2013 Fantasy Football Running Back Rankings by Tier: The Elite

Ryan LesterSenior Writer IJuly 29, 2013

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - DECEMBER 30: Adrian Peterson #28 of the Minnesota Vikings scores a touchdown against the Green Bay Packers on December 30, 2012 at Mall of America Field at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Vikings defeated the Packers 37-34. (Photo by Andy Clayton King/Getty Images)
Andy King/Getty Images

Gone are the days of running backs ruling the fantasy football universe, but there are several running backs who separate themselves from the pack. Coming away with one of these backs in a fantasy football draft should position any fantasy owner for a successful season.

Jamaal Charles, Kansas City Chiefs

Lost in Peterson’s incredible season was Jamaal Charles’ similarly impressive return from his own knee injury. The Chiefs went away from Charles at times, but he still managed to produce 1,745 total yards.

With Andy Reid on board, don’t expect Charles to be overlooked. He should be particularly active catching the ball out of the backfield. Another season removed from injury, Charles should be even more explosive in 2013.

Arian Foster, Houston Texans

Foster has averaged 1,900 total yards and 15.7 touchdowns over the past three seasons. That level of success is ridiculous. He has, however, averaged 371 touches over the past three years. Ben Tate is a capable backup and the Texans have legitimate Super Bowl aspirations.

It would not be surprising to see Tate, who had 76 touches last year, to eat into Foster’s workload so the starter is fresh for the playoffs. That still shouldn’t keep Foster from being one of the top two fantasy running backs in the land.

Marshawn Lynch, Seattle Seahawks

Lynch has averaged 1,601 total yards and 12.5 touchdowns over the past two seasons. He had at least 85 yards rushing in 14 of 16 games last year. Lynch is as steady as they come as he has scored a touchdown in 20 of his last 28 games. He should be one of the first running backs off the board.

Doug Martin, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Martin put together an unbelievable rookie season, compiling 1,926 total yards and 12 total touchdowns. He had 98 or more total yards in 10 of his last 12 games and he scored 11 touchdowns in his final 11 games. Martin also caught 49 passes on the year. With his strength and low center of gravity, he’s a difficult tackle and he has the speed and burst to score anytime he touches the ball.

Alfred Morris, Washington Redskins

Morris is coming off a 1,690 total yard, 13 touchdown season, but he does have the stigma of playing for Mike Shanahan. He does know a good thing when he sees it though. Shanahan did not hesitate to give Terrell Davis or Clinton Portis the ball. Morris had 85 total yards and/or a touchdown in 14 of 16 games. He could be more productive in the passing game, but that’s only a minor concern given his productivity.

Adrian Peterson, Minnesota Vikings

Peterson shook off a torn knee like it was a common cold en route to 2,314 total yards and 13 touchdowns. He has scored double-digit touchdowns every year. All Day is the perfect combination of power and speed. Weeks 7-15 he averaged 164 rushing yards and slightly over a touchdown.

Ray Rice, Baltimore Ravens

Rice produced 1,621 total yards and 10 touchdowns last year. He has averaged 1876 total yards and 9.8 touchdowns over the past four seasons. He’s particularly valuable in PPR league as he has averaged 69.5 receptions during that span. Bernard Pierce will cut into his touches, but that shouldn’t keep Rice from having another big year.

Trent Richardson, Cleveland Browns

Richardson had 1,317 total yards and 12 touchdowns despite dealing with knee, rib and ankle injuries. Norv Turner will not hesitate to give him the ball, which should lead to increased production.

The key will be for Richardson to stay healthy. Richardson had more bad games than the other backs on this list. He’s earned a spot on this last based on his season potential.

C.J. Spiller, Buffalo Bills

Spiller truly is a threat to take the ball to the house anytime he gets his hands on it. He averaged a ridiculous 6.0 yards per carry en route to 1,703 total yards on 250 touches. He has only reached 20 carries three times in his career, so we don’t know how he’ll hold up to a heavy workload. The other concern is the mere 16 career touchdowns.

Click here to see the second tierthird tier and fourth tier of fantasy football running backs.

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