Typically, the first handful of spots in your draft go to the running back position. This year is no exception…
As you prepare to make your picks, here are my Top 40 running backs and where I recommend you take them in your upcoming draft.
1. Marshawn Lynch, SEA
2014: 1,306 rush yards, 367 receiving, 37 receptions, 17 TDs
Marshawn is why the Seahawks offense works. He also just got paid some more, so he’s motivated to ball out.
Pick 1st Overall
2. Jamaal Charles, KC
2014: 1,033 rush yards, 291 receiving, 40 catches, 14 TDs
Probably the best when healthy, but that hasn’t been a consistent quality of his as of late. Worth the gamble if he’s available. Always finds the end zone.
Pick Early 1st round
3. Le’Veon Bell, PIT
2014: 1,361 rush yards, 854 receiving, 83 catches, 11 TDs
Best running back in the league but out for the first 2 games due to suspension. Worth picking if you can because he’ll be huge for down the stretch, both rushing and receiving.
Pick Early 1st Round
4. Matt Forte, CHI
2014: 1,038 rush yards, 808 receiving, 102 catches, 10 TDs
Won’t catch nearly as many passes, but the Bears are going to run the ball a lot this season and he is still one of the best. Cutler will use him in play-action and he’ll set up wide at times too.
Pick: Has Early 1st Round value but seems to be falling to late 1st, early 2nd
5. Adrian Peterson, MIN
2014: Spent most of it suspended
Another year older, AP’s still one of the best in the game and will be the focal point to the Vikings offense. Also fresh after not playing, but you don’t know if another legal issue will come up. Not likely, but the red flag is there now.
Pick Middle 1st Round
6. Eddie Lacy, GB
2014: 1,139 rush yards, 427 receiving, 42 catches, 13 TDs
Lacy is solid, but started slow with the Packers offense last season. Packers also depend way more on passing which keeps the ball out of his hands more than you’d like. Might be relied upon more with Nelson.
Pick Middle-Late 1st Round
7. DeMarco Murray, PHI
2014: 1,845 rush yards, 416 receiving, 57 catches, 13 TDs
Murray was the league’s leading rusher last year and should get a lot of touches with the Eagles because their quarterbacks are so bad.
Pick: Late 1st, early 2nd
8. Jeremy Hill, CIN
2014: 1,124 rush yards, 215 receiving, 27 catches, 9 TDs
Hill will have a big increase in workload this season and has Giovani Bernard to complement him. Expecting more handoffs to him as the Bengals try to get Andy Dalton right again.
Pick: 2nd Round
9. LeSean McCoy, BUF
2014: 1,319 rush yards, 155 receiving, 28 catches, 5 TDs
McCoy is expected to be ready for Week 1. He’ll get a lot of carries but is in a crowded backfield with Fred Jackson and Boobie Dixon. Health is also going to be an issue for him with so many carries in his career already.
Pick: 2nd round
10. Arian Foster, HOU
2014: 1,246 rush yards, 327 receiving, 38 catches, 13 touchdowns
As of now, there is no timetable for Foster’s return from groin injury. He is someone who should be available on waivers, but will definitely help you late in the season…best case scenario.
Pick up on waivers and stash him on IR if need be.
11. CJ Anderson, DEN
2014: 849 rush yards, 324 receiving, 34 catches, 10 TD (all second half of season)
Anderson is the lead candidate for Denver’s #1 running back spot and Manning loves him. New head coach Gary Kubiak’s zone-run scheme is why Foster and Forsett produced so well the last few seasons.
Pick Late 2nd Round
12. Justin Forsett, BAL
2014: 1,266 rush yards, 263 receiving, 44 catches, 8 TDs
Forsett is the #1 guy in Baltimore and should benefit from a lack in WR depth for Flacco. His receiving numbers will get a boost too with Marc Trestman running the offense
Pick: 3rd Round
13. Frank Gore, IND
2014: 1,105 rush yards, 111 receiving, 11 catches, 5 TDs
Gore could be huge in the Colts high power offense. With defenses worrying more about Luck throwing deep on them, less attention will be paid to Gore and that means serious gashing.
