After a scan of the runners taken during the 2013 draft this past weekend, here are my early top ten rookie running backs for re-draft leagues. Keep in mind; a number of rookies had a fantasy impact last year – Doug Martin, Alfred Morris, Trent Richardson, Vick Ballard and David Wilson. Martin, Morris and Richardson finished among the top ten fantasy running backs in 2012.
The new workhorse in Pittsburgh.
1. Le’Veon Bell, PIT – With Mendenhall moving on to Arizona the Steelers have a void at the RB position. Bell is projected to be an every-down back and rumors of Jonathan Dwyer being shopped in a potential trade have begun to surface.
2. Eddie Lacy, GB – Lacy was a shoe-in to be top on the list until the Packers selected Johnathan Franklin later in the draft. Lacy’s likely use around the goaline gives him the early leg up over the smaller Franklin.
3. Montee Ball, DEN – The Broncos have a crowded backfield at the moment but with one pick slip handed to Willis McGahee, Ball’s fantasy value will shoot up the charts. He has the potential to be the focus of the Broncos running game.
4. Giovani Bernard, CIN – Bernard is a much better receiver than the LawFirm but is a bit on the smallish side (5-foot-9) to be a workhorse. He’s got a chance to fill the role Bernard Scott has yet to fulfill.
5. Johnathan Franklin, GB – Franklin is a perfect compliment to Lacy and could become a fantasy force if Lacy’s injury concerns become a reality in 2013. He’ll likely compete with DuJuan Harris for carries.
6. Zac Stacy, STL – Stacy lands in St. Louis in a prime situation. Gone is Steven Jackson and left behind are second-year players Daryl Richardson and Isaiah Pead with Stacy the more likely to receive goaline carries.
7. Stepfan Taylor, ARI – Mendenahll will get his chance this year to be the workhorse in Arizona but he is on a one-year contract and prone to injury. Coaches are typically reluctant to put rookie running backs on the field due to their lack of prowess in pass-blocking but Taylor does have above-average ability in that department. At the very least, he should fill a complementary role to Mendy in 2013.
8. Knile Davis, KC – Davis is known as injury-prone and a fumbler but does have immense talent. He’ll have to shake the former if he wants a steady role as Jamaal Charles’ backup and with Shaun Draughn currently holding down the job, the opportunity is there.
9. Andre Ellington, ARI – Bruce Arians is definitely trying to revamp his running back group. Ellington will likely spend most of time on special teams this season but he’s someone to keep an eye on if the Mendenhall experiment fails.
10. Joseph Randle, DAL – DeMarco Murray is the unquestioned started in Big-D but behind him is a vacancy. Jerry Jones already projects him to be the backup behind Murray making him very fantasy relevant given Murray’s injury history.