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Fantasy Football: Predicting the Top 10 RBs of 2015

by Stan Son | @Stan_Son | Featured Writer
Aug 14, 2015

Will Latavius Murray be one of the surprise RBs to crack the top 10 in 2015?

Will Latavius Murray be one of the surprise RBs to crack the top 10 in 2015?

*Note: This is an in-depth analysis. Click here if you’d rather jump right to the Top 10 RB Predictions. We highly recommend circling back to the full analysis to learn why the predictions were made.

Scientists believe that we may live in a world of 10 dimensions. For the sake of this article and for my sanity, I will stop at the fifth dimension.

The first three dimensions are pretty straightforward; length, height, and depth. Basically, the physical world that we can see with our eyes. Adrian Peterson is 6’1″, 220 lbs. He wears a purple Vikings’ uniform. The football field that he and hundreds play on is 360 feet in length and 160 feet wide.

The fourth dimension is time, which governs the properties of all known matter at any given point. “Knowing an object’s position in time is essential to plotting its position in the universe.” Derek Carr comes out from under center and performs a five-step drop, which say takes three seconds. Amari Cooper runs a 10-yard out and knows that the ball should be arriving right when he turns his head. Practice and chemistry. There’s a reason why Peyton Manning and Marvin Harrison would practice the whole route-tree before the game.

Here in lies the beauty and dichotomy of football in general. It is a barbaric sport that requires helmets and pads to play. The biggest, fastest, and strongest men are paid to punish and receive punishment. In order to win the game, though, there must be ballet-like choreography. All 11 men on each side of the ball must be in sync and do their jobs. That nose tackle doesn’t suck up those two blocks and allows the center to get to the linebacker behind him? Offense wins. Carson Palmer notices no safety help over the top on John Brown. He audibles for max protection and sends Brown deep. Prime opportunity, right? But the running back misses his assignment and doesn’t give Palmer enough time to throw it downfield. Defense wins.

The fifth dimension is where the notion of other worlds exist. Bizarro world anyone? The one where Jay Cutler doesn’t throw multiple interceptions in a game.

What does all this have to do with fantasy football?

Fantasy football is one huge puzzle, with many pieces, participants, and solutions. It is always shifting, morphing, and evolving. The most mundane action could cause a ripple effect that shifts the entire landscape. “In chaos theory, the butterfly effect is the sensitive dependence on initial conditions in which a small change in one state of a deterministic nonlinear system can result in large differences in a later state.”

Since 2005, there have only been two seasons in which preseason ADP matched more than 50% of the final top 10 fantasy running backs.

2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014
30% 50% 40% 40% 50% 40% 60% 40% 40% 60%

To be fair, there have only been three seasons since 2005 in which ADP matched more than 50% of the final top 10 fantasy wide receivers.

2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014
30% 60% 60% 50% 50% 50% 50% 50% 50% 60%

(Historical ADP data courtesy of MyFantasyLeague.com. Historical fantasy points data courtesy of footballguys.com. Data is for standard scoring.)

Is it all random? Should we just throw darts at a board? The hubris that we all possess scoffs at that notion. With that said, we all try to predict the future with fantasy football. Who’s going to breakout? Who’s a sleeper? With the above charts, it show that picking the final 10 running backs or wide receivers is basically a coin flip. Even so, I will examine the past 10 years and see if there is any information that could help us accurately predict the running backs for 2015. In essence, catch those elusive butterflies. Let’s take a trip down memory lane.

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Past 10 years

2005

The Studs

  • LaDainian Tomlinson
  • Shaun Alexander
  • Edgerrin James

The Disappointments

  • Priest Holmes – Missed nine games due to injury. Injured in 2004. Had three consecutive seasons with 313+ carries (2001-2003).
  • Willis McGahee – Finished as the #13 RB. After scoring 13 TDs in 2004, tallied five in 2005.
  • Deuce McAllister – Missed 11 games due to injury. 351 carries in 2003 after a 325- carry season in 2002.
  • Domanick Davis – Missed five games due to injury. Carried 302 times the previous year.
  • Jamal Lewis – Fell off after his 387 carry, 2,066 yard season in 2003. Lewis averaged 3.4 yards-per-carry and scored three touchdowns in 15 games during the 2005 campaign.
  • Julius Jones – Missed three games due to injury.
  • Corey Dillon – Missed four games due to injury. Carried 345 times the previous year.

