Josh Souder

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Top Ten Fantasy Football Running Backs – 2013 Projections

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Top Ten Fantasy Football Running Backs – 2013 Projections

Here comes your first pick in the draft.  Who do you take?  I know that it’s early, but you know that no rooks will be picked in the first found of your fantasy draft.  The earliest Eddie Lacy would go is probably round four.  Maybe somebody will bite on Megatron in the first, or Drew Brees, but you know for certain that running backs will start to disappear quickly.  As I’m sure that you know, without at least one good running back, you’re toast.  So that being said, here are my evaluations on the top ten backs, none of which should be left on the board by round two if you play in a twelve-team league.

1.  Adrian Peterson (2,000 total yards, 15 TD’s) – After almost breaking Dickerson’s rushing record as well as posting a ridiculous six yards per carry, AP returns to the top of almost every fantasy draft board in 2013.  The fact that he accumulated almost 350 carries the season after a devastating ACL injury was amazing.  Something clicked in week seven of 2012 and Peterson went into absolute beast mode.  The game that he didn’t rush for over 100-yards during that span was unfortunately in week 16, when most fantasy leagues had their Championship Game.  But if he can carry that second-half success into 2013, Dickerson’s record will probably get shattered this year.  That being said, he did only score a combined 13 touchdowns last season, but considering that he didn’t score any TD’s during a five game stretch from weeks two to six means that there is definitely room for improvement.  From week seven on, he averaged a touchdown per game.  Now that the Vikings no longer have Percy Harvin, AP will have even more pressure on him to carry the offense in 2013.  But he has proved that even when you know that he’s getting the ball, you still can’t stop him.  If he can avoid another injury this season, expect a monster year, even if Minnesota’s offense struggles to score points.

2.  Arian Foster (1,700 total yards, 16 TD’s) – He’s the sure thing.  Foster had seven 100-yard rushing games in the regular season and four games with two touchdowns.  Houston will feed him the ball, so expect at least another 350 carries this season.  He has proved that he can produce when given those carries.  Not only can he slay it between the tackles, but he can take screens for solid yardage as well.  Foster seems to be a lock for 100-yards and a TD per week, and that’s all you can really ask from your #1 RB.  He’s had three consecutive seasons with at least 1,200 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns.  Points of concern with Foster though: his average yards-per-carry has steadily declined over the past three seasons (4.9/4.4/4.1).  Also, the amount of targets he has received in the passing game has declined as well (84/71/58).  In 2011, Foster racked up 617 receiving yards in 13 games.  In 2012, that total dropped down to 217 yards in 16 games.  Fantasy owners would love to have that extra 400 receiving yards, no doubt, but they’ll take 350 rushing attempts for at least 1,400 yards again.  Will Foster ever repeat his absurd 2010 season when he posted 2,200+ all-purpose yards and scored 18 times?  Well if he ends up on your fantasy team, you better hope so.

3.  Marshawn Lynch (1,800 total yards, 14 TD’s) – Lynch added another solid fantasy season to his resume for the second straight year, compiling his best stats of his career in 2012.  Lynch has become a 100-yard machine and found the end zone 12 times last year, which could increase to around 15 this season with Seattle’s re-vamped offense.  Lynch ran for 100+ yards eight times from week seven on.  The Seahawks will put the ball in his hands at least twenty times a game, so expect a consistent supply of 100-yard outings.  Lynch now has four 1,000-yard seasons under his belt and has scored 25 touchdowns over the last two seasons.  Everything seems to be in place for Lynch to produce another outstanding fantasy year.

4.  Jamaal Charles (1,900 total yards, 10 TD’s) – Charles is about as hit-or-miss as it gets in fantasy football, but when he hits, he hits big.  Charles had two 200-yard games last season and is always a threat to break one for 80-yards at the drop of a hat.  Expect Charles to be even more involved in the offense with Andy Reid taking over the Chiefs this season.  Reid has produced monster fantasy seasons from his running backs over the years, and Charles will fill that Brian Westbrook/LeSean McCoy-type role like a glove.  Charles will definitely have more targets in the passing game this season, which should result in about 2,000 all-purpose yards when all said and done.  Now he has never been a touchdown machine, but he should be able to find the end zone more this season under Reid.  Charles career rushing average is sitting at just below six yards-per-carry, so expect him to do more damage with more carries and receptions this year.  If Jamaal can get at least 300 rushing attempts and another 75 targets in the passing game, he could produce another monster season.

