2014 Fantasy Football – RB Rankings/Outlook Part 2

16 – Toby Gerhart – There are high expectations for Toby Gerhart around the NFL in 2014. With next to no competition behind him, Gerhart should be considered a three-down workhouse and will eat up carries in Jacksonville this season. Multiple sources have confirmed that there is a real shot at Gerhart hitting 300 carries in 2014. Gus Bradley is looking to replicate the team he helped build in Seattle – a conservative passing scheme, ferocious defense and a workhorse in the ground game. “Knowing he was going to have to pass protect, catch the ball out of the backfield and get tough yardage, he was a really good fit for us,” Bradley spoke on RB Toby Gerhart. “Gus comes from the Seattle Seahawks’ model of playing good defense, relying on the run game where Marshawn Lynch was their ‘Beast Mode’ out there. Hopefully, I’ll be the ‘Beast Mode’ down here for the Jaguars,” said Gerhart. Gerhart isn’t part of an explosive offense, but he is one of our favorite RB2 in fantasy football for this season and should be drafted with confidence. Jordan “The Todfather” Todman remains Geharts’s handcuff and should be viewed as a “change of pace” back.

 

17 – Andre Ellington – HC Bruce Arians has shouted his plans for Ellington from the rooftops. Some of the terms used by Arians were workhouse, feature back, 25-30 touches per game, etc. In 2013, the Cardinals averaged 20.0 PPG in Weeks 1-8 before jumping the offensive assault to 27.3 PPG in Weeks 9-17. The offensive trend is relative to the entire team becoming more comfortable with Arians’ approach and we expect the production to carry into 2014. Expect Ellington to be heavily involved in both the passing attack and running game for the Cardinals this season. 25-30 touches per game is a bit advantageous and we don’t expect him to be there. However, the 275-300 touch mark on the season isn’t completely out of line for Ellington. In PPR Leagues, Ellington will be a stud. In other leagues, we consider him a solid RB2.

 

18 – Ryan Mathews – “Ryan is as tough as a runner as I’ve been around,” says Chargers OC Frank Reich. “He’s just a physically dominating runner. And he brings a physical presence to the game, which we love. The offensive line senses it, and they love blocking for him because of his physicality.” Mathews is clearly the workhorse back in a heavy run Offensive Scheme, however, the addition of RBs Donald Brown and Marion Grice will reduce Mathews early season workload. Mathews ran the ball over 26 times per game the last 4 games of the season last year which resulted in his poor playoff performance. This season, the Chargers take on 5 teams that rank below 20th in the league against the Run.

 

19 – C.J. Spiller – Spiller admitted that there’s a big difference in the teams running game with a year of experience under their belt in the new offensive running scheme. With this being said, Bills coaches want Spiller to touch the ball 20 times this season. They said the same last year – they wanted him to run until he got sick. With a deep backfield, we don’t see this being too realistic. There are two things that limited Spiller’s production last season. The first, E.J. Manuel. Manuel struggled mightily last season in every aspect of being an NFL QB. This resulted in the Bills running the ball high 546 times while defenses continued to pack it in. Secondly, Spiller was playing hurt a majority of the season while the Bills continued to throw him in between tackles. That’s not Spiller’s game. He succeeds off of screens, pitches, etc. The Bills need to establish the passing game for a now healthy Spiller to create space in order for him to be more effective.

 

20 – Shane Vereen – We absolutely loved Shane Vereen last season as we pegged him as our Biggest 2013 Fantasy Football Sleeper. We felt good after his dominate Week 1 performance before going down to injury. In 10 games last season he still managed 761 Total yards with 7 Touchdowns. With Aaron Dobson slated to start camp on the PUP list alongside Gronkowski, expect Vereen to line up as RB, Slot-WR and Outside-WR. That being said, Vareen will see touches one way or the other. Look for him to be an X-Factor for the New England Offense. Be prepared for a breakout season!

 

21 – Joique Bell – Read what we have about Reggie Bush. To add to that, Joique Bell will see the biggest jump in production with new OC Joe Lombardi. Lombardi is known as a RBBC type OC and he has the guys to do it. Joique has caught 50+ ball the past two seasons and is a lock again in 2014. Bell will also see more rushing and goal line attempts this season, which gives him huge Fantasy potential in this Lions Offense!

 

22 – Stevan Ridley – Ridley enters into a contract year as he’s in the final year of his rookie deal. Ridley is in a top offense, where he will score if he’s in the game. He’ll be in the game if he isn’t fumbling. Shane Vereen doesn’t pose as too big of a risk to Ridley as Vereen will most likely be featured in the passing game, perhaps filling in the Aaron Hernandez Move TE position. The Pats have yet to start contract talks with Ridley – word is if he plays well he could be in line for a big contract. Ridley says he’s trying to put his fumbling problems behind him. A lighter and faster Stevan Ridley could be in line for a very productive season behind one of the best Offensive Lines in the NFL. 

