Fantasy Football 2013: Ranking the Top 20 Running Backs

1 of 21

Top Running Backs For 2013 Fantasy Football Season

RB
Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Everybody knows it, the NFL has become more of a passing league than ever before. Quarterbacks are setting passing attempt records at an impressive rate. The days of "3 yards and a cloud of dust" are long gone as teams are now looking to make big plays through the air. In the past, every team wanted an elite running back. If your team did not have one, they were probably not going to be legitimate Super Bowl contenders. Now, teams do not put much emphasis on the running back position. It is fairly easy to find a running back who is good enough if you have an elite signal caller.

There was not a running back selected in the first round of the 2013 NFL Draft. This is the first time this happened in league history. Teams are perfectly comfortable going with a running back by committee. Ten years ago, this was unheard of, today it is the norm and it does not appear to be changing any time soon.

It is very interesting to see how this change in philosophy has affected fantasy football. Because of the incredible passing numbers that teams are now putting up, you would think that quarterbacks and wide receivers are the most valuable players in fantasy football. This is not the case. In fact, the opposite is true. Not only are the elite quarterbacks throwing the ball a ton, everybody is. The sheer amount of passes being thrown in the NFL makes for a very deep crop of QBs and WRs. You can wait until later in your draft to take these positions and still end up with solid players.

On the other hand, if you expect to get any sort of production out of your running backs, you have to select them early. There simply are not many guys who carry the ball 25 or more times per game anymore. They still exist, but you have to take them early if you want them. Running back is a dying position in the NFL, but it is still the most valuable fantasy football position. Some would say that it is more valuable than ever.

Because of the obvious lack of options, I believe that you have to take at least two running backs in the first three rounds of your draft. After the first few rounds, you start getting in to big-time question marks at the running back position and unless you get lucky, you will struggle at the position all season. Here is my list of the top 20 running backs in fantasy football for 2013. I will be looking to have at least three of these guys on every team that I draft this season.

Daniel is a writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @D_Schmelzer and add him to your network on Google.

2 of 21

20. DeMarco Murray

Murray
Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Injuries are a huge question mark when it comes to DeMarco Murray. When he is on the field, Murray is one of the top fantasy running backs. Murray is a very risky fantasy football pick, but if he stays healthy, you will have a top running back for a discounted price.

3 of 21

19. Darren McFadden

McFadden
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Darren McFadden is another guy with a long injury history. McFadden is dynamic when he is on the field, it is just hard to get him out there sometimes. The Oakland Raiders are going to a power running scheme this season and that should play to McFadden's strengths. If he can stay healthy, I am expecting big things out of McFadden this season.

4 of 21

18. Frank Gore

Gore
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Nobody likes to draft guys like Frank Gore. We all would rather have the high-upside young guy that breaks long runs. Because of this, Gore slips in most drafts and makes for a nice value. He is still a solid contributor and is on arguably the best rushing offense in the NFL. Do not hesitate to draft Gore, it may not be a sexy pick, but it will be one that will help your team tremendously.

5 of 21

17. Lamar Miller

Miller
Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports

Lamar Miller is a guy that I am big on this season. He seems to have a nice hold on the starting running back job for the Miami Dolphins and his speed and athleticism is very exciting. Miller is a guy that I will be targeting in all of my drafts.

6 of 21

16. David Wilson

Wilson
Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

David Wilson impressed everybody at the end of last season. He spent most of the year in the doghouse of head coach Tom Coughlin, but once he got a chance, Wilson did not disappoint. He ripped off many big plays for the New York Giants down the stretch using his speed and surprising power effectively. I think Wilson is a bit risky because Coughlin is tough to judge sometimes, but I will have no problem taking him for the right price.

7 of 21

15. Chris Johnson

Johnson
Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports

Chris Johnson has not been as bad as most people think. No, he is not the same guy that ripped off over 2,000 yards in 2009, but he is still a good NFL running back. While it would be nice if Johnson got in to the end zone a bit more, his yardage makes him a solid RB2. The Tennessee Titans made some additions on the offensive line this offseason and that should only help Johnson's fantasy value.

8 of 21

14. Maurice Jones-Drew

Jones-Drew
Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

It will be very interesting to see how Maurice Jones-Drew comes back after his foot injury in 2012. All signs point towards Jones-Drew being completely healthy, but you never really know until the season starts. If we see the Jones-Drew of old, he will be a steal in the second round. If the injury affects him more than we expect, then the second round pick will be wasted. It is hard to say right now, but I think Jones-Drew will be ready to go in 2013.

9 of 21

13. Matt Forte

Forte
Don McPeak-US Presswire

With new Chicago Bears' head coach Marc Trestman calling the plays, running back Matt Forte could be in for a huge season as a pass catcher. Trestman is known as a guy that loves to throw to his running backs and Forte is no slouch in the passing game. If your leagues has PPR (Points Per Reception) scoring I think that Forte is a late first round pick. In standard leagues he is a middle second round pick.

