As the league has shifted toward more of a passing league, the days of workhorse running backs are going by the wayside. For us in the fantasy world, that means it's more important than ever to grab that elite running back early in your draft. Last season, only two players had 300 carries and nine had 275. Here are my top five backs to target at the top of your draft for fantasy:
1) Jamaal Charles
Charles wasn't one of those I referred to above with 275 carries, but he did have 259 for 1,289 yards while catching 70 balls for almost 700 yards a year ago. Last year he produced 14 plays of 20 yards or more, tied for third best in the league among RBs. Yes, there are offensive line issues in Kansas City with several starters departing in free agency including Branden Albert to Miami and Geoff Schwartz to the Giants but Charles accomplished his stats in fewer touches than McCoy or Forte one year ago. He was the #1 RB in fantasy last year, and he's my #1 in 2014.
2) Adrian Peterson
Adrian Peterson in 14 games managed to gain 1,266 yards and 10 touchdowns. Extrapolate that to 16 games, sprinkle in the fact that Norv Turner has now taken the reins of the offense and you have a bonafide #1 fantasy running back. Now AP has been the cream of the crop for six or seven years now, and even though he is rapidly approaching the age of 30, he's still as good as ever. Behind an offensive line better known for run blocking rather than pass blocking, I expect Peterson to eclipse his 2013 numbers and rush for 1500 yards in 2014.
3) LeSean McCoy
Chip Kelly's offense featured LeSean McCoy a year ago and despite getting Darren Sproles in the offseason, I fully expect McCoy to duplicate if not better his numbers in season two under the new regime. Last season, he rushed for 1,607 yards and caught 52 passes for 539 yards. In a division littered with teams that have less than stellar defenses, expect the Eagles to once again put up pinball type numbers and win the division in a cakewalk.
4) Montee Ball
UGA product Knowshon Moreno departs for Miami which now leaves the starting tailback position all to Montee Ball. An emergency appendectomy has the former Wisconsin Badger sidelined for a few weeks, but no long term worries as he is expected to be ready for week one. Moreno last year was the #5 back in fantasy, scoring at will along with his teammates in a record breaking season. Ball last season was a liability on passing downs, not efficient pass blocking or catching the ball out of the backfield. This offseason, that all changed. Ball has really worked on those two areas of his game and is primed for a breakout sophomore campaign.
5) Eddie Lacy
The former Alabama star back burst onto the scene last year to the tune of 11 touchdowns and over 1400 total yards in a Green Bay offense that is set up for a running back to have massive success. With Aaron Rodgers spearheading the passing attack, there is a lot of room to roam for Lacy, who despite spending time on the sidelines at Alabama missed just one game due to injury last season in Green Bay. In a standard league, he is even more valuable than he would be in a points per reception league. I wouldn't hesitate taking him with a first round pick in either format in an offense you know is going to score a boatload of points.
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