With the 2013 NFL Draft just over two months away, let’s look at the 2013 NFL fantasy football landscape with an early slate of running back rankings.
1. Adrian Peterson (Minnesota Vikings): An injury that could threaten the career of most NFL running backs was shrugged off like a hangnail. All Peterson did was challenge the 1984 single-season rushing record set by Eric Dickerson while posting double-digit touchdowns for the sixth time in his six-year career.
2. Arian Foster (Houston Texans): Foster had another monster year in 2012, rushing for 1,424 yards with 15 touchdowns and adding 217 yards and two TDs receiving. He also guest starred Monday on Hawaii Five-O after appearing in the Pro Bowl for the third year in a row.
3. Trent Richardson (Cleveland Browns): T-Rich registered 1,317 total yards and 12 TDs despite dealing with knee, rib and ankle injuries. If Richardson can stay healthy, he can challenge “A.D.” for the top spot.
4. Doug Martin (Tampa Bay Buccaneers): While Richardson looks to have stronger showing in his second season, Martin may take a small step back simply because the 1,926 total yards and 12 touchdowns set his bar so high. That said, this dual threat should remain one of the top fantasy backs in 2013.
5. C.J. Spiller (Buffalo Bills): Spiller, 25, averaged a ridiculous 6.0 yards per carry in 2012 and accumulated a total of 1,703 yards on 250 touches. He should close in on the 300 mark in 2013, which should put him over 2,000 total yards.
6. Marshawn Lynch (Seattle Seahawks): Though “Beastmode” doesn’t typically give you the monster games like some of the other elite backs, he’s about as steady as they come. He chalked up 1,786 total yards and 12 touchdowns in 2012.
7. Jamaal Charles (Kansas City Chiefs): Lost in A.P.’s incredible season was Charles’ similarly impressive return from his own knee injury. Though the Chiefs went away from him at times, he still managed to produce 1,745 total yards. Another season removed from the injury, Charles should be even better in 2013.
8. Ray Rice (Baltimore Ravens): Though the Ravens may have officially made the transition from Ray Rice being the focal point on offense to Joe Flacco, Rice remains one of the most dynamic running backs in the league with an ability to provide a strong impact on the ground and through the air while having a keen nose for the end zone.
9. Alfred Morris (Washington Redskins): Coming off a stellar rookie year with 1,690 total yards and 13 touchdowns, Alfred Morris might not have the stamina of playing for Mike Shanahan. That’s likely less of an issue than Robert Griffin III’s health. Plus, defenses are adjusting to the prolific Pistol offense.
10. LeSean McCoy (Philadelphia Eagles): It was a year to forget for Eagles fans and McCoy owners alike. Shady should perform much better in Chip Kelly’s offense.
11. David Wilson (New York Giants): Though he had just 358 yards and four scores in two starts in 2012, David Wilson, 21, averaged 5.0 yards on 71 attempts and should have the opportunity to carry the load for the G-Men in his second season. He has the tools to breakout in a big way.
12. Maurice Jones-Drew (Jacksonville Jaguars): After a disaster of a year, MJD should be a strong bounce back candidate and the focal point of the Jags’ offense once again. He’s also on the right side of 30 (turns 28 in March).
13. Chris Johnson (Tennessee Titans): CJ2K was held to under 25 rushing yards in four of the first five contests, but Johnson managed to get back on track, averaging 92.2 total yards per game. His window could be closing (he’ll be 28 in September), but he should still have a couple of strong seasons left in the tank.
14. Matt Forte (Chicago Bears): While Matt Forte is an impressive talent and is able to play through injuries, he’s limited by them too often. He also doesn’t punch the ball in frequently enough to even be a mid-level RB1.
15. Stevan Ridley (New England Patriots): Bill Belichick is even more difficult to figure with running backs than Shanahan. Ridley, 24, rushed for 1,263 yards and 12 touchdowns in 12 starts, but his impact is minimal in the passing game.