10 of 21

12. Stevan Ridley

Ridley
Michael Ivins-USA TODAY Sports

Stevan Ridley is just the opposite of Forte. He proved himself as a valuable runner for the New England Patriots last season and I think he will get plenty of opportunity in 2013. Ridley has little to no receiving skills, so he is not a very good PPR option. That being said, in standard leagues, Ridley is a solid second round pick.

11 of 21

11. Steven Jackson

Jackson
Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Steven Jackson is finally on a good offense. If a washed up Michael Turner can be productive with the Atlanta Falcons, the sky is the limit for Jackson. Jackson has always been stuck on bad offenses with the St. Louis Rams. Teams lined up with eight or more men in the box against the Rams because Jackson was usually the lone offensive threat on the team. Now, Jackson is on an elite offense with many elite weapons and I think he will flourish. Jackson is a guy that I will be targeting in every fantasy draft that I do.

12 of 21

10. Alfred Morris

Morris
David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

Alfred Morris came out of almost nowhere last year and ended up as one of the best fantasy running backs for the season. Morris is a powerful runner who is much quicker than you would expect. He is a perfect compliment to Robert Griffin III and he is a solid fantasy option in the first round.

13 of 21

9. Ray Rice

Rice
Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

With Joe Flacco getting more flexibility in the offense and Bernard Pierce becoming a great back-up option at running back, I think that Ray Rice's fantasy value is starting to dip. He is still a great RB, but I wonder how much longer the opportunity will still be there for Rice. I am sure that he will have a solid season, but I probably will not be owning him much this year.

14 of 21

8. Arian Foster

Foster
Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

The Houston Texans have been riding Arian Foster hard the past few years. I think that this season is the one that finally catches up to him. Foster had over 400 carries last season and if history tells us anything, it is that running backs usually do not perform well the season after they have a ton of carries. I do not blame you for wanting to draft Foster early in the first round, the guy has been productive. That being said, I will not be doing so because I think his better days are behind him.

15 of 21

7. Marshawn Lynch

Lynch
Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

I am a little worried that Marshawn Lynch will see less carries this season. With Russell Wilson emerging and solid back-up running backs on the roster, I am afraid that the Seattle Seahawks will try to save Lynch for the stretch run. That being said, he is still a beast and I am sure that he will still put up good numbers. Lynch is a decent target for the end of the first round.

16 of 21

6. LeSean McCoy

McCoy
Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

The sky is the limit for LeSean McCoy in Chip Kelly's offense. It is hard to predict how the first time NFL head coach will use McCoy, but the upside is huge. McCoy is a very fast and shifty runner that appears to be perfect for Kelly's offense. I think McCoy is a great target in the middle of the first round.

17 of 21

5. Jamaal Charles

Charles
Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

It will be interesting to see how new head coach Andy Reid uses Jamaal Charles. Reid is known as a guy that loves to throw the ball, but Charles is the best player on the Kansas City Chiefs and they would be foolish not to use him. Reid's running backs have had some fantasy success, most notably McCoy and Brian Westbrook. Charles will be used in many different ways and I think will put up nice numbers that will make his fantasy owners happy.

18 of 21

4. Trent Richardson

Richardson
Kirby Lee/Image of Sport-USA TODAY Sports

Trent Richardson was tough for me to rank. On one hand, I think he is one of the most talented running backs in the league and he is on an offense where he will be featured and get a ton of opportunity. On the other hand, Richardson seems to be fairly injury prone. He is a risky pick, but I will be taking the risk on Richardson this season, the upside is just too much for me to pass up.

19 of 21

3. Doug Martin

Martin
Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Doug Martin exploded on to the scene in 2012 as he scored the second most fantasy points for a running back in standard leagues. I think Martin is a very safe pick in the first round this season and I would be perfectly happy if he made it on my team.

20 of 21

2. C.J. Spiller

Spiller
Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

I am finding myself owning C.J. Spiller in a ton of leagues this season. Spiller is an elite athlete that uses his speed and athleticism very well. He burst onto the scene last season and I think that he is finally here to stay. The Buffalo Bills have a new head coach in Doug Marrone who loves to run the ball. I think Spiller gets a ton of opportunity this season and with his talent, the upside is unlimited.

21 of 21

1. Adrian Peterson

Peterson
Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Adrian Peterson is a freak of nature. He came back last season after a devastating knee injury and came up just short of the all-time rushing yardage record. While Peterson is getting up there in age, personally I will not be betting against him this season. His workload is a little concerning, but Peterson appears to be an exception to the rule. He is one of the most talented running backs in NFL history. Enjoy him while you can folks, this will not last forever.

