Fantasy Football Running Back Keepers for 2014
Keepers are one of the toughest decisions an owner has to make throughout the fantasy football season. With the offseason approaching, it's great to get a headstart on some research. I've included some names of players that will be brought up thousands of times in keeper questions. I left out the easy decisions, such as Eddie Lacy in the 5th round (Keep), or Steven Jackson in the 2nd round (Don't keep), and instead chose players that may fall close to their ADP of last year. Some league rules allow keepers to be kept without draft pick compensation, but in this article I will discuss whether it is worth losing the pick of the round you drafted the player in.
Adrian Peterson - ADP Round 1
Adrian Peterson is still one of the most dominant running backs in the league, and certainly warrants first round draft status next year. However, many questions still remain with him. He is turning 30, has a weak offensive line and will have a new coaching staff. Even with all those questions, it’s almost impossible to bet against the Purple Jesus.
Keeper Grade: B
Doug Martin - ADP Round 1
Doug Martin was a popular early round pick this past year, however a lack of talent around him allowed teams to focus on stopping him. A shoulder injury also ended his season prematurely. Martin should be back at full strength next year, and the offense should be slightly improved as Mike Glennon takes another step forward. Lovie Smith should also provide Martin with a boost. However, there are a few downsides, as the offense is still a work in progress, Martin is coming off injury and Mike James proved to be more than an effective runner. While we probably won’t see a timeshare, there’s reason to believe that Martin has pretty high bust potential next year.
Keeper Grade: C
C.J. Spiller - ADP Round 1
There was so much hype surrounding C.J. Spiller in 2013 that many advocated taking him as the second overall player. Unfortunately for those folks, he failed to meet expectations for a variety of reasons. The high ankle sprain early in the year, the emergence of Fred Jackson, the lack of a passing game and a new system all contributed to Spiller's underwhelming 2013. CJ Spiller should come back healthy next year, and the offense can do nothing but improve. Fred Jackson is also likely to take less snaps. While all of this seems positive, it’s fair to wonder if Spiller can ever have a monster season again like he did in 2012. He doesn’t see a huge amount of touches, and he relies purely on game breaking plays like Chris Johnson. He has so much talent though, so taking a flyer on him is not the worst thing you can do.
Keeper Grade: C-
Marshawn Lynch - ADP Round 2
Lynch is the toughest runner in the NFL hands down. He would easily be a top 3 pick if age and injuries weren’t becoming a concern. He turns 28 next year, and most likely has at least one more season of classic beastmode left in the tank.
Keeper Grade: B+
Matt Forte - ADP Round 2
Forte was a favorite of many fantasy experts last year because of his potential in a Marc Trestman offense. He went on to have the best season of his career, setting career highs in every meaningful stat category. Forte is getting older, as he turns 29 next year, but he is one of the most complete running backs in the NFL and has no legitimate backup to steal carries from him next year. The passing attack is so explosive that no teams can focus directly on Forte. He is a good bet to have a repeat performance next year, and clearly has first round value.
Keeper Grade: A
Chris Johnson - ADP Round 2
I feel I should mention Chris Johnson because he finished the year strong. Johnson will most likely not be on Tennessee next year, and while he still has his game-breaking speed, his effort and talent just don’t seem to be there. He dances too much and seems to be afraid of contact.
Keeper Grade: F
Frank Gore - ADP Round 3
Frank Gore is 31 now, but he is still an effective runner. It’s a situation to monitor though because Marcus Lattimore will be debuting next year. Gore could drop off any year now and keeping him would be a risk.
Keeper Grade: C
DeMarco Murray - ADP Round 4
DeMarco Murray had a great year this past year, and should be a late first or early second round pick. While he can't seem to shed the injury prone label, he is the focal point of the Cowboys offense and will have a huge role next year. Lots of upside here.
Keeper Grade: B+
Montee Ball - ADP Round 6
If Knowshon Moreno leaves, Ball will be worth a second round pick. If Moreno stays, it will be a tossup as to how many carries Ball will get. If you have no better options, it may be a good idea to roll the dice and keep Ball.
Keeper Grade: A if Moreno leaves, C- if he stays
Other Fantasy Football Keepers for 2014
All of the following players are worth keeping given their value. If a player is undrafted, the last pick in your draft is most likely forfeited which means the player is nearly free.
Andre Brown - 13
Danny Woodhead - 15
Knowshon Moreno - Undrafted
Joique Bell - Undrafted
Zac Stacy - Undrafted
Toby Gerhart - Undrafted
Andre Ellington - Undrafted
Having keeper trouble? Leave a comment, hit up our chat room, or tweet at me @rotoballer_evan.
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