Fantasy Football: RB Rankings Analysis

Who is the top RB in 2015? Which RBs get a bump in PPR leagues? What about sleepers?

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FANTASY QB RANKINGS ANALYSIS](http://www.colts.com/news/article-fantasyfootball/Fantasy-Football-QB-Rankings-Analysis/fdbdbfb2-45d3-45d7-be85-db35924e0137)

INDIANAPOLIS --- It's a battle as fierce as Chipotle vs. Qdoba vs. Moe's for best burrito place. For the first time in recent years, there is no consensus #1 RB in fantasy football, leading to debate among analysts and experts about who is the best backfield option at the top of fantasy drafts in 2015.

What's even more interesting is the public disagrees with the NFL.com fantasy experts' top-5 RBs so far this Summer.

NFL.com Average Draft Position (average pick)

Eddie Lacy (1.45)

Adrian Peterson (2.31)

Jamaal Charles (3.64)

Le'Veon Bell (4.65)

Marshawn Lynch (6.08)

Here is how NFL.com ranks running backs in their 2015 Draft Kit:

2015 NFL.com Fantasy RB Rankings (Average Draft Round on NFL.com 10-team leagues)

MIN Adrian Peterson (1st)

GB Eddie Lacy (1st)

PIT Le'Veon Bell (1st)

HOU Arian Foster (1st)

KC Jamaal Charles (1st)

BUF LeSean McCoy (2nd)

SEA Marshawn Lynch (1st)

CHI Matt Forte (1st)

DEN C.J. Anderson (2nd)

PHI DeMarco Murray (2nd)

BAL Justin Forsett (3rd)

NO Mark Ingram (3rd)

CIN Jeremy Hill (2nd)

WAS Alfred Morris (4th)

ARZ Andre Ellington (6th)

SF Carlos Hyde (5th)

CAR Jonathan Stewart (4th)

DET Joique Bell (5th)

MIA Lamar Miller (4th)

OAK Latavius Murray (5th)

IND Frank Gore (5th)

SD Melvin Gordon (6th)

NE LeGarrette Blount (8th)

NYJ Chris Ivory (10th)

CLE Isaiah Crowell (13th)

DAL Darren McFadden (6th)

ATL Tevin Coleman (13th)

CLE Terrance West (15th)

CIN Giovani Bernard (9th)

STL Todd Gurley (9th)

NYG Rashad Jennings (8th)

JAX T.J. Yeldon (10th)

PIT DeAngelo Williams (12th)

NO C.J. Spiller (10th)

DET Ameer Abdullah (15th)

SF Reggie Bush (15th)

DAL Joseph Randle (10th)

ATL Devonta Freeman (15th)

STL Tre Mason (12th)

Knile Davis (15th)



My #1 RB --- If Le'Veon Bell wasn't suspended for three games, everybody would have him as the #1 pick in 2015. He didn't outscore DeMarco Murray last season, finishing 10 points behind for 2nd among RBs, but Bell was incredible down the stretch, averaging 23.9 fantasy points per week over the last 6 weeks, carry teams to championship glory. If you are confident you can draft well enough to withstand not having Bell for three weeks, I wouldn't criticize drafting him #1.

Momentum is building for Adrian Peterson among experts to be the #1 pick, after he returned to the Vikings during OTAs. I'm not sure why. Even in 2013, Peterson was only the #6 RB. With the top-pick in drafts, I'd rather have a high-floor pick. I think the public does too, as evidenced by Eddie Lacy currently being the top drafted player on NFL.com. I certainly think Lacy has the highest touchdown upside of this group, being in the Packers offense. Lynch has been great, but at what point does the overuse catch up to him? He's still a top-5 pick but not #1 to me.

I'd rather take Jamaal Charles for my safe #1 pick, even after he burned owners with only 11 total points in weeks 15 and 16 last year. He's only a year removed from being the top RB in fantasy. None of the other four options (Peterson, Lacy, Charles, Lynch) really excites me though. For me, I'm confident I can draft well enough around Bell's suspension. There are some viable middle round RB options to fill the 3-week void. He was incredible last year.

Foster #4? --- By far, this is the ranking by NFL.com that had me scratching my head the most. I don't get it. Foster did finish as the #5 RB in fantasy last year, despite missing three games, but that's the point. Do you want to spend a top-5 pick on a player that missed three games last year and 8 more the year before that? I don't. I have Charles, Lynch, and C.J. Anderson ahead of him. Foster's individual and team situations are too risky for me to rank him in the top five RBs.

The reigning #1 is ranked 10th. Why? --- DeMarco Murray led all running backs with 282 fantasy points in standard leagues last year in Dallas, but now, he's in Philadelphia. I agree with NFL.com's ranking on Murray. He will share the duties with Ryan Mathews in Philly (and Darren Sproles is still around). The biggest reason why Murray isn't a first round pick for me doesn't have to do with his new offense though. I stand by what I wrote in February about DeMarco Murray for fantasy 2015:

"Wherever Murray goes in 2015, I likely won't want any part of him. Why? The ridiculous number of touches he had in 2014. Murray had 436 carries, including the postseason, in 2014 (and 61 more receptions). Arian Foster had 405 carries in 2012 and missed 8 games the following year. Maurice Jones-Drew had a career-high 386 touches in 2011 and was only healthy for 6 games in 2012. Michael Turner had 394 carries in 2008, including the playoffs, missed 5 games the next season, and saw his fantasy production almost cut in half.

