2014 Fantasy Running Back Rankings

Can you trade Doug Martin in your league?

Every draft season, this is one of the most popular pages on my site. The 2014 Fantasy Running Back rankings shouldn’t be any different, as most people believe that running backs are the lifeblood of any championship squad.

Sure, you’ll hear arguments that in this day and age, with the NFL leaning more and more to stronger passing games, that you need to have two elite wide receivers leading your squad. Or you might even be convinced to take one of the top quarterbacks, like Peyton Manning, Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers, with one of your early picks.

But realize that everyone else will be snatching up running backs like they’re the last parachutes on a plane headed for a Fantasy Football mountainside. By Round 3, at least 20 running backs are expected to be off the board. If you can live with scrambling to find good running backs among the forgotten players that 11 other teams deemed not worthy of being in the top 20.

Remembering 2013

Last season, we saw Jamaal Charles take to Andy Reid’s offense like a fat guy to a recliner. Charles was the top running back and should end up as the top pick in your drafts, as the only 300-point Fantasy scorer among running backs. However, it’s not quite a consensus pick at this stage in the midsummer.

However, we also saw a handful of disappointments last season from first-rounders like C.J. Spiller and Ray Rice. They’re dropping back a round or two this season, as Fantasy owners show they’re leery of them in 2014. Yet, they’re not so leery to allow them to fall into the middle rounds.

Arian Foster is coming back from back surgery, and Doug Martin’s shoulder should be fine for this season. Unfortunately, Martin’s offensive line is a shell of its former self, and he has an entirely new offense to learn.

Young Runs

If you recall, the 2013 NFL Draft didn’t have a running back drafted in the first round for the first time since the ‘60s. Yet, we saw stud running backs like Eddie Lacy, Zac Stacy and Le’Veon Bell chew up some ground. All three find themselves in the top 20 for 2014 as sophomores, and we still have Giovani Bernard and Montee Ball to enjoy this season. Looking back, the Class of 2013 was pretty good after all. And that’s all without Marcus Lattimore (knee) who was supposed to be the best of that group!

For the 2014 NFL Draft, we’re hearing the same discussion – this class of running backs wasn’t good enough to get invited to the first-round party. As a matter of fact, Bishop Sankey looks like the only rookie to have a shot at a starting job right out of training camp.

New Jerseys in New Locations

Arian Foster, 2014 Fantasy Running Back Rankings

Texans RB Arian Foster is coming back from back surgery, but he’s still an early round pick. Photo Credit AJ Guel

Once again, we’ve seen a nice round of running back musical chairs, as some players leave one city to fill a hole left by another running back, that’s filling another hole. Rashad Jennings (Giants) and Chris Johnson (Jets) both find themselves literally in new jerseys in New Jersey.

Maurice Jones-Drew heads out to Oakland to share carries with Darren McFadden, and Knowshon Moreno leaves Denver to play in Miami. Finally, there are a couple backups that turned into starting running backs in Ben Tate (Cleveland) and Toby Gerhart (Jacksonville). We’ll see if they can excel in their new starting roles – or if they are just backup RBs for life.

2014 Fantasy Running Back Rankings

Remember that we always do our rankings using standard scoring, non-PPR, in 12-team leagues, with 6 points for a rushing/receiving touchdown and minus-2 for turnovers. Note: I talk a little more about specific running back rankings this season over at FantasySports.About.com.

2014 Rankings: QB | RB | WR | TE | K | DST | Top 60 via 3 Expert Mock Drafts
Top 300 Rankings

Fantasy Football Rankings powered by FantasyPros

Got any sleepers, breakouts or busts from these 2014 Fantasy running backs rankings you’d like to share? Let’s hear it!

David Gonos spent 5 years as a CBSSports.com Senior Fantasy Writer and three more years writing with SI.com. Over the past 17 years, his work has been published on NFL.com, MLB.com, FanDuel, FoxSports.com and USA Today. Since 2001, he has been tracking down the Top 50-plus Free Fantasy Football Draft Tools online. You can contact David Gonos here.



  1. Lenny Pappano

    June 30, 2014 at 4:35 pm

    David, nice take. Quick question: Why not so much love for Montee Ball?!

    • Gonos

      July 5, 2014 at 2:13 pm

      Lenny! I just saw this comment, sorry about that. I’m just not a huge believer in taking a rookie that high, or taking someone as unproven as Ball. People are drafting him in the first round right now, and I need more security from my pick there — even if it’s a guy on a worse offense that might end up sharing carries (Le’Veon Bell). With that said, I should move him above Bush, I think.

