The Late Round Quarterback staff put together their running back rankings for the 2013 season. The following rankings are based on standard running back scoring in redraft leagues, where each touchdown is worth six points and one point is rewarded for every 10 rushing and receiving yards.
Another month down and the consensus top fantasy running back has not changed. All of the writers slotted Adrian Peterson at number 1 in our running back rankings and in my opinion, that’s exactly where he should be. This is a “do-not-overthink-it” situation as far as I’m concerned and my cohorts seem to agree.
The top-11 fantasy backs have remained the same, however, there has been a slight reshuffling. Arian Foster has moved up from 5th in our June rankings to 4th in July. Jamaal Charles has also moved up one slot and is now nestled at 3rd while CJ Spiller slid down our rankings to 5th. All in all, these changes are not anything to get excited about. Each of these running backs will be good choices for the RB1 slot on your fantasy team and it almost comes down to personal preference. As you can see from my rankings, I prefer Spiller and Charles over Foster and I think Foster might carry more risk than I’d prefer to have from my first round running back.
The first big variance between individual rankings comes with Steven Jackson. I have Jackson at 16th (his lowest ranking), while Travis has him ranked at 9th. Everyone else has this Falcon ranked between 11 and 14. Thinking back, I can’t totally remember why I ranked Jackson so low. A lot of times, players are close in ranking and I have to ask myself “Do I like Player X over Player Y?”. Hate on me if you must.
Darren Sproles seems to be another player that we were split on. His highest rank was 14 and his lowest was 23. While Sproles’ value is surely diminished in standard leagues, I think he’s still a great talent, and frankly, you could do a lot worse for a RB2 or Flex position. All that being said, I understand why my fellow rankers slotted him down a little farther than I did.
A big change from June’s rankings to July’s is the addition of Ahmad Bradshaw at 27th. Myself and Keith ranked Bradshaw in the early 30’s, but the other rankers had him the mid- to late-20’s. In June, he was not included in our top 50 running backs, but signing with the Colts in the middle of last month has caused his value to rise. From all reports, it looks like the Colts will reign in the passes this year and run something closer to the West Coast Offense. New Offensive Coordinator Pep Hamilton has some striking differences from Bruce Arians. I’ll spare you the exhaustive details. In short, the Colts threw the ball a ton last year and I think Pep Hamilton looks to bring a more balanced attack to Indianapolis. If Bradshaw picks up a majority of that share, he could be very useful and could easily finish inside the top-24 fantasy running backs.
Another interesting development is the beginning of separation between Eddie Lacy and Jonathan Franklin. In our June rankings, Franklin and Lacy were ranked back-to-back at 35 and 36 respectively. In July, Lacy moved up 5 spots (now 31) while Franklin actually dropped a spot (now 36). Current reports seem to indicate that both runners will compete for first-string duties, although the Packers could end up using both extensively. For me, there’s not a whole lot that pushes Lacy substantially ahead of Franklin and my rankings reflect that. The rest of the crew seemed to prefer Lacy ahead of Franklin, which I can’t totally argue with. The sad truth is that no one will really know what this timeshare looks like until the regular season starts. It seems as though Keith doesn’t see a lot of value in either running back right now as he has both Lacy and Franklin in the mid 40’s of his rankings. All other rankers have the duo somewhere between 28 and 40.
A runner that I’m keeping a close eye on, Zac Stacy slid 8 spots from 40 to 48. You will also notice that Daryl Richardson is now ranked ahead of Stacy (at 42). Well, if you’ve missed it, it seems that St. Louis has designated Richardson as their lead running back, according to an official release. While some Stacy backers have shed a tear for their fantasy favorite, it should be comforting to have some direction on how the duties of this backfield will shake out. Stacy still holds plenty of value as a late round flier, but Richardson will be the guy to grab from St. Louis.
While we might not see a ton of variance between this month’s rankings and June’s, I would expect this list to shift a lot come August. Camps are upon us and (dare I say it), we’re damn close to the regular season. Expect a lot of new news and developments to surface over the next couple of weeks.