Football Memo

Top 5 RB on the Rise Heading into 2014


Last season was infamous for all the injuries to top RB. Here are some great sleeper RB to target in drafts this summer.


1. Montee Ball (DEN)
Playing behind Knowshon Moreno in 2013, rookie Montee Ball had a respectable season. Known best for his nose for the endzone in college, he scored just four times last year, but things are looking more positive in 2014. Moreno moved on to Miami in the offseason, leaving the door wide open for Ball to claim the No. 1 role. He may have to contend with Ronnie Hilman and newly drafted Jerodis Williams, but Ball should see his carries increase as the lead man. Denver has so many weapons in the passing game that teams will be forced to spread their defenses, and rarely – if ever – will be able to stack the box. This will leave the shifty Ball to roam free and be able to get to the second level of the defense before being brought down. He also showed versatility in 2013 by grabbing 20 receptions. Ball should be considered a mid-to-high RB2 this season.

2. Eddy Lacy (GB)
Lacy enjoyed a fantastic rookie season with the Packers in 2013. Rushing for 1,000-plus yards and 11 TDs, Lacy put the team’s offense on his back once Aaron Rodgers went down in Week 8. A punishing runner, Lacy dazzled even with the likes of Matt Flynn at QB. The Packers will get Rodgers back to start the 2014 season, and this should help Lacy get more space to run wild. He can catch the ball out of the backfield as well, as he had 35 receptions last season. Look for double-digit scores and over 1,000 rushing yards once again in 2014.

3. Joique Bell (DET)
What Joique Bell can do catching the ball out of the backfield is what makes him so valuable in the Lions offense. He was not even the No. 1 back in 2013, and still had over 1,000 all-purpose yards and 50-plus receptions for the second straight year. Reggie Bush, a smaller back, has a tendency to get hurt, leaving more carries for Bell. One thing to note is that the Lions still have Mikel Leshoure, who is getting extra reps in mini camp, and is in his final year of his rookie contract. Leshoure may be motivated to prove he still can be effective (and get paid). Also of note is that Bell has a knee injury that might sideline him until training camp in July. However, the fact is, if he is ready to go by the start of the season, he could be an absolute steal in fantasy drafts. Look at Bell as more of a low-to-mid range RB2, or strong FLEX play in 2014.

4. Doug Martin (TB)
Drafters will tend to forget about ‘The Muscle Hamster’ – do not tell him I called him that, he does not like it – but you should not sleep on him in 2014. He missed the last 10 games of last season with a shoulder injury that needing surgery, and was mediocre before that. However, Martin had a wonderful rookie season in 2012 with 1454 rushing yards, 472 receiving yards, and 12 total TDs. This kind of well-rounded production made him shoot up draft boards in 2013, but obviously it did not work out. Tampa Bay signed Josh McCown and drafted highly touted WR Mike Evans, which should boost their offense considerably. There has been some whispers from the coaching staff this spring that Tampa Bay may have a RB rotation in 2014, but Martin should reclaim the No. 1 role and have the most carries. This bodes well for Martin this year and should be drafted as a RB1.

5. Andre Ellington (ARI)
Held back by an airhead coach who would not give him more carries, Andre Ellington had flashes of explosiveness in 2013 as a rookie. Bruce Arians simply would not give him more weekly carries, but the fact remains that when Ellington was on the field, he was electric. He averaged 5.5 yards per carry and 9.5 yards per catch and that was on only on 157 touches. The Cardinals have already vowed to increase Ellington’s carries to 25-30 per game. Now that is an insane number which probably will not happen, but even if he gets 16-18 touches per game, that will be enough to make him dangerous. Though his small stature is a concern and he plays in a tough division, consider drafting Ellington as a high end RB2 for the 2014 season.

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