In the 2012 season, we saw two rookie running backs not only emerge as starters in the NFL but top-10 fantasy football running backs. Alfred Morris and Doug Martin were not exactly projected to become stars when they were selected in the NFL Draft. Martin was selected at the end of the first round while Morris remained on the board until the sixth. We have seen countless examples over the years of players that flew under the radar on draft day only to take the fast track to greatness.
This year, Morris went from an unknown late round pick to a household name with 1,600 yards and 13 touchdowns that propelled the Washington Redskins into the playoffs. Martin made good on his first round selection by reaching almost 2,000 total yards in his rookie season.
The 2013 class of running backs lacks a standout name but contains enough depth that could produce more unsung fantasy elites.
One player that just declared for the draft and has stood out during his collegiate career is Michigan State running back, Le’Veon Bell. At 6’2”, 244 lbs, Bell possess tremendous size that he translates into power and durability. Bell redefined the meaning of a workhorse back on several occasions this season, carrying as many as 44 times in a game. He led the nation in carries with 350, and demonstrated fierce ability to fight through tackles. Bell proved that he has many tricks in his bag which include a lethal stiff arm, quick spin moves, and the ability to hurdle defenders.
The knock on Bell is that he may not have the speed to hit holes in the NFL. His draft stock will be heavily dictated by what he clocks in the 40-yard dash at the combine. He is currently projected as a 4.6 runner and a second-to-third round draft pick.
Bell has drawn comparisons to other prototypical power runners that the Big 10 has produced over the years such as Ron Dayne. But as a potential third round pick, teams like the New York Jets that are in desperate need of a running back could find a gem by selecting Bell.