Running backs are the primary position of fantasy football in today's NFL. Reliable starting running backs who can lead your offense go pretty quickly in drafts. Knowing which running backs to pick to lead your team is crucial to making sure you can outperform your opponents throughout the season.
Joining me for going over BTSC's leading running backs are both our own Dani Bostick and Bryan DeArdo. Below are each of our own top 15 running backs to draft going into the 2015 season.
1) Marshawn Lynch: Beast Mode gets the nod for a multitude of reasons. He's as consistent as they get, having rushed for at least 1,200 yards and reaching double figures in rushing touchdowns in each of the last four seasons. Lynch has consistently put up good receiving numbers for a running back, catching a combined 73 passes for 683 yards and six each touchdowns over the past two seasons. The 29-year-old Lynch is also durable, having played in 63 of the Seahawks last 64 games. Last season, Lynch tallied 1,673 total yards to go with a career-best 17 total touchdowns, proving that Beast Mode still has plenty of tread left on his tires.
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2) Le'Veon Bell: Last year's 2,000-yard all-purpose back will more than make up for the games he will miss early in 2015. With an offense that might be the most prolific in the NFL next season, Bell will have room to operate as opposing defenses won't be able to fill the box due to the threat of the Steelers potent passing game, spearheaded by Ben Roethlisberger. Bell should still be a threat to pile up another 2,000 all-purpose yards, while his 11 touchdowns should again be an attainable number as well.
3) Adrian Peterson: Now north of 30-years-old, Peterson is looking to bounce back after missing the last 15 games of 2014. Before last season, Peterson rushed for at least 1,200 yards and scored at least 10 rushing touchdowns in six of his first seven seasons while averaging just shy of 100 rushing yards per game for his career. Peterson was No.1 back in Fantasy Football before last season, and he's still worth spending a high pick on.
4) Arian Foster: Despite injuries that forced him to miss three games, Foster still managed to rush for 1,246 yards and scored 13 total touchdowns while amassing 1,573 total yards. Health is the big question mark around the 29-year-old Foster, who has missed 11 games over the past two seasons. But when healthy, there aren't many Fantasy Football backs better than No.23.
5) Eddie Lacy: The third year back put up solid numbers in his first two seasons in the league, averaging 1,159 rushing yards and exactly 1,500 all-purpose yards to go with 24 total touchdowns. Expect the same kind of numbers from the 25-year-old bruiser again in 2015.
6) Jamaal Charles: The No.12 rated player on the NFL's Top-100 list, the 28-year-old Charles battled through injuries to still amass 1,324 total yards and 14 touchdowns last season. If healthy, Charles could again emulate the back that gained 1,980 yards from scrimmage in 2013.
7) LeSean McCoy: It's hard to call McCoy's 2014 a disappointment although many Fantasy Football players would say it was. After a slow start, McCoy did rush 1,319 yards, but he only scored five touchdowns while recording just 155 receiving yards. Look for those numbers to rise in Buffalo, where new head coach Rex Ryan looks to feature the 27-year-old McCoy in a heavy run-oriented offense.
8) Matt Forte: The eight-year pro is about as consistent as they get for Fantasy Football running backs. The 29-year-old Forte tallied at least 1,400 all-purpose yards in each of his first seven seasons while averaging 1,890 total yards over the last two seasons.
9) C.J. Anderson: In just seven starts, the 24-year-old Anderson rushed for 849 yards while posting 324 receiving yards with 10 total touchdowns. Look for Anderson to have a career-year in 2015, especially with Peyton Manning inching closer to 40-years-old.
10) DeMarco Murray: After toting the rock 392 times last season, Murray can hopefully stay healthy and productive in 2015. While it's unlikely that he'll reach the 2,261 all-purpose yards that he tallied in '14, it's not a stretch to think that Murray could at least rack up 1,500 total yards while playing under Chip Kelly's wide open offense in Philadelphia.
11) Jeremy Hill: No one rushed for more yards during the second half of the '14 season than Hill, who has a rookie last year rushed for 1,124 yards and nine touchdowns while averaging 5.1 yards per carry while starting just eight games. And despite being targeted only 32 times, Hill managed to record 27 catches for 215 yards. Now that the Bengals know what they have in Hill, expect the 22-year-old's production to rise in 2015.
12) Alfred Morris: Morris has proven himself to be a consistent back, having rushed for an average of 1,320 rushing yards in his first three seasons. Morris has never missed a start heading into his fourth NFL season, and if the Redskins can provide him any relief at the quarterback position, Morris could again be among the league's rushing leaders as he was as a rookie.
13) Mark Ingram: The 24-year-old Ingram enjoyed his finest season in 2014, rushing for 964 yards and scoring nine touchdowns in just nine starts. With Drew Brees entering his 15th season, look for the Saints offense to lean more on Ingram and the ground game.
14) Melvin Gordon: After rushing for 2,587 yards and 29 touchdowns with a 7.5 yards per carry average last season at Wisconsin, Gordon joins a Chargers team armed with one of the best quarterbacks in the business in Phillip Rivers. While defenses playing back to defend against Rivers, Gordon could have many opportunities to thrive during his rookie season.
15) Justin Forsett: In his first season as a starter, Forsett rushed for 1,266 yards and tallied over 1,500 total yards in 2014 to go with his eight rushing touchdowns. Except similar numbers from the 29-year-old Forsett in 2015.
Continuing the trend from our last article on top 10 fantasy quarterbacks of 2015, we'll take into consideration the defenses which each running back on my list will face in the final five weeks of the regular season. To quantify the level of difficulty we look at the "average playoff defense points allowed" or APDPA, the average of the allowed points to running backs of each defense a player on this list will face in the final five weeks of the season. This is used to help decide which players might be the best options as playoff achievers.