Pick: 3rd Round
14. Alfred Morris, WAS
2014: 1,074 rush yards, 155 receiving, 17 catches, 8 TD
Morris hardly ever catches the ball but he is important to the Washington offense as nobody has any faith in RG3. Solid health-wise as well.
Pick 3rd or 4th Round
15. Mark Ingram, NO
2014: 964 rush yards, 145 receiving, 29 catches, 9 TD
Ingram is very good but he is usually getting injured. Should get a lot of red zone opportunities but also will split passing situations with CJ Spiller.
Pick: 4th Round
16. Melvin Gordon, SD
2014: Hesiman Trophy Candidate
I don’t normally like drafting rookies high in Fantasy, but Gordon is the clear starter for the Chargers ahead of Branden Oliver and Danny Woodhead. Starting RBs tend to do well in Mike McCoy’s offense.
Pick: 4th – 5th Round
17. Latavius Murray, OAK
2014: 424 rush yards, 143 receiving, 2 TD, 429 returning
Latavius showed he is fast and can score from anywhere on the field, but also hasn’t proven he can stay healthy yet.
Pick: 4th, 5th round
18. Andre Ellington, AZ
2014: 660 rush yards, 395 receiving, 46 catches, 5 TDs
Ellington can score a lot of points but he can’t stay on the field. He has already had some hamstring troubles in camp.
Pick 5th Round
19. Lamar Miller, MIA
2014: 1,099 rush yards, 275 receiving, 38 catches, 9 TDs
Lamar goes into the season as the #1 guy in Miami and proved how solid he can be with Tannehill running a read option offense. Stays healthy too.
Pick: 5th round
20. Jonathan Stewart, CAR
2014: 809 rush yards, 181 receiving, 25 catches, 4 TDs
Stewart is a strong option when healthy. This the first time he won’t be splitting carries with DeAngelo Williams and doesn’t have anyone else to challenge him on the depth chart. Expect the workload to be heavier too with Benjamin out.
Pick: 5th round
21. LeGarrette Blount, NE
2014: 547 rush yards, 54 receiving, 10 catches, 5 TDs
It’s really tough to trust New England RBs because Belichick will just go with whoever he likes most that day. Blount turned out to be the hot hand after Patriots picked him up late last season but will miss Week 1 due to suspension. Could be solid 3rd RB.
Pick: 6th Round
22. Todd Gurley, STL
Gurley can be the best athlete in all of football but he was injured last season for Georgia and he’s likely going to miss all of the preseason because of an ACL injury. Hard to feel confident about drafting him, but the potential is too high to pass up.
Pick: 6th Round
23. TJ Yeldon, JAX
Doesn’t have as high an upside as Gurley, but Yeldon has the best shot at being the feature back in Jacksonville. If converted QB/WR Denard Robinson could break out like he did last season, Yeldon should do well as a full-time back.
Pick 7th Round
24. Joseph Randle, DAL
2014: 343 rush yards, 23 receiving, 4 catches, 3 TDs
Randle is first in line for feature back duties behind the best OL in football. He leads Darren McFadden and Lance Dunbar who are also fighting for carries. Randle also has a shoplifting problem, but can be helpful as a backup on your roster with high upside.
Pick 7th Round
25. Carlos Hyde, SF
2014: 333 rush yards, 68 receiving, 12 catches, 268 return yards, 4 TDs
San Francisco is an absolute mess and is probably the worst team in the NFL. They also don’t have a set depth chart yet and Hyde is splitting carries with Reggie Bush. He didn’t really do much last season to get anyone excited about this year but he’s one of the last possible #1 RBs left, while expected to get most of the workload.
Pick 7th Round or later
26. CJ Spiller, NO
2014: 300 rush yards, 125 receiving, 19 catches, 306, 2 TDs
Spiller is in a better place than Buffalo. He will be used on 3rd down and will be a better version of Pierre Thomas if Ingram gets hurt. Also gets return points but has his own health issues. He’s currently coming back from arthroscopic knee surgery.
Pick 8th Round
27. Rashad Jennings, NYG
2014: 639 rush yards, 226 receiving, 30 catches, 4 TDs
Jennings and Shane Vereen are both playing with the first team. If healthy, Jennings is a solid RB2 or Flex player.