The Replacements

  • Larry Johnson – The handcuff to Holmes.
  • Tiki Barber – ADP #14 RB. Had three successful seasons prior to 2005. There was the whole fumbling issue, as he had five or more in each of those three seasons.
  • Clinton Portis – ADP #11 RB. Traded from Denver to Washington in 2004. Had a successful season, but only scored five touchdowns. In 2005, Joe Gibbs implemented more outside runs for Portis which translated to a 352-carry, 11 touchdown season.
  • Rudi Johnson – ADP #15 RB. Carried the ball 361 times for 1,454 yards with 12 touchdowns in 2004. The Rodney Dangerfield of fantasy football.
  • LaMont Jordan – First year with the Raiders after middling on the Jets. The lead back in a Norv Turner offense, which enabled him to catch 70 balls in 2005.
  • Thomas Jones – The Bears drafted Cedric Benson in the 2004 draft, but a holdout prevented him from playing over Jones.
  • Mike Anderson – Tatum Bell was being drafted six spots ahead of Anderson in 2005 at ADP #22. They both had successful seasons but it was RBBC.

2006

The Studs

  • LaDainian Tomlinson
  • Larry Johnson
  • Steven Jackson
  • Rudi Johnson
  • Tiki Barber

The Disappointments

  • Shaun Alexander – Missed six games due to injury. Coming off three consecutive seasons with 325+ carries. Lost All-Pro guard Steve Hutchinson. YPC plummeted to 3.6 from 5.1.
  • Edgerrin James – Went from the Colts to the Cardinals. Finished as the #20 RB.
  • Ronnie Brown – Missed three games due to injury. Sophomore slump. Ricky Williams was suspended for the 2006 season, so great things were expected.
  • Clinton Portis – Missed eight games due to injury. Coming off consecutive 340+ carry seasons.
  • Carnell Williams – Only missed two games, but injuries nagged him all year. Sophomore slump.

The Replacements

  • Frank Gore – Successful 2005 rookie campaign. Became the lead back in 2006 when the 49ers traded Kevan Barlow to the Jets.
  • Willie Parker – Became the starter in his second year after Jerome Bettis and Duce Staley missed time due to injury. Performed well in Super Bowl XL. Signed a contract extension before the start of the 2006 season and coach Bill Cowher said that Parker would be the bell cow running back.
  • Brian Westbrook – ADP #13 RB. While Westbrook was successful in 2004 and 2005, he was often injured and missed multiple games. He also held out in 2005, but did receive a contract extension.
  • Maurice Jones-Drew – Rookie year.
  • Ladell Betts – Portis handcuff.

2007

The Studs

The Disappointments

  • Steven Jackson – Finished as the #14 RB. The 2007 Rams imploded due to a rash of injuries to the offensive line and quarterback Marc Bulger. Missed four games due to injury.
  • Larry Johnson – Missed eight games due to injury. Held out of training camp.
  • Shaun Alexander – Missed three games do to injuries.
  • Willie Parker – Carried 321 times for 1,316 yards but only scored two touchdowns.
  • Rudi Johnson – Missed five games due to injuries. Coming off three seasons of 330+ carries.
  • Reggie Bush – Missed four games due to injury.

The Replacements

  • Adrian Peterson – Rookie season. Was the 26th RB selected in fantasy drafts.
  • Clinton Portis – ADP #19 RB, coming off injury-plagued 2006.
  • Jamal Lewis – Bounced back from his injury-riddled 2005 campaign. Actually had a good 2006, but finished #16 in fantasy that year. In 2007, he rushed for 170 more yards and caught two more touchdowns than in 2006 to finish #6.
  • Marion Barber – In RBBC with Julius Jones.
  • Willis McGahee – Traded to the Ravens in the offseason, after making disparaging remarks about the city of Buffalo. Was the 14th RB selected in fantasy drafts.
  • Edgerrin James – Almost identical stats to 2006 year. The difference was that 2006 was a bonkers year for the running back position. LaDainian Tomlinson scored 427.3 points, Larry Johnson scored 333.9, and Steven Jackson scored 329.4. In 2007, Tomlinson was the top scorer with 307.8 points.

