The first Week 1 Running Back Rankings for 2014 isn't an exact science. In fact, this is going to be the hardest of all the rankings I do this year for the simple fact that we don't know how each backfield will pan out this coming weekend.How will the Steelers backfield shake out in 2014?
There are so many questions to be asked:
- Can Stevan Ridley gain his momentum back or will he start off the season with yet another fumble?
- Due to the lack of receiving weapons in Carolina, how much work will DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart receive against the Buccaneers? Will Mike Tolbert be a jerk and ruin their shots at goal-line work?
- Are the Steelers REALLY going to use LeGarrette Blount as much as they say they will?
These questions are just scratching the surface of a position that has dropped considerably over the years.
Don't get scared or panic. That's why we're here. After much investigating and research, here are my Week 1 Running Back Rankings and the guys who I think will succeed, guys who will do just enough to make owners happy and the guys who might wind up on the waiver wire scrap pile sooner rather than later.
THE FABULOUS ONES (GUYS YOU MUST START)
1. LeSean McCoy (PHI) vs. JAC - No surprise with this one. It would either be Jamaal Charles or McCoy, but I'll go with McCoy against a suspect Jaguars Defense. Another rushing title will be in McCoy's sites again.
2. Jamaal Charles (KC) vs. TEN - The Chiefs really didn't do much to the offense over the offseason. And with Dwayne Bowe out Week One, expect Andy Reid to lean hard on Charles again.
3. Adrian Peterson (MIN) at STL - I'm excited to see how the Vikings and Norv Turner will use AP this week, especially in the passing game. PPR machine? Doubtful, but AP will see a plethora of looks.
4. Matt Forte (CHI) vs. BUF - The great thing about Forte is he has one of the best class of receivers surrounding him that defenses can't stack the box against him. He'll be just as good as McCoy and Charles at times.
5. Marshawn Lynch (SEA) vs. GB - So much for all the Christine Michael hype. Looks like Lynch will be back to his old self for at least one more year.
6. Montee Ball (DEN) vs. IND - This is Ball's year to shine, but he does come with some question marks. However, if those few games to close out 2013 are any indication of what we'll see in the future, Ball is going to have a very big year as Denver's main back.
7. Arian Foster (HOU) vs. WAS - Yeah I know what you're thinking. Foster in the top 7? If you think about it, it makes sense considering he's as healthy as he's ever been at this moment. I'll keep heaping praise on Foster until the injuries start coming (Hopefully not for awhile, if at all).
8. Eddie Lacy (GB) at SEA - Lacy was the last of the true RB1s in most drafts, but what a way to begin the season. There's plenty of upside here, but it's going to be a rough first week. If he can put up strong numbers against Seattle, Packer fans are going to be in for a treat with their running game.
9. Andre Ellington (ARI) vs. SD - Everything is in place for Ellington to be the Cardinals' every-down back. Will it come to fruition? All I can say is Ellington's value is at an all-time high. Lets hope that little frame of his can hold up.
UPDATE: Looks like owners will have to avoid Ellington for the time being. With the news that he could miss up to "4-6" weeks with an aggravated foot injury, Ellington is a prime IR candidate if your league allows. I don't see either Jonathan Dwyer or Stepfan Taylor being competent replacements going forward.
10. Zac Stacy (STL) vs. MIN - Stacy's value has dropped with the news that the Rams love what they see from Benny Cunningham, but that's not enough to keep him out of my top 10. I'll shake off those rumors for now. Stacy still has to be started, but he must show a solid yards-per-carry-average to keep Cunningham off the field.
THE QUESTIONABLE ONES (STARTERS THAT HAVE QUESTION MARKS)
11. DeMarco Murray (DAL) vs. SF - Could be the main back, or wind up in some form of a committee with Lance Dunbar.
12. Giovani Bernard (CIN) at BAL - How much work with rookie Jeremy Hill take right out of the gate?
13. Alfred Morris (WAS) at HOU - Won't get you many receptions, but he'll still get a majority of the carries and goal-line work.
14. Doug Martin (TB) vs. CAR - Wow, Doug Martin can catch? It took the Bucs' coaching staff this long to figure it out? Martin lucked out with the injury to Charles Sims.
15. Frank Gore (SF) at DAL - Still the 49ers' starter at running back, but Carlos Hyde is chomping at the bit to get his chance.
16. Toby Gerhart (JAC) at PHI - I've been high on Gerhart all offseason. I'm not going to change my mind now. One of the rare three-down backs left.
17. Rashad Jennings (NYG) at DET - Jennings really doesn't offer a ton of upside, but he's another running back who will be the bell cow for the Giants.
18. Ben Tate (CLE) at PIT - Tate is ranked high because he's healthy and wasn't in much competition with Terrance West. Will that eventually change later in the season?
19. Le'Veon Bell (PIT) vs. CLE - Not a great fan of this ranking for reasons I stated in the intro, but he should wind up out-carrying Blount throughout the season. It's BLOUNT!!!!!
20. Shane Vereen (NE) at MIA - A PPR monster. Won't rack up 100 yards on the ground, but his rushing and receiving numbers make this ranking worth it.
THE BARGAIN BIN (WHERE SOME ITEMS ARE GREAT,
BUT THERE ARE ITEMS WE HATE)
21. Chris Johnson (NYJ) vs. OAK
22. Ryan Mathews (SD) at ARI
23. C.J. Spiller (BUF) at CHI
24. Bernard Pierce (BAL) vs. CIN
25. Reggie Bush (DET) vs. NYG
26. Maurice Jones-Drew (OAK) at NYJ
27. Joique Bell (DET) vs. NYG
28. Mark Ingram (NO) at ATL
29. Steven Jackson (ATL) vs. NO
30. Trent Richardson (IND) at DEN
31. Knowshon Moreno (MIA) vs. NE
32. Pierre Thomas (NO) at ATL
33. Stevan Ridley (NE) at MIA
34. Fred Jackson (BUF) at CHI
35. Lamar Miller (MIA) vs. NE
36. Bishop Sankey (TEN) at KC
37. Danny Woodhead (SD) at ARI
38. Jonathan Stewart (CAR) at TB
39. Jeremy Hill (CIN) at BAL
40. DeAngelo Williams (CAR) at TB