Doug Martin




2013 Forecast – NFC Quarterbacks


Time for another column in my ongoing series over the off season, predicting who will be starting at each position in 2013.  Of course there will be many changes based on the results of the draft in April, as well as other happenings during the off season, so I’ll re-visit each column later in the summer.  But for those of us in dynasty and keeper leagues, some shrewd moves early in the off season based on forward thinking can really pay off.  For running backs, simply determining who will start is not really enough information.  The starter for Team A may be a true lead dog and get a clear majority of touches while on Team B the starter may only get a handful more touches than the backup.  So I’ll provide a list of the running backs and provide a percentage of the total touches (running attempts and receptions by running back) I think each will get.  I’ve shown the fullbacks and quaterbacks mostly for reference as either can eat into a running back’s production.






Let’s have a look at the NFC.



Arizona Cardinals



Primary – Beanie Wells: 23%, Ryan Williams: 17%

Secondary – LaRod Stephens-Howling: 33%, William Powell: 20%

Depth – Alfonso Smith: 1%

FB – Anthony Sherman: 1%

QB – Kevin Kolb: 4%, John Skelton: 1%, Ryan Lindley: 1%


The Cardinals backfield looks almost as messy as their quarterback situation.  Wells showed little in limited action and is a perennial health risk, my assumption is Arizona drops him.  Reportedly the organization is very high on Williams and he’s the early favorite to fill the lead role.  Stephens-Howling is a UFA, if he’s brought back it will be mostly in a third down role.  Powell showed he had decent skills and should see some action.  Smith was signed as depth mid-season, he’s a free agent but probably will be back.  If not then likely the Cards will sign someone cheap for depth.


Percentage of rushes, RB receptions in 2013:

Williams: 46%

Stephens-Howling: 30%

Powell: 16%

Smith/New Guy: 2%



Atlanta Falcons



Primary – Michael Turner: 51%

Secondary – Jacquizz Rodgers: 31%

Depth – Jason Snelling: 10%

FB – Mike Cox: 0%, Bradie Ewing: 0%

QB – Matt Ryan: 7%


Well despite many media members insisting that Turner is on the way down, and subsequently many fantasy owners jumping on the Rodgers bandwagon, it was Turner who got the clear majority of the carries.  This will not repeat itself in 2013, but Rodgers will not take over the lead role, look for more of a 50/50 split.  Snelling should continue in his current role.  Look for the Falcons to pick up another back, either via free agency or in the mid rounds of the draft, mostly for depth and an eventual replacement for the aging Turner.


Percentage of rushes, RB receptions in 2013:

Turner: 40%

Rodgers: 39%

Snelling: 10%

New Guy: 3%



Carolina Panthers



Primary – DeAngelo Williams: 37%, Jonathan Stewart: 22%

Secondary – None

Depth – Armond Smith: 1%

FB – Mike Tolbert: 16%

QB – Cam Newton: 25%


Stewart’s injury meant Williams was the lead back in 2012.  I strongly suspect Williams will be released, making Stewart the lead dog, er… cat.  Smith is purely depth, which leaves a bit of a hole in the Panther’s roster.  But Tolbert is clearly a rushing fullback and the team does have prospect Tauren Poole on the roster.  The Panthers will add a depth body at some point.


Percentage of rushes, RB receptions in 2013:

Stewart: 53%

Newton: 23%

Tolbert: 15%

Poole: 6%

Smith: 2%

New Guy: 1%



Chicago Bears



Primary – Matt Forte: 56%

Secondary – Michael Bush: 23%

Depth – Kahlil Bell: 6%, Armando Allen: 6%

FB – Evan Rodriguez: 1%

QB – Jay Cutler: 8%


It will be interesting to see how the new coaching staff in Chicago utilizes the running backs but I expect pretty much more of the same.  Forte will get the majority of touches and Bush will spell him on occasion, especially on the goal line.  Bell is a free agent and won’t be back.  Youngster Allen will be though, and don’t be surprised to see the Bears draft Forte’s eventual successor this year.  He and Allen will share limited carries.


Percentage of rushes, RB receptions in 2013:

Forte: 58%

Bush: 21%

Allen/New Guy: 12%



Dallas Cowboys



Primary – DeMarco Murray: 45%

Secondary – Felix Jones: 31%

Depth – Phillip Tanner: 7%, Lance Dunbar: 6%

FB – Lawrence Vickers: 4%

QB – Tony Romo: 7%


Murray was the stud back in 2012, accounting for 45% of touches in only ten games.  He’ll continue in that role this season and will see an increase in touches but we have to expect him to miss at least a game or two due to injury again.  Jones is a free agent and won’t be brought back apparently.  So Tanner and Dunbar will vie for the primary backup role, and I think Dunbar wins that battle.  The Cowboys will add another body either in the draft or via free agency, but with salary cap issues they won’t be signing a big name.


