AARP Running Backs


Editor’s Note: Ty Miller is one of the newest writers here at DLF. If you follow fantasy football on Twitter, you certainly know him already as Ty_In STL. We welcome Ty to the writing team and look forward to seeing his work in the future.

In dynasty football, few things draw more attention to a player than his age.  Once a running back hits 27 years old, there always seems to be a popular stigma that he is about to go off the cliff, but is that true?  While it is inevitable that time and wear on the body will cause a reduction in physical ability, some players manage to stay very relevant well into their late 20’s and, occasionally, their 30’s.  Every running back will grow old at some point, but perhaps the masses should embrace the AARP running backs and ride them out into the sunset.  Of course, they could just break a hip and your dream of hoisting a fantasy trophy will be shattered.

Let’s take a look at the top 20 running backs of 2013 for some reference on how the veteran running backs stacked up against the younger guys.  Twelve of the top 20 listed players are 27 years or older and are averaging 1,526 career touches.  Of those 12, four have over 2,000 career carries/receptions – Chris Johnson, Adrian Peterson, Marshawn Lynch and Frank Gore.  Those four players have been mainstays on fantasy teams for a few years, but they may be reaching the end of the line as three of them needed surgery at the completion of the season.  Also, Johnson, Peterson and Gore all saw dips in their yards per carry as compared to the 2012 season.  On the opposite end of the spectrum, there were four rookies who ascended the depth charts and made an early impact – Zac Stacy,  Le’Veon Bell,  Eddie Lacy and Gio Bernard.  Each of those rookies are in advantageous situations, and should continue to perform well for years to come.  I’ve listed age, 2013 rank, and career touches (postseason included) in the chart below.

**RB Ranking via Flea Flicker**



2013 RB Rank

Career Carries/Receptions

Jamaal Charles




Lesean McCoy




Matt Forte




Knowshon Moreno




Marshawn Lynch




DeMarco Murray




Adrian Peterson




Eddie Lacy




Chris Johnson




Reggie Bush




Fred Jackson




Danny Woodhead




Giovani Bernard




Joique Bell




Ryan Mathews




Le’Veon Bell




Pierre Thomas




Frank Gore




Zac Stacy




Darren Sproles




 *Super Bowl XLVIII touches not included

In most dynasty leagues, some of the proven veterans will fall in startup drafts, or can be had for a discounted price via trade.  Commonly, owners will target rookies or second year players to build their team around, and that is usually a wise tactic, but there is absolutely nothing wrong with buying those younger players some time to mature by supplementing your lineup with veterans that have two or three years left in the tank.  For instance, in one of my leagues, I have Zac Stacy and Mike Gillislee, but to offset the unknowns of rookies and their first year production, I drafted Jamaal Charles, Reggie Bush and Steven Jackson.  With that strategy, I knew that I would have production at the running back position for at least two years, and by then, Gillislee may be able to get some playing time.

A key dynamic to building any dynasty or keeper team is balance.  It is hard to not go overboard on gathering young talent with hopes they will turn into the stars of tomorrow, but keep in mind, while targeting those younger players, you’re passing over veterans that have a history of producing regularly.  There is risk involved when looking at it from both aspects.  The rookies or sophomores may never develop into what was forecast for them, but on the other hand, the veterans that have been so reliable may now be slowing down and losing touches to other playmakers on their teams.

With that said, every owner has a different mindset going into each season.  While someone is rebuilding their team with young players, another few owners are gathering proven talent to help them immediately – this is what makes dynasty football so great.  The key is knowing your own team and having a plan on how to handle aging assets.  It is easy to grow attached to older players, especially when they take you to the playoffs annually, but at some point the cord must be cut and it’s important to know which guys to move on from.  Be thorough in your evaluation as selling off a veteran too soon may doom your team that year.  Many people said to sell Jamaal Charles while the hype surrounding him was “highest” in August last year, but he went on to be the top running back this past season and only improved his value for 2014.  Dynasty football is made for a gambling man and gambling is what it’s all about.  Owners get anxious about retaining aging players too long and will often take a draft pick or two in return to help their team going forward.  Depending on your team’s specific situation, sending a couple draft picks away for a proven commodity may be the best path to a championship.

Many of the following players are heading into uncertain circumstances as Free Agency approaches, or as the landscape of their teams change, but they are worth keeping a close eye on.  Here are the most intriguing 27 and older running backs who may be very acquirable.

