Fantasy Football 2014: Running Back Rankings

Fantasy Football 2014: Running Back Rankings


Fantasy Football 2014: Running Back Rankings

Andre Ellington was the lone bright spot in Week 8

The running back rankings are here. [You can also check the QB and the WR rankings]. I’ve done a lot of work up until now on some fantasy RB research projects. Some of that will be related to what when into these rankings.

So let’s jump right in. I like to go through and see where I am different than consensus data to examine why (and then you can decide if I am off my rocker or you agree with the rationale). Everyone has the top 4, and there is good reason for that.

Giovanni Bernard shifty touchdown against Bills

After that, I do have some differences. These are PPR rankings I am listing, and I have Giovani Bernard and Andre Ellington higher than consensus. With Bernard, it’s pretty simple. Maybe the drafting of Jeremy Hill has some people holding him back, but I think that is more likely to replace Green-Ellis’ production (or at least split it). Bernard was a yardage machine as part of a platoon. I am not even projecting “workhorse” splits out of him, but with an increase to where he should get more than half the rushing yards, to go with likely being one of the top 5 backs in receptions, he moves into the top group. (He is 10th in non-PPR projection).

For Ellington, well, I think he has “Jamaal Charles in 2010” type upside. Charles was going 14th by ADP, with concerns over his size, despite his great production in a platoon and then taking over for Larry Johnson late in the year. Ellington is a fantastic receiver, and can make big plays. Arizona’s backs had roughly 2,150 yards from scrimmage and 13 touchdowns last year, and that was with the vast majority of carries going to guys that averaged 3.0 yards a carry. Ellington, even if he regresses in yards per carry from his 5.5 average, is going to get more yards. I didn’t even project him to get half the team’s total rushing yards, or half the touchdowns, and he still gets this projection. That means upside if I am wrong. He can absolutely be a RB1 while getting 14-16 carries and 5 catches a game. I think he leads the NFL in catches by a running back if he stays healthy.

On the flip side, it looks like I am way lower on another NFC West back, Zac Stacy. Stacy averaged 3.9 yards per carry last year. He got a large volume of touches in St. Louis, which allowed him to be a fantasy producer and for people to project the second half spurt to this year. That will, of course, depend on him getting an excessive percentage of carries. The team added Tre Mason, so I am not projecting that this is a full time share like we might see in Carolina or New England, but I also don’t see him getting 80% of the carries. And if he doesn’t, I don’t think he comes close to justifying his position.

zac stacy st. louis rams

For what it’s worth, here’s a list of rookie running backs who had the most similar fantasy points to Zac Stacy, among those drafted outside the top 20 in the NFL Draft (Stacy was a 5th round pick). I also excluded some that were not going to be starters the next year to try to get similar players. Here they are: Errict Rhett, Ronald Moore, Kevin Smith, Kevin Jones, Rashaan Salaam, Ryan Grant, Antowain Smith, Bam Morris, Reggie Brooks, Johnny Johnson.

That group averaged 14.6 games played, 142 fantasy points in PPR, and an average PPR finish of 29th. That group bares some resemblance to Stacy, most of them were not starters at the start of the year (or had injuries early in the year), and were getting heavier workloads late. I am leery of Stacy, because to justify his ADP or exceed, he needs an even heavier workload, or he needs to get bigger chunks of yards.

Finally, after the top 40, I don’t necessarily follow the straight point projection. Once you are past the clear platoon guys who have upside to become the man, it doesn’t really matter if your backup gets 6 points a game or 5. I also tried to rank on upside if something drastic like an injury to the starter happened. PPR Rankings here, non-PPR to follow:

