DLFMock: Leshoure 9.09, Hunter 8.02, Hillis 8.05, Tate 9.06, F. Jackson 9.04, Ridley 11.02, D. Williams 5.06, D. Thomas 8.07, Greene 11.05, P. Thomas 12.11, F. Jones 9.08, Vereen 11.03, Turner 9.07, Blount 7.05, R. Williams 8.04, Starks 13.12, McGahee 13.08
Have advancements in Achilles surgery finally reached the point where a skill-position player can expect to resume a productive career? We know of no NFL running back to successfully return from a ruptured Achilles, though Demaryius Thomas' late-season dominance provides more than just a sliver of hope for Leshoure owners. The Lions realize Jahvid Best's role must be scaled back substantially, perhaps leaving Leshoure as the committee leader. ... Hunter flashed game-breaking ability as a rookie change-up to Frank Gore. The question is whether he's more of a complementary piece or a poor man's Ray Rice. ... Increasingly injury-prone with a fumbling problem and dwindling per-carry average, Hillis is a three-down volume back who can't withstand a three-down volume workload. ... Just shy of reliable flex status, talented Tate is stuck behind Arian Foster for two more years. ... A first-half fantasy stud last season, F-Jax is now 31 years old and set to share the rock with Spiller.
Possessing three-down skills of his own, Ridley is the favorite to lead the Patriots backfield in touches if BenJarvus Green-Ellis exits via free agency. He may be the favorite regardless. ... DeAngelo Williams will spend his age-29 season playing second fiddle to a better player in Jonathan Stewart, and the Panthers may cut him loose in 2013. ... Thomas may need only a Reggie Bush injury to stake his claim to the starting job. ... Greene is a mediocre talent masquerading as a volume runner. Expect the Jets to find a backfield partner in the next couple of months. ... This stat sums up Pierre's game perfectly: He's never had a run of 50+ yards, yet still boasts a gaudy per-carry average of 4.8 yards -- on par with Adrian Peterson and Jonathan Stewart. ... Felix is one of only three active backs to exceed Thomas' per-carry average, which is fitting since he's going to have a similar role going forward. ... Hamstring injuries killed Vereen's rookie season, but it wouldn't be a major upset if he ended up bypassing Ridley in the pecking order.
The patron saint of volume runners, Turner is line for a significantly reduced role after petering out down the stretch last season. At age 30, he's going to be a roster albatross without the consistently high carry totals. Ditto McGahee. ... Blount is a destitute man's Turner about to be saddled with a more talented committee partner. ... Williams has a long road back from patella tendon surgery, which derailed the careers of Cadillac Williams and Mark Clayton. ... Older than Marshawn Lynch, Starks is a committee back without a role in the red zone. ... Pead is one of my favorite rookie sleepers.
DLFMock: Tolbert 10.01, Gerhart 13.02, Scott 19.12, K. Smith 14.12, Benson 19.01, D. Brown 12.06, T. Jones 21.07, J. Rodgers 9.10, Green-Ellis 13.04, Hightower 17.05, Ivory 20.05, McCluster 18.03, Carter 15.10, Hardesty 13.10
Expect Tolbert to be wearing a new uniform this year, though he remains a borderline flex option in Dynasty terms. ... Gerhart is a must-own for Adrian Peterson owners, and practically useless to everyone else. ... Scott's role is set to finally increase in his age-28 season; unfortunately, it will come as a tandem back rather than a feature back. ... James draws lofty comparisons to Darren Sproles. No back is that dominant as a receiver. ... Playing the best ball of his career, when healthy, late last season, Kevin Smith is an intriguing roster stash. ... I'd wager that Benson will have to accept a backup job on the open market. ... Donald Brown finally showed glimpes of first-round talent last year, but he's a poor fit for the Colts' new physical attack on offense.
Taiwan and Jacquizz are change-of-pace backs. Rodgers is more skilled, Jones more explosive. ... Green-Ellis didn't have a run over 18 yards last season. His role will be scaled back no matter where he lands. ... Hightower is a committee back coming off of reconstructive surgery. ... Ivory is a talented but injury-prone runner stuck at No. 4 on the depth chart. ... McCluster has done nothing to justify his second-round selection two years ago. ... Though he's a mediocre talent with very little wiggle, Carter may be better suited than Brown to the Colts' Pittsburgh style rushing attack. ... Hardesty can't stay healthy -- or top 3.0 yards per carry.
DLFMock: Jennings 14.02, K. Bell 22.12, Redman 12.09, Moreno 19.06, Addai 23.06, Dwyer 17.07, Jacobs 20.02, D. Lewis 19.10, R. Grant 20.10, McKnight 17.03, Powell 16.03, Royster 16.07, Goodson ND, A. Green 18.04, Snelling 21.12, Forsett 23.12, D. Scott 19.05, Woodhead ND, Ringer 19.08, Slaton ND, J. White ND, C. Williams ND, A. Allen ND, Torain ND, Choice ND, R. Brown ND, Ogbonnaya ND, Dixon ND, Karim ND, L. Washington ND, B. Jackson ND, McClain ND, Reece ND, Stephens-Howling ND, Barber ND, L. Ball ND, D. Ward ND, Tomlinson ND, M. Morris ND, Ware ND