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2014 Draft Prep: RB tiers, 2.0

Senior Fantasy Writer
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QB tiers | WR tiers | TE tiers | Draft Averages | Rankings | Draft Index

About a month has gone by since our first run with the running back tiers and there's obviously been some movement.

The good news is that only one prominent rusher (David Wilson) has suffered a significant injury. Let's cross our fingers that he's the only unfortunate one -- we need as many draftable backs as we can get.

Confidence has risen in the likes of DeMarco Murray, Shane Vereen, Lamar Miller, Andre Williams, Bernard Pierce and Carlos Hyde. Frustrations are growing with Arian Foster, Ray Rice, C.J. Spiller and Steven Jackson. They've moved accordingly in the tiers.

There's also been some nice growth in the number of backup running backs, significant since owners should go fishing for those with late-round picks.

The key point to remember when drafting rushers is pick those with 275-plus touch potential first, then go for the 200-touch potential guys next. Explained in detail here, 10 of 15 backs with 275 or more touches finished in the Top 12 last year and 21 of 29 backs that had at least 200 touches last season finished in the Top 24.

Backup RB cheat sheet

Here's an updated version of every starting running back's most likely Fantasy handcuff, along with the round you should expect him to get taken in standard leagues.

Handcuff Playing behind Round? Handcuff Playing behind Round?
Fred Jackson C.J. Spiller 7th Knile Davis Jamaal Charles 12th
Terrance West Ben Tate 7th James Starks Eddie Lacy 12th
Bernard Pierce Ray Rice 8th Chris Ivory Chris Johnson 12th
Devonta Freeman Steven Jackson 8th Lance Dunbar DeMarco Murray 12th
Carlos Hyde Frank Gore 9th Jonathan Stewart DeAngelo Williams 12th
Knowshon Moreno Lamar Miller 9th Shonn Greene Bishop Sankey 12th
Andre Williams Rashad Jennings 9th Ronnie Hillman Montee Ball 12th
Khiry Robinson Pierre Thomas 9th Jonathan Grimes Arian Foster Late pick
Darren Sproles LeSean McCoy 9th Roy Helu Alfred Morris Late pick
Christine Michael Marshawn Lynch 10th Ahmad Bradshaw Trent Richardson Late pick
Jeremy Hill Giovani Bernard 10th Bobby Rainey Doug Martin Late pick
Stepfan Taylor Andre Ellington 10th Jerick McKinnon Adrian Peterson Late pick
Tre Mason Zac Stacy 11th Donald Brown Ryan Mathews Late pick
LeGarrette Blount Le'Veon Bell 11th Shaun Draughn Matt Forte Late pick
Darren McFadden Maurice Jones-Drew 11th Denard Robinson Toby Gerhart Late pick
James White Stevan Ridley 12th Theo Riddick R. Bush/J. Bell Late pick

Running back tiers for 2014

Elite Near-Elite Very Good No. 2/High Upside
Round 1 Rounds 1, 2 Rounds 2, 3 Rounds 3, 4, 5
Jamaal Charles Eddie Lacy Giovani Bernard Toby Gerhart
Matt Forte Montee Ball Le'Veon Bell Andre Ellington
LeSean McCoy DeMarco Murray Marshawn Lynch Ryan Mathews
Adrian Peterson Alfred Morris Zac Stacy Bishop Sankey
    Doug Martin Shane Vereen
    Arian Foster  
No. 2/Less Upside No. 3/Flex Options High-end backups Low-end backups
Rounds 4, 5 Rounds 6, 7, 8 Rounds 7, 8, 9 Rounds 9+
Joique Bell Ben Tate Terrance West Darren Sproles
Reggie Bush Chris Johnson DeAngelo Williams Jeremy Hill
Ray Rice Trent Richardson Steven Jackson Stepfan Taylor
C.J. Spiller Lamar Miller Andre Williams Knowshon Moreno
Frank Gore Stevan Ridley Devonta Freeman Christine Michael
Rashad Jennings Fred Jackson Bernard Pierce Chris Ivory
  Pierre Thomas Danny Woodhead LeGarrette Blount
  Maurice Jones-Drew Carlos Hyde Tre Mason
    Khiry Robinson Jonathan Grimes
      Darren McFadden
      Dexter McCluster
      Knile Davis
      Mark Ingram

