2013 Dynasty Fantasy Football Running Back Rankings


My dynasty fantasy football goal this year was to put together dynasty ranks that I can keep updated constantly. Whenever I’m overthinking a trade, I can go back and look at where I have players ranked, then assuage my fears. To make these rankings, I used the method ProFootballFocus’ Scott Spratt wrote about here. I used point projections from the RotoViz Similarity Score apps, although it does come with one caveat: the app doesn’t know that Shonn Greene isn’t a starting running back anymore; it has no idea that LeSean McCoy has a new coach who ran the ball over 600 times last year. I manually adjusted for situation, and with a case like Shonn Greene, I used projections from ProFootballFocus to get an accurate value.

The end result was a spreadsheet of auction values, weighted towards the short term. I adjusted as I saw fit, trying not to deviate too far from what the numbers were telling me. I found that it made it much easier to rank players; everyone has a monetary value attached to their name. It helped remove my bias towards or against certain players. Instead of focusing on the names, I looked at production, years left, and situation. You can see the quarterback rankings below, but first I’ll talk about some player whom I’m much higher and lower on than the experts over at FantasyPros. ECR stands for Expert Consensus Ranking, the average of all the experts for that player.

Latavius Murray, OAK. RB45, +19 vs ECR.

Anyone who has spent more than 4 seconds on Twitter talking to me saw this coming from a mile away. Murray is a physical specimen in the vein of Adrian Peterson and Ryan Mathews. Obviously there’s a huge difference; AP and Mathews were top 15 picks, and Murray was passed over by every single team multiple times until the Raiders came calling in round 5. Murray is a slam dunk 3rd round pick in rookie drafts, and a great later round selection. The physical talent is there, and should McFadden go down, so will the opportunity.

Christine Michael, SEA. RB33, +10 vs ECR.

Cream rises to the top, and Michael was made with the most precious of milks. Marshawn Lynch is a 27 year old power back who may not be as good as you think, and he’ll have to face punishment stemming from his DUI at some point. Michael is the most talented runner in this class, and could be a top 10 running back behind Seattle’s punishing offensive line. If you have a late 1st round dynasty rookie draft pick, you’ll likely have the choice between two oft injured college backs: Michael and Marcus Lattimore. While dynasty GMs aren’t punishing Lattimore for being injured (and ignoring that his talent is a mirage), they are punishing Michael for the injuries, and ignoring his superior talent. Savvy owners will take advantage of this, trading down for someone salivating over Lattimore’s “top 15” talent, while you accumulate more picks and roster the much better player.

Steven Jackson, STL. RB17, +8 vs ECR.

Would you rather have Jackson or Chris Johnson? Ryan Mathews? I had to answer those questions while ranking, and I chose Jackson. I have a tough time putting him below guys who have question marks, since I think his production is going to be as close as you can get too guaranteed over the next 2 years. Michael Turner was an RB2 last year while averaging 3.6 yards per carry and only catching 19 passes. Jackson is clearly more talented than Turner, having been a rock of consistency during his career in St. Louis.

DeMarco Murray, DAL. RB8, +7 vs ECR.

The rotoViz Sim Score app loves Murray next year as an RB1. The only thing that’s held him back thus far have been injuries, which are wildly unpredictable year-to-year. Murray could hit a health streak at any time, a la Frank Gore and Fred Taylor. Murray is a great receiver out of the backfield, and the Cowboys pass heavy offense guarantees he’ll receive a healthy dose. The injury risk is baked into his current ADP of RB20.

Le’Veon Bell, PIT. RB20, +5 vs ECR.

Le’Veon Bell is the 2nd most talented runner in this class in the best situation. He’s an immediate RB2 with a chance to perform as an RB1 if he handles 3rd down work. He’s a workhorse back that you can grab in the middle of the 1st round of your dynasty draft. Bell is a player film guys are going to miss out on since he played at around 250~ in college, making him appear giant and slow. Since then, he trimmed down to a svelte 230 pounds. The former Spartan is also an unheralded pass catcher, and his 10.99 Agility Score speaks to his future receiving value.

Matt Forte, CHI. RB15, -4 vs ECR.

I actually like Forte in the short term; his pass catching ability will slow his decline somewhat. I just can’t get behind him as an RB1 in dynasty. It was a struggle just to leave Peterson and Lynch there. I’d much rather have a player like Demarco Murray, especially at a similar ADP. Reggie Bush and Darren Sproles represent good arbitrage opportunities for Forte.

Maurice Jones-Drew, JAX. RB22, -5 vs ECR.

MJD is coming off a Lisfranc injury, with a new zone-blocking system being installed. Sounds familiar? I doubt he’ll have quite the same implosion that DMC did, but I’m still terrified. It’s well known that MJD’s knees are bone on bone; now add the foot injury and this just reeks of a situation to avoid. Did I mention he’s a 28 year old 3rd round pick in dynasty startups? Yikes.

Adrian Peterson, MIN. RB9, -5 vs ECR.
Those against Doug Martin as the #1 fantasy pick this year almost always reference the Oakland and Minnesota games, where he racked up a large chunk of his fantasy points. Proponents of AP as the #1 fantasy pick never reference that an inordinate amount of his fantasy points came from long runs:

Year YPC 15+ Yard Runs Breakaway %
2012 6 40 56.5
2011 4.7 9 30.3
2010 4.6 18 34.5
2009 4.4 21 39.6

Courtesy of PFF

Over half of Peterson’s total yardage came on Is he going have 40 runs of 15+ yards again? No. Is he going to average above 6 yards per carry again? Probably not. When I look at that table, I see a huge outlier year, and a player bound to regress. In dynasty, he’s a 28 year old running back coming off a career year. Translation: sell.

Thanks to the kind folks over at FantasyPros, you can view my entire dynasty running back rankings below:

Dynasty and Keeper Rankings powered by FantasyPros