Ranking the RBs in the 2014 NFL Draft

Rankings are as of July 30, 2014.

In fantasy leagues, the ideal running back is one who can do it all – be a workhorse runner, catch everything thrown to him, can block, isn’t taken off the field for third downs. Basically, a guy who gets 25 touches per game, a touchdown or two, and 120 total yards or more.

That guy doesn’t really exist anymore.

Instead, fantasy football GMs (and real-life ones, too) have to find a mix of running backs that fits their system and can do exactly what needs to be done when they’re on the field. The power back who can run 10 times a game in short-yardage and goal-line situations and soften the defense the rest of the time. The smaller back for third-and-long catches and runs to the outside. The in-betweener who can do a little of everything but isn’t strong enough to handle a full workload.

In the 2014 draft, there is only a handful of running backs who look like they’ll be able to handle anything close to workhorse duties, then there’s a long list of power backs and smaller backs best suited for committee duties.

For what it’s worth, Adam Muema WAS my top running back in this draft — until his “idiosyncracies” surfaced at the Combine. Now, he’s off the list completely. Now, we’re down to the top three on this list – Hill, Sankey and Carey – as the most (in my mind) likely to develop into RB1s for fantasy purposes. However, Hill and Carey both have some character concerns, and I simply don’t trust them to stay out of trouble and on the field. Bishop Sankey, though I have him ranked number two, isn’t someone I was particularly high on before the draft. But he’s in a perfect situation on the Titans and should get a lot of work right away.

After the top three is a block of backs, from Mason through Archer, who also have a lot of potential for fantasy success. Of this group, the most likely to develop into workhorses are West, Hyde, and Johnson. The rest will most likely be change-of-pace and committee backs who could put up RB2 numbers.

The next block probably runs from Andre Williams through Isaiah Crowell, and they are real wild cards whose production, I think, will really depend on the creativity of their offensive coordinator. As of now, they are probably the last group that I would draft in moderately-sized dynasty leagues.

After Crowell, there’s still a lot of talent, but there’s probably no need to draft them at all in fantasy. But keep an eye on them, because they have the talent to be contributors down the line. Of course, they could all be out of the league, too, the way the NFL devalues running backs.

So here’s my list:

  1. Jeremy Hill, Bengals
  2. Bishop Sankey, Titans
  3. Ka’Deem Carey, Bears
  4. Tre Mason, Rams
  5. Devonta Freeman, Falcons
  6. Carlos Hyde, 49ers
  7. Terrance West, Browns
  8. Lorenzo Taliaferro, Ravens
  9. Storm Johnson, Jaguars
  10. Lache Seastrunk, Redskins
  11. Charles Sims, Buccaneers
  12. Dri Archer, Steelers
  13. De’Anthony Thomas, Chiefs
  14. James White, Patriots
  15. Andre Williams, Giants
  16. Kapri Bibbs, Broncos
  17. Isaiah Crowell, Browns
  18. Brennan Clay, Broncos
  19. Julius Watts “Trey”, Rams
  20. Jerick McKinnon, WR/RB, Vikings
  21. Tim Cornett, Texans
  22. Marion Grice, Chargers
  23. David Fluellen, Eagles
  24. Ben Malena, Cowboys
  25. Roy Finch, Patriots
  26. Darrin Reaves, Panthers
  27. Zurlon Tipton, Colts
  28. Raijon Neal, Packers
  29. Jerome Smith, Falcons
  30. James Wilder, Jr., Bengals
  31. Branden Oliver, Colts
  32. LaDarius Perkins, Packers
  33. Zach Bauman, Cardinals
  34. Silas Redd, Redskins
  35. Tim Flanders, Saints
  36. Juwan Thompson, Broncos
  37. Ryan Montague, Seahawks
  38. Terrance Cobb, Jaguars

Below are my rankings from right after the draft. Not much has changed.

