The Top Running Backs 2013

Comparing RBs for the 2013 season to give you an edge in your fantasy football league

When you are preparing for your fantasy football draft, you will inevitably be faced with multiple decisions on who to select. The key to winning fantasy football super bowls will be how well you prepare your draft, and making sure that you do not reach beyond what is available. In other words, you may love Arian Foster, but is he worth selecting 2nd overall? We don’t think so. The key to fantasy football is knowing who to select and when to select them. Undoubtedly you will be faced with tough decisions comparing key players. That is where this page comes in – we are preparing for the 2013 NFL season comparing “like” players. We won’t compare Arian Foster to Frank Gore because you aren’t going to be in that moment trying to decide. If you need draft help on where guys should generally be drafted we have cheat sheets available for that. Our RB fantasy football rankings page is your edge to narrow your selection between two fantasy football names you are going to have to choose between.

Why should you take our advice?  Our team has over ten years of fantasy football experience. We look at fantasy football outside the lines of the major sites who give you the same outlook year after year – the no brainers but the rankings that everyone else in your league will also have. We are also a top fantasy football ranking site because we take the time to crunch numbers based on specific guys, deeper statistics than other sites provide. We are a small team who focus on fantasy football because we love to.  Our fantasy football website is 100% free and we don’t run advertisements. Our team is here to help you win your fantasy football championship.  We also have pages with draft rules and draft tips to help you if you are new to fantasy football.

Who should I draft? That answer is about impossible to answer because most drafts are snake drafts, in other words – your draft priority number will largely determine what is available to you. The key to this fantasy football page is to prepare yourself for a player you want, and if two excellent options are there – which player you should draft. Let’s take a closer look at some of the fantasy football rankings to analyze who you should draft when comparing these players.

Photo: Thomas Campbell, USA TODAY Sports

Photo: Thomas Campbell, USA TODAY Sports

Arian Foster vs. Ray Rice

Arian Foster vs. Ray Rice, 2012 Fantasy Football
Name Rush Attempts Rush Yards Rush Tds Receptions Rec Yards Rec TDs Total Touches Total Fantasy Points PPR Points
Arian Foster, HOU 351 1424 15 40 217 2 391 250 290
Ray Rice, BAL 257 1143 9 61 478 1 318 207 268

In 2012 Arian Foster was the usual, a fantasy football beast. He almost doubled Ray Rice’s TDs (17 to 10 total TDs) and carried the ball nearly 100 times more than Rice. If you include playoffs, Foster took a beating with his offensive line struggling late in the season. In the past both Foster and Rice would be a 1-2 punch in fantasy football going off the board, but in 2012 Foster’s numbers in standard leagues were far greater. Foster averaged 15.6 fantasy football points/week, Rice averaged 12.9. If you consider PPR leagues, Foster averaged 18.1 fantasy football points, Rice averaged 16.75.

Arian Foster vs. Ray Rice, 2013 Fantasy Football
Name Rush Attempts Rush Yards Rush Tds Receptions Rec Yards Rec TDs Total Touches Total Fantasy Points PPR Points
Arian Foster, HOU 307 1342 11 43 292 2 350 241 284
Ray Rice, BAL 276 1238 8 67 538 2 343 236 303

Fantasy Football Analysis

In years past this discussion was a no-brainer…Arian Foster had dominated the overall #1 selection. With the development of his lingering calf injury, combined with the obvious poor offensive line play and the emergence of Ben Tate, 2013 is the year we see Arian Foster’s obscene amount of touches over the past three seasons catch up with him.

Now looking ahead to the 2013 Fantasy Football season, some pieces will change – Foster is coming into camp with a lingering calf injury. Already placed on the PUP list, Foster has surprised even his coach with the lingering injury. Don’t let the injury scare you off completely, but note that he is not coming in 100%. Consider in 2012 that Foster touched the ball 460 times (playoffs included), a staggering number that surely wears on an NFL running back.

Ray Rice is coming in after a long season, but seemingly healthy. Like Foster, Rice enters 2013 with a capable backup who looks to steal some touches late in games. Baltimore will need to lean on both of their RBs with the recent loss of Dennis Pitta, and the trade of Anquan Boldin earlier this offseason. Both Rice and Foster benefited from an offense that utilizes RBs in the passing game, while Rice always excels after the catch – piling 250 more yards than Foster in receiving yards.

