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Fantasy Football: Top 10 Running Backs for 2013

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The Top 10 Fantasy Running Backs For 2013

Doug Martin
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Running backs had a very special year in fantasy football leagues throughout 2012, but no one had a better year than Minnesota Vikings RB Adrian Peterson.

Peterson was the talk of the season after becoming just the seventh player in history to rush for over 2,000 yards and falling just nine yards short of Eric Dickerson's single-season rushing record. Oh, I forgot to mention he had reconstructive knee surgery in the off-season and wasn't even expected to suit up in Week 1, let alone have one of the best seasons of his career.

However, Peterson wasn't the only surprise of 2012. After a mediocre first-half, rookie Doug Martin took the NFL by storm after he rumbled for 251 yards and four scores against the Oakland Raiders back in Week 9, totaling an unreal 51.20 fantasy points. Martin would finish his first-year as fantasy football's second-best running back (only behind Peterson).

Just like any other season, 2012 saw it’s fair share of injuries to some key names such as Darren McFadden, DeMarco Murray and Maurice Jones-Drew, but gave way fresh faces such as rookies Alfred Morris, Trent Richardson and Martin.

We witnessed emerging stars such as C.J. Spiller, Stevan Ridley and BenJarvus Green-Ellis who have waited patiently in the shadows for their opportunity

In 2012 fantasy drafts, if you had a middle to late selection, you probably felt obligated to draft Chris Johnson if he fell in your lap somewhere between picks 5-15, but 2013 offers a deeper class of running backs where Johnson isn’t even found on my top 10 list.

Here are my top 10 running backs for 2013:

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10. LeSean McCoy, Philadelphia Eagles

LeSean McCoy
Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

LeSean McCoy had a bit of a down year as coach Andy Reid seemed reluctant to feed his star running back the ball in 2012.

Even in a season where the offensive line was ravaged by injuries and the quarterback was getting absolutely no time to get rid of the ball, the Eagles just never seemed to get the ground game going or even give it a chance, which is odd since McCoy is widely viewed as a top 5 back in the NFL.

Well, since the season ended, the Philadelphia Eagles fired their longtime head coach and appear to be headed for an overhaul this off-season. With Michael Vick likely to be the first casualty, look for rookie QB Nick Foles to step in as the Eagles new signal caller.

What does that mean for McCoy's 2013 fantasy outlook?

Expect the Eagles to enter 2013 with a more run-heavy approach, utilizing their best offensive weapon while having up-and-comer Bryce Brown contribute in a change-of-pace role.

Because of the uncertainty that surrounds the Eagles, starting from the quarterback situation down to the offensive line, McCoy is ranked 10 on my list. But his ability to run hard and contribute in the passing game make him an attractive RB1 option.

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9. C.J. Spiller, Buffalo Bills

C.J. Spiller
Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

All C.J. Spiller needed was an opportunity, and that's exactly what the explosive running back got when starter Fred Jackson went down with an injury in Week 1.

Since then, Spiller hasn't looked back, rushing the ball 207 times for 1,244 yards (6.0 YPC) and six touchdowns. He also added 43 catches for 459 yards (YPC 10.7) and two touchdowns, as he finished seventh among running backs in fantasy football (despite playing in an even timeshare with Jackson for most of the season).

Coach Chan Gailey was let go by the Buffalo Bills at the end of the regular season, which bodes well for Spiller's 2013 fantasy outlook, since it was Gailey who was committed to getting Jackson the rock.

Jackson admitted that he wants to return to Buffalo, even if that means playing second fiddle to Spiller.

I still can't picture Jackson being completely phased out of the offense, but I definitely envision an uptick in touches for Spiller in the near future. He'll be a high-end RB1 in 2013.

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8. Trent Richardson, Cleveland Browns

Trent Richardson
Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Trent Richardson served as the engine for the Cleveland Browns young offense in 2012.

He was everything and more as he ran hard on every play, contributed in the passing game and blocked well. It didn't take long for Richardson to take over as an every down back, and he would finish his rookie year as the ninth-best running back with 950 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns while also racking up 51 catches for 367 yards and a score.

Injuries hampered the second half of Richardson's season, as he openly spoke about how those injuries made it more difficult for him to run hard.

But if his production in the first half of the regular season is any indication of what 2013 will be, then I'm on board with Richardson as my eighth-best running back.

The Browns are the youngest, and one of the most promising teams heading into 2013. Richardson figures to be the primary beneficiary from the success that awaits this historic franchise.