1 of 21

Top Running Backs For 2013 Fantasy Football Season

RB
Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Everybody knows it, the NFL has become more of a passing league than ever before. Quarterbacks are setting passing attempt records at an impressive rate. The days of "3 yards and a cloud of dust" are long gone as teams are now looking to make big plays through the air. In the past, every team wanted an elite running back. If your team did not have one, they were probably not going to be legitimate Super Bowl contenders. Now, teams do not put much emphasis on the running back position. It is fairly easy to find a running back who is good enough if you have an elite signal caller.

There was not a running back selected in the first round of the 2013 NFL Draft. This is the first time this happened in league history. Teams are perfectly comfortable going with a running back by committee. Ten years ago, this was unheard of, today it is the norm and it does not appear to be changing any time soon.

It is very interesting to see how this change in philosophy has affected fantasy football. Because of the incredible passing numbers that teams are now putting up, you would think that quarterbacks and wide receivers are the most valuable players in fantasy football. This is not the case. In fact, the opposite is true. Not only are the elite quarterbacks throwing the ball a ton, everybody is. The sheer amount of passes being thrown in the NFL makes for a very deep crop of QBs and WRs. You can wait until later in your draft to take these positions and still end up with solid players.

On the other hand, if you expect to get any sort of production out of your running backs, you have to select them early. There simply are not many guys who carry the ball 25 or more times per game anymore. They still exist, but you have to take them early if you want them. Running back is a dying position in the NFL, but it is still the most valuable fantasy football position. Some would say that it is more valuable than ever.

Because of the obvious lack of options, I believe that you have to take at least two running backs in the first three rounds of your draft. After the first few rounds, you start getting in to big-time question marks at the running back position and unless you get lucky, you will struggle at the position all season. Here is my list of the top 20 running backs in fantasy football for 2013. I will be looking to have at least three of these guys on every team that I draft this season.

Daniel is a writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @D_Schmelzer and add him to your network on Google.

2 of 21

20. DeMarco Murray

Murray
Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Injuries are a huge question mark when it comes to DeMarco Murray. When he is on the field, Murray is one of the top fantasy running backs. Murray is a very risky fantasy football pick, but if he stays healthy, you will have a top running back for a discounted price.

3 of 21

19. Darren McFadden

McFadden
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Darren McFadden is another guy with a long injury history. McFadden is dynamic when he is on the field, it is just hard to get him out there sometimes. The Oakland Raiders are going to a power running scheme this season and that should play to McFadden's strengths. If he can stay healthy, I am expecting big things out of McFadden this season.

4 of 21

18. Frank Gore

Gore
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Nobody likes to draft guys like Frank Gore. We all would rather have the high-upside young guy that breaks long runs. Because of this, Gore slips in most drafts and makes for a nice value. He is still a solid contributor and is on arguably the best rushing offense in the NFL. Do not hesitate to draft Gore, it may not be a sexy pick, but it will be one that will help your team tremendously.

5 of 21

17. Lamar Miller

Miller
Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports

Lamar Miller is a guy that I am big on this season. He seems to have a nice hold on the starting running back job for the Miami Dolphins and his speed and athleticism is very exciting. Miller is a guy that I will be targeting in all of my drafts.

6 of 21

16. David Wilson

Wilson
Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

David Wilson impressed everybody at the end of last season. He spent most of the year in the doghouse of head coach Tom Coughlin, but once he got a chance, Wilson did not disappoint. He ripped off many big plays for the New York Giants down the stretch using his speed and surprising power effectively. I think Wilson is a bit risky because Coughlin is tough to judge sometimes, but I will have no problem taking him for the right price.

7 of 21

15. Chris Johnson

Johnson
Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports

Chris Johnson has not been as bad as most people think. No, he is not the same guy that ripped off over 2,000 yards in 2009, but he is still a good NFL running back. While it would be nice if Johnson got in to the end zone a bit more, his yardage makes him a solid RB2. The Tennessee Titans made some additions on the offensive line this offseason and that should only help Johnson's fantasy value.

8 of 21

14. Maurice Jones-Drew

Jones-Drew
Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

It will be very interesting to see how Maurice Jones-Drew comes back after his foot injury in 2012. All signs point towards Jones-Drew being completely healthy, but you never really know until the season starts. If we see the Jones-Drew of old, he will be a steal in the second round. If the injury affects him more than we expect, then the second round pick will be wasted. It is hard to say right now, but I think Jones-Drew will be ready to go in 2013.

9 of 21

13. Matt Forte

Forte
Don McPeak-US Presswire

With new Chicago Bears' head coach Marc Trestman calling the plays, running back Matt Forte could be in for a huge season as a pass catcher. Trestman is known as a guy that loves to throw to his running backs and Forte is no slouch in the passing game. If your leagues has PPR (Points Per Reception) scoring I think that Forte is a late first round pick. In standard leagues he is a middle second round pick.

