2013 Rookie Dynasty Drafts – RB Rankings
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We don’t have a deep class of running backs this year, with starter upside. It’s probably a good idea to pass on running backs in the middle rounds of your draft if you should miss out on the first eight backs on this list.
Giovani Bernard, CIN (1st Round) –
Bernard had a hard upbringing as his mom passed away when he was a kid and he even lived with another family for a time, while his Dad went off to look for work.
I love this kid and his pass receiving skills will make him a start in PPR leagues. For now, he will have to play second fiddle to BenJarvus Green-Ellis, but expect the North Carolina star to take over the starting job at some point this season. In a year from now we could be looking at a top five tailback in fantasy leagues, so look to Bernard as the top rookie to take at any position this year.
Le’Veon Bell, PIT (1st Round) –
Even those draftniks that doubted Bell have to admit he’s in a terrific situation to be a bell cow back in Pittsburgh. The Steelers even put Jonathan Dwyer up for trade for a short time after drafting Bell and that tells you they see this kid as a starter, early.
Bell is good in the passing game and can block so it will help his odds of starting week one. I expect that to happen unless Bell has an early training camp injury.
Johnathan Franklin, GB (1st Round) –
I don’t care if Franklin was drafted in the fourth round and Lacy was in the second, take Franklin. You have to love this kids enthusiasm for the game, the passion for which he plays football with.
Franklin improved each season at UCLA, and even if Lacy beats him out for the starting job, expect Lacy to find a few injuries and the durable, explosive Franklin will get his shot. In the end, I see a star fantasy back in Franklin and Lacy could end up taking a back seat because people start to realize this young running back is damn good!
Eddie Lacy, GB (1st Round) –
Obviously as I have Franklin listed ahead of Lacy you can tell I’m not a fan of the Alabama product. Well, it’s not that I hate Lacy but more that I love Franklin.
Lacy has a history for injuries and the fact that he suffered a hamstring injury in January and still couldn’t finish his pro day in April is a big red flag. I’m not saying Lacy wasn’t trying to get healthy, but more that he appears to be a slow healer.
This is a bad sign for a running back, and we could see Lacy go the way of Ryan Mathews, DeMarco Murray and Darren McFadden. All those running backs are talented, but all of them tend to miss at least a month, each season with injuries.
Marcus Lattimore, SF (1st – 2nd Round) –
If you’re willing to wait for a year on Lattimore (likely going to have to do that with most rookies anyway) you could have yourself the most talented running back in this draft, if not for his knee issue.
The 49ers will likely keep Lattimore on the PUP in his rookie year, but Frank Gore isn’t long for San Fransisco at his age, and if Lattimore is healthy he will have a terrific situation to play in. This is risk vs reward player, but I’d put my money on Lattimore coming back.
Zac Stacy, STL (1st – 2nd Round) –
I was almost shocked when I read a CBS article about last years rookie Isaiah Pead saying he was “miserable” last year. Even if he has a better attitude this off-season, it shows he doesn’t handle adversity well, by his attitude last year. I like Stacy’s physical style and I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s starting for the Rams by week one. This is a nice payler to land in the late first to early second round.
Montee Ball, DEN (2nd Round) –
Well, we know John Fox doesn’t like to use rookie running backs much. This was evident with Ronnie Hillman last year as Fox opted to use Knowshon Moreon over his talented rookie when Willis McGahee went down.
I still like Hillman to be the better future fantasy back in Denver over Ball but we should look to Ball as a favorite for early down work in the future. But for now, don’t be surprised if it is Moreno or McGahee working ahead of Ball on the depth chart.
Ball, also struggles in pass-protection like Hillman did last year, and that won’t help him get on the field with Peyton Manning at quarterback.
Christine Michael, SEA (2nd Round) –
Michael is the most talented running back in his class but he might be the biggest bone head as well. If not for the Seahawks boldness to draft him in the second round (based on what they saw on tape) he’s possible this talented runner could’ve fallen all the way down the fifth or sixth round of the NFL draft.
As it stands, Michael has a terrific opportunity for his future as Marshawn Lynch may only have a few more years left as a healthy bell cow back.
If Michael is ready to get serious about his business, he will have no problem passing Robert Turbin on the depth chart and that’s saying something because Turbin was good for Seattle last year, as a rookie.
Stepfan Taylor, ARZ (3rd Round) –
While Taylor won’t blow you away with any one skill, he’s just going to kick your butt and give you everything he’s got. I like Taylor and it’s not surprise he’s a former recruit of Jim Harbugh at Stanford when you watch him play.
If the Cardinals move on from Ryan Williams, we should see Taylor as the immediate backup to Mendenhall. Not a bad spot to be in and Taylor could have an impact year one.
