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June 30, 2013
Big 12 Fantasy Rankings: Running Backs
MORE RRS: Houston-area LB has Texas Tech on top | Red Raiders offer East Texas CB
For many years in Fantasy Land, securing a stable of talented running backs was looked upon as the first and most essential step to a league title. It's still an integral part of any fantasy gameplan, but whether you're playing college or NFL fantasy football, you may have noticed the stranglehold that RB's used to have atop the draft board eroding. This trend is happening in large part because of the time shares we see at the NFL and college level. More running backs are splitting carries than ever before in an effort to avoid injury and the tolls a full workload can take on a back's body. Plus, it seems the depth of running back talent has increased over the years and most college and pro backfields have numerous capable options. This will knock some studs like Texas' Johnathan Gray down a slot or two and in the case of Iowa State, there's not enough separation between their five options to place any one back in our top ten -- although, I'm intrigued by Aaron Wimberly.
With that in mind, let's look closely at what the Big 12 running backs are projected to do in 2013. I've broken down the league's premier rushers into four tiers and then an additional section that features newcomers, players still locked in camp battles and other backs with upside but question marks as well.
In addition to the workload factor mentioned above, we also need to take into account the strength of the running back's offensive line, redzone chances and health concerns. Please understand that this is not a ranking of who the best backs in the Big 12 are, but rather how they stack up based on fantasy projections. Also note that players listed in the same tier are close to interchangeable in value -- in this case, there's not a huge difference between the No. 2 back and the No. 7 back. In fact, as you'll read below, No. 7 in the Big 12's top returning rusher.
Scoring Format Used:
6 points for every rushing or receiving touchdowns
1 point for every 10 rushing or receiving yards
This is not a PPR (point per reception) format, but if it was, backs like Charles Sims would have even more value.
ADDITIONAL BACKS TO WATCH:
(In no specific order.)
Andrew Buie, West Virginia: 851 yards last season, a fourth of which were at Texas.
Dreamius Smith, West Virginia: Highly touted JUCO transfer was looking as good as any Mountaineer back until Charles Sims was added to the mix.
Brennan Clay, Oklahoma: 555 yards and 6 TD last year -- very solid fantasy contributions.
Keith Ford, Oklahoma: Some consider the Cypress star the top rated freshman in the conference.
Alex Ross, Oklahoma: Former four-star stud took a redshirt last year
Desmond Roland, Oklahoma State: A necessary handcuff for Jeremy Smith owners.
Aaron Green, TCU: Nebraska transfer sat out last year, but is ready to roll in 2013.
B.J. Catalon, TCU: Filled in admirably for James in 2012 and backed it up with a strong spring.
Darrian Miller, Kansas: Former four-star prospect that was welcomed back on the team after being dismissed upon Charlie Weis' arrival.
Tony Pierson, Kansas: explosive four star talent that will catch plenty of balls out of the backfield.
In summary, there's terrific depth in the second tier of the Big 12's fantasy running back pool. Personally, I'd grab an elite QB first and then go after an RB in the No. 2-7 range. Some of the third tier sleepers could bring home big returns as well.
Brian Hanni is the play-by-play voice of Texas Tech Men's Basketball and Baseball and co-hosts a mid-day show on Double T 104.3 in Lubbock. Reach him on Twitter @BHanni.