PPR tiers for running backs

These tiers are new and made for those owners in PPR leagues

Elite Near-Elite Very Good No. 2/High Upside
Round 1 Rounds 1, 2 Rounds 2, 3 Rounds 3, 4
Jamaal Charles DeMarco Murray Le'Veon Bell Toby Gerhart
Matt Forte Giovani Bernard Andre Ellington Alfred Morris
LeSean McCoy Eddie Lacy Shane Vereen Reggie Bush
Adrian Peterson Montee Ball Arian Foster Ray Rice
    Doug Martin Joique Bell
    Zac Stacy Rashad Jennings
    Marshawn Lynch  
No. 2/Less Upside No. 3/Flex Options High-end backups Low-end backups
Rounds 4, 5 Rounds 6, 7 Rounds 7, 8 Rounds 9+
C.J. Spiller Ben Tate Danny Woodhead Andre Williams
Bishop Sankey Trent Richardson Maurice Jones-Drew Knowshon Moreno
Ryan Mathews Pierre Thomas Darren Sproles Carlos Hyde
Chris Johnson Fred Jackson DeAngelo Williams Khiry Robinson
  Lamar Miller Stevan Ridley Christine Michael
  Frank Gore Devonta Freeman Lance Dunbar
    Terrance West Stepfan Taylor
    Steven Jackson Jeremy Hill
    Dexter McCluster Darren McFadden
    Bernard Pierce Tre Mason
      Travaris Cadet

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Player News
Chiefs slow Steelers, but not quite enough
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(9:46 pm ET) The Chiefs DST unit mostly slowed the Steelers down in Week 16, but not enough to come away on the right side of a 20-12 final score.

The Steelers managed just 282 yards of total offense against the Chiefs defense, but reached the red zone four times and scored on each trip. The Chiefs sacked Ben Roethlisberger just once, and failed to come away with a single turnover en route to 7 Fantasy points in the loss.

The Chiefs have managed to score in double figures in Fantasy points just once in the last six games, and have another tough matchup on the way in Week 17 against the Chargers. 


Rams get offensive contributions
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(9:42 pm ET) Several Rams contributed in their Week 16 loss to the Giants. Among them, wideout Chris Givens caught his only target for a 47-yard touchdown and receiver Stedman Bailey secured two of five targets for 22 yards.

Wideout Tavon Austin ran three times for 25 yards and had a 15-yard reception. Backup running back Benny Cunningham ran once for minus-1 yard and caught two passes for 19 yards. Tight end Cory Harkey made a 1-yard catch.

They'll all finish the season at Seattle.


Panthers DST continues strong run
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(9:40 pm ET) The Panthers DST unit entered Week 16 against the Browns having scored in double figures in two straight games, and they made it a third in a 17-13 win Sunday.  

The Panthers limited the Browns to just 228 yards of total offense in the game, much of which came on a single long touchdown pass to Jordan Cameron. The Panthers forced one turnover and sacked Brian Hoyer three times in the win.

The Panthers' pass rush has been strong lately, as they have 11 sacks in their last four games, while averaging 12.3 Fantasy points per game in that stretch. They will look to keep that going in Week 17, against a Falcons team they had 8 Fantasy points against in Week 11. 


Browns remain solid in Week 16 loss
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(9:38 pm ET) The Browns DST unit put together a solid showing in Week 16, though it wasn't enough in a 17-13 loss to the Panthers.  

The Panthers racked up 404 yards of total offense in the game, mostly on the ground, but the Browns adopted a bend-don't-break defensive philosophy. They forced two turnovers in the game and one sack, en route to 11 Fantasy points in the loss.

