2014 Fantasy Football: Running Back-by-Committee Situations to Monitor

Daniel StackContributor IIAugust 15, 2014

2014 Fantasy Football: Running Back-by-Committee Situations to Monitor

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    Tre Mason, RB, St. Louis Rams
    Tre Mason, RB, St. Louis RamsDilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

    When it comes to fantasy football, the lifeblood of a team is usually based on its running back composition. They are the cornerstones to successful teams.

    Running backs who receive the bulk of the carries for their team (think Adrian Peterson, Jamaal Charles, LeSean McCoy, Matt Forte and so on) are so coveted that you grab them and never look back.

    However, not every team has an uncontested lead back. In fact, most teams employ a running back-by-committee approach.

    That term, also known by the acronym RBBC, sends shivers down the spines of fantasy players. However, we have to deal with it nevertheless. Eventually, many teams may lean toward one back, while others hold steady and continue using a rotating door of backs to get the job done.

    Several teams are facing a dilemma at the moment, with a number of backs they can turn to. With fantasy football drafts quickly approaching, here are five such teams (listed alphabetically) to closely monitor this preseason. 

Atlanta Falcons (Steven Jackson and Devonta Freeman)

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    Devonta Freeman, RB, Atlanta Falcons
    Devonta Freeman, RB, Atlanta FalconsDavid J. Phillip/Associated Press

    Steven Jackson is 31 years old and has 2,553 total carries in his career. Rookie running back Devonta Freeman is a legitimate candidate to take carries away from the veteran sooner or later.

    Together, they offer a nice balance of power and speed, and both should warrant roles in the Atlanta Falcons offense.

    Jackson will not go quietly in this battle. His experience should not be easily dismissed. He is an extremely strong runner between the tackles and can still be a beast at the goal line.

    Freeman offers great burst, quickness and the ability to catch passes out of the backfield, making him an excellent complement to Jackson. Freeman is a trendy sleeper and must-have handcuff for Jackson.

Cleveland Browns (Ben Tate and Terrance West)

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    Ben Tate, RB, Cleveland Browns
    Ben Tate, RB, Cleveland BrownsJason Miller/Getty Images

    The Cleveland Browns have an interesting situation at running back, with both Ben Tate (free agent) and Terrance West (rookie) new to the team. There is no loyalty to discuss here.

    Whichever player performs best in camp will likely get the job. However, with the Browns signing Tate to a two-year, $6.2 million deal in the offseason, he may have the leg up.

    Tate obviously also has more experience, having backed up Arian Foster for three years in Houston. With that being said, West is the guy to grab here as he has youth, fresh legs and explosiveness on his side.

    With the quarterback play in Cleveland a major question mark and the receivers they have not at all tantalizing, the Browns will run the ball a lot this year and both backs should be used enough to keep both valuable in fantasy circles. West simply has the more upside of the two. 

San Francisco 49ers (Frank Gore and Carlos Hyde)

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    Carlos Hyde, RB, San Francisco 49ers
    Carlos Hyde, RB, San Francisco 49ersRob Carr/Getty Images

    The battle between Frank Gore and Carlos Hyde is your classic “old guard” vs. “new guard” competition.

    While Gore won't be completely phased out, he will likely see his touches restricted. The 49ers spent a second-round pick on Hyde and will want to keep Gore fresh for another likely deep playoff run.

    Hyde is the future back in San Francisco. This team will want to see what he's got soon.

    Therefore, while you shouldn't ignore Gore on draft day, Hyde offers more value at the spot he'll be selected—Gore being selected as the No. 48 pick and Hyde as the No. 131 pick, according to the ADP results at Fantasy Pros.

    Gore may get more carries early on, but look for the 49ers to implement Hyde more as the season develops. 

St. Louis Rams (Zac Stacy and Tre Mason)

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    Zac Stacy, RB, St. Louis Rams
    Zac Stacy, RB, St. Louis RamsScott Kane/Associated Press

    You don't usually see two very young high-end backs on the same team, but that's what the St. Louis Rams have in second-year back Zac Stacy and rookie Tre Mason.

    Stacy has already shown us he can produce after rushing for 973 yards and scoring seven touchdowns last season. As a result, it was somewhat surprising that the Rams would spend a third-round pick on Mason, who has a wealth of talent and promise in his own right.

    While Stacy is the alpha dog here and should get the bulk of the carries, it's hard to see the Rams letting Mason rot on the bench. Maybe a 70-30 or 65-35 split in favor of Stacy is what is in store for St. Louis this year. 

Tennessee Titans (Shonn Greene and Bishop Sankey)

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    Bishop Sankey, RB, Tennessee Titans
    Bishop Sankey, RB, Tennessee TitansWade Payne/Associated Press

    The Tennessee Titans are faced with another rookie (Bishop Sankey) vs. veteran (Shonn Greene) battle.

    Heck, even pass-catcher extraordinaire Dexter McCluster is in the mix for touches, too.

    While Titans head coach Ken Whisenhunt placed Greene atop the running back depth chart, it was in name only, per John Glennon of The Tennessean.

    Sankey is currently considered the guy to beat. The Titans used a second-round pick on the player, and they will want to see a return on their investment and give him every opportunity to stand out.

    With Chris Johnson now with the New York Jets, the Titans will want to see some youth and explosiveness from their primary running back. That's just what Sankey provides.

    Greene will get carries too. He may even take some goal-line carries away from Sankey. Nevertheless, the rookie has the talent to run away with the job.

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