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With the NFL preseason officially underway, fantasy football owners are preparing for an exciting NFL season ahead. Let’s take a look at the top running backs to target for the 2015 fantasy football season. This is the year for versatile running backs: players who can come out of the back field and be an equivalent threat as a receiver. Using the methodical process of flipping a coin or throwing darts to choose your bench players is a thing of the past.
Here, we have taken into consideration coaching, offensive schemes, historical output, and position competition to produce our top 10 running backs to target. Each of these players will provide the most impact of any player on your team. Drafting based off name recognition is a mistake that millions of players make every year. There are a number of players that breakout every season. We have provided aid in finding these players. This complete list gives you ten running backs that will be imperative to your playoff success. Those long hours of research can come to an end. No more last place punishments, name calling, and hurt reputations. This is your season to establish a dynasty with your co-workers. Show your boss who’s the real boss and win that fantasy football championship trophy. We can do this together. Right here, at BallerMindFrame.com.
C.J. Anderson, Denver Broncos
This offseason, C.J. Anderson is getting into the Denver Broncos camp as the first-string running back. A huge accomplishment since Anderson had assumed the starting role in just Week 10 of last season. In his final eight games, Anderson had scored over twenty fantasy points in six of those contests. Of his 849 yards rushed, 767 of them had been after Week 10. Denver is still just trying to develop a ground game in their offense and will rely more on the build of Anderson to aid their offensive output. Finishing as the second-highest scoring team in the league last year, Denver will look for Anderson to get more touches this season. Of all the plays from scrimmage, only 41 percent of those were rushing plays. Look for Gary Kubiak to push this closer to a 50/50 split and develop Anderson like he has with Justin Forsett and Arian Foster. Anderson finished with 10 total touchdowns and proved himself valuable within the red zone. Look to draft C.J. somewhere in the second or third round as that is where you find the most value for this running back. With little competition for the starting spot, C.J. should be a reliable RB2 or flex option.
Le’Veon Bell, Pittsburgh Steelers
Le’Veon Bell may be suspended for violating the league’s substance-abuse policy, but he is still questionably worth the first overall pick in fantasy football drafts. Now coming into his third season, Le’Veon should be the leading fantasy scorer in the league. Last season, the Steelers running back averaged 18 fantasy points a game and finished second overall in rushing yards and receptions from the RB position with 1,361 and 83, respectively. He also led all running backs with 854 receiving yards. Bell is poised for another big year this season as the main contributor to their brute rushing talent. Taking 68 percent of all rushing attempts for Pittsburgh last year, Bell has been able to greatly succeed with the young offensive line. While the suspension is something to be wary of, Bell is a multi-use back that will bode well in all fantasy formats. He is about to have a big year and be a part of an established receiving core. The Steelers have an incredibly potent offense that will be incredibly hard to match. Look for Le’Veon to be amongst the top five in total points by running backs. However, if you do draft Bell, make sure to develop some running back depth for the time of his suspension. There should be some immediate contributors that will be available in the fourth or fifth round.
Jamaal Charles, Kansas City Chiefs
Jamaal Charles had a less-than-stellar season last year. Suffering a high ankle sprang in Week 2, Charles never returned to his full self. Charles’ draft stock might have dropped from last season’s campaign, but he continues to be deserving of a first or second round pick. Charles was able to finish the season on a strong note, rushing for 1033 yards and scoring nine rushing touchdowns. This more than proves that Charles still has the ability to be competitive, and he should be worth a high pick. It’s advised to be tentative when drafting Jamaal as Andy Reid does have issues involving his running backs. Reid has been renowned for his pass-first offensive strategy. As of last season, he has begun to tailor his offense to become increasingly better under the west coast play calling style. You might be able to wait until the early second round to draft the Kansas City back, so maybe look to take a top contributor at the end of the first round. Jamaal very quietly averaged five yards per carry, so he is still an effective player and could be a major factor to any fantasy team.
Frank Gore, Indianapolis Colts
This offseason, Frank Gore has found a new home with the Indianapolis Colts. The 49ers’ all-time rushing leader hasn’t missed a game since 2011 and looks forward to add to his illustrious career. The Colts struggled last season with their ground game, finishing twenty-second in rushing yards per game. Gore hasn’t finished with less than one thousand rushing yards since 2010. This should be a perfect match for both teams as the Colts haven’t had much offensive output aside from the heroics of Andrew Luck. Under offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton, Indianapolis rushed on 40 percent of plays from scrimmage and were incredibly ineffective rushing for only 3.9 yards per attempt. Gore should serve an immediate impact on this offense and be heavily relied on in the red zone. With only six rushing touchdowns coming from running backs last season, look for the Colts to develop a ground game through Gore. With more of an offensive balance, the Colts should be in a position to utilize one of the most consistent backs in the game. Gore shouldn’t be highly-touted this year with age concerns, but the back is incredibly dependable and would make a great RB2 if not an low-end RB1. Gore would add some serious depth to your fantasy roster as well as aid the Colts stagnant offense.
