Over the next 5 weeks, this column will consist of position rankings for the quarterback and running backs. These rankings will be broken down as QB1-16, QB17-31, RB1-20, RB21-40 and RB41-60. Despite these rankings being focused on the MLFS format, the information on each player will be pertinent to your leagues scoring system. Please keep in mind projections are being created in July and in most cases, potential for injury will not factor in to these rankings. I welcome any comments or criticisms in the comments or through whichever medium you prefer.
When evaluating ranks 41-60, at the running back position, please know that we’re primarily looking at deep sleepers, handcuffs and very late round fliers. Don’t discount the position completely as there is still value to be had. The truth of the matter, is we really hope we don’t NEED to play these guys. If you’re starting a player of this caliber, it means you have lost one of your first tier guys and are hoping for an explosion. Finally, note that there is a huge level of parity in this section of the rankings. There is some statistical value and some predictive value, but go with your heart and gut on these backs.
41. Khiry Robinson (NO) – An easy selection for 41 and a potential player whose impact could be grossly understated. Despite all the love being thrown towards Pierre Thomas, the fact remains the Saints will not rely on Thomas as the workhorse back. Enter Khiry Robinson who is a big, bruising runner capable of chewing up yards on the ground. Some may look at Mark Ingram to take opportunities from Robinson, but we’ve been burnt too many times rolling those dice. Look for Robinson to have a very respectable year, and he is absolutely worth drafting regardless of whether you own Thomas or not.
Projection: 710 yards, 4 TD, 27 receptions, 72 ReYds, 0 ReTd
42. Lamar Miller (MIA) – We know the Dolphins aren’t in love with Lamar Miller, which was made all the more evident by the off-season signing of Knowshon Moreno, but he is still a lightning fast runner who can burn opposing defenses if allowed space. Miller hasn’t quite panned out as expected, but the high injury risk posed by Moreno will allow Miller plenty of opportunities. This is a make or break year for the young player and I’m leaning more towards him making a name this season.
Projection: 689 yards, 3 TD, 31 receptions, 189 ReYds, 1 ReTd
43. CJ Anderson (DEN) – We know the brass in Denver love the abilities of CJ Anderson, however they seem committed to giving Montee Ball the starting job. If Ball blows his opportunity, it will be time for CJ Anderson to assume control of the offense. Anderson, as discussed by Chase Jacobs (fellow writer at majorleaguefantasysports.com), has all the potential in the world and is primed to be a breakout star. He may be on the smaller size in terms of height, but he has drawn comparisons to Frank Gore, which is an accolade that speaks for itself. Anderson is a mandatory handcuff if you draft Montee Ball, and also a great value in the later rounds.
Projection: 690 Yards, 2 TD, 20 receptions, 120 ReYd, 0 ReTd
44. Shonn Greene (TEN) – Greene may be the Rodney Dangerfield of NFL running backs, which is odd considering his surprisingly consistent production. This is a player who had two thousand yard seasons, as well as a very good year in 2010 with the Jets. Greene rarely has the opportunity to be “the guy” in an offense, but when called upon he can produce. Everyone seems to love Bishop Sankey and his potential, but sleeping on Greene would be a rookie fantasy mistake.
Projection: 658 yards, 4 TD, 12 receptions, 80 ReYds, 0 ReTD
45. Roy Helu (WAS) – One must only look at how Jay Gruden schemed in Cincinnati to understand why Roy Helu is a candidate for breakout star. Bernard was highly utilized as a receiving back, and one should expect the same from Helu. While Morris will get the majority of the carries and goal line opportunities, Roy Helu will be the one to amass 50 plus receptions as well as 250 yards on the ground. While not a mandatory handcuff, Helu is someone you should certainly be aware of in 2014.
Projection: 254 yards, 1 TD, 51 receptions, 275 ReYd, 2 ReTD
46. Terrance West (CLE) – West is easily one of the best sleeper picks in the draft, so much so that he thinks you can’t see him. West will have almost 0 competition behind him, and will enjoy some starting opportunities considering the injury history of Ben Tate. West has all the physical tools needed to be a successful running back, and is two years removed from being a top 20 player. If you own Ben Tate, you must handcuff West with him.
Projection: 610 yards, 5 TD, 18 receptions, 100 ReYd, 1 ReTD
47. Tre Mason (STL) – The majority of pundits express concern over Zac Stacy being a featured back, specifically due to the expected emergence of Tre Mason. Mason is a physical back who plays “larger” than his actual size. He is very soft in pass protection and does not have the best hands for a running back. The Rams offensive line is built to protect Bradford and open holes for the running game. Expect to see the slow emergence of this young player.