Percentage of rushes, RB receptions in 2013:

Murray: 51%

Dunbar: 20%

Tanner: 12%

New Guy: 6%



Detroit Lions



Primary – Mikel Leshoure: 52%

Secondary – Joique Bell: 28%, Jahvid Best: 0%

Depth – Kevin Smith: 10%, Stefan Logan: 2%

FB – None

QB – Matthew Stafford: 8%


Leshoure won the primary role last year but wasn’t overly impressive.  Still I like his chances of being in the lead role again in 2013.  Expect Bell to continue as the main pass catching option out of the backfield.  Unfortunately for Best it looks like his career is over, doctors still have not cleared him for contact.  Much was expected from Smith but he disappointed many fantasy owners last season.  He’s a free agent and probably won’t be back.  Logan is over 30 and also a free agent, even if he is re-signed it will be purely for depth.  Word is Detroit is looking hard for another quality back.


Percentage of rushes, RB receptions in 2013:

Leshoure: 58%

Bell: 29%

New Guy: 4%

Logan: 1%



Green Bay Packers



Primary – Alex Green: 32%, Cedric Benson: 18%

Secondary – James Starks: 16%, Ryan Grant: 7%

Depth – DuJuan Harris: 8%

FB – John Kuhn: 8%

QB – Aaron Rodgers: 12%


At this stage it’s virtually impossible to decipher what’s likely to happen with the Packer’s backfield, but I’ll give it my best shot.  None of Green, Benson, Starks, Grant or Harris is stud back material.  Harris will be the primary guy but the Packers will not rely on him too heavily.  Benson and Grant are free agents and will not be back.  Green will be given every opportunity to win the primary role but I see him in more of a secondary role.  Starks will get whatever scraps are left over.  Brandon Saine will also get a few touches but he’s not looking like he’ll have much of a future in the NFL.  Surprisingly I think Green Bay will be content to enter the season with what they have.  Rodgers’ percentage will go down assuming the Packers do something to provide him with better protection.


Percentage of rushes, RB receptions in 2013:


Harris: 40%

Green: 25%

Starks: 15%

Saine: 5%



Minnesota Vikings



Primary – Adrian Peterson: 74%

Secondary – Toby Gerhart: 13%

Depth – Matt Asiata: 1%

FB – Jerome Felton: 1%

QB – Christian Ponder: 12%


Finally and easy running back situation to predict.  Peterson was a complete stud in 2012 and we’ll get more of the same in 2013.  Gerhart gets to give AP a breather once in a while and Asiata gets to warm the bench again.


Percentage of rushes, RB receptions in 2013:

Peterson: 72%

Gerhart: 13%

Asiata: 3%



New Orleans Saints



Primary – Pierre Thomas: 28%, Mark Ingram: 32%

Secondary – Darren Sproles: 24%

Depth – Chris Ivory: 8%, Travaris Cadet: 1%

FB – Jed Collins: 3%

QB – Drew Brees: 3%


The Saints are another team where I believe we’ll see little change.  If Sproles hadn’t been injured the percentage of touches would have been pretty equal between he, Thomas and Ingram.  Thomas will most likely see his touches go down as Ingram continues to establish himself as a potential primary back.  Sproles will remain a force as a pass catcher.  Rumor has it Ivory, who is an RFA, will either be traded or let go which is a surprise to me as I think he’s got a ton of talent.  Assuming he does go, look for Cadet to pick up a few more touches.


Percentage of rushes, RB receptions in 2013:

Ingram: 37%

Sproles: 31%

Thomas: 21%

Cadet: 4%



New York Giants



Primary – Ahmad Bradshaw: 54%

Secondary – Andre Brown: 19%, David Wilson: 16%

Depth – Kregg Lumpkin: 2%, Da’Rel Scott: 1%, Ryan Torain: 0%

FB – Henry Hynoski: 4%

QB – Eli Manning: 4%


The big news out of New York is that Bradshaw was released, which means Wilson is everybody’s darling again.  But Brown should be back, and coach Coughlin still has more faith in him than Wilson at this stage.  I expect a fairly even split in touches at least early on, and I don’t expect Wilson to run away with the starter’s role just yet.  Scott should see some more touches as well since he’s young ans still has some upside.  Lumpkin and Torain are both unrestricted free agents but only one will probably be back.  I’m leaning towards Torain but it’s 50/50.


Percentage of rushes, RB receptions in 2013:

Wilson: 44%

Brown: 40%

Scott: 5%

Torain/Lumpkin: 3%



Philadelphia Eagles



Primary – LeSean McCoy: 53%

Secondary – Bryce Brown: 27%

Depth – Dion Lewis: 3%, Chris Polk: 0%

FB – Stanley Havili: 3%

QB – Michael Vick: 13%, Nick Foles: 2%


With the latest news that Vick is staying in Philly, that leaves less touches for the running backs.  But the good news is that if Vick can stay healthy and still be a legitimate running threat, Chip Kelly’s read option scheme should mean some big numbers for both McCoy and Brown.  McCoy is the obvious starter, but Bryce showed plenty last season and will get his touches.  The Eagles are well stocked with young RB’s, I would look for both Polk and Lewis to get a few more touches in 2013 as well.