Considering the personnel moves, coaching philosophies and trends – here are our 2013 fantasy football predictions for Arian Foster vs. Ray Rice.

I still view Foster as a STUD RB1, but in this year’s fantasy football draft I would lean towards Ray Rice over Arian Foster. If you are in a PPR fantasy football league the obvious choice is Ray Rice. Especially with Dennis Pitta going down for the year.

Lesean McCoy vs. Doug Martin

Fantasy football 2013 drafts are getting close, and one inevitable decision you will have to make is…who will your stud RB1 be? This year it looks like Adrian Peterson will be the lock #1 pick. But then who?  Lets look at the stats of Lesean McCoy vs. Doug Martin and predict who will have the better fantasy football season.

Doug Martin

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Lesean McCoy vs. Doug Martin, 2012 Fantasy Football
Name Rush Attempts Rush Yards Rush Tds Receptions Rec Yards Rec TDs Total Touches Total Fantasy Points PPR Points
Lesean McCoy, PHI
200 840 2 54 373 3 254 141 195
Doug Martin, TB
319 1454 11 49 472 1 368 250 299

At first glance this doesn’t look like much of a comparison. But when you consider that McCoy only played in 12 games (as opposed to Martin’s 16) you can see these two RBs are very similar backs. Even only playing in 12 games McCoy still racked up 54 receptions, which was good enough to be the 2nd overall (only behind Darren Sproles). McCoy averaged over 16 points a game in PPR leagues in 2012. Doug Martin on the other hand exploded onto the fantasy football scene in 2012. He rushed for over 1400 yards on 300+ attempts. It is a difficult task to be able to rush over 300+ consistently in the NFL, but adding in another 49 receptions and Doug Martin was a pure fantasy stud in 2012.

Lesean McCoy vs. Doug Martin, 2013 Fantasy Football
Name Rush Attempts Rush Yards Rush Tds Receptions Rec Yards Rec TDs Total Touches Total Fantasy Points PPR Points
Lesean McCoy, PHI
297 1354 11 59 322 2 356 245 304
Doug Martin, TB
312 1378 12 53 432 1 365 258 311

Fantasy Football Analysis

I love both of these RBs. Lesean McCoy is coming into a new offense in 2013 and word is Chip Kelly is pushing this bunch for new levels. I see McCoy’s receiving numbers to dip overall slightly, but his overall fantasy football statistics to rise.  He has all the tools to become a top3 RB in the NFL once again and one of the only things stopping him will be the effectiveness of Michael Vick. I do believe at some point in the season we will see Matt Barkley, but don’t hold out hope just yet. McCoy is still one of the few elite backs in this league that can do it all.

Doug Martin on the other hand is the real deal and a bit more. He exploded onto the scene in 2012 and will continue his unreal pace in 2013. I don’t expect to see massive gains, but look for Doug Martin to push AP a bit as the top RB in 2013. He has all the pieces – a solid offensive line, a decent QB, talented WRs, and a coaching staff who is enamored with him. And he has fresh legs. Doug Martin will no doubt finish 2013 as a top 5 RB and has a high enough ceiling he could finish as the #1 overall RB. If you are comparing these two consider that we have seen the ceiling of Lesean McCoy, and it looks good. There is small risk with Doug Martin, but we just aren’t sure where his fantasy football ceiling is.

CJ Spiller vs. Jamaal Charles

Jamaal Charles

Photo: David Eulitt / Kansas City Star

CJ Spiller vs. Jamaal Charles, 2012 Fantasy Football
Name Rush Attempts Rush Yards Rush Tds Receptions Rec Yards Rec TDs Total Touches Total Fantasy Points PPR Points
CJ Spiller, BUF 207 1244 6 43 459 2 250 205 248
Jamaal Charles, KC 285 1509 5 35 236 1 320 199 234

In 2012 fantasy football, analysts weren’t sure how Jamaal Charles would rebound and if he would be effective in a Chiefs offense that had been decimated by injury. Charles ended touching the ball over 300 times after his 35 receptions. The downside of Charles’ 2012 fantasy football season was his low TD numbers – only rushing for 5 TDs and 1 receiving TD. Charles finished the 2012 season with 199 points in standard leagues (12.4 points/game) in what finished to be a productive top 10 finish.