5.  C.J. Spiller (1,900 total yards, 10 TD’s) – Buffalo finally decided to feed Spiller the ball more last year and he doubled up his stats from the season before.  This Clemson stud kills with speed and proved that with his 6.0 yards-per-carry average.  Spiller is also an excellent receiver out of the backfield and can really help you out in PPR leagues.  The Bills offense isn’t exactly stellar, so that will obviously affect the amount of touchdowns he scores, but he should be able to get into the end zone a couple more times with the extra touches this year.  And the Bills will definitely give him that opportunity in 2013.  If he can hold up for 250-300 rushing attempts to go along with another 75 targets in the passing game, expect solid stats from Spiller.  He is without a doubt one of the most talented running backs in the league and if he can prove to be durable enough, Spiller should be a go for a 2,000+ all-purpose yard season.

6.  Doug Martin (1,900 total yards, 10 TD’s) – Doug Martin’s stats were a little padded after that 250-yard, 4 touchdown game against Oakland last year, but even excluding that performance he was still able to produce some solid fantasy games.  Martin also proved to be a tremendous PPR selection, posting nearly 50 receptions and 500 receiving yards last year (which should increase this season).  Tampa Bay is all in on Martin and they have no problem feeding him the rock (319 rushing attempts last season).  If that trend continues, which it should, expect another solid season out of Martin this year.

7.  Alfred Morris (1,500 total yards, 12 TD’s) – Morris saved many fantasy squads last season and was an absolute touchdown machine down the stretch.  It looks like Shanahan has found his guy and that’s always good news for fantasy owners.  Morris will not get you receptions out of the backfield, but he will definitely grind out 100-yard performances on the ground.  He’s not a flashy back, honestly he’s about as boring as it gets.  He won’t break loose for 80-yard touchdown scampers, but he will pound out five yards per carry.  And we all know that Shanahan loves to run the ball, so expect Morris to get well over 300 carries again this season, which should result in another great fantasy output.  The better this Redskins offense gets, the better his stats will be.  There’s no reason Morris can’t score around 15 TD’s this season, but expect at least twelve.

8.  Trent Richardson (1,500 total yards, 12 TD’s) – Richardson only posted three 100-yard games last season, but expect that to possibly double this year.  The Browns offense is steadily improving and Trent’s stats should benefit because of that.  His yards-per-carry average of 3.6 was far from amazing, but he was a consistent scoring threat all season long.  Richardson also showed his ability to score more points in PPR leagues while racking up 51 receptions during his rookie campaign.  Trent is out to prove Jim Brown wrong and could help your fantasy squad out tremendously if he ends up doing just that.  It was a modest rookie season for Richardson, but there’s no reason not to believe that he can build onto that success.  The Browns will feed him the ball, so expect more carries this season, ultimately resulting in better numbers.  It wouldn’t surprise me in the least to see Richardson produce around 1,800 total yards and 15 TD’s in 2013.  If he doesn’t do it this year, eventually he will.

9.  Ray Rice (1,700 total yards, 10 TD’s) – Rice has been one of the most consistent fantasy running backs for the past four seasons.  His rushing attempts have been declining, but he always receives about 80-100 targets in the passing game per season, making him an excellent PPR producer.  Rice has proven to be extremely durable and consistent throughout his career.  He will consistently get you around fifty receiving yards and Ray is always a threat to go over 100 on the ground.  The Ravens know that a majority of their offensive success is in the hands of Rice, so expect another solid fantasy season out of Rutgers all-time leading rusher.

