Remember a few years back when taking a QB like Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, or Tom Brady in the first round was met with major criticism?  Back when workhorse backs where not near extinct and RB’s composed nearly every selection in round 1?  Well like Bob Dylan once said “times they are a changing”, especially in the world of fantasy football.  Nearly every back in the draft has major question marks this season because of injury, holdouts, and the ever popular RB by committee approach NFL teams have embraced.  In some mock drafts this season I have seen as little as 4 RB’s taken in the first round…a major reality check we as fake football managers must take notice of.  As it just so happens these 4 running backs just happen to be the 4 RB’s I have listed as my tier 1 backs.  So here it is… my very short list of RB’s I feel warrant the label “Tier 1” in my rankings…(all points based on ESPN standard scoring)

  1. Ray Rice:  Coming off of the best year of his career posting 2,068 total yards from scrimmage and 15 total touchdowns, Rice finished 6th overall among all players and 1st among non QB’s in fantasy points with 283.  In 2 of the past three years Rice has had over 2000 scrimmage yards…the year he missed he “only” posted 1,776.  Rice has added value in PPR leagues as his reception numbers since 2009 have gone as follows; (78/702/1), (63/556/1), and (76/704/3), very impressive.  Another factor most people do not think of in drafting Rice is that he has the leagues BEST FB in Vontae Leach opening lanes for Rice to run.  And last but not least the reason why I will rank Rice #1 overall is the fact that has remained healthy starting 16 games for 3 consecutive seasons.
  2. Arian Foster:  The top running back according to the majority of FF players ranks 2 in my list.  Playing in only 13 of 16 games last season, Foster still earned enough points to finish 4th among running backs and had the highest points per games played ratio for his position.  There is no denying Foster has the skills to be the top RB this year, but one thing is keeping me from taking him ahead of Rice, and his name is Ben Tate.  Foster will command the lion share of the carries but Tate will still take plenty of opportunity away from Foster as he had 175 carries and 942 yards last season (a 5.4 avg!) proving he has talent to deliver as well.  So while Tate is around Foster is my #2.
  3. LeSean McCoy:  Last season McCoy was the top weapon in Philly posting 1,624 scrimmage yards and a stunning 20 total touchdowns.  McCoy is explosive and is the best player on the Eagle roster offensively in my opinion.  I’m not buying Andy Reid stating that the overused him last season and may cut back on his touches…come game time they will get him the ball if they want to win.  However I am concerned with Mike Vick taking back a few touchdowns.  Either way McCoy is solid as they come in reliability.
  4. Maurice Jones-Drew:  The leagues leading rusher from last season with 1,606 yards along with an additional 374 through the air and 11 total touchdowns, MJD ranks in #4.  MJD has posted at least 1,600 scrimmage yards and 7 TD’s in each of the last 3 seasons.  He does come with some risk however…firstly he is in a contract depute with the Jaguars and the longer he holds out the more his stock declines.  Secondly his heavy workload he has endured the past 3 seasons may make him a bit more of an injury risk.  Still once the Big 3 names get called, don’t hesitate to draft him.

So there you have my fellow fanatics… my tier 1 RB rankings.  As always comments welcome! Look for my Tier 2 rankings coming soon…