**Age reflects how old the player will be at the beginning of the 2014 season**

Player Name



Andre Brown


Free Agent

LeGarrette Blount


Free Agent

Joique Bell


Restricted Free Agent

James Starks


Free Agent

Ahmad Bradshaw


Free Agent

Rashad Jennings


Free Agent

Chris Johnson


High Salary; Likely To Be Cut

Pierre Thomas


Potential Cap Casualty

The name that jumps off that list is Chris Johnson, who turns 29 in September.  The Titans have made it clear that he will need to take a pay cut if he’d like to remain in Nashville, but he has repeatedly said he will not budge.  No matter what happens, he will be a starting running back for a team next year, as there is no chance he will go to a team to be a backup.  His track record of never missing a game is quite impressive, but his inconsistent production and recent knee procedure may be reason enough for the current owner to be uneasy.  Johnson is no longer a player to build your team around, but he can be a solid supplement to your running back corps.  Joique Bell is another player who proved his worth in 2013 by nearly outperforming Reggie Bush in Detroit.  He is a versatile running back who can catch the ball, get the hard yards and protect the quarterback when called upon.  LeGarrette Blount is probably the most interesting player to watch in free agency, as he blew up the last couple weeks of the regular season and then opened a lot of eyes during the playoffs and emerged as the top running back in New England.  Now he heads into free agency and no one knows if the Patriots will make him an offer.  Any time a player is a free agent or not in good standing with his current team, his fantasy owner may be looking to sell.  Most of these guys are not good foundation players, but very capable additions to a competitive team.  The RBs that are listed above are worth making a move for, depending on positional needs and how close your team is to a championship.




  1. ebsteelers

    February 9, 2014 at 6:28 am

    what would you say is a fair range to draft chris johnson in for a dynasty start up?

    • Ty Miller

      February 9, 2014 at 7:11 am


      Somewhere in the early 4th round is where I would pull the trigger on Chris Johnson. Thanks for reading!

      • ebsteelers

        February 9, 2014 at 10:15 am

        thanks for the quick reply.. im glad i was able to get him late in round 5 then.

  2. Jake Storm

    February 9, 2014 at 6:50 am

    Excellent article Ty! Does the research you have done indicate more importance on age or career touches?

    I recently got some flack for unloading Adrian Peterson for rookie picks: 1.5, 1.9, 2.10 & Trent Richardson. I wanted to unload him while his trade value is still very high.

    I think part of the reason a player like Fred Jackson has been very productive into his 30’s is he has not had the wear & tear that other backs 5 years his junior have had given his low career touch totals.

    • Ty Miller

      February 9, 2014 at 7:13 am

      Jake Storm,

      Thank you for the feedback, always appreciated! I think there is much more importance on total touches, and this is why I still prefer Jamaal Charles over Lesean McCoy in dynasty. I wouldn’t have given you any flack for that trade involving AP — I like it!

    • Crash Course

      February 11, 2014 at 10:10 pm

      I would’ve given you flack too. I think TRich is not very good and has a hard time finding the holes that are open. This happened in Cleveland also, the only reason he had good number his first year was he catches the ball great and goal line TD’s. I saw Donald Brown run behind the same O-line and had a great yards per carry. I think essentially you gave Peterson away for 1.5 and 1.9 picks. I agree Peterson has some mileage on him but were not talking about your average run of the mill back here. I also have to add Minnesota has a new OC in town and he loves to get his RB’s in space, which only helps prolong his career. I feel he has 2 years left of top 5 productivity with a 3rd in top 10. Just my .02

      Great article by the way!

  3. Jesse

    February 9, 2014 at 10:40 am

    Nice to see # of touches players have. It’s a young mans game for sure – especially @ RB. Good stuff.

  4. fugoondo

    February 9, 2014 at 10:48 am

    Darren McFadden thoughts?? Buy-low? Or Bye-Bye??

    • Ty Miller

      February 9, 2014 at 2:13 pm

      For me, DMC is bye bye material. haha

  5. Jim

    February 9, 2014 at 11:09 am

    I picked up Joique Bell at the end of the season as a replacement for Sproles. I think Bell can give me production the next couple of years and is a similar back to Sproles. Sproles is obviously faster but Bell is more of a goalline option. I may try to flip Bell before the season but may also keep him as one of my 4 rbs.

    • Matt

      February 9, 2014 at 12:27 pm

      Not really seeing any similarities between Sproles and Bell other than some pass catching.

      If anything Bush is the Sproles in that offense.

  6. phantasy5

    February 9, 2014 at 4:29 pm

    Welcome aboard the DLF train, Ty! Good stuff! I own CJ1K in 2 leagues and his production has been worrisome but with Lynch as my RB1 and him at RB2 I rode them to a title. I’ve done just what you talked about, by having proven guys carry the load while younger players await on the bench. I think I’m going to ride them out until redraft in 2 years and maybe by then Turbin, Michael,Vereen and Ball will be my horses as well as anyone from the next 2 drafts? Like you said it’s a gamble, and that’s what I love about Dynasty! Now if I only knew where CJ was going, I could be a little more at ease. It’s not like guys are beating down my door for CJ so I can live with him for 1-2 more years!

  7. Scott Peak

    February 9, 2014 at 8:01 pm

    I really enjoyed the article, Ty.

    Chris Johnson is an interesting player. The guy is frequently reviled amongst the fantasy community, yet he has been one of the most consistent top 12 RBs for the past few years. Given turnover is high at RB in the top 10-20 players, that has to count for something.

