The running back position is very deep with a lot of skilled players. There will be a few veterans that fantasy owners could take in the middle rounds for depth. However, some of those veterans should be left off of your team. They are getting up there in age and some had unproductive seasons in 2013. There are plenty of other rushers with tons of upside that won’t disappoint. When drafting, here are three running backs to avoid this season.
Chris Johnson, New York Jets: Johnson left the Tennessee Titans and signed with the Jets in April. He joins new arrivals Michael Vick and Eric Decker in an attempt to revamp the Jets offense. The team was 25th in yards per game (318.1) and 29th in points per game (18.1). While he did record over 1,000 rushing yards, Johnson only had two 100-yard games and the longest rush of the season was 30 yards. In 2012, he had five 100-yard games and the longest rush was 94 yards.
Johnson also had surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his right knee. The Jets offensive line had a poor showing in 2013. Rookie quarterback Geno Smith was sacked 43 times. Unless the offensive line can improve its blocking, avoid Johnson for the 2014 season.
Frank Gore, San Francisco 49ers: Gore has been one of the most consistent running backs in fantasy football. He rushed for over 1,100 yards in three straight seasons and played in all 16 games for two years in a row. While he may finish with over 1,100 yards again, there will be a two other running backs who could take away some carries — Marcus Lattimore returning from injury and newly-drafted Carlos Hyde.
The 49ers have also developed their passing game with Colin Kaepernick, Anquan Boldin, Michael Crabtree and Vernon Davis. The team also has sophomore receiver Quinton Patton and veteran Brandon Lloyd for backup purposes. Gore will be the highest-drafted of the three, but don’t be surprised if he rushes for less than 1,000 yards this year.
Steven Jackson, Atlanta Falcons: After nine seasons with the St. Louis Rams, Jackson joined the Falcons in order to win a Super Bowl ring. Unfortunately for him and the team, the Falcons finished the season 4-12 and Jackson missed multiple weeks with a hamstring injury. He finished the season as the 32nd-best running back in fantasy. His 543 rushing yards and 3.5 yards per carry were the lowest of his career.
Jackson turns 31 this July, but the ship has already sailed on Jackson being a productive fantasy running back. The offensive line was one of the worst in the league. Quarterback Matt Ryan was sacked 44 times, tied for the third-most in the league. The Falcons added Jake Matthews to help the line, but may have found Jackson’s backup in Devonta Freeman. Jackson should be left off rosters in all 10-team leagues.