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Running Backs: AFC East


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A little of this and a little of that. A brief overview of the backfields in the AFC East. Rating the running backs that you need to know about.

1 Star - Look Elsewhere
2 Star - Handcuff/Desperation pick
3 Star - A Serviceable Starter
4 Star - Solid Starter you can count on every week
5 Star - Studs, should be in the Top 10 at the end of the year

Buffalo Bills – C.J. Spiller / Fred Jackson

It might shock some people to know that Spiller tied Adrian Peterson in yards-per-carry last year at 6.0. Hidden under the veil of terrible coaching (Chan Gailey), subpar quarterbacking (Ryan Fitzpatrick) and a backfield by committee (Jackson), there was a third-year running back making a strong case for himself to be considered one of the elite running backs in the league. Carrying the rock only 207 times, he managed numbers that landed him in the top 10, amongst most productive running backs last year. He should easily be another top 10 running back in 2013, although Jackson will certainly play a role in this offense and probably take around 5-6 carries a game this year…and I imagine, a nice load of goal line carries as well. Still, it should only make him a viable handcuff. This should be the Spiller show in Buffalo.

Spiller – 5 Stars; Jackson – 2 Stars

Miami Dolphins Lamar Miller/Daniel Thomas

Out of the gates, it looks like Miller is going to be given every chance to succeed as the starter in 2013 since Reggie Bush is no longer in the mix. Miller and Thomas appear to be the ones who will split carries this year. I’m giving Miller the edge based on what I have read and the fact that Thomas has been given opportunities in the past and hasn’t shown anything that makes him a reliable fantasy running back by any means.

Miller has great speed but he’s not exactly the most elusive runner in the league. I like his work ethic and I like him getting this opportunity. I think he will shine and should produce decent RB2/flex numbers in the fantasy world. Miami does like to give a nice 50/50 share of carries as displayed near the end of last year between Bush and Thomas. Temper expectations on an offense that is still in question. The risk on either of these two is not worth a top-tier pick at all.

Miller – 2.75 Stars; Thomas – 1.5 Stars

New England Patriots – Stevan Ridley/Shane Vereen

Wait a minute, the Patriots actually have a lead rusher? And they stuck to him? Anyone remember Corey Dillon? Anyway, this guy is the real deal, and anyone who grabbed him in the middle rounds last year was sure loving their running back stable. I like Ridley to produce like he did in 2012 again this year; my only question is around the goal line and the potential of Tim Tebow/Brandon Bolden/Vereen popping in to steal a touchdown or two from him. Ridley, however, dominantly led the charge with 290 carries, 1,263 yards and a huge 12 touchdowns along the way. Ridley should be taken in the first round of drafts this year, especially with the release of Danny Woodhead. The other guys are simply there, but, unless you’re in a 14-team league, they will not be dependable enough to be starting on a week-to-week basis.

Ridley – 5 Stars; Vereen – 1 Star

New York Jets Chris Ivory/Bilal Powell

These are the two guys that I figure to be the contenders for the workload in New York. I am excited to see Ivory be given this chance to shine and not be stuck in the fantasy hell that was the New Orleans backfield. Ivory has averaged a nice 5.1 yards per carry average over his four-year career and is a physical runner that is capable of moving a pile, which is exactly what he needs to do with the Jets. He has a little bit of a penchant for injury, but the risk would definitely be worth the reward for him as you figure he should be available in the middle rounds of most fantasy leagues.

Powell is a plodding kind of runner, not super-fast and not terribly elusive as seen by the 3.7 yards per carry average over his career. Powell is a little bit like BenJarvus Green-Ellis where he’s really not going to “wow” you, yet, he won’t completely disappoint you either. On this offense they can’t afford a plodder. Overall, I think the reigns get handed to Ivory. However, as we witnessed last year, the Jets love to run the ball with a whopping 494 total carries (sixth in the league) so there’s plenty of carries to be distributed. In larger leagues both of these guys will hold some value.

Ivory – 3.25 stars; Powell – 2 Stars