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Fantasy Football 2014: Top 5 Running Back Free Agents with Fantasy Value

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Fantasy Football 2014: Top 5 Running Back Free Agents with Fantasy Value

Free Agent Running Backs
David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

The free agent period is an exciting time for football fans. Superstar players leave their teams in hope to continue their success somewhere else. Sometimes it works out, like Drew Brees going to the New Orleans Saints and Peyton Manning signing with the Denver Broncos. Other times, it turns out to be a big mistake like Edgerrin James and the Arizona Cardinals or Plaxico Burress in his second stint with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

There were a lot of teams who improved their defenses with free agents. The Seattle Seahawks, for example, signed Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett, and became the No. 1 defense in the league. On the other hand, the Baltimore Ravens lost a lot of key defensive players and fell to No. 15.

The 2014 free agency pool has a lot of top-tier talent, especially with the offensive skill players. There are some running backs and wide receivers who finished in the top-20 in fantasy that are free agents. If any of these players leave their respective teams and go somewhere else, the landscape of that division will change. The AFC West was the San Diego Chargers to lose before Manning arrived. The NFC West was a joke just a few years ago, but is now one of the most competitive divisions in all of sports..

Listed here are five running backs that can help NFL teams and fantasy owners alike in 2014. Not all of them have the superstar name or long track record of 1,000-yard seasons. Most of these running backs surprised fantasy owners with their top-20 (or top five in one case) performances and forced themselves into the lineups of fantasy owners.

Bill Pivetz is a fantasy football writer for Rant Sports. Follow him on Twitter @Mr_Piv1127.. Follow him on Twitter @Mr_Piv1127.

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5. Donald Brown

Donald Brown
Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

The Indianapolis Colts suffered many injuries at the running back position. Vick Ballard and Ahmad Bradshaw, the No. 1 and 2 backs heading into the 2013 season went down with season-ending injuries. The Colts traded a first-round pick to the Cleveland Browns for Rookie of the Year candidate Trent Richardson.

However, the Colts most successful rusher was Donald Brown. He was named the starter at the beginning of December, but was playing well way before that. Along with being a good rusher, Brown helped the Colts in the passing game, especially when Reggie Wayne went down.

Brown finished 26th in fantasy points among running backs. He played much better than Richardson and the Colts would be mistaken not to re-sign him. Though, Brown would be a valuable starter for many other teams. Wherever he lands, Brown will be a top-30 running back.

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4. Rashad Jennings

Rashad Jennings
Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Another team that suffered injuries at the running back position was the Oakland Raiders. Fantasy owners should be used to Darren McFadden going down with some sort of ailment. In the meantime, Rashad Jennings took a crack at the starting job and played like a top-20 rusher.

He finished the 2013 season as the 22nd-best fantasy running back. He had 100 total yards in five of six games in the middle of the season. Jennings is another back that was utilized some in the passing game. With developing quarterback Terrelle Pyror under center, the Raiders need a running back who will be on the field for most of the season. Granted, Jennings was diagnosed with a concussion, he did only miss one game.

The Raiders would be better off with Jennings than McFadden as their No. 1 running back. In six years, McFadden has not played a full season. Jennings will be a borderline top-20 back if he stays with the Raiders.

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3. LeGarrette Blount

LeGarrette Blount
Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

The New England Patriots stole LeGarrette Blount from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Pats traded running back Jeff Demps and a seventh-round pick for Blount. The Bucs were phasing Blount out of their offense and were looking to unload him. Their loss in the Patriots' gain.

Blount had at least two carries in every game this season. He averaged close to 12 carries per game in the last half of the season. Blount finished the season scoring two touchdowns in the final two games. He continued his success in the playoffs, scoring four touchdowns against the Indianapolis Colts.

With fumbling problems all season, Stevan Ridley wasn't featured much in the Pats offense. He is signed through the 2014 season, but could be traded elsewhere as the Pats work with Blount in Shane Vereen. Blount isn't just a goal-line rusher, as we saw against the Colts. He's still fairly young, 27, and can be compared to Marshawn Lynch as far as rushing styles are concerned. He should be drafted, at the highest, as an RB3.

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2. Ben Tate

Ben Tate
Pat Lovell-USA TODAY Sports

Arian Foster played in only six games before going down with a back injury. Ben Tate was taking carries while Foster was playing, but emerged when he went down. In Week 9, the first game without Foster, Tate rushed 22 times. Four weeks later, he again rushed 22 times. This time, he had 102 yards and three touchdowns against the New England Patriots.

During this time, Tate was dealing with a rib injury. He ended up missing the final two games. At the end of the season, Tate said that he cleaned out his locker and will most likely not be back with the Houston Texans. The 25-year-old running back still has a lot left in the tank. There are many teams that can use Tate.

The Cleveland Browns, Jacksonville Jaguars (if Maurice Jones-Drew leaves) and Oakland Raiders are just a few teams that will make Ben Tate an every-down running back.

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1. Knowshon Moreno

Knowshon Moreno
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

One year after losing carries to Willis McGahee, Knowshon Moreno finished as a top-five rusher. He was one of five Denver Broncos players (not counting Peyton Manning) to finish with at least 10 touchdowns. He became the first Broncos in franchise history to rush for 1,000 yards and receive over 500 yards in the same season.

Later in the season, Montee Ball began making his presence known in the Broncos offense. He had 45 carries in the last five games. Moreno had 54 in the same amount of time. For someone who was drafted in the last few rounds, 124.4 ADP, Moreno outplayed all but four running backs.

Moreno played extremely well in the final year of his five-year deal signed back in 2009. With Ball and Ronnie Hillman the only other running backs on the Broncos roster, Moreno has earned another contract with Denver. If he does re-sign, Moreno will be drafted as a top-10 running back. In the Broncos explosive offense, Moreno's value will never be higher.