy superstar gets injured. A prime example of this was given to us last season. Many fantasy owners chose to draft Minnesota Vikings running back Toby Gerhart at the end of their draft as a fantasy handcuff for Adrian Peterson, who was coming off of an ACL tear.
As a general rule of thumb, it is always a good idea to do homework on the No. 2 running backs that sit behind every fantasy stud. This will minimize the chances of one injury derailing your entire fantasy season.
10. Lamar Miller MIA- Miller has the easiest fantasy schedule of any projected starting running back in fantasy football. He may sneak up on some owners this season, but the people of South Florida have known about this University of Miami product for years.
Blessed with great hands and a tremendous one-cut-and-go style of running, Miller has all of the qualities head coach Joe Philbin covets in a starting running back. Plus, his improved pass protection skills make him a potential three-down back.
2012 rushing stats- 250 yards 1 TD
2012 receiving stats- 45 yards 0 TD
9. Matt Forte CHI- Matt Forte is one of the most underappreciated running backs in all of fantasy football. He is a stellar receiver out of the backfield and provides Jay Cutler with outstanding protection. Forte is capable of running between the tackles and has the speed to bounce it outside as well. If first-round draft pick Kyle Long can bring some of his nastiness to an underachieving Bears’ offensive line, Forte could once again climb the fantasy football ladder and become a top-5 running back in every format.
2012 rushing stats- 1,094 yards 5 TD
2012 receiving stats- 340 yards 1 TD
8. Doug Martin TB- Martin impressed everyone as a rookie last season showcasing a tough between-the-tackles running and incredible burst out of the backfield. Dubbed the “Muscle Hamster” at Boise State, Martin has proven to be a well-rounded playmaker for a Bucs team that needed an offensive centerpiece.
2012 rushing stats- 1,454 yards 11 TD
2012 receiving stats- 472 yards 1 TD
7. Trent Richardson CLE- It didn’t take long for Richardson to prove why he was the No. 4 overall selection in the 2012 draft. Right out the gate he became a human highlight reel and the only reliable fantasy option for a perennially poor Cleveland Browns’ offense. As hokey as it may sound, Richardson truly appeared to be the next Jim Brown at times during his rookie season, leaving many fantasy owners salivating over his tremendous upside.
2012 rushing stats- 950 yards 11 TD
2012 receiving stats- 367 yards 1 TD
6. Chris Johnson TEN- CJ2K has yet to duplicate his breakout 2,000 yard campaign from a couple years ago. However, he has yet to come in under 1,000 rushing yards during his tenure in Tennessee. With the Titans remaking the interior of their offensive line, Johnson appears to have some extra pep in his step this preseason. Pro-Bowl OG Andy Levitre and first round draft pick Chance Warmack should help open some serious running lanes in 2013 for their expensive teammate.
2012 rushing stats- 1,243 yards 6 TD
2012 receiving stats- 232 yards 0 TD
5. Alfred Morris WAS- Who would have thought that Mike Shanahan would hit on ANOTHER late-round running back? Well, everyone should have. After all, he seems to do it every couple of years. Plus, with the read-option finding its way back to the NFL, it shouldn’t have come as any surprise that Alfred Morris was the second-leading rusher in the league last season for the Washington Redskins. With RGIII looking like the real-deal at quarterback, Morris has the potential to be successful for a long time.
2012 rushing stats- 1,613 yards 13 TD
2012 receiving stats- 77 yards 0 TD
4. Arian Foster HOU- This may seem like it is a bit low for the Texans All-Pro running back. Unfortunately, Foster has been banged up this preseason and has yet to play in any games. Though he claims to feel better than ever, it is possible that he could have some rust from his extended absence. Regardless, he remains a top-5 overall fantasy draft pick and a very good workhorse option heading into the 2013 fantasy year.
2012 rushing stats- 1,424 yards 15 TD
2012 receiving stats- 217 yards 2 TD
3. Jamaal Charles KC- With all the hype surrounding Adrian Peterson’s miraculous return from a torn ACL last season, Jamaal Charles and his own incredible feat went relatively unnoticed. Charles received the same disheartening prognosis prior to the 2012 season as Peterson, and just like Peterson, he outperformed all reasonable expectations for any normal human being.
Charles was the lone shining star for a Chiefs offense that just couldn’t put it together in 2012. His explosiveness remained following his nasty injury and he proved to himself and the league that he isn’t going anywhere any time soon. With the hiring of head coach Andy Reid from Philadelphia, Charles should remain the focal point of the Kansas City offense for 2013.
2012 rushing stats- 1,509 yards 5 TD
2012 receiving stats- 236 yards 1 TD
2. Marshawn Lynch SEA- The man they call “Beast Mode” has established himself as a truly elite fantasy running back in Seattle. Pete Carroll likes to establish the run game on offense in order to set the tone for the game. With Lynch, he has an incredibly physical runner capable of mauling defenders between the tackles for four quarters. Though his style of running doesn’t generally translate to a long-lasting career, Lynch is still in his prime with no signs of slowing down for the up-and-coming Seahawks.
2012 rushing stats- 1,590 yards 11 TD
2012 receiving stats- 196 yards 1 TD
1. Adrian Peterson MIN- The undisputed king of fantasy football is Adrian Peterson. He should be the No. 1 selection in every fantasy draft with his undeniable skillset. Peterson returned from a horrifying knee injury to lead the league in rushing last season coming up just shy of the NFL’s single-season rushing record. The NFL’s reigning MVP may very well be the greatest running back the league has ever seen, and he is only setting his sights higher in 2013.
2012 rushing stats- 2,097 yards 12 TD
2012 receiving stats- 217 yards 1 TD