The running back position is a spot that has lost some steam over the last few years with a lot of teams going to the passing game more. Most teams are also going to backfields where running backs split carries, which makes it harder for an individual player to gain points for your dynasty team. These players, when given the chance, have to shine and prove themselves even more than in years past. Once the opportunity is given to a running back, he needs to show that he is a reliable and durable player, worth giving the ball to instead of always airing the ball out. Here is a list of running backs that will be the first few in the position to be drafted going into next season. The running backs listed are top tier guys that will be durable and reliable for any National Football League team, that when given the chance to prove their worth, will take full advantage of their chance.
1. De’Anthony Thomas- Thomas will get his chance to shine this year as a true starting running back for Oregon. Thomas has already proven himself to the nation with his freshmen and sophomore years. In his freshmen year, he split time between running back, wide receiver, and returning punts and kicks. Thomas had a total of 2,235 all-purpose yards, with 18 touchdowns, which was a school record plus they were the most by a freshmen. Going into his sophomore year, he continued his success being an all-around player with 701 yards rushing for 11 touchdowns and 445 yards receiving for five touchdowns. Thomas goes into his junior year at Oregon with a new head coach in Mark Helfrich, which shouldn’t put a damper on Thomas’ production. Helfrich was the offensive coordinator at Oregon the past four seasons, and that means the offense will look pretty similar to how it has looked the past four seasons. I look for Thomas’ production to go up this year, as he will be the main go-to running back. Watch for Thomas to stay involved in the offense in the passing game as well. Thomas has exploded onto the scene and should be the first running back off the board in the 2014 dynasty draft.
2. Ka’Deem Carey- Carey burst onto the scene last season as a sophomore at Arizona. Carey ran for 1,929 yards, that’s 6.4 yards per rush and 23 rushing touchdowns. Carey also caught the ball out of the backfield quite nicely, finishing the season with 36 receptions for 303 yards with one touchdown. Carey was named to the 2012 Consensus All-American team and this year is a candidate to win the Heisman. Carey is a back that has vision for the field, when the hole opens or when its about to open, Carey knows where he is going even before the hole opens up. Ka’Deem is a runner who is tough to tackle, a guy that if you are going to tackle, you better use two arms and pull him down. Arizona will start the season with a new starting quarterback, which only helps Ka’Deem to rack up more carries.I expect Carey to have an even better year than he did last year in Arizona and sense that he will be a top three pick in everyone’s rookie dynasty draft.
3. Lache Seastrunk- I talked about Lache during my adversity article, about how he will have to overcome obstacles to have another productive season. I expect him to do just that. This season, Lache will make a run in the Heisman race. Lache was a five star recruit coming out of high school, where he signed to play for Oregon. The match wasn’t right causing Seastrunk to transfer to Baylor, and this match is working out just fine for him. Lache really broke onto the scene during the last six weeks of the 2012 season where he gained 831 of his 1,012 yards and scored six of his seven rushing touchdowns. In that short span of time that he played, he set two single-season team records, averaging 7.7 yards per carry and four consecutive 100-yard games. Lache hasn’t really been a huge part of the passing game and if there is a way to add that into his game this season, that could have a huge impact on his stats for the season. Lache himself has said that he is going to win the Heisman award this year and some might think that’s cocky, but I think that’s confidence. Confidence like that makes me want him on my team, a hard worker that I’m willing to draft on my dynasty team.
4. Bishop Sankey- Sankey is hidden out west where he plays for Washington; he is a star in the making. Sankey is a little undersized for the NFL at 5’10’’ and weighing 203 pounds. The good thing is that Bishop has this season to add muscle to his body and be a perfect size for NFL scouts. Sankey emerged on the scene last year where he ran for 1,439 yards, averaging five yards per carry with sixteen touchdowns. Sankey is that all- around back that offenses look for, as he also caught 33 passes for 249 yards last season. Sankey has great vision, perfect at making cuts and finding the holes made for him. During the last six weeks of last season, Bishop was leaned on heavily getting over 23 carries in every game and scored two touchdowns in four of those six games. In the MAACO Bowl against Boise State, which is known for their defense, Bishop ran for 205 yards with one touchdown, plus had 74 yards receiving. The last six weeks will give you a look into the future for this season as Sankey will be leaned on heavily this season and will only get better this year. Make sure you get a chance to watch some of Washington’s games this season and keep an eye on Sankey, because you won’t want to miss any play that he is involved in.
5. James Wilder Jr.- James is a back that I am very excited to watch this season as he goes into his junior year at Florida State. James is the first back on this list that has the NFL size that scouts look for. At 6’2’’ and 233 pounds, he is a beast coming out of the Seminoles’ backfield. James split carries last year with Devonta Freeman after Chris Thompson’s ACL injury, and still ran for 635 yards and eleven touchdowns, plus two touchdowns on 136 yards of receiving. It looks like James will split time again this year with Freeman, but will have a whole season this year to provide scouts with a real good look at his ability. E.J. Manuel is in the NFL with the Buffalo Bills and the Seminoles will be looking at a young, fresh -face at quarterback, telling me that James will be looked at as a safety outlet. With this change at the quarterback position, I expect the Seminoles to also go to more of a downhill running style and less spread, which suits James run game better. Wilder is a running back that isn’t scared of any tackle and is awesome at running strong and breaking multiple tackles. Many teams in the NFL are using two back sets, but if there is one running back on this list that can be the man that a team relies on, it’s Wilder, as he can catch, break tackles and be durable for your team. Wilder could be higher on this list, but he has some things to learn first. Wilder needs to run with a lower stance, find the holes quicker, and become more of a decisive running back. Wilder has it in his hands this year to do more than last season and I expect he will rise up draft boards and, if put in the right offense in the NFL, could be a quality dynasty RB for many years.
I look at this list and see five running backs that are very capable of being running backs, who are durable, and adept at being on every down in the NFL. The running back position might not be as big of a part of the NFL as it once was with pass games expanding, but it will always be a position where you will need consistency and durability. Watch these five guys closely this season as they prove that they are going to be worth drafting in your dynasty league as a running back that will be reliable and make you a very happy owner.