Running backs who produce consistently high points totals in fantasy football are critical to winning your league.
Owners without them are doomed to cellar-dweller status.
Looking ahead to the 2013 NFL season, there are a few top-ranked running backs who should be carefully considered before investing a high pick to acquire them.
These men put together phenomenal seasons for themselves and their fantasy owners last year, but they will not produce at the same level in 2013.
Here are the top 25 fantasy football running backs for the 2013 season, according to ESPN.com:
|1||Adrian Peterson||Minnesota Vikings|
|2||Arian Foster||Houston Texans|
|3||Marshawn Lynch||Seattle Seahawks|
|4||Ray Rice||Baltimore Ravens|
|5||Doug Martin||Tampa Bay Buccaneers|
|6||Jamaal Charles||Kansas City Chiefs|
|7||C.J. Spiller||Buffalo Bills|
|8||Trent Richardson||Cleveland Browns|
|9||Alfred Morris||Washington Redskins|
|10||LeSean McCoy||Philadelphia Eagles|
|11||Steven Jackson||Atlanta Falcons|
|12||Matt Forte||Chicago Bears|
|13||Steven Ridley||New England Patriots|
|14||Frank Gore||San Francisco 49ers|
|15||Chris Johnson||Tennessee Titans|
|16||Maurice Jones-Drew||Jacksonville Jaguars|
|17||David Wilson||New York Giants|
|18||Darren McFadden||Oakland Raiders|
|19||Montee Ball||Denver Broncos|
|20||Darren Sproles||New Orleans Saints|
|21||Demarco Murray||Dallas Cowboys|
|22||Chris Ivory||New York Jets|
|23||Reggie Bush||Detroit Lions|
|24||Ryan Mathews||San Diego Chargers|
|25||Eddie Lacy||Green Bay Packers|
Looking at this list, there are a few players near the top who have been stalwarts as high-producing fantasy running backs. Unfortunately, these running backs won't give fantasy owners the kind of production they expect in the 2013 season.
Arian Foster, Houston Texans
It's hard to believe that Foster is entering just his fifth season as a pro. The Texans have used him like a beast of burden and don't seem to care that he is wearing down in a bad way.
This guy has carried the ball an incredible 956 times in the past three years, and his yards-per-carry average has dropped every season. Furthermore, Foster's reception totals have fallen in each of his last three seasons.
Even now, before the season has begun, Foster is dealing with a nagging calf injury, as reported by Ross Jones of FoxSports.com, and it isn't a sure thing he'll be ready for training camp.
Foster will still be a solid fantasy back this year if he can stay healthy. But given the way his numbers have consistently fallen the past three years, owners would be wise to think about grabbing him too early.
Steven Jackson, Atlanta Falcons
Jackson was brought in to Atlanta to replace Michael Turner, whose production and explosiveness dipped dramatically in 2012.
While Jackson appears to fit in well with Atlanta's offensive scheme, it would be foolish to assume that he's suddenly going to revert back to the form that saw him score 16 total touchdowns and log over 2,300 all-purpose yards in 2006.
A powerful runner between the tackles, Jackson will certainly help Atlanta in short-yardage and goal-line situations. That said, Atlanta is a pass-happy team, first and foremost.
Which veteran running back will slow down the most in 2013?
Jackson won't be toting the rock 20 to 25 times per game, and he won't be producing double-digit touchdown totals. In fact, Jackson has only averaged 5.17 touchdowns per season since his monster campaign in 2006.
Don't target Jackson early. He'll be a nice No. 2 running back, but owners expecting him to produce huge numbers will be sorely disappointed.
Frank Gore, San Francisco 49ers
Gore is still the No. 1 running back on San Francisco's depth chart, but fantasy football owners would be wise to realize that the 49ers will feature a running-back-by-committee approach this upcoming season.
Perhaps no team in the league features as many excellent running backs as the 49ers.
Kendall Hunter is coming off an Achilles injury but expects to be ready for the start of training camp, according to the Associated Press (via ESPN.com). He and LaMichael James are both explosive running backs with the ability to break off huge gains on any given play.
General manager Trent Baalke has accumulated these backs with a purpose in mind, according to Matt Maiocco of CSN Bay Area:
I'm a big believer—we are big believers—in a three-headed approach. In other words, having a group of backs that bring to the table something a little bit different than the other one so you can do a lot of different things. But also having those backs be able to do enough things the same so you don't become so predictable on game day.
With Colin Kaepernick's ability to gash opposing defenses with his legs, you can expect James and Hunter to see plenty of action in the read-option game. Furthermore, Gore's attempts will likely be carefully monitored as the team attempts to keep him healthy for the long haul.
Like Jackson, Gore is a player owners should be wary of targeting too early. He'll still be a productive player, but you shouldn't expect him to log double-digit touchdown totals in 2013.
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