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2013 Fantasy Football Preseason Rankings: Running Back (RB)

This article is a continuation of RotoBaller’s 2013 fantasy football rankings.  Today we’ll be taking a look around the NFL at running backs (RB), and give you our fantasy rankings and analysis.  

If you like this article, check out the rest of our fantasy football analysis: rankingssleepersrunning backswide receivers,  quarterbacks and of course our live fantasy football chat, the best football chatroom on the internwebs.  RotoBaller will be releasing more fantasy football content daily to help you prepare for the 2013 NFL Fantasy Football season so stay tuned!


Running Back Rankings – 2013 Fantasy Football

RB1: Runaway MVP Candidate

  1. Adrian Peterson - The year after an ACL tear is usually when players get back to pedestrian form. The year after the year after is usually when they return to their previous peak. See Jamaal Lewis in 2003, Tom Brady in 2010 and Wes Welker in 2011. What on earth is Peterson going to do for an encore to last year’s masterpiece?


RB1: Rock Solid

  1. Arian Foster - His yards per attempt has dipped in each of the last three years, as has his use in the passing game. Still, he’s such a dependable goal line runner that he warrants this spot.

  2. Marshawn Lynch - Since coming to Seattle, Lynch has given owners two straight seasons of top-5 production at his position. He’s also matchup-proof, twice running for more than 100 yards against the vaunted 49ers defense.

  3. Doug Martin - Martin’s upside is probably higher than anyone in this tier, or at least right there with Arian Foster, but unlike the guys ahead of him, he’s never done it for multiple seasons in a row. He’ll get his chance to prove his year-to-year consistency this season.

  4. Ray Rice - He didn’t win you many games last year, but he rarely lost you them either. He’s also been a modicum of consistency the last 4 seasons. Despite Bernard Pierce there to vulture carries, Rice will still be the focal point of the Ravens’ offense.


RB1: High Upside, Slight Risk

  1. CJ Spiller - He’s knocking on the door of superstardom, but he’s got to prove it first. Last year he had explosive games on few touches early in the season, but as Fred Jackson went down, so did Spiller’s efficiency. His new coach Doug Marrone wants to feed him the ball “until he pukes,” but can Spiller handle that workload at less than 200 lbs.?

  2. Jamaal Charles - He’s very similar to Spiller in terms of skillset, and more importantly, has a longer resume. He’s also playing in an offense that has proven success in the NFL, unlike Spiller. Charles is ranked below Spiller here because of a sprained foot suffered recently in the preseason.

  3. LeSean McCoy - Although not the burner the previous two backs are, McCoy is likewise used in the passing game to great effect. Look for McCoy to bounce back somewhere between last year’s disappointment and 2011’s breakout 20-TD campaign.

  4. Trent Richardson - Not only does Richardson have the physical tools to be an All-Pro, but he’s also got a supporting cast on the upswing. He just needs to improve upon his dreadful 3.6 YPC average from last year, as well as avoid nagging injuries that have caused him to miss practice time over the last two seasons.


RB2: Unsexy, But Dependable

  1. Frank Gore - Gore once had a reputation as injury-prone, but since Jim Harbaugh’s arrival, he has played in every game over the last two seasons. He has also had two top-12 finishes, producing nearly identical rushing stats (1200+ yds and 8 TDs). Despite Gore’s numbers falling a bit with Kaepernick at the helm, this remains a run-first offense.

  2. Steven Jackson - He’s finished in the top 16 in the league every year for the last 9. He’ll finally have a passing game that opposing defenses fear. Age and injuries limit his upside.

  3. Alfred Morris - He was an absolute revelation last year, rushing for 1600 yards and 13 TDs. He’s higher on other lists than here because it was only one year. He also doesn’t catch passes very often.

  4. Stevan Ridley - He’s the most reliable touchdown producer from here on out, and with rumors the Patriots could shift their offense to a ground attack, the hard-charging Ridley could benefit. Ball security issues dampen expectations.

  5. Matt Forte - He’s a consistent mid-range RB2 over the last 2 seasons, and is one of the best at picking up yards from scrimmage. Unfortunately he doesn’t put the ball in the end zone with the regularity needed to move into a higher tier.


RB2: Good Upside, Notable Risk

  1. Chris Johnson - He can take a ball to the house at any time. Over the course of a season, that will average out to a dependable 1500 yds and 5 TDs. Unfortunately, if he doesn’t break off long runs, he will lose you games. Usually you can’t predict when that will happen.

  2. Reggie Bush - Previously, Jahvid Best had the ability to take over games as the pass-catching back in this Lions offense. Bush has the talent and the scheme to be able to do that.

