2015 Outlook: If we had a nickel for every time a player said he's in the best shape of his life, we'd be Bruce Wayne rich. But in Bell's case, dropping 20 pounds in advance of last season really did transform him into Batman. A ponderous plugger as a rookie, the nimbler Bell found the right combo of thump and agility in 2014 -- and it showed. He was fantasy's top RB from Week 5 on and failed to eclipse 100 yards from scrimmage in only three games all year. With that kind of productivity when he is on the field, and with his suspension reduced from three games to two, he ascends to the No. 1 overall player in our preseason rankings. If you spend a first-rounder on him, be sure to also grab his backup, DeAngelo Williams.
2015 Outlook: Peterson was the No. 1 overall fantasy pick last season but played only one game because of a personal-conduct suspension. As of this writing, he was still with the Vikings, so we'll assume that's his team in 2015. But what will Minnesota get from AP? While his age (30) and career carries (2,054) are red flags, Peterson is presumably fresh. Plus, the last time we saw him play, he still looked like one of history's greatest backs. We always knew Peterson would feel riskier around this time in his career. But given these circumstances, it's tough to know whether his career five-yards-per-carry average is realistic for 2015.
2015 Outlook: Cursed with difficult matchups last September, Lacy earned ire from fantasy owners by ranking 43rd in RB points after four games. But as the season continued, the tape proved an indisputable fact: Lacy is no fun to tackle. At 230 pounds with nimble feet and bad intentions, he pushes a pile as aggressively as any RB in the NFL. The Packers will never be run-centric while Aaron Rodgers is under center, but Lacy also has terrific hands -- he finished sixth in RB receiving yards in 2014 -- and can serve as his own third-down back. Heading into a season with no clear-cut No. 1 overall pick, Lacy has our favorite combo of upside and safety.
2015 Outlook: Fantasy's MVP in 2013, Charles saw his workload curtailed last year. A season after he registered 15 or fewer carries in a game only three times, it happened 10 times in 2014. He also lost 30 catches and 402 receiving yards off his 2013 pace. None of this happened because Charles has lost his trademark burst. The Chiefs have simply decided to include Knile Davis (rushing) and De'Anthony Thomas (receiving) in their backfield plans. Expect more of the same. Charles should threaten double-digit TDs and boast one of the NFL's best per-carry averages, but he could lag behind the NFL leaders in carries and touches.
2015 Outlook: There were red flags for Lynch entering 2014. Now there are signal fires. He's 29 and coming off four straight years of 280-plus carries; he's just the 15th RB since the merger to do that. There was no drop-off in Lynch's play last season (he was fantasy's No. 3 RB), and the Seahawks are committed to making him the focus of their offense for as long as he's healthy. But that's the question: Can Beast Mode continue to buck conventional wisdom and rack up a fifth consecutive season of double-digit TDs? Having Lynch on your roster isn't for the faint of heart, but the rewards can win your league.
2015 Outlook: The same backfield triumvirate -- Anderson, Montee Ball and Ronnie Hillman -- will labor in Denver this year. But considering that Anderson was fantasy's No. 1 RB from Week 12 on last season, new coach Gary Kubiak would be crazy not to give him a leg up. Anderson should benefit from Kubiak's zone-blocking scheme, which has made stars out of such disparate runners as Steve Slaton, Clinton Portis, Arian Foster and Justin Forsett. We doubt elite yardage totals are available to any Broncos RB as long as Peyton Manning is under center, but the team has averaged 14 rushing TDs since 2012. Most of those should belong to Anderson.
2015 Outlook: In 2014, Marc Trestman's offense propelled Forte to the record for RB receptions in a season (102). But it was still a frustrating year. He averaged his fewest yards per carry since 2009 as the run game found little rhythm behind a regressing O-line. New coach John Fox is likely to prefer a more run-oriented attack, and if Forte avoids injury, he has a shot to lead the NFL in touches and score double-digit TDs for the third straight year. But Forte has had at least 250 touches in all seven of his pro seasons and turns 30 in December. Although he's been nothing but solid lately, we're concerned his cliff could come fast.
2015 Outlook: Murray is the first reigning rushing titleholder to change teams since 1947. Even crazier? After ridding themselves of LeSean McCoy, the Eagles signed Murray and RB Ryan Mathews and changed their QB. There are so many moving parts here that Rube Goldberg is shaking his head. Here's what we know: 1) Murray leaves the NFL's best O-line, but Philly's unit is good; 2) he was injury-prone before 2014 and is coming off the sixth-most touches ever in a single season; plus, Mathews will steal work; 3) Murray proved he could be a complete power RB last year; 4) this craziness is sure to inject major uncertainty going forward.
