Authors Note (8/18): Initial Projections have been modified, include Bernard Pierce, and have been expanded to Top 45. Please check back as they are subject to change again.
Drafting Running Backs with your first two picks used to be an industry standard, but with the emergence of the passing game it is quickly becoming old habit. Wide Receivers and Tight Ends have risen in average draft positioning, however it is still the ground game that can make or break your season. Keep in mind when doing my projections I assume healthy seasons for all players, and round up what I think their ceiling can be for this season. This is done across the board so it does not affect their ranking on my list. Guys you should have on your radar, good and bad, include…
..:: Three Up ::..
Bilal Powell, New York Jets
I myself am a Jet fan and former season ticket holder, but as optimistic as I can be I still worry about the offense. That being said, there still needs to be a rushing attack and while many are high on Chris Ivory, I believe it is Powell who will emerge. Ivory has a durability concern which will provide you nothing if he is injured again. Powell won’t put up huge rushing totals, but his receiving numbers put him as my 26th rated running back. With an ADP of 170 he gives you 5th round value for pennies on the dollar. Taking him in the 10-12th rounds will make you happy.
Ahmad Bradshaw, Indianapolis Colts
The Colts offense, led by Andrew Luck, will continue to get better week after week. A lot of that will have to do with having a true RB1 for the quarterback to lean on. Bradshaw has proven he can shoulder the load, and his ability as a receiver will make him one of Luck’s favorite targets. He will flirt with being a Top 10 running back all season and is currently viewed as a mid 7th round pick. He will be a steal in the 4th round.
Frank Gore, San Francisco 49’ers
With an ADP of 39 Gore is not a huge sleeper, but he will continue to hover around the Top 10 running back mark. That makes him undervalued for where he is being drafted, which will allow you to cash in on what other owners missed. No longer an exciting pick but extremely reliable and consistent, Gore also adds to his value by his number of receptions. Some questions regarding the health of the 49’ers receiving corps will make him a steady option in the passing game. First round value with a mid 4th round price tag works for me.
..:: Three Down ::..
LeSean McCoy, Philadelphia Eagles
McCoy will be on the fringe of the Top 15 running backs which is awesome to have, but not for where you will need to draft him. He is currently going in the first round (9.8 ADP) which is way too high to reach for production you can get much later. I don’t see McCoy as anything higher than a third round pick, thus landing him as my number one Bust amongst running backs.
DeMarco Murray, Dallas Cowboys
When people think of Murray, many view him based on his rookie season in 2010. That season he finished with a 5.5 yards per carry average which elevated his rushing totals. Last year, with roughly the same number of carries his average dropped to 4.1 ypc. I do believe this year he will be on the field more which will result in more carries, yet last years average is more indicative of his abilities. The allure of his rookie season has him being drafted at the end of the third round, but there are too many concerns for me to gamble with him as one of my starters.
Lamar Miller, Miami Dolphins
As a fan of the U since I started watching college football in the late 80’s, it pains me to put the former Hurricane on this list. I do think he will approach 1,000 yards and be a viable fantasy option as the Dolphins lead back. Because he is being placed on a lot of Sleeper lists, his stock has elevated to an ADP of 38.2 which puts him out of my reach at the start of the 4th round. However, if he should drop to you in the 6th round, do not hesitate to scoop him up.
The Peoplez Perspective 2013 Fantasy Football Running Back Projections:
* Updated Sunday, August 18, 2013
(Rankings based on PPR, 1 point per 10 yards rushing/receiving, 6 points per TD)