CJ Spiller started 2012 splitting with Fred Jackson, but finished the year showing why the Bills took him with such a high draft pick. Spiller played in 16 games but only started in 9, still he was able to gain over 1200 rushing yards in addition to his 43 receptions. Spiller finished as a top 10 RB (9th) but was banged up by minor injuries.

CJ Spiller vs. Jamaal Charles, 2013 Fantasy Football
Name Rush Attempts Rush Yards Rush Tds Receptions Rec Yards Rec TDs Total Touches Total Fantasy Points PPR Points
CJ Spiller, BUF 256 1378 8 49 387 2 305 235 284
Jamaal Charles, KC 291 1478 6 54 423 2 345 237 291

Fantasy Football Analysis

First with CJ Spiller, the guy is a stud. He is going to be a Top 5 RB this fantasy football season. You are going to have to draft him high, possibly even the first round. Look for Fred Jackson to continue to eat at some of his workload, but make no mistake – this will be CJ Spiller’s team. He looks to boost his fantasy football value by almost 3 points a game this year – taking him to RB stud status. I look for increased receptions, and increased rushing attempts. I would still keep his TD expectations mild as he isn’t the biggest guy for the red zone. But draft Spiller with confidence.

One of the few guys I would draft ahead of Spiller would be Jamaal Charles. Charles has that home run explosive ability you love to see on your fantasy football team. The guy can catch, and he can run. With Alex Smith taking over at QB you should see a lot of what Alex is good at – checking down. I look for Jamaal Charles to build on his 2012 fantasy football season and take it up a level. These two RBs are both RB1′s, but I like Charles a bit more and feel he has a bit more upside than Spiller.

Marshawn Lynch vs. Alfred Morris

Fantasy football 2013 drafts are getting close, and one inevitable decision you will have to make is…who will your stud RB1 be? After the clear top 5 running backs are off the board, who will you draft? Let’s look closer when comparing Marshawn Lynch to Alfred Morris.

marshawn lynch

Photo credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Marshawn Lynch vs. Alfred Morris, 2012 Fantasy Football
Name Rush Attempts Rush Yards Rush Tds Receptions Rec Yards Rec TDs Total Touches Total Fantasy Points PPR Points
Marshawn Lynch, SEA
315 1590 11 23 196 1 338 238 261
Alfred Morris, WAS
318 1535 12 11 77 0 329 223 234

I love this matchup comparison. Marshawn Lynch has been a name around for a while, but most people forget he finished as the #5 overall RB in 2012. Marshwn Lynch carried the ball 315 times and added 23 receptions, compiling nearly 2,000 yards from scrimmage. The best thing about Marshawn Lynch is he can do it again. Marshawn Lynch has shown he is not a fluke and when given the opportunity he can grind out fantasy football points. He piled on 11 TDs in 2012 and finished with over 238 standard points.

Alfred Morris was a huge surprise in 2012 – busting the theory of that Shanahan hates using one running back. Alfred Morris was a beast, his rushing attempts in 2012 were the 4th highest in the NFL and he had the 3rd highest rushing yards. This guy was no fluke. Alfred Morris benefited from a shifty QB with a coach that believes in grinding the clock. These two RBs are not that much different. Alfred Morris tacked on 12 rushing TDs with only 11 receptions on the season.

Lesean McCoy vs. Doug Martin, 2013 Fantasy Football
Name Rush Attempts Rush Yards Rush Tds Receptions Rec Yards Rec TDs Total Touches Total Fantasy Points PPR Points
Marshawn Lynch, SEA
292 1347 10 28 204 1 320 220 248
Alfred Morris, WAS
307 1423 9 15 83 0 322 205 220

Fantasy Football Analysis

Both of these RBs are similar and come from similar coaching philosophies. I think we will see a dip in Alfred Morris in 2013, I don’t see him pushing 1,600 yards again. I also see his TD numbers dip slightly but he will still put out a largely productive season. With RGIII coming off an injury, look for Alfred Morris to get the rock early in the season. I do see some of his dip associated with defenses keying on Washington better in 2013. Marshawn Lynch comes into 2013 ready to pick up right where he left off. Marshawn Lynch will hit beast mode again and look out. The guy runs with power in an offense that has been rejuvinated by Russell Wilson. Wilson’s running ability has opened up holes for Lynch, and look for Marshawn Lynch to hold off Turbin waiting in the ranks, I see Marshawn Lynch finishing in the Top 10 for RBs in fantasy football with a solid year – while adding in a few receptions for extra show.