Projection: 532 Yards, 3 TD, 8 receptions, 25 ReYd, 0 ReTD
48. Donald Brown (SD) – The Chargers either thought enough of Donald Brown, or too little of Ryan Mathews, to give 4 million dollars to Brown securing his services for the beautiful city of San Diego. Brown was never much of a pass blocker, but he did offer a great change of pace whenever he stepped onto the field. Brown is a talented back, but his inclusion in that offense makes very little sense. If Mathews experiences another injury, Brown could play a huge part in the San Diego offense; though a healthy Mathews will mean minimal numbers for Donald Brown. While not exactly a mandatory handcuff, if you have Mathews, you should consider drafting Brown as well.
Projection: 521 yards, 2 TD, 20 receptions, 82 ReYd, 1 ReTD
49. Christine Michael (SEA) – Mr. Michael is the sexiest of all sleepers in the NFL at this point, especially now that Marshawn Lynch has the words “hold-out” floating around his head. Michael has been a high value dynasty value since 2013 when we all realized Lynch would not be long for Seattle, and now, in 2014, we may finally see what he brings to the table. Michael is a big threat running the ball, as he enjoys the physicality of the position and is not afraid to give/take a hit. However, he doesn’t offer the best option as a receiving back and was injury prone in college. Until we see otherwise, we have to consider Michael a mandatory handcuff to Lynch and wait to see if they call for 33.
Projection: 453 yards, 2 ReTD, 10 receptions, 60 ReYd, 0 ReTD
50. Mark Ingram (NO) – There was so much belief in the potential and ability of Mark Ingram, coming out of college, that it is disappointing to rank him so low. This was a player that people expected to be the next big thing at running back, but he has yet to produce or come close to the expectations levied for him. With the emergence of Khiry Robinson and the high volume of work expected for Pierre Thomas, it’s hard to give Ingram any consideration. However, the Saints have shown a penchant for utilizing him, so we must still consider him to have fantasy value. He’s not a true handcuff and is more of a player to stash away “just in case”. For dynasty, there is a fair shot Ingram goes to another team in 2015 and becomes the player we hoped he would be.
Projection: 489 yards, 4 TD, 11 receptions, 63 ReYd, 0 ReTD
51. Jeremy Hill (CIN) – The majority of pundits look at the signing of Jeremy Hill as a reason to lower the value of Giovanni Bernard. On the contrary, Hill will completely fill the role that was populated by Benjarvus Green-Ellis and should have no negative impact on Bernard. Hill will be the north-south, bruising back that the Bengals will heavily value under Hue Jackson. Hill will not produce quite like Bernard, but he is still a relatively good bet for 6 or more touchdowns.
Projections: 489 yards, 7 TD, 8 receptions, 40 ReYD, 0 ReTD
52. LeGarrette Blount (NE) – No one expected Blount to make the impact he did in 2014. In fact most didn’t expect him to make the team! However, with Ridley blowing countless opportunities, and the other running back options either getting injured or not producing, Blount found a way to maintain relevance with the New England Patriots, and finished the year with 772 yards and 7 touchdowns. There is almost no chance those numbers will be repeated, as Bell will be the man in the Steel City. Now, should Bell go down with an injury, the value is immediately visible. Blount is a fine handcuff to Bell, but certainly not mandatory.
Projection: 438 yards, 4 TD, 10 receptions, 21 ReYd, 0 ReTD
53. Darren McFadden (OAK) – Oh Run DMC, how you have burnt the fantasy world many times over. McFadden is only 27 years old and still immensely talented, but he is as clear of an injury risk as Michael Vick. To note, he’s never played more than 13 games in a season and has missed 19 games in the last 3 seasons. McFadden has all the talent in the world, but never seems able to put things together. He’ll be part of a platoon (McFadden, Murray, Reece) behind MJD , so you shouldn’t go in with high expectations. He is still a worthwhile late round draft pick, as you never know when he will turn into the runner we hope he is.
Projection: 432 yards, 4 TD, 15 receptions, 100 yards, 0 ReTD
54. Devonta Freeman (ATL) – Freeman was drafted, by the Falcons, to be the next starting running back in the dirty south. Freeman is a 5’8 back who is very reliable in the backfield, can pass protect and catch the ball. He will be a tremendous fill-in when Steven Jackson needs a break, or the team looks for a change of pace. If you’re taking a shot on Jackson, you should most likely handcuff him with Freeman. Even without Jackson on your roster, Freeman is a wonderful player to keep on your bench. Don’t reach for him, but he is certainly a player to draft.
