RankingsMay 27, 2013

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Dynasty Tier Breakdown: Running Backs

By Stever

Welcome to the second installment of Dynasty Tier Breakdown. Last time, we looked at quarterbacks. Now, let’s shift our focus over to running backs. These rankings are intended for 0.5 PPR dynasty leagues.

Tier 1

1. Trent Richardson, CLE
2. Doug Martin, TB
3. Adrian Peterson, MIN
4. Ray Rice, BAL
5. Arian Foster, HOU
6. Jamaal Charles, KC
7. C.J. Spiller, BUF
8. LeSean McCoy, PHI

Trent Richardson, 21, has a bright future ahead of him, especially with Norv Turner as the new Browns offensive coordinator. Turner coached both Emmitt Smith and LaDainian Tomlinson, and he prefers to have one workhorse running back. Richardson should fill the role nicely, with the hope that his injuries are behind him. Doug Martin had a phenomenal rookie campaign with 319 carries for 1,454 yards and 49 receptions for 472 yards. He should continue to grow with the young Tampa Bay team. After last season, it’s clear that Adrian Peterson is the best running back in the National Football League. His only downside is he is 28 years old, but he has a great chance to finish as the the number one back in fantasy football for the next two seasons. With the emergence of Bernard Pierce, Ray Rice could see a decrease in his workload; however, he should continue to put up top-five numbers. Arian Foster had another impressive campaign last season, and he should continue to get around 300 touches. With Andy Reid in Kansas City, expect an increase in receptions for the explosive Jamaal Charles. C.J. Spiller will be the workhorse running back in Buffalo under the Bills new run-friendly coach, Doug Marrone. LeSean McCoy will be the main running back in Chip Kelly’s fast paced offense.

Tier 2

9. Marshawn Lynch, SEA
10. Alfred Morris, WAS
11. Maurice Jones-Drew, JAX
12. Darren McFadden, OAK
13. David Wilson, NYG
14. Demarco Murray, DAL
15. Matt Forte, CHI

Seattle running back Marshawn Lynch has compiled 1,452 rushing attempts over his six-year career, which is a bit of a concern. His contract ends in two years, but he will put up top-10 numbers for the time being. Possibly the biggest surprise at running back last year was Alfred Morris, who rushed for 1,610 yards in his rookie campaign. If he can repeat his rookie year this season, he will move up to tier one. Maurice Jones-Drew only missed three games in his career before missing ten last year. Hopefully Jones-Drew will have at least two more seasons as a RB1. Injury-prone Darren McFadden struggled in the 12 games that he played. He should have a bounce back year, but expect him to miss at least a few games due to injury. David Wilson has the opportunity to take over as the lead back in New York. He will have to fix his fumbling problems if he wants to be the workhorse though. Demarco Murray has not been able to stay healthy, but when he is, he can put up top-ten numbers. Matt Forte, 27, will continue to put up RB2 numbers; he does not have upside for too much more.

Tier 3

16. Chris Johnson, TEN
17. Lamar Miller, MIA
18. Le’Veon Bell, PIT
19. Stevan Ridley, NE
20. Darren Sproles, NO
21. Giovani Bernard, CIN
22. Montee Ball, DEN
23. Reggie Bush, DET

Despite the Titans’ off-season signing of Shonn Greene, Chris Johnson should continue to get close to 300 carries. There is plenty of hype surrounding Lamar Miller, who only saw 51 carries in his rookie year. If he does get a full load, he has high-end RB2 upside. The Steelers elected to draft Michigan State running back Le’Veon Bell this year. Todd Haley could make Bell a 300-carry back as a rookie. Stevan Ridley went over 1,000 yards in his second year in the league, but Shane Vereen could cut into his workload this season. Saints running back Darren Sproles will continue to act as a receiver coming out of the backfield. He can put up top-15 numbers for at least two more seasons. Giovani Bernard looks like he will share carries with BenJarvus Green-Ellis, which limits his short-term upside. Fellow rookie Montee Ball could be the starter in Denver this season. There are concerns about his high workload in college, but he should have a productive NFL career. The Lions added Reggie Bush over the off-season. In the Lion’s up-tempo offense, Bush will get plenty of receptions out of the backfield.

