A list of the top running backs to draft for the 2014 fantasy football season.
1. LeSean McCoy (BUF)
|Rushing Stats||Receiving Stats|
|2014 Projections||View LeSean McCoy's 2014 projected stats.|
Aside from Nick Foles, McCoy was perhaps the greatest beneficiary of the Chip Kelly offense last year. He easily posted the best campaign of his career his first in which he averaged more than 100 rushing yards per game and with his outstanding pass-catching abilities, he established himself as the top dual-threat back in the league and was particularly golden in PPR formats. Although McCoy has shrugged off Barry Sanders comparisons, it's worth noting that Sanders himself only exceeded McCoy's total of 2,146 yards from scrimmage last season two times. It's also hard to stereotype McCoy as merely an elusive runner he also showed a lot of power, finishing with a career-high 51 broken tackles last year, second only to Marshawn Lynch . While his role as the Eagles' top runner is not in doubt, there's reason to believe McCoy will take a step back following his first 300-carry season. That reason is Darren Sproles, the super-talented pass-catching back whom the Eagles acquired from the Saints in March. Philadelphia's coaching staff will likely deploy Sproles in the same way New Orleans did, which makes it likely that McCoy will see his pass targets reduced this year. Further, the Eagles will likely be cognizant of potentially overusing McCoy, who hadn't played 16 games in any of the prior three seasons before last year; it's unlikely he hits 300 carries again in 2014. Nonetheless, McCoy went into the offseason 100 percent healthy and has firmly established himself as one of the truly elite running backs in the game. Even if Sproles and third-stringer Chris Polk take a good number of touches from McCoy, the rest they'll afford him may make it worthwhile as he looks to stay healthy and deliver another Pro Bowl campaign as a featured cog in the Eagles' balanced spread attack.
2. Jamaal Charles (KC)
|Rushing Stats||Receiving Stats|
|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. Adrian Peterson (MIN)
|Rushing Stats||Receiving Stats|
|2014 Projections||View Adrian Peterson's 2014 projected stats.|
While Peterson delivered his seventh double-digit touchdown total in his seven NFL seasons last year, there are some cracks starting to appear in the facade for the 6-1, 217-pound ballcarrier, who's entering his age-29 season. With a major knee surgery in his medical history, plus nagging foot and groin issues (the latter of which required surgery in January) that ruined the fantasy playoffs for many of his owners, AP may no longer be the lock he once was. That said, AP is a fixture atop the Vikings' depth chart and remains one of the most talented backs in the game. Despite his injury issues, he certainly hasn't experienced any lingering effects from his 2011 ACL and MCL surgery, and the recovery from his groin surgery seems to be going well. Nonetheless, more than a few stats point to cracks in the faηade. Though Peterson remains a physical, downhill runner he finished 2013 with the NFL's third-most broken tackles (42) last year's 4.5 YPC was the second-lowest mark of Peterson's career, he sat out two games with injury, and he uncharacteristically put the ball on the ground five times. Further, PPR owners who enjoyed his 11 catches in the season's first three games suffered through a meager five receptions in his final five contests of the year, wrapping up a second consecutive season in which he averaged under six yards per reception. Of course, pass-catching has never truly been AP's calling card even though he's posted reliable catch rates throughout his career. The Vikings will enter 2014 with continued issues at quarterback and a fairly mediocre receiving corps aside from the electric Cordarrelle Patterson (who'll steal rushing opportunities from AP here and there). Although subpar QB play has never held the superhuman Peterson back, and Minnesota owns one of the better offensive lines in the league, it's worth wondering whether his parade of injuries has reduced him to merely human and whether that humanity will affect his goal-line work, as he rushed just seven times from inside the five-yard line last year.
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