While the NFL continues to change, running backs remain the most important position in fantasy football.
With fewer do-it-all running backs, it is vital to grab one when you have the chance. After that, make sure you can get anyone capable of putting points on the board because they run out quickly, especially in bigger fantasy football leagues.
Of course, you have to make sure to grab the right players set for a big year. Here is a complete look at which running backs to select in which order, followed by a breakdown of the top picks and sleepers to target in your drafts.
|1||Adrian Peterson||Minnesota Vikings|
|2||LeSean McCoy||Philadelphia Eagles|
|3||Jamaal Charles||Kansas City Chiefs|
|4||Matt Forte||Chicago Bears|
|5||Eddie Lacy||Green Bay Packers|
|6||Marshawn Lynch||Seattle Seahawks|
|7||Montee Ball||Denver Broncos|
|8||DeMarco Murray||Dallas Cowboys|
|9||Alfred Morris||Washington Redskins|
|10||Arian Foster||Houston Texans|
|11||Giovani Bernard||Cincinnati Bengals|
|12||Doug Martin||Tampa Bay Buccaneers|
|13||Reggie Bush||Detroit Lions|
|14||Ben Tate||Cleveland Browns|
|15||Andre Ellington||Arizona Cardinals|
|16||Le'Veon Bell||Pittsburgh Steelers|
|17||Zac Stacy||St. Louis Rams|
|18||C.J. Spiller||Buffalo Bills|
|19||Frank Gore||San Francisco 49ers|
|20||Rashad Jennings||New York Giants|
|21||Steven Jackson||Atlanta Falcons|
|22||Ryan Mathews||San Diego Chargers|
|23||Ray Rice||Baltimore Ravens|
|24||Trent Richardson||Indianapolis Colts|
|25||Toby Gerhart||Jacksonville Jaguars|
|26||Joique Bell||Detroit Lions|
|27||Stevan Ridley||New England Patriots|
|28||Chris Johnson||New York Jets|
|29||Pierre Thomas||New Orleans Saints|
|30||Shane Vereen||New England Patriots|
|31||Bishop Sankey||Tennessee Titans|
|32||Knowshon Moreno||Miami Dolphins|
|33||Maurice Jones-Drew||Oakland Raiders|
|34||Fred Jackson||Buffalo Bills|
|35||LeGarrette Blount||Pittsburgh Steelers|
|36||Danny Woodhead||San Diego Chargers|
|37||Shonn Greene||Tennessee Titans|
|38||Darren McFadden||Oakland Raiders|
|39||Darren Sproles||Philadelphia Eagles|
|40||Chris Ivory||New York Jets|
|41||Lamar Miller||Miami Dolphins|
|42||DeAngelo Williams||Carolina Panthers|
|43||Ahmad Bradshaw||Indianapolis Colts|
|44||Khiry Robinson||New Orleans Saints|
|45||Terrance West||Cleveland Browns|
|46||Carlos Hyde||San Francisco 49ers|
|47||Bernard Pierce||Baltimore Ravens|
|48||Knile Davis||Kansas City Chiefs|
|49||Andre Williams||New York Giants|
|50||Mark Ingram||New Orleans Saints|
Adrian Peterson, Minnesota Vikings
There might be some debate over who should be the top pick in the draft, but when selecting No. 1 overall, you want someone you can trust to succeed. No one has been more consistent over the course of his career than Adrian Peterson.
Even with missing two games last season, the Vikings running back finished with 1,266 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns. While this was a big drop from his 2,000-yard season in 2012, it was the seventh year in a row he reached double-digit touchdowns.
Most importantly, he is on an offense that will need him to succeed. The team has added some receiving talent over the past couple of years, but with questions at quarterback, this will remain a run-heavy attack with Peterson being the only legitimate option in town.
As long as he is healthy, he should get close to 25 touches every single game. There are few other players in the league that can get this type of work, and Peterson still has the talent to make it count.
LeSean McCoy, Philadelphia Eagles
A year after leading the NFL with 1,607 rushing yards, no one is doubting what LeSean McCoy can do.
