2013 Fantasy Football Running Back Rankings by Tier: The Second Wave

Jul 31, 2013

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Matt Forte Bears
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Running backs no longer rule the fantasy football universe, but they still carry plenty of weight. We broke down the elite running back options, now we check out the next crop of  running backs that can lead your fantasy team, but won’t typically require a first round pick to add them to your fantasy football roster.
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Matt Forte, Chicago Bears
Forte is an impressive talent, and while he is able to play through injuries, how often is he limited by them? He has averaged 1,530.4 total yards during his five-year career. He has also caught at least 44 passes every year, which makes him a valuable PPR option. That said, he has averaged just seven touchdowns per season. Over the last four years, he has averaged just 5.8 scores. Michael Bush is waiting in the wings to steal short touchdowns.
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Frank Gore, San Francisco 49ers
Gore finished with 1,448 total yards and nine touchdowns. He has ran for over 1,200 yards the past two seasons. He still has gas in the tank, but he did turn 30 in May. A decline isn’t likely because his massive offensive line is arguably the best in the game. That said, it shouldn’t be a surprise if his touches decline a little during the season. The Niners are Super Bowl contenders and will want to keep Gore fresh. LaMichael James figures to be more involved. Kendall Hunter should also be in the mix once he has fully recovered from his Achilles injury. That shouldn’t keep Gore from being a solid starting fantasy option.
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Steven Jackson, Atlanta Falcons
Michael Turner ran for 800 yards and 10 touchdowns last year for the Falcons. Steven Jackson had 1,363 total yards and four touchdowns last year for an inferior St. Louis Rams team. Turner has averaged just 5.7 touchdowns over the past six seasons. The two previous years he averaged 13 scores. I would venture to guess that he’ll be closer to the latter than the former with the Falcons. He simply didn’t get enough opportunities to score with the Rams. That will change in Atlanta.
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Chris Johnson, Tennessee Titans
Johnson was held under 25 yards rushing in four of the first five games, but managed to get back on track. Despite the slow start he still finished with 92.2 total yards per game. He is always a threat to score from anywhere on the field at any time. Shonn Greene came on board so don’t expect Johnson to pile up the touchdowns. He will likely be closer to the five touchdowns he’s averaged the past two seasons than his 9.6 career mark.
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Maurice Jones-Drew, Jacksonville Jaguars
Mojo’s season was a complete disaster, but he’s still on the right side of 30 (28 in March). He has recovered from the foot injury that cost him the better part of last season. The previous three seasons he averaged 1,795.3 total yards and 11.3 touchdowns. While I don’t expect him to reach those lofty numbers, he should remain the focal point of the Jaguars’ offense once again. He comes with some risk, but he’s a strong bounceback candidate. MJD has higher value in PPR leagues.
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LeSean McCoy, Philadelphia Eagles
2012 was a season to forget for Eagles fans and McCoy owners alike. A concussion limited Shady to 12 games, in which he produced 1,213 total yards and five touchdowns. That extrapolates to 1,617.3 yards and 6.7 touchdowns in a full season, which isn’t terrible, but a far cry from the 1,624 yard and 20 touchdowns that he led him to being one of the first selections in 2012 fantasy drafts. He should put up plenty of yards and receptions in Chip Kelly’s offense. Double-digit touchdowns isn’t out of the question, just don’t expect a repeat of 2011. Bryce Brown showed explosiveness when McCoy was out. He won’t make it a RBBC, but he will get his share of touches.
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DeMarco Murray, Dallas Cowboys
Murray brings as much risk as reward to the table. He has shown flashes, but has also missed nine games in two years. He averages 4.8 yards per carry and has 61 receptions in two years. He has the tools to be a complete back. It’s time to put up the numbers. Averaging 997 yards and three touchdowns in two seasons isn’t cutting it. If he can stay on the field, look for Murray to put up numbers in bunches. Just be prepared in case he goes down again.
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Stevan Ridley, New England Patriots
The Patriots could be forced to reinvent themselves with all of the changes in the passing game. Ridley ran the ball 290 times last year for 1,263 yards and 12 touchdowns, so he should be up for the task if the Patriots go to a more run-heavy attack. Shane Vereen figures to be in the mix, but he will likely be more heavily involved in the passing game than anything else.
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David Wilson, New York Giants
Wilson is explosive, averaging 5.0 yards per carry and 28 yards per touchdown run. He will need to improve his consistency and pass protection in order to stay on the field on third down. Andre Brown will handle the short-yardage situations, which cuts into Wilson’s value. He’s an unproven commodity with plenty of hype. If you want Wilson, you’re going to have to take a leap of faith.
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Also check out the third tier and fourth tier of fantasy football running backs.
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