Matt Forte vs. Trent Richardson

Fantasy football 2013 drafts are getting close, and one inevitable decision you will have to make is…who will your stud RB1 be? After the clear top 5 running backs are off the board, who will you draft? Let’s look closer when comparing Matt Forte vs. Trent Richardson.

Trent Richardson

Mandatory Credit: Ron Schwane-USA TODAY Sports

Matt Forte vs. Trent Richardson, 2012 Fantasy Football
Name Rush Attempts Rush Yards Rush Tds Receptions Rec Yards Rec TDs Total Touches Total Fantasy Points PPR Points
Matt Forte, CHI
248 1094 5 44 340 1 292 169 213
Trent Richardson, CLE
267 950 11 51 367 1 318 188 239

Expectations are high in fantasy football world, and in 2012 none were higher than for Trent Richardson. On paper he started in 15 games, but in reality we all know after his rib injury he was not the same back that started the year. Trent Richardson was a TD machine in 2012, and surprisingly took over in the short passing game as well. His 51 catches were good for 4th highest among NFL running backs, largely due to an anemic Cleveland offense that relied on anything involving Trent Richardson. He failed to crack the 1,000 yard mark but his rushing TDs and receptions made up for it.

While 2012 was the breakout year for Trent Richardson, it was largely a let down year for Matt Forte. Analysts believe the management changes in Chicago were largely due to the failed utilization of Matt Forte. Looking at his numbers he also played in 15 games and amassed 1,094 rushing yards to go with his 44 catches. The major difference between these two backs in 2012 was the rushing TDs, totaling a difference of 36 points. This was due to the addition of Michael Bush in Chicago and the underutilization of Matt Forte.

Matt Forte vs. Trent Richardson, 2013 Fantasy Football
Name Rush Attempts Rush Yards Rush Tds Receptions Rec Yards Rec TDs Total Touches Total Fantasy Points PPR Points
Matt Forte, CHI
269 1192 7 58 405 2 327 213 271
Trent Richardson, CLE
311 1313 12 41 302 1 352 239 280

Fantasy Football Analysis

I would look for a bounce back fantasy football year for Matt Forte. I would not look for Top 5 Rb stats, but I do think he will be borderline Top 10. He will be worthy of a late RB1 position and a stud RB2 on any fantasy football lineup. The largest growth we should see will be in his receptions. Look for new coaching to get him the ball more and to give Jay Cutler more comfort in the passing game. I think 7 TDs is a bit high for Matt Forte, but I am optimistic that we will see a hungry Chicago Bears team looking for a playoff run.

Trent Richardson is going to do just fine in this league. Actually he will be a fantasy football beast. I really like him a lot and hope he can remain healthy all year. It is hard to determine his fantasy football ceiling because we don’t know his pain tolerance or durability concerns. My projection of 1300 rushing yards may be way off here, if his QB situation turns out to be anything consistent this number could spike. Trent Richardson is that good. He has the athletic ability to be a Top 3 RB, but I predict he will finish somewhere near the #6-7 overall range. I would love him on my team as a late RB1 and if he is available I will take him on my fantasy football team as an RB2.

Darren McFadden vs. Chris Johnson

Fantasy football 2013 drafts are getting close, and one inevitable decision you will have to make is…who will your stud RB1 be? After the clear top 5 running backs are off the board, who will you draft? Let’s look closer when comparing Darren McFadden vs. Chris Johnson.

darren mcfadden

AP Photo/Jeff Chiu

Darren McFadden vs. Chris Johnson, 2012 Fantasy Football
Name Rush Attempts Rush Yards Rush Tds Receptions Rec Yards Rec TDs Total Touches Total Fantasy Points PPR Points
Darren McFadden, OAK
216 707 2 42 258 1 258 101 143
Chris Johnson, TEN
276 1243 6 36 232 0 312 170 206

Darren McFadden was supposed to resume his dominate streaks from 2011 in 2012, but in fantasy football – nothing is what is expected. Darren McFadden missed four games and never quite hit his stride on the field. He rushed for only 707 yards and only 2 rushing TDs. A low number considering he is the focal point of that offense. Darren McFadden salvaged somewhat of a fantasy football season in PPR leagues by totaling 42 receptions in his limited play. Overall he averaged single digit points behind an offense that struggled internally and on the field.