  1. LeSean McCoy, PHI (274)
  2. Jamaal Charles, KC (265)
  3. Matt Forte, CHI (248)
  4. Adrian Peterson, MIN (230)
  5. Giovani Bernard, CIN (222)
  6. Montee Ball, DEN (221)
  7. Andre Ellington, ARI (221)
  8. DeMarco Murray, DAL (219)
  9. Arian Foster, HOU (215)
  10. Reggie Bush, DET (211)
  11. Eddie Lacy, GB (209)
  12. Le’Veon Bell, PIT (207)
  13. Doug Martin, TB (207)
  14. Alfred Morris, WAS (203)
  15. Toby Gerhart, JAC (201)
  16. Marshawn Lynch, SEA (199)
  17. C.J. Spiller, BUF (195)
  18. Bishop Sankey, TEN (194)
  19. Shane Vereen, NE (192)
  20. Rashad Jennings, NYG (186)
  21. Ryan Mathews, SD (179)
  22. Trent Richardson, IND (178)
  23. Chris Johnson, NYJ (174)
  24. Joique Bell, DET (170)
  25. Zac Stacy, STL (170)
  26. Frank Gore, SF (167)
  27. Ray Rice, BAL (157)+adjusted for replacement value of two game suspension
  28. Ben Tate, CLE (164)
  29. Steven Jackson, ATL (161)
  30. Darren Sproles, PHI (160)
  31. Lamar Miller, MIA (154)
  32. Darren McFadden, OAK (152)
  33. Pierre Thomas, NO (152)
  34. Danny Woodhead, SD (148)
  35. Stevan Ridley, NE (145)
  36. DeAngelo Williams, CAR (139)
  37. Khiry Robinson, NO (137)
  38. Fred Jackson, BUF (137)
  39. Knowshon Moreno, MIA (136)
  40. Maurice Jones-Drew, OAK (130)
  41. Bernard Pierce, BAL (124)
  42. Andre Williams, NYG (111)
  43. Knile Davis, KC (93)
  44. Christine Michael, SEA (94)
  45. Carlos Hyde, SF (97)
  46. Ka’Deem Carey, CHI (90)
  47. Terrance West, CLE (95)
  48. James Starks, GB (96)
  49. Tre Mason, STL (88)
  50. Devonta Freeman, ATL (100)
  51. Stepfan Taylor, ARI (100)
  52. Mark Ingram, NO (99)
  53. Roy Helu, WAS (96)
  54. Jonathan Stewart, CAR (93)
  55. Alfred Blue, HOU (86)
  56. Jeremy Hill, CIN (84)
  57. Ronnie Hillman, DEN (82)
  58. Donald Brown, SD (89)
  59. Ahmad Bradshaw, IND (87)
  60. Chris Polk, PHI (75)
  61. Brandon Bolden, NE (83)
  62. Lance Dunbar, DAL (79)
  63. Marcel Reece, OAK (85)
  64. Mike Tolbert, CAR (81)
  65. LeGarrette Blount, PIT (72)
  66. Chris Ivory, NYJ (82)
  67. Theo Riddick, DET (78)
  68. Shonn Greene, TEN (75)
  69. James White, NE (73)
  70. C.J. Anderson, DEN (66)

UPDATE: Here are the non-PPR rankings, top 40, using the same projections (after that, my thoughts don’t change much).

  1. LeSean McCoy, PHI
  2. Jamaal Charles, KC
  3. Matt Forte, CHI
  4. Adrian Peterson, MIN
  5. Montee Ball, DEN
  6. Arian Foster, HOU
  7. DeMarco Murray, DAL
  8. Alfred Morris, WAS
  9. Eddie Lacy, GB
  10. Giovani Bernard, CIN
  11. Andre Ellington, ARI
  12. Doug Martin, TB
  13. Marshawn Lynch, SEA
  14. Reggie Bush, DET
  15. Le’Veon Bell, PIT
  16. Toby Gerhart, JAC
  17. Bishop Sankey, TEN
  18. C.J. Spiller, BUF
  19. Ryan Mathews, SD
  20. Rashad Jennings, NYG
  21. Frank Gore, SF
  22. Zac Stacy, STL
  23. Chris Johnson, NYJ
  24. Trent Richardson, IND
  25. Shane Vereen, NE
  26. Ben Tate, CLE
  27. Ray Rice, BAL +adjusted for replacement value of two game suspension
  28. Steven Jackson, ATL
  29. Joique Bell, DET
  30. Stevan Ridley, NE
  31. Lamar Miller, MIA
  32. Darren McFadden, OAK
  33. Khiry Robinson, NO
  34. DeAngelo Williams, CAR
  35. Darren Sproles, PHI
  36. Fred Jackson, BUF
  37. Knowshon Moreno, MIA
  38. Maurice Jones-Drew, OAK
  39. Pierre Thomas, NO
  40. Danny Woodhead, SD
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