Top 8 Sophomore Stud RBs for Fantasy Football 2014
2014 Fantasy Football: Sophomore RBs You Will Want
Christine Michael (pictured above) just missed the top eight, but don't sleep on this talented backup RB for the Seattle Seahawks in 2014.
It takes time to get acclimated at a new job regardless what the position is. Making it to the NFL isn’t much different in that sense, but one could argue it sets the standard for learning curves. Men in their early 20s are suddenly living their lifelong dream of playing in the NFL with the best of the best. Priorities are changed, bank accounts increase and lifestyles are altered. Everything is fresh and shiny.
After some of the haze wears off and the games begin, some first-year players are given the early opportunity and fly right out of the gate. Others rookies start the season buried in the depth chart, and if they catch a break, they might get to show their team what they’ve got. And then there are the guys who were on the highlight reel every Saturday night the season before who don’t get a single snap their first season in the big show.
As the free agency period approaches, many players with expiring contracts will relocate and open up slots for the younger guys to attempt to earn their keep. We also have to consider the possibility that a second-year back could be surpassed by a rookie after one big game. It happens more often than you might think. The cream will always rise to the top, and every sophomore running back finds himself in his own unique situation.
This is a look at eight of the sophomore backs who will impact your fantasy league in 2014.
Marcus Lattimore of the San Francisco 49ers was known for his gruesome leg break in his senior year at South Carolina, but he is a very talented RB who will get touches in 2014 after sitting out the 2013 season. Lattimore has the talent climb a deep 49ers depth chart in OTAs and training camp, and if he impresses, he could become the aging Frank Gore’s relief.
Latavius Murray of the Oakland Raiders is another 2013 draftee who did not see the field in his first year. The Raiders placed Murray on IR prior to last season’s start, and rode Darren McFadden and Rashad Jennings in the last year of their contracts. With McFadden certainly gone, and Jennings also possibly signing with another team, the opportunity for Murray to become the starting back is a very real probability. He has the size, speed and ability to be an impact in Week 1.
St Louis Rams's Zac Stacy should be ready for another big year. The Rams’ backfield was one of the biggest question marks for fantasy owners going into last season, and rightfully so. It was never truly apparent who would receive the bulk of the carries until Week 5 when Stacy took over and never looked back. Both of the other Rams' RBs, Daryl Richardson and Isaiah Pead, aren't going anywhere, but Stacy is a competitor and wants to be the workhorse for the Rams’ offense.
The Arizona Cardinals' backfield was also tentatively approached by fantasy owners in 2013, with Rashard Mendenhall’s entrance and Ryan Willliams still lingering around, some were hesitant to draft any of Arizonas RBs. Andre Ellington was the best in the NFL in 2013 (among RBs with 100 or more carries) with an average of 5.5 yards per attempt. Ellington will still be in a time-share backfield with Mendenhall and Williams, but the Cardinals know he is the future and will showcase him as such.
Expectations were high for Denver Broncos' Montee Ball going into last season, and they’ll be even higher in 2014. Knowshon Moreno is a free agent and will be allowed to test the market, and Denver isn’t likely to shell out the kind of money he will be offered from other teams. Ball has already said he is “ready to be the guy,” and he will get his shot in 2014.
Every Giovani Bernard owner was frustrated with his role in the Cincinnati Bengals' offense in 2013, with fellow Bengals RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis carrying the ball 220 times to Bernard’s 170. Bernard’s explosive ability surfaced multiple times in his rookie year, but the Bengals refused to overload him with a perfectly capable Green-Ellis willing to take the tough, between-the-tackles carries. New OC Hue Jackson (who was promoted from RB coach) already expressed his plan to run the ball, and run it some more. If the Bengals stay true to their plan and run the ball 450 times in 2014, Bernard will get a hearty piece of that pie. That factor combined with the amount of passes he catches (56 in 2013) makes him a potential top 10 RB in PPR leagues.
Le’Veon Bell scared a lot of owners who took a shot on drafting him when he injured his foot during the preseason, but he paid patient owners off in spades with his late-season run during the fantasy playoffs. Bell had a nose for the end zone in 2013 scoring eight touchdowns in his 13 games, including a score in four of his last five games. The Pittsburg Steelers drafted Bell before Eddie Lacy in 2013’s NFL draft, and expect him to be the guy going forward.
The former Alabama RB crept up draft boards in 2013 as the season approached after it became clear he would be the starter for the Packers in Week 1. Eddie Lacy bounced back after a slow start and finished in the top 10 at his position. His style fits flawlessly into Mike McCarthy’s offense, and with a healthy Aaron Rodgers for an entire season, his potential is sky high. He will likely be drafted in, or close to, the first round of most formats in 2014.