RotoWire Partners

2014 Fantasy Football Keeper Rankings – Running Backs

The top running backs to draft for the 2014 fantasy football season in keeper/dynasty leagues.

By Position:

QB

RB

WR

TE

1. Le'Veon Bell (PIT)   Age: 22

  Rushing Stats Receiving Stats
Year Att Yds TD Avg Rec Yds TD Avg
2014 Projections View Le'Veon Bell's 2014 projected stats.

Bell missed last season's first three games with a foot injury, but gained the lion's share of the Steelers' rushing duties upon his return and ended up staying healthy while averaging nearly 100 total yards per game in his rookie year despite a meager 3.5 YPC. Though he's slow for a running back (just a 4.60 40 time), he's an effective receiver and goal-line back, and should benefit from the Pittsburgh offensive unit getting healthy over the offseason. Though he should be tough to bring down at 6-1, 244, Bell broke only 21 tackles last year, and he'll have to show either more elusiveness or more tackle-breaking ability to hold off import LeGarrette Blount and super-fast draft pick Dri Archer. It's disturbing for Bell that Blount – signed to a two-year-deal – is a very similar kind of back at almost the same size and speed. Worse, Bell only outrushed Blount by 88 yards and one touchdown last year despite rushing 91 more times. Still, Bell has an edge through the air – he averaged a very fine 8.9 yards per reception, though a higher catch rate than last year's 68.2 percent certainly couldn't hurt – and is the incumbent here. Bell will likely take the majority of the carries for the Steelers this year, and it's not unreasonable to expect him to build on the improvement he showed in last season's final five games.

2. Jamaal Charles (KC)   Age: 28

  Rushing Stats Receiving Stats
Year Att Yds TD Avg Rec Yds TD Avg
2014 Projections View Jamaal Charles's 2014 projected stats.

Always a fantasy stud when healthy, Charles' value managed to take a dramatic leap forward last season thanks to new Chiefs coach Andy Reid, who handed Charles the consistent goal-line duty he's always been missing. While he's always been known for his pure speed and elite cutting ability, Charles had – perhaps for fear of brittleness – been largely sheltered from duty near the end zone before last year. But in 2013, the Chiefs handed Charles the ball 15 times inside the five-yard line – matching his total in that category from the prior four seasons combined. He also saw 18 pass targets inside the red zone, which was more than double his total from any previous campaign. The result: 19 total touchdowns from a guy who had previously totaled 24 in five seasons. All that short-yardage usage may have contributed to Charles' career-low 5.0 YPC, but his fantasy owners certainly didn't mind. Indeed, they had to be quite happy with his newfound toughness – including 39 broken tackles, fourth-most in the NFL. Owners in PPR leagues minded even less, as Charles spectacularly totaled 70 catches on a ridiculous 104 targets last year after never grabbing more than 45 passes in a season before. Although Charles did suffer a concussion in last year's playoffs, that's sure to be long cleared up by the time this season kicks off, and Charles doesn't have a history of head injuries. Yes, concussions can develop into recurring issues, but that's a fear with every NFL player. That aside, Charles is fully healthy and now two quality seasons removed from the torn ACL that limited him to two games in 2011. The Chiefs have a quality backup in Knile Davis, but that shouldn't have much of an effect on Charles. As long as he remains healthy, he'll remain Kansas City's featured back, meaning he'll see the vast majority of Alex Smith's handoffs and backfield passes. Another run at 2,000 total yards is in the cards – and with his newfound goal-line duties, Charles has a very good chance to be fantasy's most valuable back.

3. DeMarco Murray (DAL)   Age: 26

  Rushing Stats Receiving Stats
Year Att Yds TD Avg Rec Yds TD Avg
2014 Projections View DeMarco Murray's 2014 projected stats.

The good news: Murray had his healthiest NFL campaign last year, setting career highs in practically every rushing and receiving category while posting the highest YPC (5.2) in the league among players with more than 200 carries. The bad news: He still missed two games with a knee ailment and has now sat out 11 games over his three seasons in the league. That said, Murray did enter the offseason healthy, and there are currently no indications that the 6-foot, 219-pound bruiser – fifth in the league in broken tackles with 35 last year despite the missed time – will enter training camp in anything short of full health. So there's nothing aside from Murray's physical, high-risk running style to say that he won't play all 16 for the first time this year. Murray's team context is a good one for fantasy owners – the Cowboys have a decent pass game (which targeted Murray 66 times last year), a much-improved offensive line (further boosted by the addition of first-round draftee Zack Martin) and no serious competition for carries either in the middle of the field or at the goal line. Joseph Randle and Lance Dunbar certainly don't look like impact NFL players at this point, and the Cowboys seemed happy to give Murray 15 carries inside the five last year. If Murray can stay on the field, he certainly has the strength and the straight-line speed to end up among the NFL's top five rushers.

Want To See Our Full Running Back Keeper Rankings?

Imagine how confident you'll feel going into your draft with exclusive running back keeper rankings from the premier fantasy football source on the web. Once you sign up, you'll not only get access to these rankings, you'll completely unlock every page on RotoWire.com.

Get Instant Access To Our 2014 Running Back Keeper Rankings

P.S. Here at RotoWire.com, we've been giving out high-quality fantasy football advice for over a decade and we've won nearly three times as many industry awards as our next closest competitor. Try us out this season and we'll help you look like a genius.

2014 Keeper Position Rankings

Quarterback Rankings

Find out where Andrew Luck, Cam Newton, Russell Wilson, Colin Kaepernick and other quarterbacks are ranked going into your fantasy draft.

Running Back Rankings

Find out where Arian Foster, Trent Richardson, C.J. Spiller, Darren McFadden and other running backs are ranked going into your fantasy draft.

Wide Receiver Rankings

Find out where A.J. Green, Calvin Johnson, Dez Bryant, Michael Crabtree and other wide receivers are ranked going into your fantasy draft.

Tight End Rankings

Find out where Kyle Rudolph, Rob Gronkowski, Vernon Davis, Antonio Gates and other tight ends are ranked going into your fantasy draft.