Tier 4

24. Steven Jackson, ATL
25. Ryan Mathews, SD
26. Christopher Ivory, NYJ
27. Eddie Lacy, GB
28. Frank Gore, SF
29. Jonathan Stewart, CAR

The Falcons signed Steven Jackson, making him a great short-term option in dynasty. So far, Ryan Mathews has been not impressive over his first three seasons. He will have to perform well this year in order to stay as the Chargers lead back. The Jets traded for Chris Ivory this off-season. Ivory had an impressive average of 5.4 yards per carry in six games last year and an average of 5.1 yards per carry in his career. Eddie Lacy’s upside is capped due to fellow rookie Jonathan Franklin. It is a situation to keep an eye on. Frank Gore will only have, at most, two more seasons as a featured back for the 49ers. The Panthers restructured DeAngelo Williams’ contract, which puts a dent in Jonathan Stewart’s fantasy value.

Tier 5

30. Mark Ingram, NO
31. Andre Brown, NYG
32. Zac Stacy, STL
33. Marcus Lattimore, SF
34. Ben Tate, HOU
35. Bernard Pierce, BAL
36. Vick Ballard, IND
37. Rashard Mendenhall, ARI
38. Mikel LeShoure, DET
39. Shane Vereen, NE
40. Jonathan Franklin, GB

With Sean Payton back as the Saints’ head coach, and Ivory gone to the Jets, this year could be a breakout year for Mark Ingram. Andre Brown may end up seeing over 100 carries in New York if Wilson struggles, but expect Brown to be penciled in as the goal-line back. The Rams drafted Zac Stacy with the 160th pick; he will compete for the starting job. Marcus Lattimore is the ultimate boom-or-bust pick, but he could not have landed in a better situation. After this season, Ben Tate will be a free agent. He is a good buy in dynasty leagues right now. Bernard Pierce may cut into Rice’s workload, but unless Rice gets injured, his upside is capped. The Colts may lean on Vick Ballard as their featured back, but he is not their long-term answer. Rashard Mendenhall signed a one-year deal with the Cardinals. He will struggle behind their weak offensive line this season. Mikel LeShoure will be a short-yardage running back with Reggie Bush now in Detroit. Without Danny Woodhead around, Shane Vereen should steep up and be a solid bye-week fill-in with upside.

Tier 6

41. Christine Michael, SEA
42. Robert Turbin, SEA
43. Bryce Brown, PHI
44. Daryl Richardson, STL
45. Ahmad Bradshaw, FA
46. Isaiah Pead, STL
47. Ronnie Hillman, DEN
48. Mike Gillislee, MIA
49. BenJarvus Green-Ellis, CIN
50. Andre Ellington, ARI

The Seahawks selected Christine Michael in the second round. He will have the opportunity to take over from Lynch in two years. Robert Turbin has the same opportunity, but he is not as good as a runner. Bryce Brown filled in for LeSean McCoy nicely last season, but right now, it does not seem like he will have a large role anytime soon. Daryl Richardson will compete for the Rams starting job along with Isaiah Pead. I expect Zac Stacy to come out on top of the competition. Ahmad Bradshaw has yet to find a team. He should be signed later in the off-season. Ronnie Hillman struggled in pass protection, but if he improves, he could be a good bye-week fill-in. Mike Gillislee is a possible sleeper if Lamar Miller proves he can not carry the load. With Bernard, BenJarvus Green-Ellis has little-to-no upside. Andre Ellington is an intriguing rookie in Arizona. Mendenhall singed only a one-year deal and Ryan Williams was ineffective last season. Keep an eye on him.

Stever is one of a growing number of fantasy experts who write for the Cafe. You can catch up with Stever in the Cafe's forums where he posts under the name of 11stever11
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