Ed Bonfanti
Face the Future: The Price of Failure

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The biggest storyline of the 2013 season is the inappropriately large number of 1st Round running back busts. The fantasy football season is just about over, so now the question must become: Where are these busts going to get drafted in the 2014 season? What is going to be the ultimate price for the countless seasons these busts ruined?

To answer this question, the first thing we must do is clarify which busts made it into the 2013 Hall of Shame. Here's the list of 1st/2nd round busts I'm referring to:
Arian Foster CJ Spiller Doug Martin Ray Rice Trent Richardsonand Stevan Ridley .

To figure out exactly where these busts are going to get drafted next August, we're first going to have to do an inappropriately early, super irresponsible ranking of running backs for the 2014 season. Free agency, training camp, the preseason have not happened yet. We don't have even remotely enough information to make a definitive statement of where running backs will get drafted next August. It's an outrage. So much can and will change between now and the 2014 draft.

Bearing all of that in mind, here's my totally premature 2014 running back rankings.

Jamaal Charles
2) Lesean McCoy
3) Matt Forte
4) Adrian Peterson
5) Marshawn Lynch
6) Knowshon Moreno
7) Chris Johnson
8) Eddie Lacey
9) Zac Stacy
10) DeMarco Murray
11) Reggie Bush
12) LeVeon Bell
13) Alfred Morris
14) Giovani Bernard

It's at this point where I'm finally starting to think about Doug MartinMartin should be fully recovered from his torn labrum and if all of his training camp reports are good and he looks like his old self in the preseason, I'm taking Martin as the 15th running back off the board.

I'm less concerned with Martin's recovery than I am with the sorry state of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. I'd expect the Bucs to get a new coach and probably a new quarterback. I hear that backup in Chicago's going to be a free agent next season. Any kind of upgrade to the Bucs will help Martin's draft value. The talent is there and we all know that. He just needs his situation to improve a little bit. Let's get back to the rankings.

Doug Martin
16) Maurice Jones Drew

Perhaps my most controversial ranking is putting MJD over a lot of these busts but if you look at the second half of his season, he's been pretty solid. He's averaged about 12 points over his last five games and he's been even better in PPR leagues. I have no idea if MJD will resign with the Jags next season and that could obviously affect his ranking for 2014. For this season though, I saw a high volume running back getting tons of touches and goal line opportunities. In a fantasy world with tons of RBBCs, MJD is one of the last bell cow RBs in the league. Even though he's lost some speed and elusiveness, he's still racking up points. I trust him more in his age 30 season than I do the people beneath him.

CJ Spiller

Spiller has had a disastrous season, made worse by the fact that he was drafted in the early part of the 1st round in most drafts last summer. You could made a legitimate argument that he's the biggest bust of the season. On the other hand, he's still young (26) and he did show signs of life in his last five games of the season, rushing for over 100 yards twice. He also had three games during that span where he had four points or less. This was the awfulness of Spiller's injury-plagued season in a nutshell. I still have more faith in him than the rest of the guys below him, though. It's not like he's lost a step and he should be fully healthy by the 2014 season. Hopefully.

Arian Foster

What I'm basically saying here is that I'm only comfortable drafting Foster as a low end RB2 with a lot of upside, if he can stay healthy. Only way. He's someone you're going to want to avoid in drafts next season because there's no chance he's going to go this low. He's still one of the biggest names in fantasy football. I just have zero trust in him that he can last a full season anymore. He missed half the season to injury and obliterated many an owner's season this year. I'm just not willing to bet my season on him anymore and I don't care how glowing his training camp reports are or how good he'll look in the offseason. Not buying it, my friends.

Ryan Mathews
20) Shane Vereen
21) Andre Ellington
22) Frank Gore
23) Ray Rice

I'm not drafting Ray Rice in 2014. He just doesn't look like his old self and it's distinctly possible his best days are behind him. We're talking about a guy who had eight games with six points or less. Rice's season was a complete and total train wreck. Perhaps he'll get healthy over the offseason, maybe the Ravens will do some work on their offensive line, but after watching him play and disappoint game-after-game this season, I'm through. For the purposes of this article, though, this is where I would rank him.

Darren Sproles

After all of the above running backs have been drafted, all of the WR1/WR2s are gone, all of the elite QBs are off the board and the top-4 tight ends as well; after all of that, now I'm finally willing to take a look at Stevan Ridley and Trent Richardson. Ridley has himself so deep in Belichick's doghouse that I'm not sure he'll ever be able to get out of it. Ridley loses the ball so frequently that I don't blame Belichick for benching him. Odds are that he starts the Patriots 2014 season as Shane Vereen's backup. Ridley has handcuff value next year but he's no longer a starter.

I wouldn't mind taking a late round flyer on Trent Richardson next season but he would be on my team as a RB4, not someone that I'd ever have to rely on. He's been such a hot mess in Indy that he's already lost his starting job to
Donald BrownThe best case scenario for Richardson next season is to be in a RBBC with Brown. The worst case scenario is that he'll just be a change of pace back for the Colts. Either way, I'm not interested in this 1st round bust as anything more than a RB4. Of all of this season's busts, Richardson and Ridley have the least upside going forward for next year.

Good Hunting!

Ed Bonfanti

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