Projection: 349 yards, 2 TD, 39 receptions, 212 ReYd, 2 ReTD
55. Andre Brown (HOU) – We all saw the promise of Andre Brown in his limited game time in New York. Unfortunately, he suffered a second leg injury which hindered his 2013, so we’ve never been able to properly quantify his full potential. Brown now joins the Houston Texans where he will back-up another injury prone back in Arian Foster. Brown has shown a propensity to find the end-zone, but he’s a bit of a risk as a handcuff due to his own health. That being said, if you own Foster, you should most assuredly take Brown. A warning though, don’t reach for him early as he’s not really a required handcuff. Even if Foster goes down, the Texans have other options to consider as well as Andre Brown.
Projection: 350 yards, 3 TD, 19 receptions, 93 ReYd, 0 ReTD
56. James Starks (GB) – James Starks is “Eddie Lacy light” and that is meant completely as a compliment. Starks is a very solid running back who has always looked good, but was never able to shoulder the entire workload. Starks represents a fine handcuff to Lacy, but he’s certainly not a requirement. Should Lacy miss time, Starks is sure handed and a safe play.
Projection: 400 yards, 2 TD, 10 receptions, 85 yards, 0 ReTD
57. Knile Davis (KC) – Davis is purely a handcuff option, but if you draft Charles he’s a guy you need to have on your roster. I repeat, Knile Davis is the #1 handcuff in fantasy football this season. He looked amazing, in the few games that we saw, and all draft portfolios on him discuss a player that is incredibly fast, elusive and talented. Should Charles go down, Davis will step in very easily and have a tremendous season.
Projection: 407 yards, 1 TD, 17 receptions, 73 ReYd, 0 ReTD
58. Jonathan Stewart (CAR) – Once upon a time, we all believed in the potential of Jonathan Stewart, but he has seemingly been derailed by injuries, poor scheming, or simply a lack of ability. As with D’Angelo Williams, you never know what type of running back you’ll get with Jonathan Stewart. An injury to Williams opens things up, but the Panthers still favor Newton and/or Tolbert in the red zone. If he could stay healthy, and be given a chance, Stewart has the ability to produce. He just never seems to have all the pieces in place.
Projection: 328 yards, 1 TD, 20 receptions, 138 yards, 0 ReTD
59. Jonathan Dwyer (ARI) –It’s easy to look at what Dwyer has done in his career, and question why he’s mentioned as a player with fantasy value. To express it as simply as possible: Dwyer is a former Steeler who joins Bruce Arians in Arizona and will be utilized much in the same way the team found a reason to utilize Mendenhall. The team gave a ton of carries to Rashad Mendenhall, so why should we not expect Dwyer to receive touches as well?
Projection: 431 yards, 2 TD, 10 receptions, 47 ReYd, 0 ReTD
60. Ka’Deem Carey (CHI) – Call me crazy, but I have a feeling Forte could miss time in 2014. I have nothing to base that on, other than I have a hunch. Should Forte miss time, Carey is a physical force to be reckoned with and should have success should he see the field. He may not be the most popular of options for #60 on my list, but my gut tells me he will see time and he is a must draft if you have Forte on your team.
Projection: 336 yards, 3 TD, 20 receptions, 131 ReYd, 1 ReTD
Major League Fantasy Football Radio This Sunday August 3rd from 11:30am-12:30pm EST we will have two guests Chase Jacobs and Ryan Ingram. Chase is a writer for majorleaguefantasysports.com and an owner in MLFF Champions League. Ryan is a writer as well and also an owner in MLFF league one. We will be discussing Tight Ends and Running Backs primarily. Sports Palooza Radio Network is who we owe thanks to in providing the platform. You can call in live at 646.915.8596, you can listen online live, or you can download the podcast.
Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio This Monday August 4th from 1pm-2pm EST we will have two guests Bryan Luhrs and Ryan Bishop. Bryan is the owner of Real Deal Dynasty Sports, an author for MLFS, and also an owner in baseball & football. Ryan is one of the original owners in our leagues who is in year 7 with us, and he is a good source of information and opinion. We will be discussing potential minor league call ups, what impact they could have, and the latest fantasy relevant information. You can call in live at 646.915.8596, you can listen online live, or you can download the podcast.