Mike Gillislee, MIA (4th Round) –
We don’t know if Lamar Miller can hold up for a full season as a starter and we should expect Gillislee to beat out Daniel Thomas. This is a good situation for the former Gator, and he could help your fantasy squad at some point, if Miller goes down.
Joseph Randle, DAL (4th or 5th Round) –
Well, I wasn’t a fan of Randle before the draft, but leave it to situation as the reason why he’s at this high up in my dynasty rankings. The Cowboys tend to draft their players with a specific role in mind, and they don’t tend to bring in much competition to push them.
Randle will basically be handed the backup role to DeMarco Murray and that means he’s likely to start a few games this year. Randle will get his chance to prove he can play in the league and will work in a talented offense.
These are good things for the Oklahoma State running back so keep look to him as an option in the fourth or fifth round.
Kerwynn Williams, IND (4th Round – 5th Round) –
If you’re in PPR leagues look to Williams as a viable fourth-round selection. If not he’s no higher than the fifth round, because a big part of Williams game at the pro level will be in the passing game.
Indianapolis really didn’t do anything to stop Williams from having an outside chance at playing time this year, so he should be considered a sleeper in the Colts offense.
Andre Ellington, ARZ (5th Round) –
Another talented running back that fell in the draft, we shouldn’t count Ellington out to win a starting job at some point in his career. For now, he’s likely the third for fourth running back on the dept chart in Arizona, but what I like about Ellington is his skill-set is different than that of the Cardinals other backs.
This could keep him on the active roster, or even force the Cardinals had to release or trade Ryan Williams, a talent runner in his own right that’s had trouble staying healthy.
At the end of the day, there’s a new coaching staff in Arizona and Williams is the only one of the four backs that wasn’t hand-picked by them. Expect Ellington to make the roster.
Knile Davis, KC (5th Round) –
How the heck this guy went before Johnathan Franklin I will never know but Davis is likely to be a bust pick for the Chiefs. What we do need to pay attention too is that Charles does have a torn ACL in his past, and if Davis is the clear cut No.2 back he’s only an injury away from fantasy relevance.
Ray Graham Hou (6th Round) –
I loved watching Graham back at Pittsburgh and I don’t care if he ran a 4.80, 40-yard dash this guy can play football. First off, 40-yard dash times are way overrated and I think Graham was held back because of a hamstring injury late in the college season and he’s still only a year removed from a torn ACL injury.
We need to see the burst that Graham had before his knee injury, and I think that will come. Even if Graham doesn’t make it on the Texans roster, he will get opportunities from other teams. An explosive back with good skills in the passing game, Graham is worth sticking on your taxi squad.
Rex Burkhead, CIN (6th Round) –
Heard good things about Burkhead before the draft, but unfortunately he will be arriving to Cincinnati with Giovani Bernard. Burkhead figures to be the third running back on the depth chart this year and should be the main backup behind Bernard, when the Bengals move on from BenJarvus Green-Ellis.
Latavius Murray OAK (6th Round) –
Not sure I believe in Murray to win the backup job in Oakland but we can’t look past the one running back drafted by the Raiders this spring. Darren McFadden won’t stay healthy, as he’s missed at least four games in each of the five seasons in his career.
If Murray can carve out a role, perhaps he will have some fantasy value, in-season, when McFadden gets hurt again.
Jawan Jamison WAS (7th Round) –
Well it’s another season and of course Coach Shanahan had to draft a couple running backs, even though Alfred Morris ran for over 1,600 yards as a rookie. Why not, as both Evan Royster and Roy Helu have struggled either on the field or with injuries.
Cierre Wood, HOU (7th Round) –
One of the four UDFA running backs brought in by the Texans we need to pay attention to all of them (Wood, George Winn, Ray Graham, Dennis Johnson) so keep an eye on the raw running back from Notre Dame.
Kenjon Barner CAR (7th Round) –
If the Panthers do cut DeAngelo Williams in June, we could see Barner make the Panthers active roster this year. Jonathan Stewart has had issues staying healthy in his career, so perhaps Barner will get some playing time if things fall right.
Michael Hill, SD (undrafted) –
I’ll admit it, this one is just a hunch. I heard Michael on Movin’ The Chains back in April and I liked what he had to say about his time back at Missouri Western. Hill was the main tailback for his team for a couple of seasons and has good receiving skills.
We know Ryan Mathews can’t stay healthy, and Danny Woodhead isn’t big enough to be anything more than a complimentary back. Hill will get a chance to show what he can do and the depth in front of him (not including Woodhead and Mathews of course) is lack luster at best.
Hill will probably be on the practice squad this year but I wouldn’t be surprised to see him find some playing time by years end.
Best Of The Rest
George Winn HOU, Chris Thompson WAS, Miguel Maysonet PHI, Mike James TB, Michael Cox, NYG, Spencer Ware SEA, Stefphon Jefferson TEN, Theo Reddick DET, Dennis Johnson HOU, Montel Harris, TB