1) Le'Veon Bell - 15.98 APDPA (8th)
Bell will miss early games, however he will payback those early games he'll miss with an outstanding third season in the NFL. His final weeks of the season could see a road bump against the Baltimore Ravens, the best defense against fantasy running backs in 2014, in week16; however he also will get a chance to go up against the Cleveland Browns, Indianapolis Colts and the Cincinnati Bengals, all of whom were not strong against running backs. As big as 2014 was for Bell, 2015 will be better.
2) Jamaal Charles - 17.44 APDPA (3rd)
Charles saw a decrease in his stats from 2013 to 2014, but look for a major rebound in 2015. Also watch for him to give great playoff numbers as he faces the Raiders twice, the worst team against fantasy running backs. Should Charles be able to avoid injury, his speed and receiving skills could make him a great leader for any team.
3) Adrian Peterson - 15.48 APDPA (10th)
Peterson will be fresh coming into the season and looking to prove himself again. He also will be coming into an offense now that has a young quarterback in Teddy Bridgewater as well as speedy offensive weapons in Mike Wallace and Cordarrelle Patterson. Peterson could still be the best running back in the league, but the real question is whether he's the sure-fire first overall pick that he has been in the past.
4) Eddie Lacy - 16.5 APDPA (6th)
Lacy is a great option a running back in a system where opposing defenses will be focused on stopping Aaron Rodgers and their elite passing attack. His abilities make him an easy early first round pick and a great #1 option. His playoff opponents also look to give promising opportunities, especially when considering the toughest defense on that list will be missing a major cog whent they play the Detroit Lions without Ndamukong Suh.
5) Marshawn Lynch - 14.72 APDPA (14th)
Lynch was supposed to fall off the wagon last season as an older out-of-date running back; instead he was a top five fantasy running back and almost was a back-to-back Super Bowl champion. Lynch will have a tough path in his playoff times facing the St. Louis Rams, Arizona Cardinals and the Ravens, all of whom surrendered less than an average of 14 points to running backs each week.
6) LeSean McCoy - 15.40 APDPA (11th)
McCoy had a let down of a fantasy season in 2014 with the Philadelphia Eagles, but still was able to provide solid numbers. This time he will be in Buffalo and probably be relied upon to carry even more of the load there. Grabbing him in the early rounds would be a great option.
7) Demarco Murray - 14,84 APDPA (13th)
The top fantasy producing running back from 2014 will experience a let down in the Eagles system with an inferior offensive line to that of the Dallas Cowboys. He will also be splitting more of his time with a corps of running backs that can be successful on their own right. He's still a great option, but is not the same as last season.
8) C.J. Anderson - 17.08 APDPA (5th)
Anderson earned the starting spot for the Broncos and showed to be more reliable in Peyton Manning's offense with every passing week in 2014. Unless he befalls an injury plagued season like that of Montee Ball, Anderson could be good for a 2nd round pick that is well worth the investment.
9) Matt Forte - 15.30 APDPA (12th)
Forte was a top producer in 2014, and will be a leader again in Chicago. His dual-threat as a receiver and a rusher has made him a solid fantasy pickup for years and will make him a target again in 2015.
10) Arian Foster - 17.54 APDPA (1st)
Foster is always a solid player to have on your team, but his age has started to make him fall back in his average draft position in most leagues. Tough Alfred Blue is now a second year player behind him, Foster is still the man in Houston. Should he still be healthy in the home stretch of the season Foster could bring home some big numbers as he has the highest APDPA of the top 15 running backs on my list.
11) Justin Forsett - 15.5 APDPA (9th)
Forsett came out of nowhere in 2014, capitalizing on the vacancy left by Ray Rice in Baltimore. He looks to be the perfect replacement and put up over 200 fantasy points in 2014. He's one of those running backs you can look to take as you get closer to the middle rounds and allow yourself to focus on getting top-end wide receivers.
12) Alfred Morris - 16.42 APDPA (7th)
Morris has been a consistent contributor who does not lead in fantasy but always produces enough. He's a great RB2 and can be an RB1 on a team that focused on great wide receivers and quarterbacks in the very early rounds. He also gets to go up against Dallas twice in the final five weeks which could be an opportunity for him to be a big playoff producer.
13) Jeremy Hill - 14.14 APDPA (15th)
Hill bursted onto the scene in 2014 to outshine Giovani Bernard in Cincinnati, a rookie fantasy star from 2013, and claim the starting role. Hill will undoubtedly be the starting option for the Bengals and a solid RB2 for any team. Only hesitation for me on Hill is his opponents list in the playoff wekeks. He goes up against Baltimore, Denver, San Francisco and Pittsburgh. That added to the fact he will split opportunities with Bernard makes him more of a low-tier RB1 and a high-tier RB2.
14) Mark Ingram - 17.46 APDPA (2nd)
Ingram is definitely the starter in New Orleans but he has competition in his ranks. He's a tough competitor and a solid pickup but he will also split more carries for the Saints and does not become a full-on RB1 unless he can start dominating the amount of touches in that offense. Take note of his late season opponents however, as he plays all three of his division rivals, Jacksonville, and the Suh-less Lions in the playoff weeks. Could be an opportunity for the Saints to make a playoff push, and for your team to have a solid playoff producer.
15) Frank Gore - 17.38 APDPA (4th)
Gore will finally be on a team with a great passing attack now that he is in Indianapolis. Though he's definitely older and not close to what he used to be, he won't have to split as many carries this season and becomes a great goal-line option for the Colts. This may reduce his touches but in a pass-happy offense his touches this season could become more valuable if defenses are playing for the pass and his offensive line gives him more opportunities. I say give Gore another ride this season on your team as a solid RB2.