 

23 – Bishop Sankey – The Tennessee Titans made it clear this offseason that they want to incorporate a Running Back By Committee approach this season. Rookie Titan RB, Bishop Sankey, will likely lead the team in production and carries but Shonn Greene will be the goal line and power back, while new addition Dexter McCluster will be featured in a Danny Woodhead type role. The Titans still have a very talented Offensive Line which definitely helps these backs, however, Greene receiving the majority of Goal Line carries doesn’t bode well for the Rookie RB in the Committee approach.

 

24 – Ben Tate – Browns.com’s Vic Carucci considers Ben Tate “at least a slight favorite” at RB, but expects third-round pick Terrance West to pose serious competition. Ben Tate was recently quoted saying, “I’m not worried about that because I know when I’m on my game, there’s no one that can really touch me or that’s close to what I do.” Tate has had a colorful injury history that make many hesitant including us. Cleveland will employ a heavy rushing attack in 2014 and Terrance West will pose as a serious threat to Tate. If you decide to draft Tate, surround yourself with the handcuff and additional backs to support this pick. Regardless, Cleveland will be implementing a heavy rushing attack. The Browns play 8 teams that ranked in the bottom half against the run in 2013.

 

25 – Terrance West – West v. Tate is one of the biggest battles this summer. If you haven’t heard, West is a physical freak than weighs in at 225 and runs a 4.54 forty time. He’s often reminded Shanahan of a runner similar to Alfred Morris, a player who succeeded immensely under Shany’s Offense in Washington. Like we said on Tate, he’s got a colorful injury history, but with the Browns implementing a heavy run attack they’ll both get their share of carries. Keep an eye on this situation and continue to check back when Fantasy Drafts approach. The Browns play 8 teams that ranked in the bottom half against Fantasy Running Backs in 2013. 

 

 26 – Trent Richardson – Richardson will be given a short leash in INDI this season. Both fantasy owners and the Colts organization are grabbing anything they can to point the blame at Richardson’s awful 2013 performance. Ironically, Indi has shifted media attention from Richardson lacking instinct to him not being completely comfortable or understanding the offense after being traded. Pagano said he wants a “bellcow” back this year in Indi as Richardson looks to reclaim his 3rd overall pick value. Indi has casted early support on Richardson and he will get every opportunity to produce. Consider Richardson a RB3 in 2014.

 

27 – Rashad Jennings – Jennings at the age of 29 will be the New York Giants “workhorse” in 2014. Jennings doesn’t have any tread on his tires as he’s only carried the ball 388 times in his NFL career. What we love most about Jennings is that he plays in the NFC East, so he’ll be playing the Cowboys and Redskins twice. Last season the Dallas Cowboys gave up an average of 23.0 Fantasy points per game to opposing running backs (Ranked last in the NFL against Fantasy RBs.) The Washington Redskins gave up an average of 20.1 Fantasy points per game to opposing RBs (Ranked 4th to last in the NFL against Fantasy RBs.) Their schedule outside of this is fairly tough, so expect some inconsistency out of Jennings this season, although his ability to catch the ball will help temper this as well as their very bad Offensive Line. With this being said the NYG’s are looking to implement a 3-Man RB rotation in order to keep Jennings fresh for the entire season. This will most likely be a rotation with recently cleared David Wilson and 0% agile goal line rookie runner Andre Williams.

 

28 – Frank Gore – Each year fantasy owners question Frank Gore’s age and ability and each year he churns out another solid season. At age 31, Gore not only has age and an extensive amount of carries to his name, but he also has a number of youthful RB’s waiting in the wings. The 49ers round out their rushing attack with Gore, Carlos Hyde, Kendall Hunter and Marcus Lattimore. Numerous reports have surfaced that Gore will receive 50+ fewer carries in 2014. We feel that Gore is still serviceable, but when plugging him in expect a lower ceiling player to go against opponents. We consider Gore a low-end RB2 in 2014.

 

29 – Chris Johnson – Rex Ryan said Chris “CJ?K” Johnson was “flying” in the mandatory conditioning running. CJ?K was recently cleared after surgery on his 2013 torn meniscus injury. He’s in line to share a workload with Chris Ivory and Bilal Powell and remains a low end RB2. Remember when Chris Johnson GUARANTEED to rush for 2,500 yards and win MVP, Geno Smith has GUARANTEED the Playoffs to New York in 2014 and Rex Ryan GUARANTEES everything. In other news, ESPN New York expects a timeshare/backfield by committee approach between CJ?K and Powell/Ivory this season. Johnson will see much less volume than he did in Tennessee and shouldn’t be viewed as the option he was in years past.

 

30 – Pierre Thomas – Pierre Thomas has never had more than 150 Rushing Attempts in a Season, he has only once accumulated over 700 Rushing Yards and will not light up the scoreboard with TD’s for fantasy owners. With Darren Sproles out of town, there will be a level of consistency associated with his 77 Receptions from last season. Thomas’ numbers are balanced between rushing and receiving yards, but he is a much better option in PPR Leagues due to the uptempo NOLA Offense and the receptions that he grabs as benefactor to that aerial assault.