    • Ty Miller

      February 10, 2014 at 5:28 pm


      Thanks for reading! Chris Johnson is one of my personal favorite lightning rods among the fantasy community. The majority seem to despise Johnson, but they adore unproven, upside guys like CJ Spiller. I completely understand the need for future prospects, but sometimes the Old Faithfuls can get the job done just as well, if not better.


  8. Charles Paytton

    February 9, 2014 at 9:33 pm

    I have ridden AP to several SB victories in my dynasty league even though playing me cost me in this last SB. What would you say would be the minimum that you would take considering that in this 10 team leagues I have 8 first round picks in the next 3 years. Honestly I am inclined not to trade him. Currrently my other RBs are Martin, Lacy, L Bell and the Oakland 6 round pick whose name scape me now. Also consider that most teams don’t have multiple first round picks like me so it would have to be like 2014, 15 and 16 for instance at the most as this is how far it goes. I have the number 2, 5 and 7 picks this year.

    • Ty Miller

      February 10, 2014 at 5:16 pm


      I think you’re meaning Latavius Murray..?? That’s a good stable of young backs you have especially with all those 1sts! I would still see what I could get for AP in a trade. I don’t know what your other positions look like, but AP could rake in a very solid WR at this point.
      Thanks for reading.


    • BigD

      February 11, 2014 at 6:01 pm

      personally I would not trade AP this year. with the addition of norv turner as OC, he could be bigger then ever. look at the success turner has had with smith, Tomlinson, and now a chance with Peterson???? it will take time to bring a young qb around but they have tools at te, wrs are strong, and Peterson will be used heavily again. i’d use him one more year and try to get the most out of him after this year.

  9. RBDude

    February 9, 2014 at 10:28 pm

    Great article, hey what do you think Forte should fetch in rookie draft pick(s)? Is he worth more or less than the 1.01, say in a 2QB, 12 team, PPR league. Thanks.

    • Ty Miller

      February 10, 2014 at 5:18 pm


      In a 2QB league, I’d assume a QB will be the 1.01 spot. I don’t think you could get that for him at this point in his career, but the 1.03-1.05 spot should be in play along with a 2014 2nd pick, or a 2015 1st.
      Thanks for reading.


  10. Tyler Durden

    February 10, 2014 at 9:15 am

    Nice article but I do think injuries have to be taken into account when looking at wear and tear on the body. A serious injury and subsequent recovery could easily be the equivalent of a season or two worth of touches. Lattimore would be an example that I would look to. He may be productive for a time but his longevity is surely in question.

    • Ty Miller

      February 10, 2014 at 5:25 pm

      Hi Tyler,

      That is a very good point and definitely an angle I look at when approaching a trade. Someone like Charles is 2+ years removed from a torn ACL and has had one concussion, but he hasn’t shown lingering effects that would make me concerned about the next 2-3 years. Players that tear ACLs aren’t any more likely to re-injure the knee than someone who hasn’t torn an ACL. A few of the guys I listed have had injury issues in the past, but sometimes that can work in your favor midst a trade. What I mean by that is, the owner is already nervous about a player with some injury history and will let him go for cheap. Of course, there is risk involved, but the price needs to be right for you to take on the risk of owning an older/”injury prone” player. Most people love LeSean McCoy in dynasty, and so do I, but he has had three concussions and is probably one away from missing a huge chunk of a season. Calculated risks are the name of the game. Thank you for reading and the comment.


  11. Brian

    February 11, 2014 at 6:23 am

    I am surprised MJD isn’t mentioned in a RB AARP article. Do you think he has a year or two left in the tank?

    • Ty Miller

      February 11, 2014 at 3:32 pm

      Hi Brian,

      I don’t think MJD has much if anything left in the tank. He has been used very hard since he took over the starting role in Jacksonville, and though a few other guys have carried a similar workload, he has broken down a couple times in two years. He is a free agent this year but I think he is destined for a backup/committee role. Thank you for reading and taking the time to leave a comment.


  12. Fry from Futurama

    February 11, 2014 at 7:25 pm

    Buy low on Andre Brown?

    • Ty Miller

      February 12, 2014 at 5:41 am

      I would, simply b/c he is so cheap to acquire. He wasn’t efficient last year and he has had injury woes, but assuming he can be had for a bag of chips, Id make an offer for him. Only do this if you’re a contender and could use some depth, though.
      Thanks for reading!

  13. Jeremy

    February 19, 2014 at 12:06 pm

    What about Arian Foster? Does he have anything left in the tank? Would trading for him now be a good idea?


    • Ty Miller

      February 21, 2014 at 6:08 pm

      I began back pedaling from Foster last year because I thought he was about to hit a wall due to overuse. He is a player that may be cheap enough at this point to send an offer for but I’d rather have Chris Johnson over Foster. Thank you for reading!


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