Of all the positive things people have said about him in recent years, though, center Jason Kelce might have provided the biggest praise, via Gary Mihoces of USA Today:
Shady is a special back. He's fun to block for because at any time he can turn something into a big play. He has that type of ability — almost like a Barry Sanders-esque type player — where even when the blocking assignment is not going so well ... he can make something happen.
His talent placed in Chip Kelly's offense makes him arguably the most dangerous player in the NFL.
The only concern is that Darren Sproles will take away some of his receiving duties, but McCoy should still have a big year.
Jamaal Charles, Kansas City Chiefs
While Jamaal Charles led all running backs in fantasy points last season, it is hard to trust him to post another big year. First, his 19 touchdowns are difficult to repeat, especially the seven through the air.
However, the biggest problem is the weaker offensive line. After losing Branden Albert and Jon Asamoah in free agency, tackle Donald Stephenson was suspended for use of performance-enhancing drugs, according to Adam Teicher of ESPN.com. Brad Evans of Yahoo Sports breaks down how this will affect Charles:
KC tackle Donald Stephenson suspended for 4 games. That Chiefs O-line looking hideous. Forte, McCoy, AP becoming safer picks.— Brad Evans (@YahooNoise) August 22, 2014
Of course, the Kansas City running back is still one of the more talented players in the league and is always a threat to make a big play in space. Head coach Andy Reid will also make sure he remains a big part of the passing game, which will help overcome a weaker offensive line.
This will keep him as one of the top players in fantasy football, but he is not as strong of a pick as the top two on the board.
LeGarrette Blount, Pittsburgh Steelers
Recent news concerning LeGarrette Blount has not been positive, with he and fellow Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell arrested for possession of marijuana. However, Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette notes it usually takes a long time for suspensions to come:
Bell, Blount suspensions, if any, will not come soon, if at all this season. http://t.co/hpTjbeMhH9— Ed Bouchette (@EdBouchette) August 21, 2014
Bouchette also explains that similar situations have seen just a one-game suspension that only comes in the following season. Therefore, you can assume both running backs will be able to play at least most of this season without problems.
This allows us to focus on the field, where Blount has actually been the more impressive of the two in the preseason. Most importantly, Bell even admitted that Blount is more likely to get the goal-line carries, according to Dave Richard of CBS Sports.
Blount had a great end to last season with the New England Patriots, totaling eight touchdowns in a three-game stretch from Week 16 to the divisional round of the playoffs.
If you are looking to select a Steelers running back, you will get a lot more value from Blount in the final few rounds than Bell in the first few.
Andre Williams, New York Giants
Rookies Bishop Sankey and Terrance West continue to move up draft boards, losing their values as sleepers. However, people continue to wait on Andre Williams, which will only help out those who eventually take him.
The Boston College product rushed for over 2,000 yards last season, so the talent is clearly there for him to succeed. Now he will get an opportunity thanks to the David Wilson's injury and subsequent retirement.
Rashad Jennings is first on the depth chart—and is also great value based on current projections—but head coach Tom Coughlin loves to utilize two running backs in his offense. He is especially fond of downhill runners who know how to pick up the extra yard.
Williams has looked good in the preseason and has the opportunity to be a quality contributor early in his career.
Ahmad Bradshaw, Indianapolis Colts
If he can stay healthy, Ahmad Bradshaw will show that you do not need to be a young up-and-coming player to become a "sleeper."
Trent Richardson will be the No. 1 option in Indianapolis, but he has been a major disappointment since coming over in a trade with the Cleveland Browns. In 14 games, he totaled just 458 rushing yards at an average of 2.9 yards per carry.
He has not been any better this preseason, giving the Colts little faith in a bounce-back season.
On the other hand, Bradshaw managed just two yards on three carries in his only preseason game, but this was his first live action in almost a year. The fact remains the team needs him and his experienced play in the backfield to provide some balance to the already solid passing game.
As someone who will be available in the final rounds in most drafts, this is a smart, low-risk pick.
Have fantasy football questions now or during the season? Ask Rob Goldberg on Twitter.