10.  Chris Johnson (1,600 total yards, 7 TD’s) – CJ2K was not happy with the Titans acquisition of Shone Greene in the offseason, and that signing will ultimately limit the amount of attention Johnson will receive around the goal line.  But Johnson has never had less than 1,400 total yards and was able to score 16 times in 2009.  Now I doubt that he will come even remotely close to that total this year, but ten touchdowns from Johnson wouldn’t shock me.  His carries have dropped to below 300 attempts per season, but he remains a consistent threat in PPR leagues.  His receiving targets were down last season (79 in 2011 to 49 in 2012), but his rushing attempts went slightly up.  If the Titans can put the ball in his hands around 325 times this year, Johnson can definitely do some damage.  He’s always a threat to break loose for long touchdown score, and when he does, expect a solid fantasy day.  Johnson started out the season extremely slow in 2012, but once he gears it up, he’s quite the threat.  Don’t doubt for one second that Chris Johnson doesn’t have any gas left in the tank.  With his sub-par 2012 season, he might even slide into the second rounds of some drafts, in which I believe he would be an absolute steal.  If you can utilize Johnson as your #2 RB behind one of the guys listed above, that would be the best-case scenario.

There are a couple backs that could be interchanged with that number ten spot that Chris Johnson is sitting in.  LeSean McCoy, Stevan Ridley, Frank Gore, Matt Forte, BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Steven Jackson, Darren McFadden, DeMarco Murray, David Wilson, Maurice Jones-Drew, or even Eddie Lacy could churn out solid fantasy seasons in 2013, but I view all of those guys as slight risks.

McCoy could do really well in Chip Kelly’s new offensive scheme, but he has to stay on the field to do so.  If he does, McCoy is always a threat to go for 2,000+ all-purpose yards and is an absolute monster in PPR leagues.  McCoy has the best chance out of the guys listed below to be a top-five back this season.

Ridley will again be the main back in New England, but he only had six games with 20 or more rushing attempts and is virtually a non-factor in the passing game (only six receptions last year).  But chances are that he will score on a regular basis in that high-powered New England offense.

Gore had an almost identical season to his 2011 campaign, but I foresee his rushing attempts consistently declining with his age.  He was once a tremendous receiving threat out of the backfield, but now he’ll be lucky to see 35 targets a season.

Forte still managed to break 1,000 yards in 2012, but he once again struggled to find the end zone.  And Michael Bush definitely didn’t help Forte out in that category.  Forte is still a top PPR running back, but the amount of carries he receives in this Bear’s offense is all over the place.  Until that changes, expect the same results, about 1,300 total yards and 6 TD’s.

Green-Ellis was the workhorse for that Bengals rushing attack last year.  He ended the season on a tear and he should get between 250-300 carries in 2013.  I don’t expect much more than 1,200 yards and 8 TD’s though.  It also wouldn’t surprise me if the Bengals went a different direction at running back as well in 2013.

Steven Jackson couldn’t have landed in a better scenario than Atlanta this year, and he should go for his ninth consecutive 1,000-yard season.  And just by being a Falcon, that should dramatically increase his touchdown total.  Jackson hasn’t scored more than 10 TD’s since 2006, but this could be the season that he does.

McFadden has yet to play a full season without getting injured.  If he could stay healthy, obviously he has the potential to be a stud, but until he proves that he can stay on the field, he will always be a risky fantasy pick.

Murray will have the reigns as the main back in Dallas, but he also needs to prove that he can stay on the field.  It wouldn’t surprise me to see Murray post good numbers this year, but it also wouldn’t surprise me to see another RB in Dallas with more carries than DeMarco in 2013.

Wilson will have his shot to be the Giants solution to fill the Ahmad Bradshaw role this season, but as long as Andre Brown is hanging around, it will keep Wilson’s stats at bay.  Wilson has the potential to be an excellent PPR back and NY will give him every chance to prove his worth this season.

MJD still plays for Jacksonville, which will most likely keep him out of the end zone this season.  He’s coming off a major injury and he’s still playing in a horrible offense, but he’s still a great football player.  Last year was his worst fantasy year by far, but he’s still capable of putting up solid numbers if he can remain healthy.

Lacy’s fantasy value really depends on what team he ends up with this season.  There will be plenty of quality running backs taken between rounds 2-5 in the NFL Draft, but Lacy seems to be the only one teams are considering with their first round pick.  Lacy is a talented running back and should be able to carry quite a load in his rookie season.  If he can get around 250 touches this year, he could post good numbers for your fantasy team.  Don’t invest too high of a draft pick for him, but he could be a steal as your third RB option.

