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11. C.J. Spiller, Buffalo Bills
Outlook: Last year, the Bills didn’t seem to have a firm grasp on how to use Spiller, but all indications are they intend to use him a lot more outside the hashes in 2014. That’s a good sign for his fantasy value. He’s primed for a bounce back campaign.
Projections: 1,233 rushing yards, 404 receiving yards, 6 touchdowns (1 receiving), & 2 fumbles
12. Doug Martin, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Outlook: The days of Martin touching the ball 368 times (as he did in 2012) are over, as Tampa Bay offensive coordinator Jeff Tedford intends to spread the wealth. Still, Martin is too talented of a back to not have a significant influence in Tedford’s system. Look for the third-year running back to have an efficient fantasy season as a RB2.
Projections: 1,076 rushing yards, 342 receiving yards, 9 touchdowns (1 receiving), & 1 fumble
13. Alfred Morris, Washington
Outlook: In two seasons, Morris has 2,888 rushing yards and 20 touchdowns. He’s a rock solid RB2. Only his limitations as a receiver prevent him from cementing himself as a RB1.
Projections: 1,363 rushing yards, 50 receiving yards, 10 touchdowns, & 4 fumbles
14. Shane Vereen, New England Patriots
Outlook: Perhaps no RB2 enters the season with as much upside as Vereen does. The Patriots will definitely lean on him more in the running game, as LeGarrette Blount is now in Pittsburgh. However, his biggest impact will come as a receiver, as he’ll lineup outside and in the slot.
Projections: 737 rushing yards, 694 receiving yards, & 7 touchdowns (5 receiving)
15. Giovani Bernard, Cincinnati Bengals
Outlook: New offensive coordinator Hue Jackson will do whatever it takes to get Bernard more involved into the offense. You’ll see the second-year player touch the ball as a running back, but you’ll also see him incorporated more into the passing game. Bernard enters the season as a RB2 with strong upside.
Projections: 826 rushing yards, 544 receiving yards, & 8 touchdowns
16. Toby Gerhart, Jacksonville Jaguars
Outlook: Without much of a passing game entering the season, Gerhart will be the main focus of Jacksonville’s offensive attack. Expect the former Minnesota Viking to hit the 300-carry milestone, though he’ll constantly have to overcome defenses stacking the box.
Projections: 1,203 rushing yards, 249 receiving yards, 7 touchdowns (2 receiving), & 2 fumbles
17. Zac Stacy, St. Louis Rams
Outlook: Even though the Rams used a third-round draft pick on Tre Mason, Stacy still enters the season entrenched as their starter. If the Rams can put together some semblance of a passing attack, things should only open up for the second-year back.
Projections: 1,131 rushing yards, 165 receiving yards, 9 touchdowns (1 receiving), & 1 fumble
18. Bishop Sankey, Tennessee Titans
Outlook: Fantasy’s top rookie running back entering '14, Sankey projects to receive a majority of the carries in Tennessee. Now, he still has to earn the starting job through training camp, but there’s no question that the Titans want him to win the job. Should he come through this August, he’ll enter the regular-season as a RB2.
Projections: 1,021 rushing yards, 298 receiving yards, 7 touchdowns, & 2 fumbles
19. Steven Jackson, Atlanta Falcons
Outlook: The Falcons would love to use Jackson as they did Michael Turner near the end of his career. Like Turner, Jackson will grind out the tough yards and receive a ton of scoring opportunities. That puts him in RB2 territory, despite his age.
Projections: 837 rushing yards, 188 receiving yards, & 11 touchdowns
20. Joique Bell, Detroit Lions
Outlook: Between Bell and Reggie Bush, you’d have a monstrous RB1. The duo will split time in the backfield, unfortunately. Bell will receive the majority of the touches, so his trajectory is a little higher, but he won’t emerge as a RB1 as long as he’s splitting touches with Bush.
Projections: 758 rushing yards, 553 receiving yards, 7 touchdowns (3 receiving), & 4 fumbles
21. Ryan Mathews, San Diego Chargers
Outlook: Durability is the only red flag regarding Mathews’ fantasy stock. He has RB1 upside if he plays a full schedule, something he didn’t do until last season.