2008

The Studs

The Disappointments

  • Joseph Addai – Missed four games due to injury. Coming off a career high 261 carries the prior year.
  • Steven Jackson – Missed four games due to injury. Finished as the #13 RB. Missed four games in 2007.
  • Marion Barber – Much was expected as he was declared the unquestioned starter in Dallas. His ADP was the 6th RB off the board. He ended the season at #16. Barber’s ypc decreased to 3.7 after consecutive years with a 4.8 mark.
  • Frank Gore – Missed two games. Ended as the #14 RB.
  • Marshawn Lynch – Missed one game. Finished as the #15 RB.
  • Larry Johnson – Missed four games due to suspension.

The Replacements

  • DeAngelo Williams – Showed what he could do after DeShaun Foster went down with an injury in 2007. Williams averaged 5.0 yards-per-carry that year. Entering 2008, he was deemed the starter, with draft pick Jonathan Stewart serving a complementary role.
  • Michael Turner – After backing up Tomlinson in San Diego for four years, Turner took his talents to Atlanta and had a tremendous year.
  • Matt Forte – Rookie year.
  • Thomas Jones – Scored one touchdown in 2007 for a 4-12 Jets team. In 2008, Jones scored 13 rushing touchdowns and the Jets compiled a 9-7 record.
  • Steve Slaton – Rookie year.
  • Maurice Jones-Drew – ADP was the 11th RB off the board. Many drafters were expecting MJD to take over the duties from Fred Taylor.

2009

The Studs

The Disappointments

  • Michael Turner – Missed five games due to injury. Carried 376 times the prior year.
  • Matt Forte – Received 58 less carries, had a bit of a fumbling issue (5 fumbles/3 lost), and scored eight fewer touchdowns than in 2008. YPC was 3.6, a career low.
  • DeAngelo Williams – Finished as the #14 RB. It was a disappointment because of the prolific 2008 he had. The total touchdown number decreased to seven from 20 the prior year.
  • LaDainian Tomlinson – Missed two games to injury. After dominating the fantasy landscape for eight years and logging 300+ carries each year, the great Tomlinson finally started to break down.
  • Steve Slaton – Sophomore slump. Bulked up after a successful rookie campaign. Lost short-yardage and goal line duties to Chris Brown. Fumbles were an issue, as he lost three, and injuries ended his season.

The Replacements

  • Ray Rice – Won the starting job before the start of the season after debuting successfully in 2008.
  • Thomas Jones – Drafters were not buying Thomas’ 2008, as he was the 22nd RB off the board in 2009.
  • Ricky WilliamsRonnie Brown suffered a season-ending injury, opening the door for Williams to set an NFL record of the longest time span between 1,000 yard seasons.
  • Ryan Grant – ADP #15 RB. He increased his touchdown total to 11 from five the prior year.
  • Joseph Addai – Bounced back after an injury-filled 2008. ADP #19 RB. A Peyton Manning running back always has value.

2010

The Studs

The Disappointments

  • Maurice Jones-Drew – Played the entire year with a torn meniscus in his left knee. Still finished as the #12 RB.
  • Ray Rice – Finished as the #11 RB.
  • Frank Gore – Missed five games due to injury.
  • Steven Jackson – Finished as the #14 RB. Only scored six touchdowns.
  • DeAngelo Williams – Missed 10 games due to injury.
  • Ryan Mathews – Drafted with the 12th overall pick in the 2010 NFL draft. The Chargers traded Tomlinson to the Jets. The opportunity was there and fantasy owners drafted him as the 10th running back off the board. Mathews missed four games and couldn’t crack 1,000 yards.