If you do play in a PPR league, guys like Darren Sproles, Ryan Mathews, or Reggie Bush will have value.  All three of these backs have a chance to produce solid fantasy stats in that format.  Move them up accordingly on your board if you do play PPR.

Now there are several other backs that I did not list above that will have an opportunity to produce solid fantasy stats, but I’ll leave that for my Sleeper Picks article coming soon (most likely post NFL-Draft).  There will most likely be another Alfred Morris this season, and hopefully I can help you find him.


Palmer to Fitzgerald? Is Fitz Now Primed for a Big Fantasy Football Season?

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Fantasy Football: Palmer Makes Fitzgerald 2013 Comeback Fantasy Player

Is Fitz Now Primed for a Big Fantasy Football Season?

Larry Fitzgerald was once a legitimate 1st round fantasy pick.  These days Calvin Johnson will be the only wide receiver taken there.  A.J. Green will be soon to follow.  But where does Fitz fit into the rankings this season now that Palmer will be tossing him the ball?

When Fitzgerald was just getting started, he had an old vet come into town and sling him the pigskin all over the field.  With Warner, Fitz put up monster fantasy stats.  In 2007 & 2008, Fitz averaged 100 receptions, over 1,400 yards, and scored 22 total touchdowns.

Now those feats were accomplished in Larry’s prime, but keep in mind that he is still only 30 years old.  No spring chicken, but he’s still pretty beast.  I don’t know about you, but I could see Larry playing until he is 40.  He just seems like that type of player.

And yes, those stats were helped out by a Hall of Fame quarterback indeed, but Kurt only posted 3,400 yards and 27 TD’s in the 2007 season, and 4,500+ and 30 TD’s in 2008.  Carson Palmer, with nobody even close to Larry Fitzgerald to throw to, put up 4,000 yards and 22 TD’s last season.

And despite which quarterback was throwing him the rock, Fitzgerald has always had at least 153 targets .  Knowing Palmer, that will probably be closer to 175 this season.  If Fitz catches more than half of those passes, that puts him at around 90 receptions.  And let’s say that Carson airing it out again this year will put Fitz back into that 1,200 to 1,400 yard range.  That puts him right next to A.J. Green and Roddy White.  But how many touchdowns will Fitzgerald be able to score in that Cardinals uniform?

I don’t see Arizona lighting up the scoreboard this season.  They will have their games, yes, but overall, they should struggle offensively.  It doesn’t help that they will have to play in the NFC West that is showcasing some of the best defenses in the league.

The Cardinals offensive line is still an issue, and Mendenhall is no immediate fix at running back.  Hopefully they will get something, anything, out of Ryan Williams.  So these issues will result on more pressure for Palmer and Fitzgerald to succeed.  But there is one thing that we will know for sure; Carson will throw Fitz the ball.  A lot.

Palmer has a career 62% completion percentage and had 565 passing attempts last season.  Let’s say he does at least that in Arizona.  And if the Cardinals fall behind in some games, in which they will, expect Palmer to do nothing but throw the ball.  And who will that benefit?  Fitzgerald of course.

Now I’m not telling you to make Carson Palmer the starter for your fantasy team.  Honestly, I probably wouldn’t even keep him as a backup.  He turns the ball over way too much and he is getting too old.  But what I am stating is that Larry Fitzgerald is now a legitimate #1 fantasy receiver again.

Before Palmer was in Arizona, Fitzgerald was looking like a 5th round fantasy draft pick, if that.  Now Fitzgerald most likely won’t make it into the 4th round in most drafts.  If he can get his TD’s back into the double digits again, which might be a stretch, it would transform Fitzgerald back into an elite fantasy wide receiver this year.  Maybe even top five again?

As long as Carson can stay on the field, and stay upright, Larry’s fantasy points should benefit tremendously.  It’s been hard watching a future Hall of Fame wide receiver like Larry do his best to catch balls from NFL backups during the past couple of seasons.  Even he told fantasy owners not to draft himself last season.