Projections: 1,122 rushing yards, 170 receiving yards, 6 touchdowns (1 receiving), & 1 fumble
22. Rashad Jennings, N.Y. Giants
Outlook: It is possible New York will depend on the pass, especially with a talented receiving corps, but Tom Coughlin teams never abandon the run. Not only does Jennings enter the season as New York’s lead running back, but he’s also likely to play on third downs.
Projections: 784 rushing yards, 400 receiving yards, & 6 touchdowns
23. Andre Ellington, Arizona Cardinals
Outlook: Entering the season with a ton of potential, Ellington figures to lead Arizona in yards from scrimmage this year. The Cardinals want him to touch the ball about 20 times per game. That seems a bit excessive, but it’s a good indication that Arizona is expecting major things from the second-year running back. For now, he’s an every week RB2, but his long-term fantasy trajectory is point upward.
Projections: 946 rushing yards, 409 receiving yards, & 4 touchdowns (1 receiving)
24. Reggie Bush, Detroit Lions
Outlook: While Bush remains a focal point of the passing game, it’s unlikely he’ll lead the Lions in carries in 2014. That honor will go to Bell. Nonetheless, on paper, Detroit’s offense is a fantasy gold mine. Bush is definitely apart of it.
Projections: 643 rushing yards, 571 receiving yards, 6 touchdowns (3 receiving), & 4 fumbles
25. Ben Tate, Cleveland Browns
Outlook: In Houston, Tate was a serviceable player when filling in for Arian Foster. As it currently stands, he remains the frontrunner to lead Cleveland in rushing yardage. It also doesn’t hurt that the Browns may end up relying on the run more than they expected, as receiver Josh Gordon faces suspension.
Projections: 999 rushing yards, 160 receiving yards, 6 touchdowns, & 2 fumbles
26. Jeremy Hill, Cincinnati Bengals
Outlook: Because Cincinnati is taking a more run-oriented approach this year, their running backs will play a larger role. Bernard will receive the bulk of the touches, but at 5-foot-9 and 208 pounds, he won’t play a huge role near the goal line. Hill (235 pounds) is built for goal line and short yardage situations. Look for him to receive a majority of Cincinnati’s goal line carries.
Projections: 791 rushing yards, 178 receiving yards, 9 touchdowns, & 2 fumbles
27. Pierre Thomas, New Orleans Saints
Outlook: The departure of Darren Sproles frees up Thomas to play a bigger role in the passing game. Rookie Brandin Cooks will replace most of Sproles’ duties, sure, but Thomas remains a valuable component in Sean Payton’s arsenal.
Projections: 544 rushing yards, 446 receiving yards, & 6 touchdowns (2 receiving)
28. Stevan Ridley, New England Patriots
Outlook: Regardless of what Ridley does statistically, staying out of Bill Belichick’s doghouse is the best thing he can do for his fantasy value. If Ridley continues to put the ball on the ground, Belichick won’t hesitate to pull him. This is a cloudy situation, but the upside is high, as Ridley (25) is just two years removed from rushing for 12 touchdowns.
Projections: 889 rushing yards, 21 receiving yards, 8 touchdowns, & 3 fumbles
29. Frank Gore, San Francisco 49ers
Outlook: Gore plays in the right system, but he’s also on the wrong side of 30. The addition of rookie Carlos Hyde is also something to take in account. Look for Gore to receive his fewest touches under Jim Harbaugh.
Projections: 1,020 rushing yards, 90 receiving yards, 4 touchdowns, & 2 fumbles
30. Danny Woodhead, San Diego Chargers
Outlook: One of three San Diego running backs projected in the top 50, Woodhead’s biggest impact will come as a pass catcher out of the backfield. He’s a situational player in San Diego’s offense, and not Ryan Mathews’ handcuff.
Projections: 393 rushing yards, 517 receiving yards, 7 touchdowns (5 receiving), & 1 fumble
1 point per 10 yards receiving
1 point per 10 yards rushing
6 points per touchdown
-2 points per fumble