The Replacements

  • Arian Foster – The last two games of his 2009 rookie season: 19 carries for 97 yards with a touchdown against the Dolphins and 20 carries for 119 yards with two touchdowns against the Patriots. With Slaton in the doghouse, Foster was given an opportunity and ran with it, finishing as the #1 RB in 2010.
  • Peyton Hillis – Traded to the Browns prior to the season. Made the most of his opportunity, when Jerome Harrison and James Davis were injured, and ended as the #2 RB.
  • Jamaal Charles – He had a successful 2009 campaign, but owners were a little leery. He was drafted as the #14 RB.
  • Darren McFadden – Hue Jackson was hired as offensive coordinator and instituted a power running game, eschewing the zone scheme utilized previously. The oft-injured McFadden still missed three games, but was still able to finish as the #6 RB.
  • LeSean McCoy – McCoy was pressed into service his rookie year in 2009 when Westbrook injured his ankle. He proceeded to break the Eagles rookie rushing record. McCoy was the unquestioned starter coming into 2010 and was the #16 RB drafted in fantasy.
  • Matt Forte – Forte was the 21st running back off the board. His yardage was incrementally better than 2009, but he scored five more touchdowns.

2011

The Studs

The Disappointments

  • Chris Johnson – Held out for a new contract and did not show up to camp.
  • Jamaal Charles – Missed 14 games due to injury.
  • Rashard Mendenhall – Only rushed 228 times compared to 324 the prior year. Scored nine touchdowns but that mark was below the 13 from 2010.
  • Darren McFadden – Missed nine games due to injury.

The Replacements

  • Marshawn Lynch – ADP #30 RB. New coach Pete Carroll made the wise decision to feature Lynch instead of employing a committee with Justin Forsett.
  • Ryan Mathews – Although he missed two games, Mathews was able to total 1,1546 yards and score six touchdowns, which placed him as the #7 RB in fantasy.
  • Michael Bush – McFadden handcuff.
  • Darren Sproles – Signed with the New Orleans Saints in the offseason.

2012

The Studs

The Disappointments

  • LeSean McCoy – Missed four games due to injury.
  • Chris Johnson – Finished as the #12 RB.
  • Darren McFadden – Missed four games due to injury. The Raiders returned to a zone blocking scheme.
  • Matt Forte – Held out for a new contract. Skipped OTA’s. Missed one game. Finished with a career low 44 receptions. With all of that, still finished as the #13 RB in fantasy.
  • Maurice Jones-Drew – Held out for a new contract. Missed 10 games due to injury.
  • DeMarco Murray – Missed six games due to injury.

The Replacements

  • Doug Martin – Rookie year. Showed well in the preseason and was named the starting running back.
  • Alfred Morris – Rookie year. Showed well in preseason. Coach Mike Shanahan announced Morris as the starter before the first game. RG3’s rookie season. The read-option took the league by storm, with Morris being a prime beneficiary.
  • C. J. Spiller – Fred Jackson missed time due to injury.
  • Jamaal Charles – Returned from ACL surgery successfully. He was the 11th RB drafted in fantasy.
  • Trent Richardson – Rookie year. Was the 14th RB off the board, even though he underwent arthroscopic surgery in August of 2012.
  • Stevan Ridley – Showed well in his rookie year with a 5.1 ypc on 87 attempts. In his second year, was handed the reigns.

2013

The Studs

The Disappointments

  • Doug Martin – Missed 10 games due to injury. Sophomore slump.
  • Arian Foster – Missed eight games due to injury.
  • Ray Rice – Only missed one game due to injury, but was revealed recently that he played with a significant hip flexor injury.
  • C. J. Spiller – RBBC with Fred Jackson. Only scored two touchdowns.
  • Trent Richardson – We all fell for the bananna in the tailpipe. He was traded from the Browns to the Colts so there was definitely optimism running in a Andrew Luck-led offense.
  • Alred Morris – Finished as the #14 RB. Actually had a good year, but RG3 fell off and the league adjusted to the read-option.

