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Fantasy Football 2014: Top Picks, Sleepers and Overall Rankings of Best RBs

CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 10:  Matt Forte #22 of the Chicago Bears runs against the Detroit Lions at Soldier Field on November 10, 2013 in Chicago, Illinois. The Lions defeated the Bears 21-19.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
Rob GoldbergFeatured Columnist IVJanuary 1, 2017

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.

Fantasy Football RB Rankings
Pos.NameTeam
1Adrian PetersonMinnesota Vikings
2LeSean McCoyPhiladelphia Eagles
3Jamaal CharlesKansas City Chiefs
4Matt ForteChicago Bears
5Eddie LacyGreen Bay Packers
6Marshawn LynchSeattle Seahawks
7Montee BallDenver Broncos
8DeMarco MurrayDallas Cowboys
9Alfred MorrisWashington Redskins
10Arian FosterHouston Texans
11Giovani BernardCincinnati Bengals
12Doug MartinTampa Bay Buccaneers
13Reggie BushDetroit Lions
14Ben TateCleveland Browns
15Andre EllingtonArizona Cardinals
16Le'Veon BellPittsburgh Steelers
17Zac StacySt. Louis Rams
18C.J. SpillerBuffalo Bills
19Frank GoreSan Francisco 49ers
20Rashad JenningsNew York Giants
21Steven JacksonAtlanta Falcons
22Ryan MathewsSan Diego Chargers
23Ray RiceBaltimore Ravens
24Trent RichardsonIndianapolis Colts
25Toby GerhartJacksonville Jaguars
26Joique BellDetroit Lions
27Stevan RidleyNew England Patriots
28Chris JohnsonNew York Jets
29Pierre ThomasNew Orleans Saints
30Shane VereenNew England Patriots
31Bishop SankeyTennessee Titans
32Knowshon MorenoMiami Dolphins
33Maurice Jones-DrewOakland Raiders
34Fred JacksonBuffalo Bills
35LeGarrette BlountPittsburgh Steelers
36Danny WoodheadSan Diego Chargers
37Shonn GreeneTennessee Titans
38Darren McFaddenOakland Raiders
39Darren SprolesPhiladelphia Eagles
40Chris IvoryNew York Jets
41Lamar MillerMiami Dolphins
42DeAngelo WilliamsCarolina Panthers
43Ahmad BradshawIndianapolis Colts
44Khiry RobinsonNew Orleans Saints
45Terrance WestCleveland Browns
46Carlos HydeSan Francisco 49ers
47Bernard PierceBaltimore Ravens
48Knile DavisKansas City Chiefs
49Andre WilliamsNew York Giants
50Mark IngramNew Orleans Saints

 

Top Picks

Adrian Peterson, Minnesota Vikings

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - DECEMBER 1:  Adrian Peterson #28 of the Minnesota Vikings carries the ball for ten thousand career rushing yards against Chris Conte #47 of the Chicago Bears on December 1, 2013 at Mall of America Field at the Hubert Humphrey Metrodome i
Adam Bettcher/Getty Images

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

Aug 21, 2014; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Eagles running back LeSean McCoy (25) runs with the ball during the first quarter of a game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
USA TODAY Sports

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

KANSAS CITY, MO - DECEMBER 22:  Running back Jamaal Charles #25 of the Kansas City Chiefs carries the ball across the goal line for a touchdwon during the game against the Indianapolis Colts at Arrowhead Stadium on December 22, 2013 in Kansas City, Missou
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

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:

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.

 

Sleepers

LeGarrette Blount, Pittsburgh Steelers

Aug 21, 2014; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers running back LeGarrette Blount (27) during warm ups before a game against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
USA TODAY Sports

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:

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

Ben Margot/Associated Press

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.

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