Eddie Lacy, Green Bay Packers
The case for Eddie Lacy as the top running back to target is a unique one. The Green Bay Packers finished the 2014 NFL season with the best scoring offense in the league, and for good reason. Eddie Lacy has given the Packers incredible rushing consistency and has slowly developed his abilities as a receiver. Finishing last season with 10.2 yards per catch and thirteen total touchdowns, Lacy helped the Packers to the NFC Championship game. Lacy found himself in the second half of the season, finishing strong with nine games with one hundred total yards. The running back had 42 receptions, which is seven catches better than the previous season. Lacy wouldn’t be included as high had Le’Veon Bell not been suspended, but the points that Eddie will collect in the first two weeks raises his value. Lacy owners should see a tremendous season from the back. Lacy had the ninth most rushing attempts in the league last season and will look forward to building off that campaign. The back is at his prime age and should he remain healthy, finish the season as the leading points leader amongst all running backs.
Marshawn Lynch, Seattle Seahawks
Marshawn “Beast Mode” Lynch has been one of the most consistent running backs in the league, only missing one game in the last four seasons. Lynch has been notoriously known for the difficulty to bring him down, especially in the red zone. Leading the league with 13 rushing touchdowns, Lynch has received some help this offseason. The Seahawks have added All-Pro tight end, Jimmy Graham, to provide not only size for their blocking schemes, but will also counteract defensive schemes that would otherwise stack the box. Last season, teams would converge on the Seahawks offense who rushed the ball 525 times, only behind the Houston Texans. Lynch was third in fantasy points by a running back and should expect the same amount of output this season. Fantasy owners should absolutely take a chance on Lynch, even though he is turning thirty this year as he would be a valuable asset to any team.
LeSean McCoy, Buffalo Bills
LeSean McCoy began last season much like Jamaal Charles. A little slow. He ended up finishing the season with the second-most attempts and produced 1,361 rushing yards and 91 percent of all of the rushing yards by Philadelphia last season were had by McCoy. The Eagles finished 25th in overall rushing yards and the biggest disappointment had to be that McCoy only finished the year with five touchdowns. LeSean should have a much different year in Buffalo. Ensuring the role of starting running back, this is McCoy’s year to no longer split carries. With newly-acquired offensive coordinator, Greg Roman, the tandem should do some damage in the AFC East. Roman had previously helped the 49ers reach the NFC championship game for three consecutive seasons. While it is not certain who will be running the quarterback position in Buffalo, an early pick would be best spent on LeSean. LeSean is poised to return to his All-Pro form as he now has a run-suited offense that will give him the ability to use his versatility in a way that Chip Kelly was ignorant of. McCoy will no longer have to split all carries, and will have a greater level of production this season. He should be a primary target for your RB1 position.
Latavious Murray, Oakland Raiders
While the Oakland Raiders still have Trent Richardson, fantasy owners should be mindful of the impact that Latavious Murray will have this season. As injuries riddled the running back position in Oakland in 2014, the Raiders now have an established Murray as the number one running back. Murray is a dynamic back that has the ability to rush for close to thirty yards a game as well as receive 8.4 yards per catch. While neither of these might seem like a big deal, Murray did this last season behind Darren McFadden and Maurice Jones-Drew. Now, Murray has the opportunity to take and stay on the stage. Murray is also listed as the top goal-line back and should receive a majority of the rushing scores this season. Fantasy football owners should add Murray later in the draft to develop some depth for bye weeks or even start as a flex option during better match-ups. As the season continues, Murray will turn heads as the Oakland offense will begin to improve and grow. With the talent that Murray does possess, he should hold down his position and have continued success throughout the season.
Adrian Peterson, Minnesota Vikings
Adrian Peterson has had 10 or more touchdowns every single year since he has come into the league until last season. He pleaded no contest to misdemeanor reckless assault for allegedly hitting his four-year-old son with a switch. After, effectively, a year off, Peterson has been on the record saying that he “has never felt this good” and should be a valuable asset to the franchise. The last full year Peterson played, he finished sixth in total fantasy football points in standard leagues. In 2012, Peterson was nine yards shy of the all-time rushing record for a season and didn’t even play all 16 games. He will be strongly relied on as the Vikings offense struggled last season to produce. Look for Peterson early as he should be completely dependable this season regardless of his health and offseason consequences.
Joseph Randle, Dallas Cowboys
During Joseph Randle’s rookie campaign, the back-up back had 54 rushing attempts for 164 yards. Last season, Randle nearly doubled the amount of yards he had, with three less rush attempts. No longer behind the best running back in the league, DeMarco Murray, Randle is given the opportunity to continually improve and be a multi-down back for the Dallas Cowboys. With three returning All-Pro offensive linemen, Randle should be given the opportunity to form himself as one of the best backs in the league. Right now, Randle is directly behind the injury-prone Darren McFadden who last season played 13 games for the first time since he had come into the league in 2008. Randle could be a back that will fall to the later/middle rounds, thus raising the amount of value that he will contribute to standard fantasy teams. Waiting until some of the subsequent rounds will be beneficial, as a majority of the time running backs with greater names will be picked based off of past experience. Randle should be a wildcard when it comes to the later weeks of the season.