Ranking fantasy running backs by tier

Mike Clay preps you for draft day with his running back rankings, tiers, and projections.

| 2 years ago

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.

Be sure to check out each player’s 2015 projection and customize them to your league’s scoring system.

Tier 1

  1. Le’Veon Bell – PIT
  2. Adrian L. Peterson – MIN
  3. Marshawn Lynch – SEA
  4. Eddie Lacy – GB
  5. Jamaal Charles – KC
  6. Matt Forte – CHI
  7. Jeremy Hill – CIN
  8. C.J. Anderson – DEN
  9. LeSean McCoy – BUF
  10. 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.

To read the entire article, please login or sign up for a PFF Membership

Not a PFF member? Compare our membership features here.

Follow Mike Clay on Twitter: @MikeClayNFL

  • Freddie Sarra

    Mike, thanks for your work here. I don’t think I can read one more “Who should you draft in the first round of your draft” articles. The depth here is amazing.

  • bebe rebozo

    If Gruden is smart enough to realize that the solution to his poor QB play is to pound the ball, Matt Jones could offer some late round value.

  • bebe rebozo

    The guy i’m devaluing is Melvin Gordon. RB’s from Wisconsin have a bad track record in the pros. At Wisconsin, Jared Fogle could run through the holes they open up.

    • Bfarr

      I’ve been trying to get Brandon Oliver in many drafts for that reason. Aside from the Wisconsin thing, rookies aren’t going to pick it all up as fast.

  • sean

    Marshawn will fall because Seattle has decided to rid their oline of talent. Apparently they believe mediocre D linemen can come in and replace all-pro/probowlers. We will see how that turns out, but if it’s anything like their 1st pre-season game, it’s going to be a long and painful season for lynch and Wilson..Seems like that o line was doing their best impression of Swiss cheese..