Murray had 392 carries in the regular season alone this past year. The last player to have that many carries in a regular season was Chiefs RB Larry Johnson in 2006, when he had 416. Johnson had 429 carries in 2006 if you include his one playoff game. So, that still doesn't reach Murray's 436 carries from 2014. Johnson never played a full season again after that, playing in only 37 of a potential 96 games over the remaining six years of his career."

C.J. is Okay--- Anderson is my #6 RB behind the top-5 group of Bell, Lacy, Peterson, Charles, and Lynch. When he became the starter last year in 2014, he carried fantasy teams to wins. He was the RB waiver wire MVP. Anderson averaged 19.75 points per week from week 10 until the end of the season. For perspective, that was almost as good as Le'Veon Bell amazing stretch run, who averaged about 21 points per week over that span. Now the Broncos have the same head coach that made Arian Foster famous (and Peyton Manning isn't getting any younger). Yes, please.

Gorenado Warning --- Frank Gore is ranked too low at #21 by NFL.com. In what is shaping up to be a prolific Colts offense, we already saw what a hard runner with great catching ability can do for fantasy owners in this offense last year with Ahmad Bradshaw. The 10 touchdown upside for Gore alone should have him ranked higher than 21st among running backs, considering only two RBs last year rushed for double-digit touchdowns (that surprised me - Lynch & Murray). Gore also averaged 50 receptions from 2006-2010. He told me his receptions went down after that in San Francisco because Colin Kaepernick liked to throw downfield more than Alex Smith. Andrew Luck has utilized the checkdown often, and we've already seen Gore catching passes during OTAs, even lining up as a wideout during the Colts' open practice at Lucas Oil Stadium. Gore is a borderline RB1 to me this year, and I'd rank him in the 12-14 range. I would take him ahead of every RB ranked 14th-20th above.

Will the Saint come marching in? --- Mark Ingram had his best season last year, finishing tied for the 14th best RB in fantasy. TE Jimmy Graham is gone, as is WR Kenny Stills and RB Pierre Thomas, and New Orleans beefed up their offensive line. All good reasons to rank Ingram 12th, but it's still too high for me. Why? Here comes C.J. Spiller. Word on Bourbon Street is Sean Payton plans to utilize Spiller like he did Darren Sproles when he first arrived in New Orleans. Don't forget Sproles was a top-20 RB and even better in PPR leagues when that happened. Spiller is a big threat to Ingram's workload. That's why I'd rather have Jeremy Hill, Alfred Morris, Jonathan Stewart, Lamar Miller, and Frank Gore over him.

Miller Lite? --- Only a #19 ranking for Lamar Miller, despite finishing 9th among RBs last year? Believe it. I'd have him a tad higher than 19th, but not enough to argue with NFL.com's ranking. Why? His fantasy finish last year was warped by 178 yards and a touchdown in week 17 that helped nobody. Alfred Morris has more 30 yard runs in his career than Miller. For somebody of his speed, that number should be higher. The Dolphins also drafted Jay Ajayi (Boise State) to compete with him. I'm not as concerned about that, but for these reasons, I have Miller as a solid RB2 but not somebody who will repeat as a RB1.

May the Forsett be with you --- Get Forsett on your team this year, especially if you are in PPR leagues. Here comes offensive coordinator Marc Trestman (former Bears head coach), the offensive guru, who helps fantasy RBs. Forte blew up under Trestman. His RBs are known to catch a lot of passes. Forsett fits that mold, having caught 44 last year. When I was at the Pro Bowl, John Harbaugh gushed over Forsett wanting him back badly. The Ravens re-signed him, and here we go, with Forsett having a great situation to repeat or improve upon his 2014 season, where he finished as the #8 RB in standard scoring. I'm loving a draft strategy where I draft two elite WRs then take Forsett or Gore.

PPR Bump --- Here are the running backs that get a boost if you are in point per reception leagues, in my opinion: Bell (82 receptions last year), Forte (just slightly up ahead of McCoy, but won't have 102 receptions again without Trestman as OC), Forsett (top-10 PPR for me), Ellington (don't sleep on him, 6th in RB receptions in 2014 despite missing 4 ½ games), Bernard, Spiller (wouldn't surprise me at all if Spiller outscored Ingram in PPR leagues, draft accordingly)

PPR Fade --- Here are the running backs that I'm fading in PPR leagues, because of their lack of receptions: Morris, Ingram, Gordon, Hyde (Bush is in SF to take away receptions), Bell, Blount

Sleepers outside the top-40 RBs --- Ryan Mathews (PHI), Duke Johnson (CLE), David Cobb (TEN), Dan "Boom" Herron (IND)

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