2015 Outlook: After winning his first rushing title in 2013, Shady struggled early last year behind a depleted Eagles line. But as Philly got its blocking pieces back, McCoy's numbers improved: He registered at least 80 rushing yards in nine of his final 12 games. Alas, that wasn't enough for Chip Kelly, who dealt McCoy to Buffalo, where he'll assume a lead role in Rex Ryan's ground-and-pound attack. RB Fred Jackson -- whose personal motto should be "Depleting the Fantasy Values of Others for a Decade" -- is on hand, and the Bills' blocking and QB situations aren't ideal. But Shady is the NFL's quickest RB, and he's still a top-10 fantasy back.
2015 Outlook: Hill isn't a complete back, but what he does well -- grind north/south and pound potential tacklers -- is prized in fantasy. After Gio Bernard suffered a hip injury in Week 8 last season, the rookie Hill took over as the Bengals' early-down back and topped 140 yards four times in nine contests. He's not a terrible pass catcher or blocker, but Bernard does those things better and is quicker, so he'll play in most third-down and passing situations. While that means Hill's production has the potential to be dependent on game flow, we'll take the walloping half of an RB platoon every time. Hill has a great chance to be among the NFL's TD leaders.
2015 Outlook: Ingram has the leg drive to bowl over downfield tacklers and score from in close, and he catches well. But he's more of a veering runner than someone who cuts sharply, so there aren't many times that he makes yards on his own. Simply put, he gets stuffed too much for an RB who tips the scales at a compact and powerful 215 pounds. The Saints might emphasize the running game in 2015, and Ingram will be their sledgehammer, with free agent signee C.J. Spiller filling out a one-two punch. But beware: Sean Payton has never been the type to allow any single RB to dominate touches every week.
2015 Outlook: Morris' fantasy value is unusually reliant on his team's quality. When Washington is good, as it was in 2012, it sticks with the run and TDs abound. When the team trails a lot, Morris simply plays less. After seeing 40-plus snaps in 12 games as a rookie, Morris has reached that mark just nine times in the two seasons since. He's a terrific runner, a bowling ball who makes up for his speed and pass-catching deficiencies with smart, instinctive slices through defenses. If Washington winds up better than we expect, Morris will finish among the top five fantasy backs. Otherwise, expect him to be no more than a solid starter.
2015 Outlook: On his eighth-to-last carry of 2014, Miller busted loose for a 97-yard score. That's not unexpected, considering he has 4.4 speed. What is unexpected is that it was the first 50-plus-yard run of Miller's career and only the sixth time in 444 NFL totes that he rushed for 30-plus. (In the same span, plodding Washington RB Alfred Morris had nine such rushes.) Even with rookie Jay Ajayi aboard, Miller is a good bet to be the Dolphins' lead back in 2015, but he hasn't maximized his speed yet, even in OC Bill Lazor's quick-hitting offense. Miller averaged only 13.5 carries per game last year; breaking bigger gains would help his job security.
2015 Outlook: When the 49ers didn't re-sign RB Frank Gore, it became clear they'd rely on Hyde to be their leading man this season. Sure, Reggie Bush is on hand, but his playmaking ability waned in 2014, and he's a crummy bet to stay healthy. This is Mr. Hyde's show now, and considering the Niners made an annual habit of giving Gore 250-plus carries, a big workload awaits the beefy second-year back. But how good is San Francisco's O-line, which dropped off in 2014 and just lost All-Pro G Mike Iupati? If the team is headed for a major decline post-Jim Harbaugh, even a talented young RB like Hyde might get caught up in the mess.
2015 Outlook: Forsett finished 2014 as fantasy's No. 8 RB, so why aren't we higher on him? Well, it's difficult to reconcile what we know about his size (5-8, 197), age (30 in October) and career with the 1,529 scrimmage yards he racked up as Baltimore's surprise starter. Forsett had never even eclipsed 1,000 total yards in any of his six previous seasons. Yet his quickness and vision were consistently excellent last year, and new OC Marc Trestman loves throwing to RBs. Lorenzo Taliaferro and rookie Javorius Allen loom as heftier options, and some kind of rotation could develop. But Forsett will get the benefit of the doubt in Week 1.