  3. DeMarco Murray - Murray can be a complete back in the NFL, on a very good offense. Foot injuries, however, are scary for RBs, and he’s recovering from one.

  4. Maurice Jones-Drew - Like Murray, MJD is recovering from a foot injury too. While his resume is better than Murray’s, his supporting cast decidedly isn’t.

  5. Darren Sproles - Since coming to New Orleans, Sproles have averaged over 75 yards from scrimmage per game, prorating to 1200 yards a season, plus nearly double-digit TDs when kick returns are included. He’ll never be the focal point of this offense, but he can help your team win games.

  6. David Wilson - He produced well last year when given the chance, but he might not quite have the trust of his coach yet.  He was supposed to be splitting time with Andre Brown, but that all changed with the recent injury to Brown.  Wilson should see increased work in goal line and third down situations, and it's still unclear who his backup will be, and what role they will play.  Wilson gets a bump up in our rankings, with his big time upside.


RB3: Could Produce, But Can’t Trust

  1. Lamar Miller - With only 51 career attempts, ranking Miller higher than this requires a lot of faith, especially for an offensive line with question marks.

  2. Daryl Richardson - He has to win the starting job first, but signs point to that happening. If it does, he’ll garner the lion's share of carries on an offense on the upswing.

  3. Darren McFadden - He’s never played 16 games in his career, and outside of his monster 2010 season, he hasn’t even finished in the top 25 once.

  4. Ahmad Bradshaw - He’ll be in line to get a over 200 attempts in the new Indy offense, but Bradshaw has battled foot problems in the recent past.

  5. Eddie Lacy - With the recent season-ending injury to DuJuan Harris, the coaches confirmed Lacy will have a bigger role in the offense.  Lacy gets a bump up in our rankings with the increase workload, his upside and playing on a great offense.
  6. Ryan Mathews - Mathews had more broken clavicles last year than rushing touchdowns. It’s a make or break year for him.

  7. Le’Veon Bell - Bell is the highest rookie on the board, but as previously detailed on, there are question marks surrounding his workload last year, and Big Ten pedigree, and the Steelers’ running game in general.

    Update: Bell unfortunately came down with a right foot injury, and is expected to miss up to six weeks with a small ligament tear. He should be downgraded in fantasy football drafts to a mid-to-late round pick, but still has the upside to contribute when healthy this year.

  8. Chris Ivory - Ivory has averaged over 5 yards per carry in his NFL career, albeit on limited touches. Despite that, he was deemed expendable and shipped off to one of the worst offenses in the NFL. He also has never proved he can be the bell-cow for a full season.


RB4: Muddy Situations, With Glimmer of Hope

  1. TBD, Andre Brown - Platoon, Brown injured

    Update: Andre Brown unfortunately injured his left leg and is expected to miss at least 4-6 weeks with a small fracture. He should be downgraded in fantasy football drafts, to a late round stash at best. Brown still has the upside to contribute when healthy this year, but will be out for a while and can more realistically be left for the waiver wire in shallower leagues. Until Brown is ready, Michael Cox, Ryan Torrain or Da'Rel Scott will compete for the backup role behind David Wilson, and may have the potential to hold similar fantasy value as Brown if given similar opportunity. We're thinking that rookie Michael Cox, a 6 foot, 220 lb bruiser, with average speed but great agility, can win this competition and carve out a role as the Giants' number 2 running back.

  2. Giovani Bernard - Lightning

  3. Montee Ball - Backup

  4. Law Firm - Plodder

  5. Ronnie Hillman - Small

  6. Shane Vereen - Injuries

  7. Vick Ballard - Platoon

  8. DeAngelo Williams - Killa’ Cam

  9. Rashard Mendenhall - KYS

  10. Isaac Redman - Stop gap, committee


RB5: Need To Be Rostered

  1. Bernard Pierce

  2. Bryce Brown

  3. Ben Tate

  4. Mark Ingram

  5. Shonn Greene

  6. Mikel Leshoure

  7. Danny Woodhead

  8. Johnathan Franklin

  9. Pierre Thomas

  10. Jacquizz Rodgers

  11. Michael Bush



By popular demand, has now launched the fantasy football chatroom! Get involved with some real-time NFL talk, ask your fantasy football questions, read other discussions, or feel free to chime in and reply back with your own 2 cents. Remember you can ask the RotoBaller staff any questions, and we’ll reply back to you as quickly as possible.  Make a call to the RotoBaller chatroom and get some live advice.


Check out all of RotoBaller's fantasy football rankings. Staff rankings are updated regularly for all positions and include standard formats, PPR scoring, tiered rankings and dynasty leagues.

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