The Browns have been mostly solid of late, riding strong pass rush to at least 9 Fantasy points in four of the last five. They will look to close the season out strong against the Ravens in Week 17. 


You don't want Falcons RB, whoever it is
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(9:37 pm ET) Though Steven Jackson's status for Week 17 against Carolina isn't known just yet, the fact his quadriceps injury almost immediately ruled him out for the second half of Week 16 at New Orleans is hardly reason for optimism. So then, Fantasy owners should be preparing for the possibility he misses the season's final week.

That is, if any who are still playing now are actually relying on him, which is unlikely. He's scored a touchdown in only one of his last four games and has run for more than 60 yards only twice all season. At this point, it's not even all that clear that the Falcons would miss him. His replacements, Jacquizz Rodgers and Devonta Freeman, were both more productive than him against the Saints, especially Freeman, who broke off a 31-yard touchdown run in the the third quarter and also had 48 receiving yards.

Of course, you'd like Freeman to be the first choice to replace Jackson, but considering Rodgers got more touches, that's far from certain. When Rodgers has gotten an increased workload in the past, he's done little with it, and he's averaging just 3.5 yards per carry again this year.

So if Jackson plays in Week 17, you probably wouldn't want to use him in Fantasy, and if he doesn't, an anticipated timeshare likely ruins whomever the Falcons choose to replace him. If you play in such a deep league that the replacement would matter regardless, Freeman is probably the best choice since he's more explosive, but it's not an exciting prospect.


Jared Cook makes five grabs, Lance Kendricks gets fifth TD
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(9:36 pm ET) Rams tight end Jared Cook caught five of seven targets for 41 yards in the Week 16 home loss to the Giants. But it was fellow tight end Lance Kendricks who found the end zone, scoring on a 23-yard catch down the seam in the third quarter.

Kendricks, who had two receptions for 35 yards, is up to five touchdowns this season, two more than Cook. This despite the fact that Cook has been targeted 91 times -- 55 more than Kendricks.

They'll both visit Seattle in Week 17.


Kenny Britt posts second 100-yard game this season
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(9:29 pm ET) Rams wideout Kenny Britt caught a season-high nine passes for 103 yards in the Week 16 loss to the Giants, his second 100-yard game this season. Britt drew a team-high 11 targets but failed to score for the fifth straight week.

He'll wrap up the season at Seattle.


RB Tre Mason averages 5.8 yards per carry
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(9:25 pm ET) Rams rookie running back Tre Mason looked way too quick for the Giants in Week 16, averaging 5.8 yards per carry. But he only got 13 carries as St. Louis played from behind all day. Mason finished with 76 yards and a touchdown on the ground and added a 7-yard reception.

It was Mason's second straight game with 13 carries after he averaged 19.8 carries over the previous four games. He has five total touchdowns entering Week 17 at Seattle.


Big plays salvage rough showing for Dolphins DST
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(9:20 pm ET) The Dolphins defense came up with a few big plays, but struggled overall in a  37-35 win over the Vikings in Week 16.

The Dolphins finished the game with 8 Fantasy points, entirely on the strength of one turnover and four sacks. They struggled otherwise, allowing 377 yards of total offense to the Vikings, though they came up with a blocked punt and a safety late to win it.

The Dolphins DST unit now failed to reach double figures in Fantasy scoring in each of the last three games, heading into Week 17 against the Jets. 


Cowboys shut down Colts offense in blowout
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(9:17 pm ET)  The Cowboys appeared to have a tough matchup on the way in Week 16 with the Colts on the schedule, but they completely shut their offense down en route to a 42-7 win.

The Cowboys allowed the Colts to score just once late in the game, after the Colts had already brought their backups in. The Colts had just 229 yards of total offense in the game, while turning the ball over three times, and Cowboys added a pair of sacks in the win as well.

The Cowboys DST unit finished the game with a season-best 18 Fantasy points, their second game in a row with at least 14. They will look to complete their strong finish to the season in Week 17, with Washington on the schedule. 


 
 
 
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