The 2014 RB rankings look deeper than in recent years, but, unfortunately, that’s only because there are a lot of veteran running backs that are slowly creeping backwards from 2012 and 2013. Although, I have eight different running backs getting drafted in Round 1 in my early 2014 Fantasy Football Mock Draft.
The average shelf life of an NFL player is between three and four seasons. (I heard that somewhere, but don’t make me look it up.) And that makes a lot of sense when you consider how rare it is to see a very good running back last five or more years.
In 2008, we saw the greatest NFL rookie class of running backs, with the likes of Steve Slaton, Matt Forte, Chris Johnson, Kevin Smith, Jonathan Stewart, Tashard Choice, Ray Rice, Tim Hightower, Jamaal Charles, Peyton Hillis, BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Felix Jones, Rashard Mendenhall and Mike Tolbert making big marks in Fantasy Football in their early years. Of that group, we’re entering 2014, their seventh seasons, and still looking at drafting about seven of those players.
Compare that to the 2010 NFL rookie running backs class, and we’re only looking at drafting about four of those players (LeGarrette Blount, Chris Ivory, Ryan Mathews and C.J. Spiller). And they’re only entering their fifth season!
What Changes are A-Coming?
There are several players that are looking at seeing a big increase in their bank accounts this offseason, as they test the free-agent waters. Then again, some will be seeing quite a reduction in pay, as they try to latch on somewhere for a substantial discount than their final year of their last contract.
Surprisingly, Knowshon Moreno will shop his services after a career year in Denver. The team’s club option was voided for 2014, and now he’ll try to capitalize on his 2013 success.
While Ben Tate is just 25 years old, he has missed an entire season with a knee injury (2010), he missed part of 2012 with a hamstring injury, and then he was unable to finish 2013 because of broken ribs. In four seasons, he has played in just 40 games, with nine starts. The Texans will likely go with Arian Foster in 2014, making Tate a fragile option for another team.
Both of the Raiders’ main tailbacks in 2013, Rashad Jennings and Darren McFadden, will be signing new deals this coming season, but will either of them end up back in Oakland?
Jennings’ former teammate, Maurice Jones-Drew, will be allowed to see what’s available to him in free agency, but he’s expected to re-sign with the Jaguars at 29 years old.
Rashard Mendenhall could move on from Arizona, mostly because of how well 2013 rookie Andre Ellington played behind him.
Both Colts tailbacks, Donald Brown and Trent Richardson, are trying to live up to their former first-round pick status in the NFL. Brown conveniently had a good season in his walk year, while T-Rich has to live up to the Colts trading away a 2014 first-round pick for him. Richardson becomes a free agent in 2016, while Brown tests free agency for 2014.
Early 2014 RB Rankings
My RB Fantasy rankings for 2014 use the scoring standard of six points for a rushing/receiving touchdown and no points for a reception. Rookies have not been inserted because it’s just too difficult to rank them without knowing where they’ll end up. I previewed the 2014 Fantasy Quarterback Rankings here.
1. Jamaal Charles, Kansas City Chiefs
2. LeSean McCoy, Philadelphia Eagles
3. Adrian Peterson, Minnesota Vikings
4. Marshawn Lynch, Seattle Seahawks
5. Matt Forte, Chicago Bears
6. Eddie Lacy, Green Bay Packers
7. DeMarco Murray, Dallas Cowboys
8. Zac Stacy, St. Louis Rams
9. Le’Veon Bell, Pittsburgh Steelers
10. Reggie Bush, Detroit Lions
11. Arian Foster, Houston Texans
12. Alfred Morris, Washington Redskins
13. Doug Martin, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
14. Giovani Bernard, Cincinnati Bengals
15. Knowshon Moreno, Denver Broncos
16. C.J. Spiller, Buffalo Bills
17. Chris Johnson, Tennessee Titans
18. Ray Rice, Baltimore Ravens
19. Frank Gore, San Francisco 49ers
20. Shane Vereen, New England Patriots
21. Andre Ellington, Arizona Cardinals
22. Ryan Mathews, San Diego Chargers
23. Lamar Miller, Miami Dolphins
24. Rashad Jennings, Oakland Raiders
25. Maurice Jones-Drew, Jacksonville Jaguars
26. Fred Jackson, Buffalo Bills
27. Montee Ball, Denver Broncos
28. Ben Tate, Houston Texans
29. Stevan Ridley, New England Patriots
30. Steven Jackson, Atlanta Falcons
31. David Wilson, N.Y. Giants
32. Trent Richardson, Indianapolis Colts
33. Joique Bell, Detroit Lions
34. Bernard Pierce, Baltimore Ravens
35. Andre Brown, N.Y. Giants
36. Pierre Thomas, New Orleans Saints
37. Darren McFadden, Oakland Raiders
38. Chris Ivory, N.Y. Jets
39. Danny Woodhead, San Diego Chargers
40. Jonathan Stewart, Carolina Panthers
41. Latavius Murray, Oakland Raiders
42. Roy Helu, Washington Redskins
43. Darren Sproles, New Orleans Saints
44. Marcus Lattimore, San Francisco 49ers
45. Donald Brown, Indianapolis Colts
46. DeAngelo Williams, Carolina Panthers
47. Jacquizz Rodgers, Atlanta Falcons
48. Rashard Mendenhall, Arizona Cardinals
49. BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Cincinnati Bengals
50. Kendall Hunter, San Francisco 49ers
Let me know if you think there are some running backs that should be ranked a little better or worse in the 2014 RB Rankings. I’ll be ranking each position in Fantasy Football over the next week or so, so stay tuned. Tweet me @DavidGonos or make a comment below!
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.