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1. LeSean McCoy, Philadelphia Eagles
Outlook: This time last year, many were wondering how Chip Kelly’s system would affect McCoy. It turns out playing for Kelly made him better than ever. McCoy is one of the most (if not the most) explosive running back in football. The Eagles will do everything in their power to get the ball in his hands, as he is the focus of their offensive attack. Leading the league in touchdowns and approaching 2,000 total yards is well within the realm of possibility.
Projections: 1,372 rushing yards, 375 receiving yards, 14 touchdowns (2 receiving), & 1 fumble
2. Adrian Peterson, Minnesota Vikings
Outlook: Peterson turned 29 this off-season, but he’s not your normal 29. He’s rushed for double-digit touchdowns in each of his seven seasons, and is just two years removed from a 2,000-yard rushing season. One of two running backs projected to score at least 250 points, Peterson is one of fantasy’s elite players.
Projections: 1,594 rushing yards, 267 receiving yards, 12 touchdowns (1 receiving), & 3 fumbles
3. Marshawn Lynch, Seattle Seahawks
Outlook: Coming off consecutive 300-carry seasons, Lynch is showing no signs of wearing down. He plays in a system tailor made to his skills and he’s one of the most physical runners in football.
Projections: 1,397 rushing yards, 237 receiving yards, 13 touchdowns (1 receiving), & 2 fumbles
4. Arian Foster, Houston Texans
Outlook: Fully healthy following an injury-riddled 2013, Foster is primed to re-emerge as one of fantasy football’s top running backs. Under Bill O’Brien, Houston will run a similar system to what New England runs, meaning they’ll utilize their running backs in the passing game. Foster isn’t likely to come off the field often, making him a threat to do damage in both facets of the game. He shouldn’t fall out of the top five in any fantasy league.
Projections: 1,203 rushing yards, 445 receiving yards, 12 touchdowns (2 receiving), & 2 fumbles
5. Jamaal Charles, Kansas City Chiefs
Outlook: About six points separates Charles, Foster, and Lynch. Charles is coming off a great season in which he clearly benefited from playing in Andy Reid’s system. There’s no reason to doubt that year No. 2 won’t go as well.
Projections: 1,186 rushing yards, 569 receiving yards, 10 touchdowns (3 receiving), & 2 fumbles
6. Eddie Lacy, Green Bay Packers
Outlook: After years of going without a bell cow, Green Bay finally found one in Lacy. The second-year running back should receive a ton of red zone opportunities, as the Packers will move the ball well with Aaron Rodgers under center. Entrenched as a RB1 this year, Lacy is worth a first-round pick in standard leagues.
Projections: 1,300 rushing yards, 263 receiving yards, & 12 touchdowns
7. Matt Forte, Chicago Bears
Outlook: Forte proved last year to be an exceptional fit in Marc Trestman’s offense. His ability to run between the tackles and catch the ball out the backfield is nearly unmatched among all running backs. Accumulating at least 1,500 total yards and scoring 10 touchdowns is a likely bet.
Projections: 1,028 rushing yards, 686 receiving yards, 10 touchdowns (3 receiving), & 2 fumbles
8. DeMarco Murray, Dallas Cowboys
Outlook: The Cowboys are a pass-first offense, but Murray is simply too talented not to touch the ball about 20 times per game. In the final five games of 2013, Murray totaled 466 yards and scored three times. Durability has been an issue, but if he remains healthy, he’s a candidate to finish as a top five fantasy back.
Projections: 1,175 rushing yards, 330 receiving yards, 13 touchdowns (2 receiving), & 2 fumbles
9. Montee Ball, Denver Broncos
Outlook: Playing with Peyton Manning usually does wonders for a player’s fantasy value. Knowshon Moreno benefited last season, now it’s Ball’s turn to reap the rewards. The second-year running back is immensely talented. He’s athletic enough to bounce outside and tough enough to run between the tackles. Denver brass wouldn’t have let Moreno walk in free agency if they didn’t feel Ball was ready to breakout.
Projections: 1,207 rushing yards, 315 receiving yards, 10 touchdowns, & 2 fumbles
10. Le’Veon Bell, Pittsburgh Steelers
Outlook: After missing the first three games of last season, the Steelers wasted little time in plugging Bell into the starting lineup. He started all 13 of the games he played in, emerging as Pittsburgh’s bell cow. With a coaching staff committed 100 percent to him, Bell enters the year as a solid RB1 candidate.
Projections: 1,071 rushing yards, 496 receiving yards, 8 touchdowns, & 1 fumble
1 point per 10 yards receiving
1 point per 10 yards rushing
6 points per touchdown
-2 points per fumble