Top 40 Pre-season Runningbacks

Jamaal Charles went from a good fantasy player to the star to own.  Doug martin returns from injury in Tampa and a handful of rookies hope to crack the line-ups with their teams.  Here’s my top 40 and their handcuffs.  I’m not big on handcuffs usually.  But you do need to know the names behind your starters.


1.  Adrian Peterson

Peterson should have a little more space to run with a better offensive situation heading into this season.  I expect 12-14 TD’s and 1,500 yards.

Handcuff: Matt Asiata – Asiata scored 3 TD’s in a game last year.  Jerrick McKinnon is a name to know behind Peterson also.

2.  LeSean McCoy

McCoy excelled in Chip Kelly’s offense.  A few less touches may be in order.  But he is again the centerpiece.

Handcuff: Darren Sproles – Sproles may have his own role cut out.  But if McCoy goes down it will increase.  Chris Polk would also get touches as the bigger short situation goal line back.

3.  Jamaal Charles

Jamaal Charles blew up last season.  KC didn’t do anything to bring in help for the offense.  So Charles will again be the focal point.

Handcuff: Knile Davis – He’s a solid rusher who’s battled fumbling issues.  Wont see the field much as long as Charles is healthy.

4.  Eddie Lacy

Lacy can carry the load rushing and impact the passing game.  I feel like they will showcase him even more this season.

Handcuff: James Starks – Quality runner who can be leaned on if anything happens to Lacy. He’ll get some carries no matter what.

5.  Matt Forte

Forte had a big year rushing for 1339 and 12 overall scores.  Add 74 receptions and 16 games played and it was a dream season.  Scoring and health have never been his thing.  i think the TD’s come down a bit and his health is always a worry.  Still a great fantasy option.

Handcuff: Shaun Draughn has been far and away the second best back in bears camp

6.  Marshawn Lynch

Lynch is a should run for 1200 plus yards and score double-digit TD’s.  He’ll catch a fair amount of balls also.

Handcuff: Robert Turbin – Turbin should see a few more carries this season.  Christine Michael is another name to familiarize yourself with if anything should happen to Lynch.

7.  Alfred Morris

Morris is a workhorse back who is transitioning into a pass first offense.  He’ll still get his carries and goal line opportunities.  I expect his receptions to go up to 20 plus.  Somethings he’s been working on.

Handcuff: Roy Helu – He’ll get his share of time.  He fits well into this offense.  If Morris gets hurt or is a disaster in the passing game Helu’s role will increase.

8. Andre Ellington

Ellington was rarely used at the start of 2013.  154 yard game against Atlanta opened some eyes.  I believe he’ll catch over 60 passes this season.  getting in the end zone may be the only thing stopping him from a top 5 finish amongst runningbacks.

Handcuff: Stepfan Taylor – Taylor is more of a change of pace between the tackles type back. Could vulture some goal line carries.  Jonathon Dwyer will get his looks to be the back up also.

9.  Doug Martin

Martin and the Bucs had a horrific 2013.  Martin comes back from injury looking like he did as a rookie.  He’ll make an impact rushing and receiving.

Handcuff: Bobby Rainey  – Rainey is a small shifty back who could see some 3rd down action.  If  Martin goes down, Rainey could help you out as a flex or RB two.  Mike James is a name to know also.

10.  DeMarco Murray

Staying healthy has never been Murray’s thing.  But he did produce in the 14 games he suited up for in 2013.  His ten overall touchdowns could be duplicated this year.

Handcuff: Lance Dunbar – Coming into year three Dunbar is one of the most won handcuffs as Murray gets nicked up quite a bit.

11. Montee Ball

Ball may start off slow as he had an appendectomy in the preseason.  He should be ready for week one but it may take a few weeks to hit his form.  Ball is by far the most talented back on the roster.

Handcuff: Juwan Thompson – The rookie has taken full advantage of his time while other backs have not.

12. Giovanni Bernard

There’ll be more running this season.  Bernard is a solid receiver also.  Jeremy Hill had a lot of buzz coming into the season.  but a shoulder injury could slow that down and Boost Bernard’s stock.

Handcuff: Jeremy Hill – The Bengals want hill to be the change of pace back.  BenJarvus green-Ellis is still the steady vet.

13. Zac Stacy

Stacy is a tough runner who had four 100 yard games as a rookie.  He’s in a tough division defensively which could affect his stats. He can chip in with a few receptions a game.

Handcuff: Benny Cunningham – Cunningham is a decent return guy and averaged 5.6 yards per carry.  Including two excellent game in November last year.  He may see a bigger role this season.

14. Arian Foster

Foster said he contemplated retirement during the offseason  Never a good sign. Still he’s a talented runner who will be the main rusher with plenty of chances in the passing game.  He’s always had a problem with injuries.  boom or bust pick.

Hancuff: Jonathon Grimes – Grimes and Rookie Alfred Blue are both battling for the number two spot behind Foster.

15. Rashad Jennings

Jennings spent most of his career behind Jones-Drew in Jacksonville.  He’s fared well when given the chance.  He will be the lead back for the Giants.  but young rookie Andre Williams will get his chances as well.

Handcuff: Andre Williams – Looks like he could make an impact early when given opportunities.  Should be owned despite if you have Jennings on your team.

 16. Le’Veon Bell

Bell had a great rookie season after being injured early in the year.  Bell is solid in the passing game and is a nice PPR back.

Handcuff: LeGarrette Blount – Blount will get 6-8 carries per game.  We saw him take over as the Patriots lead back late last year. If he gets rolling he could put a dent into Bell’s value.

