Sure the NFL is a passing league, but the heart and soul of many fantasy football teams remains in the backfield.
Running backs are always key to any fantasy championship, whether the league is a point per reception or standard scoring league.
However, the top running backs seem to be in flux year to year. There are your consistent fantasy studs, to be sure, but each year sees a newcomer sneak into the fantasy top five.
One of the upstarts for this year is Trent Richardson.
Yes, Richardson was banged up last season, but he only missed the very last game of the season. In other words, it didn't hurt the vast majority of you because the vast majority of fantasy leagues are done by Week 17.
On a team with more than it's fair share of offensive issues, Richardson almost topped 1,000 yards and scored 11 times, which tied him for fifth among running backs with Marshawn Lynch and fellow rookie Doug Martin.
He's been banged up a bit this offseason, but I expect Richardson to be ready to go in Week 1, and follow up his 2012 with a fantastic 2013.
Some guys who just missed the top five:
Speaking of Lynch, I don't see him slowing down, but I do see the offense going more away from him than in previous years. Russell Wilson will pass more since he not only has Sidney Rice, but Percy Harvin to throw to. Lynch may also see a few of his carries stolen by the backs behind him, but the continuing growth of the pass game is really what will keep him out of the top five, though only by a hair.
I love Morris, but the offense makes me nervous. Can Washington build around the group of receivers they have? Aside from Pierre Garcon, is there anyone to build around? Morris is a demon to take down, so heavily focused run defenses don't worry me. He's still a top 10 back, it's just a question of how many touchdowns he can produce if the offense struggles (last year's 13 was impressive).
Charles looks like a guy ready for a huge year, but we've seen new head coach Andy Reid ignore the run game before. We always think that whichever head coach is running the Chiefs can't possibly ignore Charles, and yet they frequently have. I'm cautiously optimistic about Charles and have him in my top 10, but don't trust the Chiefs and Reid enough to put him in the top five.
Andrew Garda is a member of the Pro Football Writers Association. He is also a member of the fantasy football staff at Footballguys.com and the NFL writer at CheeseheadTV.com. You can follow him at @andrew_garda on Twitter.
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