Ranking fantasy running backs by tier
Next up in our early-August look at 2015 fantasy football rankings is the running back position.
Be sure to also check out the quarterback position and circle back over the next week or so for wide receiver and tight end tiers, rankings and analysis.
Note that these rankings assume non-PPR scoring.
- Le’Veon Bell – PIT
- Adrian L. Peterson – MIN
- Marshawn Lynch – SEA
- Eddie Lacy – GB
- Jamaal Charles – KC
- Matt Forte – CHI
- Jeremy Hill – CIN
- C.J. Anderson – DEN
- LeSean McCoy – BUF
- DeMarco Murray – PHI
Most years, finding a few top running backs to place in an elite tier is a relatively easy process. In 2015, it won’t be. A case could be made that Bell belongs in his own tier, but a two-game suspension ends that discussion. Charles, Peterson, Forte, Lynch, and Lacy are strong, reliable RB1 options. The Bengals run-heavy offense makes Hill a candidate to lead the league in rushing yardage and touchdowns. Anderson has tremendous upside with Gary Kubiak in control in Denver. McCoy will be busy in Rex Ryan’s offense. The reigning No. 1 fantasy running back, Murray, will see a dip in workload, but is in a strong, run-first offense. Considering the deep top wide receiver tier, it’s a great year to pick early in 10-team leagues and near the front of 12-team drafts. This allows you the chance to snag two of these top backs and possibly an elite wideout or Rob Gronkowski. With my much-needed defense for a huge top tier out of the way, here are some additional notes on each player:
Following an underwhelming rookie season in which he averaged just 3.5 yards per carry and struggled in pass protection, Bell had the looks of a pedestrian back. Everything changed in 2014. Bell eclipsed 2,000 scrimmage yards, scored 11 touchdowns, averaged 4.7 YPC, caught 83 passes and was better as a blocker. Only DeMarco Murray scored more fantasy points. Bell is facing a two-game suspension to start the season, but like Josh Gordon in 2013 and Odell Beckham in 2014, he’s still well worth the investment despite the missed games. A candidate for 300 touches, Bell should be off the board early in Round 1.
Peterson will enter 2015 fresh after sitting out the majority of last season due to suspension. Although he’s now 30 years old, this should allow one of the most heavily utilized backs of the last decade to continue performing at an elite level for another year or two. Adding to Peterson’s appeal is emerging quarterback Teddy Bridgewater and the presence of offensive coordinator Norv Turner, which figures to allow Peterson a career-high in receptions. There are some obvious concerns here. Running backs tend to lose a step or two around Peterson’s age and he’s been out of the game for a year. Still, Peterson’s freak ability and workhorse role make him well-worth consideration at the top of fantasy drafts.
Follow Mike Clay on Twitter: @MikeClayNFL