Here is a revised and expanded look at the 2014 Lester’s Legends running back rankings:
1. Adrian Peterson, Minnesota Vikings
A down year for Adrian Peterson consisted of 1,437 total yards and 11 touchdowns. I’ll take that kind of production all day (pun intended).
New offensive coordinator Norv Turner has had a great history of success with running backs of a similar ilk (Emmitt Smith and LaDainian Tomlinson). Look for big things from A.D next season.
2. Jamaal Charles, Kansas City Chiefs
Andy Reid knew how to get the very best of LeSean McCoy when he coached him in Philadelphia, which made him a perfect fit to coach Jamaal Charles once he arrived in Kansas City. Charles combined for 1,980 total yards and 19 touchdowns last season.
Another stellar season should be in store for this electric back. Charles could easily be the first overall pick in any draft, especially in points-per-reception (PPR) leagues.
3. LeSean McCoy, Philadelphia Eagles
LeSean McCoy finished with 2,146 total yards and 11 touchdowns in 2013. He was a perfect fit for Chip Kelly’s up-tempo offense and put the concussion concerns to bed en route to earning the league’s rushing title. McCoy could also be the first overall pick, particularly in PPR leagues.
4. Matt Forte, Chicago Bears
Matt Forte has a lot in common with Charles and McCoy. All are dual-threat backs who thrived under a new coach in 2013. Forte finished with 1,933 total yards and 12 touchdowns under the vision of Marc Trestman. He should continue to put up impressive numbers.
5. Eddie Lacy, Green Bay Packers
Eddie Lacy put any weight issues to bed by rolling for 1,178 yards and 11 touchdowns in 2013, even as Aaron Rodgers was limited to nine games. Lacy added 257 receiving yards as well, proving that he’s not one-dimensional. As long as there isn’t a sophomore slump, Lacy should be a strong RB1 in 2014.
6. Marshawn Lynch, Seattle Seahawks
Marshawn Lynch showed everybody that he’s “’bout that action, boss,” as Beast Mode compiled 1,573 total yards and 14 touchdowns during the 2013 regular season. He then averaged 96 yards per game while scoring four touchdowns during the Seattle Seahawks’ Super Bowl run. He’s a power back. Use him accordingly.
7. Montee Ball, Denver Broncos
Ball averaged 4.7 yards per carry as he ran for 558 yards and four touchdowns as a rookie. He caught 20 passes for another 145 yards. Now that he’s the feature back, look for him to shine as defenses key in on Peyton Manning and the passing game.
8. DeMarco Murray, Dallas Cowboys
DeMarco Murray was limited to 14 games last season, but he finished with 1,474 total yards and 10 touchdowns. His talent and explosiveness cannot be questioned; durability is another issue. If he can stay healthy big numbers should follow.
9. Zac Stacy, St. Louis Rams
Zac Stacy, at 5’8″ and 224 pounds, is a wrecking ball. Over his final 12 games as a rookie, he averaged 92.5 total yards and 0.7 touchdowns. He comes with some risk, but he also brings plenty of reward potential.
10. Le’veon Bell, Pittsburgh Steelers
Le’veon Bell was limited to 13 games as a rookie last year, but he still managed to accumulate 1,259 total yards (96.8 yards per game) and eight touchdowns. He’s a big back at 6′1″ and 244 pounds with soft hands (45 receptions) making him a solid RB1 option.
11. Giovani Bernard, Cincinnati Bengals
Bernard combined for 1,209 total yards and eight touchdowns on 226 touches as a rookie. Look for more touches in his sophomore year.
12. Arian Foster, Houston Texans
Foster was limited to eight games last year, but averaged 1,896.3 total yards and 15.7 touchdowns the previous three seasons. Foster, who is dealing with a hamstring issue, is a bit of a risk, but he has a lot of potential.
13. C.J. Spiller, Buffalo Bills
Spiller did not get fed the ball until he puked last year, which led to a disappointing season. Injuries played a role. Still, Spiller has a 5.1 career yards-per-carry average and has averaged 34.8 receptions per season. He remains explosive. If he can stay durable, Spiller has the potential to be a steal in fantasy drafts.
14. Alfred Morris, Washington Redskins
Morris has averaged 1,442.5 yards and 10 touchdowns in his two years in the league. The Redskins will likely be more pass-oriented under Jay Gruden, but Morris still figures to be the bell cow. He doesn’t offer much in the passing game, but remains a high-end RB2.
15. Doug Martin, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Doug Martin was limited to six games in 2013, which netted him 522 total yards and one touchdown. Tampa Bay was dysfunctional at the time of his season-ending injury. The Bucs made strides throughout the year, and Bobby Rainey and Mike James had some solid moments as replacements. Newly hired head coach Lovie Smith will want a run-first offense, which bodes well for Martin. He should also be very active in the passing game, a la Matt Forte.
16. Andre Ellington, Arizona Cardinals
Ellington averaged 5.5 yards per carry while compiling 1,023 yards on just 157 touches. He scored just four touchdowns last year, but figures to be more involved in the offense this year, which will lead to greater production and more scoring opportunities.
17. Ryan Mathews, San Diego Chargers
Mathews had a surprising season with 1,444 total yards and seven scores. More importantly, he stayed healthy and had 311 touches. As long as his body can hold up and fumbling doesn’t become an issue, Mathews will be a rock-solid RB2.
18. Rashad Jennings, New York Giants
Jennings was brilliant at times for the Raiders, averaging 116.5 total yards in Weeks 9-15. He will lose some goal-line work to Andre Williams but still figures to be highly active for the G-Men.
19. Bishop Sankey, Tennessee Titans
Sankey averaged 1,931 total yards and 18.5 touchdowns the past two seasons at the University of Washington. He stands the best chance of all rookies to make an immediate impact. He should have no problem holding off Shonn Greene. Plus, Sankey should be active in the passing game.
20. Toby Gerhart, Jacksonville Jaguars
Gerhart has not had a lot of opportunities running behind Adrian Peterson, but when given the chance he has succeeded. In the nine games where he received double-digit carries, Toby has 697 yards on 148 carries (4.7 ypc, 77.4 ypg). He can catch the ball out of the backfield and should get the goal-line looks.
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