10 of 21

12. Stevan Ridley

Ridley
Michael Ivins-USA TODAY Sports

Stevan Ridley is just the opposite of Forte. He proved himself as a valuable runner for the New England Patriots last season and I think he will get plenty of opportunity in 2013. Ridley has little to no receiving skills, so he is not a very good PPR option. That being said, in standard leagues, Ridley is a solid second round pick.

11 of 21

11. Steven Jackson

Jackson
Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Steven Jackson is finally on a good offense. If a washed up Michael Turner can be productive with the Atlanta Falcons, the sky is the limit for Jackson. Jackson has always been stuck on bad offenses with the St. Louis Rams. Teams lined up with eight or more men in the box against the Rams because Jackson was usually the lone offensive threat on the team. Now, Jackson is on an elite offense with many elite weapons and I think he will flourish. Jackson is a guy that I will be targeting in every fantasy draft that I do.

12 of 21

10. Alfred Morris

Morris
David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

Alfred Morris came out of almost nowhere last year and ended up as one of the best fantasy running backs for the season. Morris is a powerful runner who is much quicker than you would expect. He is a perfect compliment to Robert Griffin III and he is a solid fantasy option in the first round.

13 of 21

9. Ray Rice

Rice
Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

With Joe Flacco getting more flexibility in the offense and Bernard Pierce becoming a great back-up option at running back, I think that Ray Rice's fantasy value is starting to dip. He is still a great RB, but I wonder how much longer the opportunity will still be there for Rice. I am sure that he will have a solid season, but I probably will not be owning him much this year.

14 of 21

8. Arian Foster

Foster
Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

The Houston Texans have been riding Arian Foster hard the past few years. I think that this season is the one that finally catches up to him. Foster had over 400 carries last season and if history tells us anything, it is that running backs usually do not perform well the season after they have a ton of carries. I do not blame you for wanting to draft Foster early in the first round, the guy has been productive. That being said, I will not be doing so because I think his better days are behind him.

15 of 21

7. Marshawn Lynch

Lynch
Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

I am a little worried that Marshawn Lynch will see less carries this season. With Russell Wilson emerging and solid back-up running backs on the roster, I am afraid that the Seattle Seahawks will try to save Lynch for the stretch run. That being said, he is still a beast and I am sure that he will still put up good numbers. Lynch is a decent target for the end of the first round.

16 of 21

6. LeSean McCoy

McCoy
Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

The sky is the limit for LeSean McCoy in Chip Kelly's offense. It is hard to predict how the first time NFL head coach will use McCoy, but the upside is huge. McCoy is a very fast and shifty runner that appears to be perfect for Kelly's offense. I think McCoy is a great target in the middle of the first round.

17 of 21

5. Jamaal Charles

Charles
Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

It will be interesting to see how new head coach Andy Reid uses Jamaal Charles. Reid is known as a guy that loves to throw the ball, but Charles is the best player on the Kansas City Chiefs and they would be foolish not to use him. Reid's running backs have had some fantasy success, most notably McCoy and Brian Westbrook. Charles will be used in many different ways and I think will put up nice numbers that will make his fantasy owners happy.

18 of 21

4. Trent Richardson

Richardson
Kirby Lee/Image of Sport-USA TODAY Sports

Trent Richardson was tough for me to rank. On one hand, I think he is one of the most talented running backs in the league and he is on an offense where he will be featured and get a ton of opportunity. On the other hand, Richardson seems to be fairly injury prone. He is a risky pick, but I will be taking the risk on Richardson this season, the upside is just too much for me to pass up.

19 of 21

3. Doug Martin

Martin
Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Doug Martin exploded on to the scene in 2012 as he scored the second most fantasy points for a running back in standard leagues. I think Martin is a very safe pick in the first round this season and I would be perfectly happy if he made it on my team.

20 of 21

2. C.J. Spiller

Spiller
Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

I am finding myself owning C.J. Spiller in a ton of leagues this season. Spiller is an elite athlete that uses his speed and athleticism very well. He burst onto the scene last season and I think that he is finally here to stay. The Buffalo Bills have a new head coach in Doug Marrone who loves to run the ball. I think Spiller gets a ton of opportunity this season and with his talent, the upside is unlimited.

21 of 21

1. Adrian Peterson

Peterson
Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Adrian Peterson is a freak of nature. He came back last season after a devastating knee injury and came up just short of the all-time rushing yardage record. While Peterson is getting up there in age, personally I will not be betting against him this season. His workload is a little concerning, but Peterson appears to be an exception to the rule. He is one of the most talented running backs in NFL history. Enjoy him while you can folks, this will not last forever.


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