While having a top quarterback is important to any fantasy team, running backs also dominate the conversation. Last season, it was good to own a rookie or two as some had great first seasons. As we look ahead to 2013, some of these players will make the list of top fantasy running backs with hopes they won’t undergo a sophomore slump. Others make the list annually.
Adrian Peterson (Minnesota Vikings) – Peterson entered the 2012 season coming off a knee injury and blew everyone away with his 2,097 rushing yards—just eight yards short of breaking Eric Dickerson’s 2,105 single-season rushing yard record. Peterson is healthy and there’s no reason to think he won’t have another great year but whether he matches his production remains to be seen.
Arian Foster (Houston Texans) – Foster strained his right calf last week at OTAs and now he’s out until training camp. He should be back to form after a 2012 season with 17 touchdowns and more than 1,600 yards. He’s 26, aging for a NFL running back, but he should return ready for another strong season.
Marshawn Lynch (Seattle Seahawks) – Seattle loves to run the ball and so does Lynch. Last season under his green quarterback, Russell Wilson, he had a career-high 1,590 rushing yards with 12 touchdowns. There’s no reason why Lynch’s consistency should fall off this season–unless he gets injured.
Ray Rice (Baltimore Ravens) – Little Ray Rice saw some of his production fall in 2012 and had some mental mistakes, but he still finished the year with 1,400-plus rushing yards through the postseason. Rice could thrive under offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell but look out for fellow back Bernard Pierce to get some of the carries and touchdowns.
Jamaal Charles (Kansas City Chiefs) – Charles had a good comeback season in 2012 after a knee injury as he ran for more than 1,500 yards. Times are a changing for this team with new coach Andy Reid, who likes to use running backs in his offense, and a much-needed quarterback upgrade with Alex Smith. He should use Charles for his speed and running ability, giving him an opportunity to see even greater numbers.
Doug Martin (Tampa Buccaneers) – Martin dominated the Bucs running game in his rookie season with his 1,900-plus total yards (he can also catch the ball with his 390 receiving yards in 2012) and 12 touchdowns. He will be playing this season with the return of his Pro Bowl linemen, left guard Carl Nicks and right guard Davin Joseph. With their return, Martin could find greater opportunities as well as ones from quarterback Josh Freeman who is playing for his job.
C.J. Spiller (Buffalo Bills) – Spiller had a breakout season running for 1,244 yards in 2012 plus an additional 459 receiving yards; he averaged 6.8 yards per touch. But there’s a new coach in town and a new quarterback; things will change. Spiller’s production isn’t likely to go down but instead it could be different as he’s rumored to be used more as a hybrid player, catching and running with the ball.
LeSean McCoy (Philadelphia Eagles) – Last season, McCoy battled injuries and a poor offensive line but he still amassed 1,309 rushing yards (4.8 yards per carry) and 17 touchdowns. Add in his 315 yards receiving with three additional scores and that’s not too shabby. Now with new coach Chip Kelly, the player will get a fresh start and could see his numbers on the rise.
Trent Richardson (Cleveland Browns) -Richardson could be out until August thanks to last week’s strained calf. He’s not worried about it; the team is looking ahead and acting cautiously. In his rookie season, amid recovering from a knee injury, broken ribs and a sprained ankle, Richardson still grabbed 950 yards. They are some concerns about the player is injury prone but with a new coach adn offensive coordinator maybe Richardson will be smarter.
Alfred Morris (Washington Redskins) – This sixth-round pick entered his rookie season under the radar but made a name for himself by finishing as No. 2 for rushing yards at 1,613 in the league and 13 rushing touchdowns. For some reason, I see changes this year whether it’s done with the team’s already beloved quarterback Robert Griffin III, using his arm more or the possibility of having backup Kirk Cousins in for awhile. But Morris should definitely wrack up yards again.