  1. Jeremy Hill, Bengals
  2. Bishop Sankey, Titans
  3. Ka’Deem Carey, Bears
  4. Tre Mason, Rams
  5. Devonta Freeman, Falcons
  6. Carlos Hyde, 49ers
  7. Terrance West, Browns
  8. Lorenzo Taliaferro, Ravens
  9. Storm Johnson, Jaguars
  10. Lache Seastrunk, Redskins
  11. Charles Sims, Buccaneers
  12. De’Anthony Thomas, Chief
  13. James White, Patriots
  14. Dri Archer, Steelers
  15. Andre Williams, Giants
  16. Kapri Bibbs, Broncos
  17. Brennan Clay, Broncos
  18. Isaiah Crowell, Browns
  19. Julius Watts “Trey”, Rams
  20. Marion Grice, Chargers
  21. David Fluellen, Eagles
  22. Ben Malena, Cowboys
  23. Roy Finch, Patriots
  24. Darrin Reaves, Panthers
  25. Zurlon Tipton, Colts
  26. Raijon Neal, Packers
  27. Jerome Smith, Falcons
  28. James Wilder, Jr., Bengals
  29. Branden Oliver, Colts
  30. LaDarius Perkins, Packers
  31. Zach Bauman, Cardinals
  32. Tim Cornett, Cardinals
  33. Silas Redd, Redskins
  34. Tim Flanders, Saints
  35. Juwan Thompson, Broncos
  36. Alfred Blue, Texans
  37. Ryan Montague, Seahawks
  38. Terrance Cobb, Jaguars

For the record, here were my rankings before the draft:

  1. Jeremy Hill, Louisiana State
  2. Ka’Deem Carey, Arizona
  3. Tre Mason, Auburn
  4. Terrance West, Towson: FCS
  5. Carlos Hyde, Ohio State
  6. Lache Seastrunk, Baylor
  7. De’Anthony Thomas, Oregon
  8. Storm Johnson, Central Florida
  9. Devonta Freeman, Florida State
  10. James White, Wisconsin
  11. Charles Sims, West Virginia
  12. Dri Archer, Kent State
  13. Jerome Smith, Syracuse
  14. Lorenzo Taliaferro, Coastal Carolina: FCS
  15. Bishop Sankey, Washington
  16. Raijon Neal, Tennessee
  17. Andre Williams, Boston College
  18. Franklyn Quiteh, Bloomsburg: D2
  19. David Fluellen, Toledo
  20. Ben Malena, Texas A&M
  21. Roy Finch, Oklahoma
  22. LaDarius Perkins, Mississippi State
  23. Zach Bauman, Northern Arizona: FCS
  24. Kapri Bibbs, Colorado State
  25. Branden Oliver, Buffalo
  26. Trey Watts, Tulsa
  27. James Wilder, Jr., Florida State
  28. Tyler Gaffney, Stanford
  29. Antonio Andrews, Western Kentucky
  30. Tim Cornett, Nevada-Las Vegas
  31. Prince-Tyson Gulley, Syracuse
  32. Silas Redd, Southern California
  33. Jordan Hall, Ohio State
  34. Jeff Scott, Mississippi
  35. James Sims, Kansas
  36. Orleans Darkwa, Tulane
  37. John Spooney, Brown: FCS
  38. Zurlon Tipton, Central Michigan
  39. Tim Flanders, Sam Houston State: FCS
  40. Sam Ojuri, North Dakota State: FCS
  41. Brennan Clay, Oklahoma
  42. Anthony Wilkerson, Stanford
  43. Kiero Small, Arkansas
  44. Terrance Cobb, University of the Cumberlands: NAIA
  45. Ryan Montague, Louisiana College: D3
  46. Juwan Thompson, Duke
  47. Dominick Pierre, Dartmouth: FCS
  48. Damien Thigpen, UCLA
  49. Vintavious Cooper, East Carolina
  50. Tommy Gooden, Jackson State: FCS
  51. Dareyon Chance, Western Michigan
  52. Darreion Robinson, Georgia southern
  53. Aldreakis Allen, Liberty: FCS
  54. Waymon James, TCU
  55. Rondell White, West Chester: D2


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