 

31 – Jeremy Hill – Hill is a guy that can continue to rise within the ranks while training camp lingers. Hill is slotted to take over the Law Firm’s position as the teams primary goal line back, who carried the ball 220 times last year. New OC Hue Jackson wants to “take the load” off the passing game this season, which will help open up the “deep ball” in A.J. Green and the Bengals.  Remember what Raiders Michael Bush did in 2011 under Hue Jackson when DMC went down? He totaled 5 games over 100 total yards with DMC’s absence – with Gio’s and Hills playmaking ability, they’ll both flourish in the 2014 Fantasy Season.

 

32 – Lamar Miller – There’s a lot of “things” that can happen in Miami that can end up changing Lamar Miller’s rank, ala Knowshon Moreno.  The Dolphins brought in former Philly Eagles OC Bill Lazor who had the 4th most rushing attempts in the NFL last year (the Dolphins ranked 29th in rushing attempts.) Lazor plans to open the field a lot more this year (a good thing for Mike Wallace) and play at a faster pace, all good things for Lamar Miller owners. The Miami Dolphins have improved their Offensive line since the drama that occurred last season, which will limit the amount of Pass Protection from Miami RB’s. Last season Lamar Miller stayed in to pass protect 127 times (5th most in the NFL) and Daniel Thomas 91 (19th most). A healthy and in shape Knowshon Moreno will definitely pose a threat to Lamar Miller’s Fantasy Production, keep posted to @LegionReport as I’m sure things will change closer to drafts.

 

33 – Bernard Pierce – Recently cleared for a full go, Pierce looks to rebound off a rough 2013 season. With Ray Rice suspended the first two games, Pierce is the heavy favorite to start those games. In Week 1 Baltimore hosts the Bengals who only gave up a 3rd best 11.8 points to Fantasy Running Backs last season. In Week 2 the Ravens host the Steelers on a Thursday Night Game (short rest) who gave up the 20th most points to RBs last year at 17.1 Fantasy Points Per Game. Under new OC, Gary Kubiak, Pierce is aiming for a comeback/career season. Kubiak has a long list of RBs he’s molded into studs and at 24 years old the talented Pierce fits that mold. We’re taking a shot on the now fully healthy RB in his bounce-back campaign.

 

34 – Ray Rice – Rice escapes with a 2 game suspension this year as he comes off a dismal 2013 season where he netted only 660 Rushing Yards and 4 TDs. In 2013, Rice tallied 58 Receptions for 321 Receiving Yards and 0 TDs. He is a much more valuable PPR asset than that in Standard Scoring Leagues. Consider Rice a RB3 in 2014.

 

35 – Maurice Jones-Drew – Jones-Drew just turned 29 this year after partaking in a career worst 3.41 YPC in Jacksonville. The Raider backfield is more crowded than it is talented. With a decent Offensive Line we’re expecting more of a committee approach between the RBs. This Oakland backfield is comprised of: Maurice Jones-Drew, Darren McFadden, Canadian Football League addition Kory Sheets, Latavius Murray & Atkinson III! Keep an eye on Latavius Murray who we target as a dark horse back that could potentially take over this role for the Raiders.

36 – Steven Jackson – Since 2010, Jackson has seen a reduction each season in both Rushing Attempts, Rushing Yard, Receptions and Receiving Yards. It paints the most evident picture of dwindling production and should continue onto 2014. ESPN Falcons reporter Vaughn McClure expressed that Steven Jackson “might have a battle on his hands” if Devonta Freeman looks as good in pads as he did in shorts. Take all of this into major consideration and if you are interested in winning games in 2014, do not slot Jackson into your weekly lineups.

 

 

Be sure to follow @LegionReport for breaking Fantasy Football news and up to date information/articles.

To catch up on some of our previous Fantasy Football Articles, check out:

2014 QB Rankings

2014 RB Rankings Part 1

Breakout Players

Emerging Fantasy Football Stars

Offensive Line Rankings and Stats

3rd Year Wide Receivers

Top Wide Receiver Duos

 

Jordan and Michael Tozzi were 2013's Most Accurate Fantasy Football Experts in the nation. Owners of LegionReport.com

2 Comments

  1. obefantasy@gmail.com'

    Josh

    July 25, 2014 at 12:30 PM

    I have a 1st pick of the draft in a very deep 30 man dynasty league. I hate Sammy Watkin’s qb situation but i love Mike Evans size, i dont think he is a great route runner however. Do i pull the trigger on Watkins or Evans. I really need a RB but i am targeting Terrance West in the 2nd.

    • Jordan & Michael Tozzi

      July 25, 2014 at 12:51 PM

      Keep this in mind: Reports out of Buffalo say that Sammy Watkins has been nothing but impressive in Bills camp. However, the Bills were one of the most run-heavy offenses last season, with only Seattle and San Francisco running the ball more frequently. That being said, we feel that you have to go with Sammy Watkins, but do not expect lights-out numbers this season. We love Terrance West this season and feel that he provides great upside. On another note, definitely add Christine Michael into the mix as he will be a stellar fantasy option over the next few years and possibly sooner dependent on what Marshawn Lynch does this season with his current contractual situation.

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