      Convince me (and our readers) why I’m a great big dope! (Very easy to do.)

      • Lenny Pappano

        July 5, 2014 at 7:06 pm

        David — nobody is a dope (or a genius) until January! 🙂

        Here are some thoughts on Ball (from a DS player profile):

        Knowshon Moreno emerged from the Broncos backfield to finish as a top-5 fantasy RB in 2013.

        But it easily could have been Ball.

        The 5’10, 215-pounder entered the NFL last year coming off an impressive college career. His 1,923 rushing yards led the nation in 2011. So did his 33 TDs. Ball hardly took a step back in 2012, finishing with 1,830 yards and 22 scores. Both marks ranked among the top-6 in the country. He was awarded the 2012 Doak Walker Award as the nation’s top RB.

        Ball’s efforts landed him in the 2nd round of last year’s draft. The physical rusher looked poised for a starting role on an offense piloted by Peyton Manning.

        Then, the preseason hit. Ball managed just 80 yards on 25 exhibition carries (3.2 yards per attempt). And most troubling, he struggled in pass protection. Ball blew an assignment in the 2nd preseason game that led to Manning taking a huge shot.

        That image undoubtedly left an impression on the coaching staff. Ball had a legitimate excuse, but it wasn’t going to save his playing time.

        “My problem is I’m coming from Wisconsin, a power school, and I had 900 carries in four years. Whenever I was out on the field, I was getting the ball a majority of the time,” Ball concluded.

        Moreno’s ability to pass block earned him nearly 19 touches per outing during the 2013 season.

        It took Ball half a season before settling into Denver’s offense.

        The rookie’s first 8 games produced 55 carries, 177 yards (3.2 YPC) and just 1 score. He also lost 1 fumble in Week 2 and Week 3.

        The light seemed to flick on after a Week 9 bye, though. Over Ball’s final 8 games, he racked up 382 yards on 65 carries (5.9 per rush) and scored 3 times. He stepped up as a pass catcher, too. After catching just 2 balls over his first 9 games, Ball snagged 18 passes over his final 7. He fumbled just once over that stretch – and the miscue came as a receiver.

        Combine Ball’s 1st and 2nd-half numbers and you have a season-long line of 120-559-4. He scored all 4 of his TDs from inside the 10-yard line, as he recorded just 2 runs of 20+ yards. A final YPC mark of 4.7 is impressive, however.

        The young RB simply needed time to adjust to a complex NFL playbook.

        “In Wisconsin, it was fairly basic, and that’s what I tell people,” Ball said after the regular season. “Just going from a college playbook to an NFL playbook is very difficult, but going from a college playbook to Peyton Manning’s playbook is a whole another story. It was difficult at first to grasp the playbook, but it was a process that was definitely enjoyed because now it’s just second nature to me.”

        If true, the 2nd-year rusher will carry the upside to repeat Moreno’s 2013 fantasy success.

        Just consider Denver’s RB depth. Ronnie Hillman’s an explosive player, but he’s struggled with fumbles. C.J. Anderson is a 2013 undrafted free agent who handled just 7 carries last season.

        This is clearly Ball’s job to run with. A loaded offense only adds to his fantasy appeal.

        Peyton Manning’s fully stocked arsenal includes Demaryius Thomas, Julius Thomas, Wes Welker and Emmanuel Sanders. That’s more than enough firepower to prevent defenses from stacking the box.

        Along the O-line, we don’t see one weakness. Pro Bowl LT Ryan Clady returns after missing most of 2013 with a foot injury. LG Orlando Franklin, C Manny Ramirez and RG Louis Vasquez all received positive run-blocking grades from Pro Football Focus. Chris Clark wasn’t a difference-maker as he filled in for Clady on the left side, but he’ll return to his natural RT spot in 2014.

        Draft Sharks Bottom Line:

        Ball has the talent, supporting cast and opportunity to post sure-fire RB1 numbers. It’s not farfetched to think that he’ll eclipse 300 touches – just as Moreno did in 2013. And while Ball’s a poor bet to repeat Moreno’s 60 catches, the potential for this 23-year-old to hog goal line carries provides him with scintillating TD upside. He’s worth considering at the tail end of the 1st round of your fantasy draft.

  2. Zack

    July 27, 2014 at 8:54 pm

    Last year you broke the positions into tiers which I found extremely helpful. Will you be doing that again this year?

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