The Replacements

  • Matt Forte – ADP #11 RB so was right on the fringe to begin with.
  • Knowshon Moreno – Was sharing carries with Montee Ball and Ronnie Hillman, but he was gaining the trust of Manning and the coaching staff with every game played. By week 5, he was the man.
  • Eddie Lacy – Rookie year. Selected with the 61st overall pick in the NFL draft.
  • DeMarco Murray – Cowboys selected Travis Frederick with their first round pick. Looking back at it, that was an early indication of how the Cowboys wanted to play and portended the huge 2014 season.
  • Chris Johnson – ADP #12 RB.
  • Reggie Bush – Signed with the Detroit Lions.

2014

The Studs

The Disappointments

  • LeSean McCoy – Finished as the #11 RB. Had a decent season, but YPC went down a full yard and the reception total and yardage went down the tubes.
  • Adrian Peterson – Switching. Were the fantasy gods getting bored up in the heavens? Let’s try this and see what happens. Mwa ha ha.
  • Montee Ball – Missed 11 games due to injury.
  • Giovani Bernard – Missed three games due to injury. Sophomore slump. The Bengals drafted Jeremy Hill in the second round of the 2014 NFL draft.

The Replacements

  • Le’Veon Bell – Fully healthy after injuries in his rookie campaign. Was a stud at Michigan State. Showed more agility during the preseason games in 2014.
  • Justin ForsettRay Rice happened. He was injured in 2013, but he couldn’t get consistent playing time in Seattle and Houston because of two guys named Marshawn Lynch and Arian Foster.
  • Lamar Miller – Given opportunity due to Moreno injury.
  • Jeremy Hill – Given more opportunity when Bernard went down. Made most of it and continued to get fed. Hue Jackson likes to run the ball. Hill more suited for between the tackles, but can take it to the house.

Deciphering the data

What does this all mean? The one obvious observation is the injuries, but the league has taken notice and adjusted. Since 2005, there have been 55 running backs that received 300+ carries in a season. Below is the number of running backs who received 300+ carries in each season:

2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014
10 9 6 5 7 7 2 5 2 2


There are so many variables that could skew our endeavor to predict the final top 10 fantasy running backs, yet we try. That one nugget of information could be floating around in the air like the elusive butterfly. If we can find it, could it contort the odds to our favor?

I will try. Although frustrating at times, this is much more fun than throwing darts at a board. Plus, when certain scenarios do play out as I “forecasted,” I can feel a sense of pride. A false sense of pride, but pride nonetheless. What fun is patting the back of the dart board?

Here are some general things that I’ve observed from this endeavor:

 RED FLAGS  POSSIBLE BREAKOUT
 Prior injury  Show glimpses in prior year
 High carry load  Handcuff situation/RBBC
 Loss of offensive lineman  New team/scheme
 Coach/scheme change  Rookie year
 Sophomore slump  Bounce back from injury
 YPC decrease  Improved offensive line
 Hold out for new contract
 Bulk up but lose short-yardage work

The one and only true thing that I learned from this excercise was that LaDainian Tomlinson was A-M-A-Z-I-N-G!

Below is my attempt to predict the top 10 running backs for 2015 from delving into the past.

Predicting the top 10 RBs in 2015

2015 ADP

  1. Le’Veon Bell
  2. Eddie Lacy
  3. Jamaal Charles
  4. Adrian Peterson
  5. LeSean McCoy
  6. DeMarco Murray
  7. Marshawn Lynch
  8. Matt Forte
  9. Jeremy Hill
  10. C.J. Anderson

Since ADP usually only predicts 50% of the final list, I’ve put in bold those five that I feel will finish in the top 10. The five that I think will fall out of the top 10 are:

