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11. Montee Ball, Denver Broncos
Outlook: Ball is the most talented running back Peyton Manning’s played with since Edgerrin James. With Manning, the former NFL running back had over 120 receptions in his first two NFL seasons. Look for Ball to receive a similar boost for playing alongside Manning.
Projections: 41 receptions, 1,522 total yards (315 receiving), 10 touchdowns, & 2 fumbles
12. Giovani Bernard, Cincinnati Bengals
Outlook: Bernard is elusive in space and incredibly dangerous as a receiver out the backfield. The Bengals will do everything in their power to get the ball in his hands.
Projections: 60 receptions, 1,370 total yards (544 receiving), & 8 touchdowns (2 receiving)
13. C.J. Spiller, Buffalo Bills
Outlook: Last year, Buffalo’s coaching staff didn’t do a very good job of playing to Spiller’s strengths. Instead of getting the ball to Spiller in space, they attempted to have him run too much between the tackles. Based on their off-season rhetoric, it seems as if the Bills’ coaching staff learned their lesson.
Projections: 41 receptions, 1,637 total yards (404 receiving), 6 touchdowns (1 receiving), & 2 fumbles
14. Joique Bell, Detroit Lions
Outlook: Many fantasy players mistakenly believe Reggie Bush is the Detroit running back to own in PPR leagues. However, Bell is every bit the receiver that Bush is. More important, he’s a better runner between the tackles.
Projections: 69 receptions, 1,311 total yards (553 receiving), 7 touchdowns (3 receiving), & 4 fumbles
15. Doug Martin, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Outlook: The hot buzz out of Tampa is that Martin won’t touch the ball as much as he did in the past. It’s a misleading headline, though. Martin had a ridiculous 368 touches in his rookie season. Even a 25 percent decrease still leaves him with 276 touches. That’s still a respectable amount.
Projections: 39 receptions, 1,418 total yards (342 receiving), 9 touchdowns (1 receiving), & 1 fumble
16. Toby Gerhart, Jacksonville Jaguars
Outlook: The good news is Jacksonville’s offense will revolve around Gerhart this season. The bad news is every defense the Jaguars play knows this.
Projections: 42 receptions, 1,452 total yards (249 receiving), 7 touchdowns (2 receiving), & 2 fumbles
17. Reggie Bush, Detroit Lions
Outlook: Bush hasn’t caught 60 passes in a season since ‘07, which was just his second season. Nevertheless, the Lions are about to go into pass-happy overdrive this season, so both he and Bell stand to flirt with the number.
Projections: 65 receptions, 1,214 total yards (571 receiving), 6 touchdowns (3 receiving), & 4 fumbles
18. Bishop Sankey, Tennessee Titans
Outlook: Sankey will be worth monitoring all summer. Assuming he wins the running back job in Tennessee, he figures to be in RB2 conversation in all leagues.
Projections: 43 receptions, 1,319 total yards (298 receiving), 7 touchdowns, & 2 fumbles
19. Zac Stacy, St. Louis Rams
Outlook: As is the case with all Jeff Fisher coached teams, the Rams will lean heavily on their running game. Stacy’s a RB2 in all leagues, despite the presence of Tre Mason.
Projections: 31 receptions, 1,296 total yards (165 receiving), 9 touchdowns (1 receiving), & 1 fumble
20. Pierre Thomas, New Orleans Saints
Outlook: Coming off a career-high 77 receptions, Thomas figures to surpass the 70-catch mark again, as the absence of Darren Sproles opens the door for even more opportunities.
Projections: 76 receptions, 990 total yards (446 receiving), & 6 touchdowns (2 receiving)
21. Steven Jackson, Atlanta Falcons
Outlook: Jackson’s red zone ability makes him a RB2, even in PPR leagues.
Projections: 38 receptions, 1,025 total yards (188 receiving), & 11 touchdowns
22. Rashad Jennings, N.Y. Giants
Outlook: The Giants are hoping Jennings can finally bring stability to their running game. Fantasy players should keep an eye on the situation, but the expectations are encouraging.
Projections: 48 receptions, 1,184 total yards (400 receiving), & 6 touchdowns
23. Alfred Morris, Washington
Outlook: Morris suffers greatly from the PPR format. He has just 20 receptions in two NFL seasons.
Projections: 7 receptions, 1,413 total yards (50 receiving), 10 touchdowns, & 4 fumbles
24. Darren Sproles, Philadelphia Eagles
Outlook: It’s no mystery that Chip Kelly wants his offense moving at a faster pace in ‘14. Sproles is a great fit for his system, and could hit the 70-catch mark for the fourth consecutive season.
Projections: 73 receptions, 860 total yards (623 receiving), 7 touchdowns (2 receiving), & 1 fumble
25. Andre Ellington, Arizona Cardinals
Outlook: Perhaps no RB2 enters ‘14 with as much upside as Ellington does. The Cardinals have begun to talk him up as a potential bell cow, so 43 receptions and 946 rushing yards could come in as low projections. Still, Thomas is just 205 pounds (give or take), so he may lose carries inside the red zone.
Projections: 43 receptions, 1,355 total yards (409 receiving), & 4 touchdowns (1 receiving)
26. Danny Woodhead, San Diego Chargers
Outlook: Woodhead benefits greatly from PPR scoring. He’s coming off a career-high 76 receptions in ‘13, and six of his eight touchdowns (a career best) were as a receiver. He’s a solid flex play.
Projections: 64 receptions, 910 total yards (517 receiving), 7 touchdowns (5 receiving), & 1 fumble
27. Ryan Mathews, San Diego Chargers
Outlook: A RB1 in standard scoring, Mathews loses a significant amount of touches to Woodhead in the passing game. In addition, the team brought in Donald Brown, who would more than likely fill in for Woodhead should the latter get hurt. Mathews is a flex using PPR scoring.
Projections: 23 receptions, 1,292 total yards (170 receiving), 6 touchdowns (1 receiving), & 1 fumble
28. Ben Tate, Cleveland Browns
Outlook: Tate signed with Cleveland assuming he would be their starting running back. However, rookie Terrence West is receiving rave reviews thus far, so Tate’s lock on the position may not be a strong one. Keep an eye on the situation throughout the summer.
Projections: 34 receptions, 1,159 total yards (160 receiving), 6 touchdowns, & 2 fumbles
29. Chris Johnson, N.Y. Jets
Outlook: Because Marty Mornhinweg's offense incorporates running backs into the passing game, Johnson has some flex appeal. However, his days of being a No. 1 running back are behind him.
Projections: 38 receptions, 1,040 total yards (283 receiving), 5 touchdowns (1 receiving), & 1 fumble
30. Trent Richardson, Indianapolis Colts
Outlook: The Colts are banking on Richardson coming through for them this season. Fantasy players should be cautious, as Richardson has a career average of just 3.3 yards per carry.
Projections: 32 receptions, 1,074 total yards (303 receiving), 4 touchdowns (1 receiving), & 1 fumble
1 point per reception
1 point per 10 yards receiving
1 point per 10 yards rushing
6 points per touchdown
-2 points per fumble
Update: An earlier draft of these rankings mistakenly omitted Denver RB Montee Ball. The updated draft now includes Ball at No. 11.