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.
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.
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 LocationsOnce 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
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.