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7. Ray Rice, Baltimore Ravens

Ray Rice
Jason Bridge-USA TODAY Sports

Boy was the Ravens offense bad in 2012. And despite a 9-4 record, the Ravens ranked just 18th in total offense, which led OC Cam Cameron out the door midway through the season.

Despite the Ravens offensive struggles, Ray Rice was the lone bright spot for the team. Rice finished the season sixth among running backs in fantasy, and accounted for 1,143 rushing yards and nine touchdowns while adding 61 catches for 478 yards and a touchdown through the air.

Rice figures to remain as the focal point in the Ravens offense in 2013, as the Joe Flacco experiment didn't seem to work out as expected in 2012.

Rice will be a high-end RB1 entering the 2013 season.

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6. Alfred Morris, Washington Redskins

Alfred Morris
Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Alfred Morris was one of the biggest surprises of 2012, as he successfully put coach Mike Shanahan's shenanigans to rest.

What was once a backfield committee that consisted of Roy Helu, Evan Royster and Morris, has simply turned out to be the Morris Show.

The presence of Robert Griffin III also bodes well for the young back as RG3's ability to take off running prevents opposing defenses from stacking the box against Morris.

Morris will continue to benefit from RG3's unique attributes in the 2013 fantasy football season.

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5. Jamaal Charles, Kansas City Chiefs

Jamaal Charles
John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

Jamaal Charles rounds out the top 5 thanks to the Chiefs recent acquisition of head coach Andy Reid.

Charles has always been that explosive, home-run threat. But there were times in 2012 where former coach Romeo Crennel would sort of forget about his most dangerous offensive weapon (odd, I know).

Worry no more, Reid has shown that he can groom elite running backs as he did with LeSean McCoy in Philadelphia. Charles figures to see his PPR value skyrocket in 2013, as Reid is known to get his backs the ball in space.

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4. Marshawn Lynch, Seattle Seahawks

Marshawn Lynch
Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

Marshawn Lynch, better known as Beast Mode, was at it again in 2013.

Leading Seattle's young offense on the ground for a career-high 1,590 yards and 11 touchdowns, and just second to Adrian Peterson in rushing yards on the season, Lynch has proven to fantasy football owners that he belongs in the elite group of running backs.

In an offense that prides itself on the run, Lynch's 2013 fantasy outlook is looking brighter each time Russell Wilson takes the field. Operating the read-option as well as any quarterback, Wilson's versatility bodes well for Lynch's fantasy value as opposing defenses can't afford to let Wilson roam free while stacking the box to stop Lynch.

Lynch will continue to be a focal point in the Seahawks offensive game plan in 2013, and is a high-end RB1 worth taking in the top 5 of your fantasy drafts.

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3. Doug Martin, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Doug Martin
Daniel Shirey-USA Today Sports

Doug Martin comes in at third.

He'll only be in his sophomore year, but the Muscle Hamster showed plenty of promise in his rookie season, rushing for 1,454 yards and 11 touchdowns while adding 49 catches for 472 yards and a score.

He's a complete back, much like Ray Rice, that not only runs hard, but catches and blocks well too.

Successfully keeping backup RB LeGarrette Blount at bay all season, Martin has proven that he can be a bell cow in this league, and will continue to be the feature back in an offense that features Vincent Jackson and Mike Williams in the passing game.

Tampa's offense is surely one to keep an eye on for 2013, and Martin should be a top 3 running back by season's end.

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2. Arian Foster, Houston Texans

Arian Foster
Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Arian Foster was at it again in 2012, racking up 1,424 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns while adding 49 catches for 472 yards and a score through the air.

Foster finished third among running backs in fantasy land, but will be a candidate for the No. 1 overall pick in 2013 fantasy drafts.

In a Houston offense that makes the running game a priority, Foster will have every opportunity to succeed once again in 2013. Gary Kubiak has made it his personal mission to get Foster the ball 25-28 times per game, and that was evident as Foster finished the season with an NFL-leading 351 carries.

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1. Adrian Peterson, Minnesota Vikings

Adrian Peterson
Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

All Day gets the top spot over Arian Foster for obvious reasons, he's absolutely matchup proof, a freak of nature and consistently earns more yards than the entire passing game.

Accounting for 2,097 yards (nine yards shy of Eric Dickerson's NFL record for most rushing yards in a single season) and 12 touchdowns after less than a year removed from reconstructive knee surgery, Peterson defied all odds and had one of the best seasons of his remarkable career.

He's easily fantasy's best running back, and arguably fantasy's best all-around player.