As we’ve said lots of times before, a top flight running back is both rare and the key to fantasy football success. Anyone who landed former Cowboy DeMarco Murray or the Steelers Le’Veon Bell, the two best rushers in fantasy last season, likely claimed their league championship last season.

But picking either Murray or Bell meant bypassing the experts. Murray was viewed as a talented back who dealt with injuries and hadn’t quite put everything together. He was considered a top 10 rusher but not the type to put up more than 1,800 yards to lead the NFL last season. Bell was entering just his second year in the league, and was ranked more in the top 15 to 20 range only to buck those projections and explode for 11 total touchdowns and 2,215 all-purpose yards.

Those were two incredible seasons that no one predicted, not even the top experts in fantasy, and it’s highly likely we’ll see at least one or two players emerge in 2015 in spite of the best analysts’ projections.

But in order to enhance your chances of landing this year’s Murray or Bell, it’s important to carefully parse rankings and figure out which player gives you the best chance to succeed rather than simply drafting them because they’re the next best option on some arbitrary list.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at the top 10 running back rankings from ESPN, NumberFire, and Yahoo, three of the top fantasy sites, and see which has the best list for owners to use during drafts next month.


1.Jamaal Charles, Chiefs

2.Arian Foster, Texans

3.Marshawn Lynch, Seahawks

4.Adrian Peterson, Vikings

5.Eddie Lacy, Packers

6.Matt Forte, Bears

7.Le’Veon Bell, Steelers

8.DeMarco Murray, Eagles

9.LeSean McCoy, Bills

10.C.J. Anderson, Broncos

KC’s Charles tops this list due to his rushing and receiving abilities, and durability, along with the Chiefs adding receiver Jeremy Maclin. But from there Foster’s a curious pick, considering Houston’s quarterback situation is quite dire heading into the season. Lynch’s value might also drop with tight end Jimmy Graham likely to siphon off red zone touchdown opportunities.

Lacy should be higher since he’s got the league’s best quarterback in Aaron Rodgers. Bell’s position makes sense since he could miss three games due to suspension, but owners can live with him on their bench for three weeks with 10 fantasy weeks left. So Bell could be a one or two spots higher.

Anderson’s an interesting choice for the top 10, and makes sense at first with Peyton Manning under center, but he still has to battle Montee Ball and Ronnie Hillman for carries and Manning could be on the downswing.

Altogether it’s a solid list, but Foster and Lynch should be lower, and Lacy and Bell higher due to the talent around them to draw away defenses.

                          C.J. Anderson Broncos 2015 Broncos running back C.J. Anderson hasn't claimed the starting nod in Denver yet, which poses a dilemma for fantasy owners. Photo: Getty Images


1.Eddie Lacy, Packers

2.Jamaal Charles, Chiefs

3.Adrian Peterson, Vikings

4.Marshawn Lynch, Seahawks

5.Le’Veon Bell, Steelers

6.Arian Foster, Texans

7.DeMarco Murray, Eagles

8.C.J. Anderson, Broncos

9.Matt Forte, Bears

10.LeSean McCoy, Bills

A bold choice to put Lacy atop this board, and even first overall among all players, but he could be the Murray or Bell of 2015. He’s a powerful, durable back who’s also caught 77 balls for 427 yards and four scores, most of which came last season, and with Rodgers and receivers Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb the Packers have the league’s most balanced offense.

Though Lynch might be a tad too high, ESPN’s rankings look pretty spot on until No. 8 and 9. Forte should be higher and Anderson off the top 10. For one, Forte’s in a contract year, just like Murray was a year ago, and that’s big motivational factor. Anderson’s entering his third year and is solid back, but on top of the position battle, Denver still has questions at tight end, which could limit the passing game and in turn the run next season.

McCoy’s been roughly where he should be in both of these first two lists. He’s clearly the Bills best playmaker, but the quarterback issues in Buffalo are a big question mark and the team did little to improve the offensive line in the offseason.


1.Jamaal Charles, Chiefs

2.Eddie Lacy, Packers

3.Adrian Peterson, Vikings

4.Marshawn Lynch, Seahawks

5.Le’Veon Bell, Steelers

6.Matt Forte, Bears

7.DeMarco Murray, Eagles

8.LeSean McCoy, Bills

9.Arian Foster, Texans

10.Jeremy Hill, Bengals

Even though McCoy seems just a smidge to high, Yahoo’s list appears to be the best of the three. Peterson’s No. 3 for the second time, and that’s more than fair given his MVP-caliber talent and because of second-year QB Teddy Bridgewater and a batch of unproven young receivers.

If you’re in a PPR league, Forte’s right where he should be after snagging 102 receptions last season even if Jay Cutler still has turnover problems. And Murray’s ranking is on point since he won’t have the Cowboys top offensive line in Philadelphia. Also Foster also rightfully slides back because at some point he’ll likely breakdown from overuse.

Meanwhile, Hill makes his first appearance, replacing Denver’s Anderson, and it’s an excellent selection from Yahoo. For one he picked up 1,124 yards at 5.1 yards per carry and caught 27 of 32 targets for another 215 yards, largely taking over the No. 1 role from Giovani Bernard in his rookie year. Now Bernard could still win the position battle or they could split carries, but for an owner picking 10 th in a 10 team league, Hill is a steal given his all-around potential.