2013 Fantasy Football: Evaluating the 3rd Tier of Running Backs

Garrett BakerSenior Analyst IAugust 21, 2013

CHICAGO, IL - SEPTEMBER 09: Matt Forte #22 of the Chicago Bears breaks away from Vontae Davis #23 of the Indianapolis Colts during their 2012 NFL season opener at Soldier Field on September 9, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

I have already looked at the first and second tiers of running backs in fantasy football for 2013, so it's time to delve even further into the rankings and discuss the third tier.

Those two top tiers consisted of 10 total players, and this next tier has five more backs who are all talented players but just have one or two issues that keep them out of the top 10.

They are listed in the order of my personal preference, but by definition, players in the same tier are all very similar.


Matt Forte

Matt Forte has dealt with some inconsistencies over his five-year NFL career, but there is reason to believe that Forte will break out in a big way in 2013. 

With new head coach Marc Trestman at the helm, there should be a lot of opportunities to do what Forte does best: catch the ball out of the backfield.

The biggest knock against Forte is his lack of touchdowns. But if the Chicago Bears offense in general can take a step forward and Forte stays healthy, there's no reason to think he won't gain 1,700 total yards. 


Stevan Ridley

Almost the exact opposite of Forte is Stevan Ridley, who does not catch the ball much and racks up the rushing touchdowns.

There is some inherent risk in a guy who relies a lot on touchdowns, but the New England Patriots run the ball a lot in the red zone, so Ridley should continue getting opportunities.

Heading into his third season in an offense depleted of weapons, there is a lot of optimism about Ridley and his potential for an expanded role after breaking out in 2012.


Steven Jackson

Drafting 30-year-old running backs is usually a no-no, especially in the first couple of rounds, but Steven Jackson is a beast who should buck that trend.

Jackson was stuck in St. Louis' dreadful offense for nearly a decade yet still managed to rush for at least 1,000 yards for the past eight seasons in a row. 

Moving to Atlanta's high-octane offense, which made slow-footed Michael Turner look elite at times, should only mean good things for Jackson.


Maurice Jones-Drew

I think the fact that Maurice-Jones Drew is this low really speaks to the depth at the top of the running back class this year.

He certainly has some risk coming off the dreaded Lisfranc injury he sustained last year. However, all signs have been positive this summer, and MJD is a tough guy who is heading into a contract year.

He's just a year-and-a-half removed from being the NFL's leading rusher, and the Jacksonville Jaguars will rely heavily on him to both run and catch the ball and help move the chains.


Chris Johnson

For as disappointing as Chris Johnson was last year, he still finished as a top-15 running back, which speaks to his ability to make big plays.

CJ2K has an improved offensive line to run behind this year, although the rest of the offense is still a big question mark with Jake Locker at quarterback and the unreliable Kenny Britt out wide.

I think Johnson will still be that maddening boom-or-bust play on a weekly basis, but his floor should be a little higher than it was last year.