Percentage of rushes, RB receptions in 2013:

McCoy: 53%

Brown: 23%

Lewis: 4%

Polk: 2%

Vick: 15%



St. Louis Rams



Primary – Steven Jackson: 63%

Secondary – Daryl Richardson: 26%

Depth – Isaiah Pead: 3%

FB – None

QB – Sam Bradford: 8%


At this point nobody knows whether Jackson will be back in St Louis.  He has a $7 million option for 2013 that he can walk away from.  I may be wrong but my gut tells me he will stay for one more year and then retire.  If Jackson does leave then look for the Rams to bring in another veteran back.  Richardson performed very well and even if Jackson stays he will increase his workload significantly.  Pead did very little and is looking like less of a prospect than he was when he was drafted.  But there’s still time and the Rams will give him more opportunities to show he’s got a future.  The Rams have Terrance Ganaway and Chase Reynolds for depth.


Percentage of rushes, RB receptions in 2013:


Jackson: 46%

Richardson: 38%

Pead: 8%



San Francisco 49ers



Primary – Frank Gore: 54%

Secondary – Kendall Hunter: 15%

Depth – LaMichael James: 6%, Brandon Jacobs: 1%

FB – Anthony Dixon: 4%, Bruce Miller: 3%

QB – Alex Smith: 6%, Colin Kaepernick: 12%


The Niners look set at running back for 2013.  Gore defied critics and had a very productive year.  There’s no reason to think he can’t do it again.  Hunter looked real good as expected before tearing his Achilles tendon.  If he can come back healthy look for him to lighten the load from Gore.  James looked good in limited action and stands to gain touches, more so if Hunter isn’t ready to go to start the season.  Jacobs was released and his career may be done.  Undrafted free agent Jewel Hampton is a bit of a wild card, I like his skillset but he’s a health risk.  If healthy he will challenge James for some touches.  Obviously with Kaepernick the full time QB in 2013 the overall number of touches for the RB’s will be lower.


Percentage of rushes, RB receptions in 2013:

Gore: 45%

Hunter: 17%

James: 12%

Hampton: 2%

Kaepernick: 19%



Seattle Seahawks



Primary – Marshawn Lynch: 58%

Secondary – Robert Turbin: 17%

Depth – Leon Washington: 5%

FB – Michael Robinson: 4%

QB – Russell Wilson: 16%


Another easy one, Lynch runs wild again in 2013.  Turbin looked real good when given the chance so look for him to get a few more touches to spell Lynch a little more frequently.  Washington’s role won’t change but he’ll likely get less touches.  Youngster Derrick Coleman recently signed a three year deal though, so he just may replace Washington.  QB Russell Wilson will again take running opportunities away from the backs.


Percentage of rushes, RB receptions in 2013:


Lynch: 55%

Turbin: 21%

Washington: 2%

Coleman: 2%

Wilson: 16%



Tampa Bay Buccaneers



Primary – Doug Martin: 76%

Secondary – LeGarrette Blount: 9%

Depth – D.J. Ware: 5%

FB – Erik Lorig: 2%

QB – Josh Freeman: 8%


Martin did not disappoint those who selected him in their fantasy drafts ahead of some more established backs, look for his workload to stay about the same.  Blount is an RFA and may be gone, but if that’s the case the Bucs must acquire another back.  Career backup Ware will remain in that role and only 2012 7th rounder Michael Smith is around for depth.  If anything were to happen to Martin Tampa would be in big trouble.  Look for the Bucs to either hang on to Blount or sign a comparable back.


Percentage of rushes, RB receptions in 2013:


Martin: 75%

Blount/New Guy: 7%

Ware: 4%

Smith: 4%



Washington Redskins



Primary – Alfred Morris: 65%

Secondary – Roy Helu: 2%

Depth – Evan Royster: 7%

FB – Darrel Young: 4%

QB – Robert Griffin III: 22%


In the 2012 pre season, trying to decipher the Redskins backfield was a total crapshoot.  Well the situation is crystal clear now.  Morris was fantastic and will be the man again in 2013 obviously.  Except for the fact that we’re talking about Mike Shahanan, meaning any one of the backs currently on the roster could emerge from pre season and become the lead back.  If that sounds crazy look back at his history in Denver.  Still, Morris will be given every opportunity to keep his position.  Helu, Royster and Keiland Williams will all vie for touches.  If one of them impresses enough he will eat into Morris’ touches.  The biggest question mark is around RGIII.  If he plays, and early indications are he will be close to ready for week one, then expect about the same about of touches for him.  Otherwise Kirk Cousins is behind center and he’ll probably be around 5-7%.  I have my doubts RGIII will be ready but at this stage I have to listen to what the experts are saying and assume he will be.


Percentage of rushes, RB receptions in 2013:


Morris: 54%

Helu: 11%

Royster: 11%

Griffin III: 20%


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