Now don’t get me wrong, Palmer is always a couple of interceptions and fumbles away from being a backup himself, but regardless, as long as he is behind center this season, he will throw Fitz the ball.  And after only posting 70 receptions for 800 yards and 4 touchdowns last year, it will allow Fitz to potentially compete for the comeback player of the year award if he clicks well with Palmer.  That has 4th round fantasy draft steal written all over it.

Written by joshsouder

April 3, 2013 at 2:41 am

Fantasy Football 2013 Draft Strategy

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What is the best 2013 fantasy football draft strategy?

It’s late August.  You have your cheat sheet ready to go.  You have some targets and sleepers in mind.  Maybe you’ve decided to stick with drafting the best available player regardless of position?  Maybe you just really want Megatron this year?

You know that running backs are going to fly off the board furiously, so do you lock down two right off the bat, or scoop up a stud QB, WR, or TE that’s slipping to a good value pick in round two?  It will be difficult to pass on Aaron Rodgers to take a questionably solid RB in the second round, no doubt.  But do you really want to roll the dice on some RB’s later on when you know that there will still be good QB’s on the board?

So let’s say that you do decide to wait for a QB, strictly because of the depth at that position, and you take RB’s with your first two picks.  That means that you most likely will not have a shot at Gronkowski or Graham come the 3rd round, (unless you have one of the first couple of picks in the draft order, giving you an early 3rd round pick).

Gronk & Jimmy won’t stay on the board long, even with their drop in production last season.  If by chance they do slide to the 3RD round, draft them immediately.  Or you can sit back and see what TE’s are still on the board later on down the road and hope to get lucky.  Your choice.

Everything obviously depends on some key factors, like draft position and runs.  The run at RB will start immediately and last until about the 3rd round.  The available backs from the 4th round on will be a coin flip.  Will there be that Alfred Morris in the later rounds again this year?  Most likely.  Can you depend on finding that gem to secure a #2 RB spot?  No way.

If you do end up getting one of the first couple of picks in your draft, you will be almost forced to take two RB’s with your first three picks.  By the time your fourth pick comes back around to you, that position will be limited to rookies and leftovers.  Value can be found at the RB position after the third round like last season (Morris, Martin, Ridley, Spiller, Green-Ellis, Greene, Leshoure, or Sproles), but I would rather have those type of risks as my #3 RB than my #2.

If you end up having one of the last couple of picks in your draft, you will have your choice of the two best remaining RB’s at the turn, or a shot at an elite WR or QB.  There is a decent chance that there might be a workable option at RB when your 3rd & 4th round picks come back your way, but you can be guaranteed that there will be solid options at both QB and WR at those picks.  With that in consideration, it makes the most sense to use your first two picks on RB in that draft position.  Unless…

You absolutely want Gronkowski or Graham.  Now a lot of owners got burned last season by these two highly drafted TE’s, especially during weeks 12 through 16, when it also mattered the most.  Guys like Gonzalez or Witten could have been drafted many rounds later, allowing you to possibly lock up RB’s like Charles, Lynch, AP, Gore, or Forte in that 2nd round last year.  But keep in mind, if you do end up having one of the last picks in your draft, chances are that Gronk & Jimmy will not be available by your 3rd round selection, even with their drop off in production during 2011.  If you want them, go get them.

But If you are sitting in the middle of your draft order, you will most likely have both of these TE’s left on the board by your 2nd round pick.  If you’re lucky, one could still be sitting there by your round three selection, but there’s a chance that they could both be gone as well.  Regardless, you should be able to secure a solid RB in the 3rd round if you hold this draft position.  That allows you the flexibility to use that 2nd round pick on Gronk or Jimmy without too much worry of not being able to get a solid #2 RB.

So is it worth the risk to lock up Gronk and Jimmy in that 2nd round?  Is their potential to double up the stats of other TE’s worth that high of a pick again this year?  Or are you confident that you can find a serviceable TE later on in the draft, targeting guys like Hernandez or Gates?  That decision is left up to you, but if you can still lock up two solid RB’s to go along with Gronk or Jimmy, the rest of your draft will be a piece of cake, and this is why.