  • LeSean McCoy
    HIGH WORK LOAD: McCoy is coming off consecutive 300+ carry seasons. YPC DECREASE: His YPC plummeted a full yard from 2013 and the receptions were non-existent. COACH/SCHEME CHANGE: He is leaving the fantasy-friendly system of Chip Kelly for a Rex Ryan-led team. He has never been a between-the-tackles runner and dances around too much in the backfield. The quarterback situation is atrocious in Buffalo, so he can expect stacked boxes.
  • DeMarco Murray
    PRIOR INJURY: Missed three games in 2011, six games in 2012, and two games in 2013 due to injury. HIGH WORK LOAD: The Cowboys ran him into the ground last season for 392 carries. COACH/SCHEME CHANGE: He is going to Chip Kelly’s offense so that’s definitely advantageous, but he’s going to cede carries to Ryan Mathews. Darren Sproles will also ciphon touches.
  • Marshawn Lynch
    Blasphemy you say? You are probably right, but hear me out. I love Beast Mode, but all things come to an end at some point. Plus, five need to go from the list, so Lynch seemed a likely candidate. HIGH WORK LOAD: The Seahawks are coming off consecutive Super Bowl appearances. That’s basically tacking on another third of a season right there. If you factor in playoff football, you could say it adds another half-season. In the past four seasons, Lynch has carried 280+ times each year, not including the playoffs. The physical running style also subjects Lynch to more punishment than most backs. Rudi Johnson was able to pound it for three consecutive seasons before breaking down. Shaun Alexander did it for five. Lynch has done it for four years in a row now. LOSS OF OFFENSIVE LINEMAN: The Seahawks traded away their starting center, Max Unger. In the nine games that Unger played, Lynch ran for 5.0 YPC. In the other 10 games, that number dropped to 4.4. This situation looks eerily similar to the one Seattle fans endured with Shaun Alexander.
  • Matt Forte
    COACH/SCHEME CHANGE: As everyone has said, there’s no way he catches 102 balls. Exit Marc Trestman, enter Adam Gase. Forte is an average runner. In his career, he’s averaged 4.2 YPC. That is basically league average. In 2014, Forte averaged 3.9 YPC. He has never topped nine rushing touchdowns in a season. He has always derived his value from catching the ball. While the expectation is probably for him to catch around 70 balls, I don’t think you can project that. I’d be more comfortable in the 50 range. C.J. Anderson, who was the starting running back in Adam Gase’s offense in Denver, caught 34 balls last year.
  • Jeremy Hill
    This was a tough one. I could’ve left the list at four out, but I will follow through. SOPHOMORE SLUMP: Hill had an amazing rookie campaign, but so did Ronnie Brown in 2005, Carnell Williams in 2005, and Doug Martin in 2012. We all were saying the same things about Hill as we said about Brown, Williams, and Martin. To make matters worse, Giovani Bernard is a very talented back in his own right, and he missed some games last year. Hill averaged a ridiculous 5.1 YPC last year. Is that sustainable?

Now for the replacements:

