With PPR scoring, it’s critical to find running backs that are active in the passing game to rack up extra points in your fantasy match-ups. You will rarely find goal-line vultures in these breakdowns. Instead, focus on backs that project to receive a high volume of touches against their Week 1 competition. Analyzed below are the five highest priced RBs, five mid-priced RBs, plus five value priced RB’s that will cost you less than $5,000.
Five Highest Priced Running Backs
Jamaal Charles, TEN @ KC, $9,000 – No one finished the regular season at this position any stronger than Charles, who amassed six scores and nearly 800 all-purpose yards in the final five regular season games. With Dwayne Bowe suspended for Week 1, the Chiefs will be lacking a playmaker at the wide receiver position, and should look to lean heavily on the run game. Charles is our highest priced running back this week, and after catching 70 passes last year, he will be in line for a heavy workload in Week 1.
LeSean McCoy, JAC @ PHI, $8,400 – It’s difficult to find a better match-up than Shady has this week as the lowly Jaguars come to town. You will have to pay a premium to get him on your roster but it could definitely be worth the price. Their off-season additions to the passing game, along with the emergence of second year tight end Zach Ertz, should only open up more space for him. He could be the most dynamic weapon in the entire league and has a great opportunity to produce on Sunday.
Matt Forte, BUF @ CHI, $8,300 – Forte casually set a career-high in receptions last year, hauling in 74 balls. This hardly appears to be a fluke given the ascension of Alshon Jeffrey alongside Brandon Marshall. Forte reaps the benefits of an explosive passing offense and has a favorable match-up at home.
Adrian Peterson, MIN @ STL, $7,900 – All Day begins the season with a tough match-up against a stout St. Louis defensive line. It’s hard to ever bet against Peterson who seems to produce in any situation, but there are a lot of questions in the passing game. With the continued uncertainty at quarterback, it could take the Vikings a while to find their identity. It would certainly help him if Cordarrelle Patterson can live up to the hype in his sophomore season and give AP some breathing room in the backfield.
Arian Foster, WAS @ HOU, $7,200 – Coming off an injury plagued 2013, Foster looks to regain his place in the top five, and is priced accordingly. There are obvious questions about his durability but since you only need to plug him in for one week that is not a huge concern. He has a great match-up here against a rebuilding Redskins defense.
Five Mid-Priced Running Backs
Giovani Bernard, CIN @ BAL, $6,600 – Bernard is a rising PPR star, and is coming off of a 56 catch rookie campaign. Despite battling injuries late in the year, he looks to be coming into the year fresh and is one of the more electric backs out there in space. Look for the Bengals to utilize him all over the field to create mismatches. With defenses focused on limiting A.J. Green, Bernard should be in line for a solid day.
Reggie Bush, NYG @ DET, $6,500 – Despite the recent three year deal given to his counterpart Joique Bell, Bush still has plenty left in the tank to produce in a big way. The Lions boast one of the league’s top passing offenses and Bell’s involvement should only help to keep him fresh. They also went out and signed Golden Tate to a big deal that should complement Calvin Johnson well and open up more space for Bush underneath. He should be a quality start this week against a Giants team that appears to be in dismay.
Shane Vereen, NE @ MIA, $6,100 – Vereen is entering a contract year and when healthy is a dynamic force in the passing game. From a weekly standpoint, there is much less risk owning Vereen who has been hobbled by injuries most of his career. With LeGarrette Blount now in Pittsburgh and Stevan Ridley still struggling with fumble issues, Vereen seems to be in line for the majority of the snaps and is a strong play in Week 1.
Andre Ellington, SD @ ARI, $6,000 – There are few players in the league with this type of explosiveness, and Coach Bruce Arians has openly expressed his willingness to get Ellington the touches of an every down back. Despite his small stature, the Cardinals seem committed to giving Ellington the touches that could make him a fantasy stud. He is a threat to score whenever he touches the ball and in entering his second year, he is a player with a very high ceiling.
Ben Tate, CLE @ PIT, $5,200 – Entering his first year as a feature back, Tate will finally have the opportunity to emerge from the shadow of Arian Foster, and establish himself as a truly elite running back. He separated himself from rookie competition this preseason, and if he stays healthy he could be in route to a huge year. One drawback is the yearlong suspension to Josh Gordon, which figures to allow defenses to stack the box until the Browns assert themselves in the passing game.
Five Value Running Backs
Bernard Pierce, CIN @ BAL, $4,600 – With the two-game suspension to Ray Rice, Pierce figures to get the bulk of the carries in Week 1. Despite suffering a concussion in the preseason, he has passed all tests and appears to be ready to go. If he gets the starting nod on Sunday, he could be a solid value play in a key divisional match-up that could be a grind-it-out type of game.
Jeremy Hill, CIN @ BAL, $4,400 – After already mentioning his counterpart Giovani Bernard, it seems that both can thrive in different roles for the Bengals. When Cincinnati showed Benjarvus Green-Ellis the door last week, it was a ringing endorsement for Hill who shouldered the full load in Week 4 of the Preseason. Playing as a true feature back, he toted the ball twenty times and also caught six passes combining for 160 total yards. He should definitely be a threat at the goal line and will share carries with Bernard.
Knowshon Moreno, NE @ MIA, $4,000 – Coming off a monster year with Denver, Moreno finds himself in a completely different situation in Miami. He was sidelined in preseason and underwent arthroscopic knee surgery, but as of late seems to be regaining his form. Despite not being cemented as the starter, any mediocre performance from Lamar Miller could thrust him into significant touches. Moreno could be a key part of the passing game if the Dolphins find themselves in an early hole to the Patriots this weekend.
Carlos Hyde, SF @ DAL, $3,900 – Many analysts anointed Hyde as the most talented running back in this year’s draft class and his preseason performance has done nothing to change that sentiment. With Kendall Hunter on Injured Reserve and Marcus Lattimore still recovering from a catastrophic knee injury, Hyde figures to be involved early and often. The 49ers also have incentive to keep Frank Gore fresh all season, and Hyde seems to be the solution. A bit of a risky play in Week 1 to start a rookie, but it’s hard to argue with the price.
Danny Woodhead, SD @ ARI, $3,700 – Always under the radar, Woodhead quietly caught 77 balls last year, making him a very solid PPR value. He also signed a two-year extension this off-season and figures to be very involved in the game plan at a minimal price. If you are struggling to find a low-cost option to complete your line up, you could certainly do worse than Woodhead.