Fantasy Football Outlook Series: Running backs

      August 2, 2013 @ 16:36:28 PDT

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In the second release of my "Fantasy Outlook" series I examine certain running backs, many of whom I tend to have a non-mainstream opinion. The purpose is to illustrate situations that casual fantasy footballers may not be aware of or in a light they may not have considered.

This year, unlike recent seasons, requires early attention paid to the position. However, with a little luck on your side, you can score high-upside gambles in the middle rounds.

An overview of the position shows just a few players of elite status, namely Adrian Peterson, Arian Foster and Jamaal Charles. Close second-tier guys, such as Doug Martin, C.J. Spiller, LeSean McCoy, Trent Richardson, Ray Rice and Marshawn Lynch, all make fine first-round choices, depending where you pick in the round.

Be sure to check out our Cheat Sheet Calculator for customized rankings tailored to your league's scoring rules.

Adrian Peterson, Minnesota Vikings: There is zero doubt in my mind that Peterson is the only No. 1 overall pick. Don't get cute and overthink it!

Arian Foster, RB, Houston Texans
Too much risk for such a high pick?

Arian Foster, Houston Texans: As mentioned above, he is still an elite back. Make that an extremely risky elite back. No rusher has more carries in the last three years than Foster. His receiving contributions continue to decline, and an early calf injury could be a sign of his body breaking down. Foster is very capable of another huge season, however.

Doug Martin, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: I cannot stress enough just how inconsistent Martin was last year. He averaged 66.3 yards per game in 12 of his contests and scored half of his touchdown output in just three games. That is awfully tough to bank on in head-to-head fantasy leagues, but he'll get the rock enough to be an RB1.

C.J. Spiller, Buffalo Bills: Do not be scared of Fred Jackson cutting into Spiller's workload as anything more than an occasional spell when the former Clemson back needs a breather. He will be the focus of this offense.

Stevan Ridley, New England Patriots: The Pats' team is shaping up to look like the three-time title-winning versions under Bill Belichick: a stout defense, no-name receiving corps, and a power-running game. Ridley quietly rushed 290 times at 4.5 yards per carry last year. The Pats will pound him into the ground while he is fresh. History indicates Belichick holds little to no loyalty to retaining his prized toters, so if retaining Ridley long term may not be in the cards for the Patriots they have no reason to take it easy on him now.

LeSean McCoy/Bryce Brown, Philadelphia Eagles: Chip Kelly's history at Oregon suggests you'll see roughly a 60-40 split here. McCoy should be a low-end RB1, but Brown may have a large role around the stripe. Don't automatically assume McCoy is a lock for studliness.

Lamar Miller/Daniel Thomas, Miami Dolphins: I have a hard time buying into Thomas as the feature back. Watch this situation throughout camp and the preseason, but I don't expect to see much of the former K-Stater as long as Miller is effective. Miller has sleeper stardom written all over him.

Darren McFadden, Oakland Raiders: He will be written off by too many owners this year. I am not of the mindset that DMC is going to be an elite fantasy option, yet I have a hard time passing on him in the fourth round of PPR drafts. A return to the power-blocking system will do wonders for his stat line. Now if only he can stay healthy....

Reggie Bush/Mikel Leshoure, Detroit Lions: Everyone seems to be forgetting Leshoure scored nine times last year and may be assuming, to a degree, he will see limited work behind, rather than possibly alongside, Bush. Leshoure could prove to be a regular flex play, particularly in standard scoring setups. Bush, of course, has crazy value in PPR leagues, in comparison.

More running backs on Page 2

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Also See: QB | RB | WR | TE | PK | DT

About Cory J. Bonini

Cory is KFFL's General Manager. In late 2002, he joined the KFFL staff as a research analyst and has been involved in fantasy sports since 1996. A member of the Fantasy Sports Trade Association, as well as Fantasy Sports Writers Association, Bonini has been featured in print, on radio and on scores of websites. Bonini co-hosted Big Lead Sports on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio from 2011 to 2012.

Bonini was recognized with the 2010 Best Article in Print Award from the FSWA and was a finalist for the same award in 2011. In '11, he finished first overall in the FSWA NFL experts challenge that featured 60 of the industry's best competitors.

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