The 2014-15 NFL season is just a few months away, and with it comes the fantasy football season. Player rankings and mock drafts are already swirling around the web. And with NFL rosters around the league finally taking shape, I thought now would be a good time to unveil my early, personal fantasy football rankings. We’ll start with the running back group.
Where will new Tennessee Titans RB Bishop Sankey land on the list? Could he crack the top 20? Being a Tennessee Titans fan, it’s safe to assume that I am quite optimistic when it comes to Sankey’s rookie year potential.
Let’s start off with my top 10 running backs:
1. LeSean McCoy, Philadelphia Eagles
2. Adrian Peterson, Minnesota Vikings
3. Jamaal Charles, Kansas City Chiefs
4. Matt Forte, Chicago Bears
5. Eddie Lacy, Green Bay Packers
6. Marshawn Lynch, Seattle Seahawks
7. Doug Martin, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
8. Montee Ball, Denver Broncos
9. Arian Foster, Houston Texans
10. Zac Stacy, St. Louis Rams
– I ranked LeSean McCoy ahead of both Adrian Peterson and Jamaal Charles, but you can’t go wrong with any of those three RB’s. Quite frankly, I’d rather pick third when compared to first for this reason.
– Ranking Eddie Lacy in front of Marshawn Lynch might surprise some, but Eddie has relatively fresh legs and playing with QB Aaron Rodgers should really open things up for him. Lynch is a risk. His heavy workload in each of the last three seasons is worrisome.
– I expect a bounce back season for Doug Martin, who could go in the late second, early third round in some drafts.
– Montee Ball is an interesting study. He has very little experience, but the feature running back in a Peyton Manning-led offense will produce numbers. Remember the fact that Knowshon Moreno was a top-five fantasy RB last season for the Broncos. If Ball becomes the bell cow for Denver, than he could become one of the steals of the draft.
– The addition of RB Tre Mason in St. Louis didn’t change my view on Zac Stacy. Even if Mason gets 10-plus touches a game, there will be more than enough work for Stacy. We all know that former Titans head coach Jeff Fisher likes to pound the rock.
On to 11-20:
11. DeMarco Murray, Dallas Cowboys
12. Le’Veon Bell, Pittsburgh Steelers
13. Giovani Bernard, Cincinnati Bengals
14. Alfred Morris, Washington Redskins
*****15. Bishop Sankey, Tennessee Titans*****
16. Andre Ellington, Arizona Cardinals
17. Reggie Bush, Detroit Lions
18. C.J. Spiller, Buffalo Bills
19. Ben Tate, Cleveland Browns
20. Shane Vereen, New England Patriots
– I wanted to rank DeMarco Murray higher. I like his offensive environment and his 5.2 yards per carry last season was impressive. I just can’t get past his injury history. He is a risk/reward type of player.
– Le’Veon Bell should get a ton of touches in Pittsburgh and is connected to a decent offense. I just wish he was more effective with all that volume. A 3.5 yards per carry average is uninspiring. Overall, he should be very consistent, but his ceiling is not through the roof.
– Giovani Bernard is basically the opposite of Bell. He might not get a heavy workload, but he is explosive when he does get the ball. New Bengals RB Jeremy Hill might vulture some touchdowns from Giovani, but I still expect him to get more work than he did last season.
– As you can see, I am a believer in Bishop Sankey. Yes, he is unproven. It remains to be seen if he can handle a large amount of touches in the NFL. But after watching some of his tape, I came away quite impressed. He is versatile, elusive, and is tough for his size. Another reason why I have him ranked so highly is because the RB depth chart in Tennessee beyond Sankey is underwhelming. As long as he can hold onto the football, he will see a ton of playing time. The success of last season’s rookie running back class only makes the Sankey ranking that much more valid. I would not be surprised one bit if Bishop Sankey breaks out in his rookie year.
– Arizona doesn’t have a great history of producing quality fantasy running backs, but Andre Ellington might be the exception. He is a home-run hitter, plus there is not a lot of competition in the Cardinals backfield outside or Ellington.
– Shane Vereen is just a couple Stevan Ridley fumbles away from becoming a strong No. 2 RB.
We’re entering flex territory now, here’s 21-30
21. Ryan Mathews, San Diego Chargers
22. Rashad Jennings, New York Giants
23. Frank Gore, San Francisco 49ers
24. Joique Bell, Detroit Lions
25. Trent Richardson, Indianapolis Colts
26. Toby Gerhart, Jacksonville Jaguars
27. Stevan Ridley, New England Patriots
28. Chris Johnson, New York Jets
29. Ray Rice, Baltimore Ravens
30. Steven Jackson, Atlanta Falcons
– Ryan Mathews had a nice 2013-14 campaign, but he is a major risk due to his proneness to injury. You’ve been warned.
– Frank Gore refuses to back down. The guy just churns out 1,000-yard seasons year after year. But now at the age of 31, one must wonder how much he has left in the tank. I would rather be a year too early on dismissing a player than a year too late.
– For a 220 pound RB, Joique Bell is really versatile. He has had at least 50 catches in each of the last two seasons. He should get enough touches to be a good flex option, and if Reggie Bush goes down, Bell vaults to high RB2 status
– I’m probably not going to own Chris Johnson, Ray Rice, or Steven Jackson this year. All 3 have question marks to varying degrees. I would say that Johnson has the best chance of cracking the top 20, and that Rice has the best chance of falling outside the top 40.
Backups galore, 31-40:
31. Knowshon Moreno, Miami Dolphins
32. Pierre Thomas, New Orleans Saints
33. Maurice Jones-Drew, Oakland Raiders
34. Bernard Pierce, Baltimore Ravens
35. Terrence West, Cleveland Browns
36. Darren Sproles, Philadelphia Eagles
37. Fred Jackson, Buffalo Bills
38. Danny Woodhead, San Diego Chargers
39. Khiry Robinson, New Orleans Saints
40. Carlos Hyde, San Francisco 49ers
– Knowshon Moreno leaves Denver and is now in Miami. Unfortunately, he left most of his fantasy value back in Denver.
– One of the Saints RB’s is going to have value after the departure of Darren Sproles. Figuring out who to draft out of Pierre Thomas, Khiry Robinson, and Mark Ingram is a feat within itself.
– Terrance West is a name to keep an eye on. Browns starting RB Ben Tate has had trouble staying healthy, and new offensive coordinator Mike Shanahan’s offense can get production from the running back position.
– I don’t know how many touches we can expect from Sproles in Philadelphia, but you know HC Chip Kelly will find a way to get him on the field.
– I’d rather take a chance on someone like Carlos Hyde compared to a veteran RB at this point in the rankings. If something happens to Gore in San Francisco, Hyde could be fantasy gold.
There it is, my top 40 fantasy running backs for the 2014-15 season. What positional group should I rank next? Quarterbacks? Wide Receivers? Let us know in the comments section below.