 17. Toby Gerhart

Gerhart gets his time to shine in Jacksonville after starting out as Adrian Peterson’s back up.  He’s already gotten nicked up in the preseason.  but if he can stay healthy, Gerhart would be a solid number 2 fantasy back.

Handcuff: Jordan Todman – Todman had some solid games late last year.  Denard Robinson and Storm Johnson are names to remember if you own Gerhart also.

18. Frank Gore

When will it end?  Gore is like father time.  just keeps going.  Many have been brought in as the next guy up.  Gore is the lone man standing.  He’ll be the main back again.

Handcuff: Carlos Hyde – Hyde should get some work.  Not enough to take him if you don’t own Gore.

19. Fred Jackson

Just when you thought it was over, Jackson came back to prove he’s the man and C.J. spiller is his handcuff.  Jackson has been getting way more snaps in preseason action.

Handcuff: Bryce Brown – Brown has shown he can carry the load when he was in Philly.

20. Reggie Bush

Bush is a lot like Spiller in that he can have huge game or be watching from the sidelines.  He’s a dual threat and a nice number two or flex option.

Handcuff: Joique bell – Bell really came into his own last year

21. C.J. Spiller

Spiller can win you some weeks.  But he’s inconsistent with his health and fred Jackson just keeps playing well.  Great number two back or flex as he has big number ability.

Handcuff: Bryce Brown

22. Shane Vereen

Vereen is another one who has had a hard time staying on the field.  He’s showed big play ability and his biggest value is in PPR formats.

Handcuff: James White – White is a hybrid type back.  Not a scat back or a big punisher.  He will chip in if Vereen goes down.  Could find himself as the pats main back if Ridley fumbles too.

23. Joique Bell

Bell’s carries double from 2012-13.  His TD’s went up to 8.  He’s a solid flex and bye week fill-in.  Especially if Bush goes down

24. Ryan Matthews

Matthews has toyed with many people emotions.  He doesn’t seem tough and physically he doesn’t hold up.  But he can have some big games if he ever stays healthy.

Handcuff: Donald Brown – Brown is a reliable back, but has been injured quite a bit himself.

25. Ben Tate

Tate finally gets his chance to shine after leaving Arian Fosters shadow.  He’ll get first crack on an offense that didn’t have a rushing touchdown last year.

Handcuff: Terrence West – West will get his chance to carry the ball and could replace Tate if things don’t go as planned.

26. Steven Ridley

Ridley was a huge bust last year.  Fumbles led to a benching and the Blount took over and that was it for Ridley.  He’s still a good runner.  But he’s a fumble or two away from being back on the shelf.

Handcuff: James White

27. Chris Johnson

What Chris Johnson shows up?  He wont rush for 2,000 yards again.  But if he can top 1,000 and chip in with 35 receptions he should be a decent flex.

28. Maurice Jones-Drew

Now with the Raiders, Jones-Drew will be the starter.  Darren McFadden can be effective and should take a few TD’s away.

29. Danny Woodhead

Woodhead was a good back to have this year.  He should be solid again and a guy you want as depth or a flex.  He’s good enough to start some weeks as an RB2.

30. Andre Williams

Williams was able to stay healthy for his senior season at Boston College.  He has shown he can be very effective in the preseason at the pro level.

31. Ray Rice

Rice had a bad season and a worse offseason.  He should bounce back somewhat after a poor 2013.  but I don’t expect his numbers to be what they once were.

Handcuff: Bernard Pierce – Pierce may end up as the starter.  He’s a tough between the tackles back and if healthy with a full work load could be a later round steal for you.

32. Bernard Pierce

I put the two ravens back to back because the race is that close.  I’m not a believer in rice anymore.  I’ve always like Pierce since he played at Temple.  Something to keep an eye on.

33. Terrence West

I felt that during the draft process Terrence West was one of the most underrated players coming out.  He has great size and good speed.  He’ll make an impact this year.  He has Ben Tate in front of him right now.

34. Lamar Miller

I’ve never liked Miller.  He has a great skill set but can’t put it together.  He can help out in the passing game but Daniel Thomas and Knowshon Moreno lurk.  This is his last chance for me.  There’s always the chance he could breakout in year three.


 35. Bishop Sankey

Sankey could wind up much higher at year’s end.  He’s young and just starting out. But he hasn’t looked great in the pre-season.  Shonn Greene has looked better but his knee is a constant issue and his long-term value is scary. He could be this year’s Giovanni Bernard, I wouldn’t reach for him.  His ADP is a bit higher than I’m willing to draft him.

36. Pierre Thomas

It’s the same old story in the Saints back field.  There’s going to be a trio of backs and Thomas will have his weeks.  It’s always tough to predict when it’ll be.

Handcuff: Khiry Robinson – Robinson could have a breakout year if things go his way.  It’s always a tough situation to gauge in NO with the backs.

37. Mark Ingram

See Pierre Thomas!  Khiry Robinson will get his chances to succeed also and I’ve always liked him.  He has the best chance to break out.  We know what Ingram and Thomas are.

38. Trent Richardson

He’s not  the guy the Colts thought they were getting.  Pair that with the fact the Colts offensive line can’t run block.  I’m passing on Trent and I think you should too.

Handcuff: Ahmad Bradshaw

39. Jonathon Stewart

Stewart is behind Williams on the depth chart for now.  But the younger Stewart has looked better in the preseason so far.  Carolina is desperate for playmakers and Stewart is as healthy as he’s been in a long time.  He’s a real sleeper you can get late.

40. Jeremy Hill

The Bengals want Hill to be the change of pace back.  He’s a little banged up with a shoulder injury.  But it’s not supposed to be serious.  They currently have BenJarvus green-Ellis as a fall back if Hill isn’t ready to be the rusher they need year one.


 Follow on twitter @LockhartFFB


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