  • Latavius Murray
    Current ADP is #19 RB. SHOW GLIMPSES IN PRIOR YEAR: Entered the consciousness of the fantasy world on that infamous Thursday night game against the Chiefs. Performed decently the rest of the year against three top 10 defenses. Possesses size, speed, and strength. NEW SCHEME: The Raiders should be much improved with a whole new coaching staff. OC Bill Musgrave will be incorporating some Chip Kelly principles, and he was the OC during Adrian Peterson‘s 2,000 yard rushing season. IMPROVED OFFENSIVE LINE: The acquisition of center Rodney Hudson should be huge. He was rated as the #3 center last year according to Pro Football Focus.
  • Melvin Gordon
    Current ADP is #30 RB. ROOKIE YEAR: Eight running backs in the last 10 years were able to make an immediate impact and end up as a top 10 fantasy running back during their rookie season. The 2015 running back class is supposed to be one of the best in a long time. In his final college season, Gordon gained 2,587 yards, which ranked him second in FBS history only to Barry Sanders’ 2,628-yard season. The San Diego Chargers selected Gordon with the 15th overall pick. When they selected Ryan Mathews in 2010, they immediately gave him 20 carries in his first game. Unfortunately, Mathews missed time due to injury that year, but he was on his way to a successful campaign. Remember, that Chargers team also had Darren Sproles on it, so Mathews was viewed as a two-down running back. Very similar to this year’s situation with Gordon and Danny Woodhead. San Diego wants to run the ball, so if Gordon is healthy, he could have a prodigious season.
  • Justin Forsett
    Current ADP is #18 RB. Performed well last year after Ray Rice was suspended. NEW SCHEME: Gets a new coordinator in Marc Trestman, who loves to throw to the running back position. Does not have much tread on his tires. Many are concerned because he’s bounced around the league and is 29 years old. When in Seattle and Houston, Marshawn Lynch and Arian Foster, two of the top running backs in the game, were there. Forsett has only logged 582 carries in his six-year career.
  • Frank Gore
    Current ADP is #21 RB. NEW TEAM/SCHEME: Gore goes to a new team with an explosive offense and elite quarterback. Although Trent Richardson was awful for the Colts last year, Ahmad Bradshaw was very successful. He averaged 4.7 YPC on the ground, caught 38 balls, and scored a combined eight touchdowns. Gore’s patience and ability to get skinny through the hole will be a welcome sight in Indianapolis. His football IQ is off the charts and his pass blocking is great, so he will be on the field all the time. As a result, his reception total could bounce back to the 50 range. He will rarely see a stacked box and should be provided with plenty of red zone opportunities. His age is a concern, but he hasn’t received 300 carries since 2006.
  • C.J.Spiller *Editor’s note: This was written before news of the injury that will keep Spiller out until Week 1  
    Current ADP #24. We have seen what Spiller can do. In 2012, he averaged 6.0 YPC on 207 carries for 1,244 yards rushing with six touchdowns. He also caught 43 passes for 459 yards with two touchdowns. This was in Buffalo under the auspices of Chan Gailey. NEW TEAM/SCHEME: Spiller is now in New Orleans, with Sean Payton, who knows how to utilize backs like Spiller. He had Reggie Bush and Darren Sproles. As a matter of fact, let’s look what happened when those two players changed teams in their careers. In 2011, Sproles went to New Orleans and finished as the #10 RB in standard scoring. In 2013, Bush went to Detroit, a situation similar to the one in New Orleans, and also finished as the #10 RB in standard scoring. I think Spiller makes it a trifecta. Payton is going to utilize him properly. Spiller will be playing on turf and Jimmy Graham is in Seattle. RBBC: Mark Ingram is going to get plenty of work in the Saints backfield. Regardless, Spiller can still crack the top 10. It’s happened twice in the past. When Sproles finished #10 in 2011, both Ingram and Pierre Thomas received 100+ carries. When Reggie Bush finished #10 in 2013, Joique Bell received 166 carries.

The landscape of fantasy football is always changing, with new information, new strategies, and new players entering the fray. The “Upside-down” and “Zero RB” strategies probably arose when someone noticed that running backs get injured…a lot. As a result, locking up the elite wide receivers and mining upside running backs became a very viable and “safe” strategy. What if you could gain an edge in predicting the top 10 running backs? It would provide so much flexibility in draft strategy and would usher in a new host of drafting paradigms. Whether it’s possible or not, we must continue to explore the edges of our fantasy football universe. Maybe future generations will discover the information from the fifth dimensions and beyond.

Draft Wizard: Mock in minutes vs. the most accurate experts >>

Stan Son is a correspondent at FantasyPros. To read more from Stan, check out his archive and follow him @Stan_Son

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5Kevin Durant (BKN)SF,PF
6LeBron James (LAL)SF,PF
7Stephen Curry (GSW)PG,SG
8Nikola Jokic (DEN)PF,C
9Damian Lillard (POR)PG
10Russell Westbrook (HOU)PG
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11Victor Oladipo (IND)PG,SG
12Paul George (LAC)SF,PF
13Joel Embiid (PHI)PF,C
14Kawhi Leonard (LAC)SG,SF
15Chris Paul (OKC)PG
16Jimmy Butler (MIA)SG,SF
17Kemba Walker (BOS)PG
18Ben Simmons (PHI)PG,SF
19Kyrie Irving (BKN)PG,SG
20Jrue Holiday (NOR)PG,SG
21Rudy Gobert (UTH)C
22Andre Drummond (DET)PF,C
23John Wall (WAS)PG
24Kyle Lowry (TOR)PG
25Donovan Mitchell (UTH)PG,SG
26Khris Middleton (MIL)SG,SF
27Bradley Beal (WAS)SG
28Kevin Love (CLE)PF,C
29Draymond Green (GSW)PF,C
30LaMarcus Aldridge (SAS)PF,C
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