By your 4th round pick, there will be plenty of good options at QB and WR still left on the board.  Between rounds four through nine, you will be able to draft at least one semi-elite QB and a solid backup, three quality WR’s, and the best available RB that slipped through the cracks.  But it just comes down to how bad you would like Gronk or Jimmy in your lineup, because you will have to draft them over some other really good players early.

I compare having an elite TE to an elite catcher in fantasy baseball though.  If you have somebody locked into that spot that can score you just as many points as your other position players can, it will put you in a better situation to win.  If you end up searching for a viable option on the wire all season, resulting in consistently getting limited points at that position, it can really hurt your chances of winning on a consistent basis (but, so can having a sub-par #2 RB as well).

Ideally, if you draft Gronk or Jimmy early this year, you would hope that they would be able to score the same amount of points per week as the RB you passed on would have scored.  Even with being injured last season, Gronkowski still notched eleven TD’s.  Odds are, you will be able to draft another RB after Gronk & Jimmy that will consistently score more points than any other TE left on the board.  Considering the potential to have a TE drop 80-plus receptions, 1,000-plus yards, and 10-plus TD’s, when compared to a later option that may only produce half of that, it does make this decision a little easier.

But if you do decide to go all in on Gronk & Jimmy this season, make sure that the RB you take in the 3rd round does not lose you too much production over the RB you could have selected the pick before.  For this strategy to work, the point differential between an elite TE versus a lower ranked TE needs to outweigh the loss of points between the 2nd round RB and the 3rd round RB.

Keep in mind, in many drafts guys like AP, Charles, & Lynch were still there in the 3rd round last season.  Who that will be this year, time and injuries will only tell, but if Gronk & Jimmy can return to that 2011 form, they will indeed justify a 2nd round selection in this years draft.  Especially if you make the correct choice at RB with that next pick.


Don’t be afraid to wait for a QB, because there will be plenty of talent still left on the board for quite some time.  The NFL has been churning out fantasy beasts at this position, and there will be many QB’s racking up solid fantasy points week in and week out, especially with so many double-threats now.

A QB doesn’t have to throw for 300 yards when they are getting 80 yards on the ground.  This new pistol offense adoration should rack up more rushing yards by quarterbacks than ever before.  Expect plenty of yards on the ground from RGIII, Newton, Wilson, Kaepernick, Vick, Locker, Rodgers, Luck, maybe Geno Smith, or even Tim Tebow if they actually gave him a chance.  Hell, the Bears are even planning on letting Jay Cutler tear it up on the ground this season!

And keep in mind that eleven QB’s threw for more than 4,000 yards last year.  And that doesn’t include RG3, Newton, Wilson, Vick, or Kaepernick, who did most of their damage by keeping the ball themselves.  Sure Brees or Rodgers could toss for 5,000 yards and 40 TD’s, but that’s not to say that you couldn’t find a QB later on that could produce similar numbers.

You don’t want to pass on a solid RB or an elite TE early when you know that guys like Brady, Manning, Ryan, Stafford, Romo, Luck, RGIII, Newton, Wilson, and Kaepernick will be on the board for awhile.  It’s a running back world these days, so that being said…

Don’t be afraid to wait for a WR, because there is gold to be found at this position late in the draft.  Last season, 19 WR’s went over a 1,000 yards.  Most of those guys could’ve been selected well after the 5th round.  Now if one of the studs falls to you in the 3rd round and you’ve already locked up two RB’s (and Jimmy & Gronk are off the board), don’t hesitate to grab them.  With so many RB’s back being snatched up early, who knows what WR might fall to you with that third round pick?  But do keep in mind, there will be plenty of WR talent left on the board for rounds to come.

And last but not least, always target a solid back-up QB and the back-up to your #1 RB.  With so many good QB’s on the board this season, you should be able to find a reliable one and stash him on your bench.  There’s nothing that will ruin the chances of you winning your league quicker than having to search on the waiver-wire for a QB during the playoffs.  And that goes for your #1 RB as well.  Save spots on your bench for these two insurance players and it could pay off big in the end.




1ST  RD – RB














(in any order)



#3 RB







Written by joshsouder

April 3, 2013 at 12:13 am