Pick 8th Round
28. Isaiah Cowell, CLE
2014: 607 rush yards, 87 receiving, 9 catches, 8 TDs
Cowell is Cleveland’s best option at RB with Terrence West not far behind and Duke Johnson coming off a hamstring injury. With a choice between Johnny Manziel and Josh McCown at quarterback, Cleveland will want to run the ball a lot.
Pick 8th round
29. Ameer Abdullah, DET
Abdullah is getting a lot of praise in camp, but is also in the mix with Joique Bell and Theo Riddick. He’s probably the most talented of the 3, but Stafford just called the Lions backfield a “running back by committee” situation. We’ll see who the hot hand is come Week 1.
Pick: 8th round
30. Chris Ivory, NYJ
2014: 821 rush yards, 123 receiving, 18 catches, 7 TDs
Ivory is a poor man’s Marshawn Lynch with his downhill running style and will be depended on for the bulk of the workload with Steven Ridley still rehabbing an ACL injury.
Pick 8th Round
31. Tevin Coleman, ATL
Coleman has been neck-and-neck with Devonta Freeman for feature back touches for the Falcons. Coleman is the more complete back though with pass catching and return capabilities. With the two sidelined and set to return from injury this week, I like Coleman’s chances better with them on even ground.
Pick 9th Round
32. DeVonta Freeman, ATL
2014: 248 rush yards, 225 receiving, 30 catches, 2 TDs
Freeman had the best shot at starting for the Falcons until he joined Tevin Coleman on the sidelines with a hamstring injury. Has a year of experience under his belt, but Coleman is expected to be a full-package back when he catches up.
Pick 9th or 10th
33. Joique Bell, DET
2014: 860 rush yards, 322 receiving, 34 catches, 8 TDs
Bell is coming off an injury in camp but is still the most accomplished in the Lions backfield.
Pick 9th Round
34. Giovani Bernard, CIN
2014: 680 rush yards, 349 receiving, 7 TDs
Gio is expected to be part of a 1-2 punch with Hill. He’ll get 3rd down and passing play reps for sure. Depending on Hill’s durability as a full-time starter, Gio can get some of his workload back.
Pick 10th Round
35. Tre Mason, STL
2014: 765 rush yards, 148 receiving, 16 catches, 5 TDs
Depending on Gurley’s health, Mason could be a boom or bust with a late pick. He’s as talented as anyone when given a shot and good insurance if Gurley misses time.
Pick 10th round
36. Doug Martin, TB
2014: 494 rush yards, 64 receiving, 13 catches, 2 TD
I don’t trust Tampa RBs. They don’t stay healthy, they turn the ball over, and they always seem like regular waiver wire pickups (and drops). Martin is only ranked here because he’s slated as their lead back, but he’s only disappointed people since his rookie year.
Pick 11th Round
37. Shane Vereen, NYG
2014: 391 rush yards, 447 receiving, 52 catches, 5 TD
The Giants still aren’t very good on defense which forces their offense to pass more. Vereen is one of the better pass catching RBs and that’s exactly why they brought him in.
Pick 11th Round or higher
38. Darren McFadden, DAL
2014: 534 rush yards, 212 receiving, 36 catches, 2 TD
If he can get on the field and fully healthy, he could be a late sleeper behind the Dallas OL. McFadden’s getting toward the end of his career so you shouldn’t bank on that.
Pick 12th or higher
39. Fred Jackson, BUF
2014: 524 rush yards, 501 receiving, 65 catches, 3 TD
F-Jax has been the Bills version of Dirty Harry for the last few seasons. At this current time, he is the only healthy back out of McCoy, Dixon, Bryce Brown, and Karlos Williams. Although McCoy is expected to be ready Week 1, Jackson would make a strong start in a run-heavy system.
Pick 12th Round or later
40. Reggie Bush, SF
2014: 297 rush yards, 253 receiving, 40 catches, 2 TD
As I mentioned before, SF is an absolute mess. On top of that, Reggie is now playing in one of the best defensive divisions in football. If they’re forced to play catch-up with that horrible defense, Reggie should get the ball more than Hyde.
Pick 12th Round or higher