Chris Johnson was a bit of an unknown coming into 2012, you could call his play a bit of a surprise but still disappointing in fantasy football world. While it may seem difficult to compare these two running backs as Chris Johnson scored 70 more points than Darren McFadden, but they both are streaky running backs who have the athletic ability to change a game. Chris Johnson was mostly mediocre and hopefully owners didn’t reach too far on him or Darren McFadden in 2012.

Darren McFadden vs. Chris Johnson, 2013 Fantasy Football
Name Rush Attempts Rush Yards Rush Tds Receptions Rec Yards Rec TDs Total Touches Total Fantasy Points PPR Points
Darren McFadden, OAK
232 1068 7 47 343 1 279 188 235
Chris Johnson, TEN
269 1208 6 40 287 0 309 184 224

Fantasy Football Analysis

Looking at 2013 I would continue to hold mild expectations for Darren McFadden and Chris Johnson. With both running backs we have seen they have extremely high ceilings, when the situation is right. I expect Darren McFadden to break the 1,000 yard mark, and if he stays healthy all year he could potentially get closer to 1,400 yards. He will continue his ability to catch the ball and threaten 50 catches on the season, ending the 2013 with a moderately productive fantasy football season. I would rank him as a decent RB2 if you can have him for the right price.

Comparing Darren McFadden to Chris Johnson I would prefer Darren McFadden. Mostly because McFadden still possesses that burst that we haven’t seen in Johnson for some time. There were times in 2012 when Chris Johnson struggled mightily and seemed to go backward more than forward. I also like the idea of Matt Flynn running Oakland’s offense and would project Darren McFadden to have the potential for a better fantasy football season. I wouldn’t hesitate to pass on Chris Johnson and snag Darren McFadden closer to the end of Round 2.

Lamar Miller vs. David Wilson

Fantasy football 2013 drafts are getting close, and one inevitable decision you will have to make is…who will your stud RB1 be? After the clear top 5 running backs are off the board, who will you draft? Let’s look closer when comparing Lamar Miller vs. David Wilson.

lamar miller

Photo: Ezra Shaw, Getty Images

Lamar Miller vs. David Wilson, 2012 Fantasy Football
Name Rush Attempts Rush Yards Rush Tds Receptions Rec Yards Rec TDs Total Touches Total Fantasy Points PPR Points
Lamar Miller, MIA
51 250 1 6 45 0 57 29 35
David Wilson, NYG
71 358 4 4 34 1 75 63 67

Lamar Miller didn’t get a lot of action in 2012, only touching the football 57 total times. Judging his ability at the NFL level and producing as a fantasy football star is difficult, but looking at 2012 he wasn’t able to overtake Reggie Bush or Daniel Thomas in Miami. Reggie Bush was impressive in 2012 but has now left, leaving it time for Lamar Miller to shine.

David Wilson is a similar story, getting slightly more looks in 2012 in New York he rushed the ball 71 times and had a surprising 4 rushing TDs. Neither of these running backs catch the ball well out of the backfield and should be lowered if you are in a PPR fantasy football league.

Lamar Miller vs. David Wilson, 2013 Fantasy Football
Name Rush Attempts Rush Yards Rush Tds Receptions Rec Yards Rec TDs Total Touches Total Fantasy Points PPR Points
Lamar Miller, MIA
251 1039 6 21 187 1 272 163 184
David Wilson, NYG
237 1012 7 24 192 1 261 168 192

Fantasy Football Analysis

Banking on either Lamar Miller or David Wilson in fantasy football is a difficult decision in 2013. Neither of these running backs are proven, and both are stepping into an offense where the previous starter has left. So far in training camp Lamar Miller has been impressive, with coaches raving about his speed and agility. Lamar Miller has an excellent fantasy football opportunity to take over where Reggie Bush left off. And with the addition of Mike Wallace, Miami looks to have an improved offense for 2013. I would keep TD expectations light but consider Lamar Miller an excellent candidate to break the 1,000 yard mark and average in the neighborhood of 10 fantasy football points a game.

Of these two running backs I have to lean slightly towards David Wilson. I like the situation he is in better, and I have him getting the slight fantasy football edge. They should end the season close in stats, but if I am looking at who has the opportunity to break out and hold to higher expectations I would like David Wilson over Lamar Miller. New York has a much more potent offense that will move the ball and as long as he doesn’t fumble, Wilson should get decent looks.

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