Running Backs

Atlanta Firebirds

Bryce Brown – 7a

Zach Laskey – 6aaf

Alfred Morris – 9f

Rajon Neal – 6a

Juwan Thompson – 7a

Terron Ward – 6aa

Summary: Atlanta was terribly disappointed with Michael Turner and Bryce Brown last year and made a big splash by acquiring one of the more consistent backs in the league in Alfred Morris. Morris won’t break a lot of big runs, but brings consistent production and is one of the top three running backs in the league. While Michael Turner is gone, Bryce Brown returns to the team, but has been a major disappointment since being drafted by Dallas first overall a few years ago and is challenged by Juwan Thompson for the number two spot. Rookie Terron Ward has an outside shot at pushing for the number three position while Rajon Neal looks to be on the outside looking in. At fullback, Zach Laskey looks like he could develop into a similar player like Jacob Hester.

Charleston Dragons

Cyrus Gray – 6a

Kendial Lawrence – 6aa

Zach Line – 7a

Darrin Reaves – 6a

Ray Rice – 8D

Zach Zenner – 6aa

Summary: The signing of NFL castoff Ray Rice has brought attention to the expansion Dragons, bad attention. Believe it or not, the three time Pro Bowler is only 28, but is over a year removed from football where he was coming off the worst season of his career. Aside from Rice, Kendial Lawrence and Zach Zenner look to be the only other running backs worth noting. Lawrence is a versatile weapon that could make a great third down back and excel in the return game while Zenner was highly productive at the FCS level and has all the qualities you would want in a running back. Neither Cyrus Gray nor Darrin Reaves look like guys worthy of a roster spot and at fullback Zach Line finally gets his chance to shine after waiting a few years behind Bruce Miller in Columbus.

Columbus Explorers

Vick Ballard – 8ci

Mike James – 7a

Bruce Miller – 10

Joseph Randle – 8

Theo Riddick – 7

Summary: Vick Ballard was on pace for a MVP season before suffering a gruesome season ending knee injury last year. Ballard is still in his process of recovery and it’s unsure if he’ll be able to return to the same form. If Ballard isn’t ready the Explorers can turn to Joseph Randle who fell 92 yards short of a 1,000 yards rushing in Ballard’s absence, but has developed a selfish and unreliable reputation in the locker room. Mike James could serve as a solid stop-gap player should Ballard not be at one hundred percent or Randle finds himself off the team sooner rather than later. Rounding out the running back position is Theo Riddick, who is a great third down option who excels more as a receiver out of the backfield than a runner. Bruce Miller is still the best fullback in the league and will be a tremendous help to whoever carries the rock in Columbus.

Dallas Six-Shooters

Rex Burkhead – 6aa

Henry Josey – 6a

Nikita Whitlock – 7aa

Karlos Williams – 7aa

Summary: After suffering for the past five years to find a suitable replacement for Roger Robinson, the Shooters finally decided to pay up and draft Karlos Williams in the first round. Williams is a big, bruising back that has sky high potential but will have to finally put it all together if he wants to live up to the billing. Next on the depth chart would have been Anthony Allen, but he was shipped out during camp to a running back needy Nashville. Instead Rex Burkhead moves into the number two spot and provides a lot of versatility on offense and is a core special team player. Nikita Whitlock is a great story of a player who was kept on the roster a year ago because of his versatility on offense, defense, and special teams, but now looks like a very viable starting option at fullback.

Los Angeles Stars

Javorius Allen – 7aa

C.J. Gable – 7

Lamar Miller – 8aa$

Silas Redd – 6aa

Zac Stacy – 7aa

Summary: L.A. has two, young, proven 1,000 yard rushers on the team in Lamar Miller and Zac Stacy. Stacy is coming off a disappointing year, which allowed Miller to claim the starting job. Stacy’s role might be further limited with rookie Javorius “Buck” Allen having a very impressive camp. C.J. Gable is the perfect third down back but wasn’t used very much in the passing game last year and Silas Redd did the most with limited carries last year, but still hasn’t shown signs of living up to the billing he was given at Penn State. One major schematic adjustment the Stars will need to make from last season is that there is no fullback on the roster with Vonta Leach’s retirement.

Michigan Stags 

Jeremy Langford – 7aaf

Thomas Rawls – 7aaf

Denard Robinson – 8aaf

John White – 7i

John Conner – 8c

Summary: Denard Robinson had a spectacular breakout season accruing over 1,500 yards from scrimmage. Robinson struggled at times last season and disappeared during several games and that’s why the Stags brought in a couple of very promising local rookies in Jeremy Langford and Thomas Rawls. Langford is a versatile back that brings a similar skillset to that of Robinson while Rawls will bring a physical presence as he runs with aggression and will not shy away from contact. Expect both rookies to eat into some of Robinson’s touches as they both have the potential to be future stars in their own right. On the outside looking in is John White who has had injuries derail his chances at making the roster although he played well in sparse playing time last season. At fullback NFL veteran John Conner replaces Chad Young and should help create even more running lanes for whoever is carrying the ball.

Minnesota Freeze

Brandon Bolden – 7aa

David Cobb – 6aaf

Nic Grigsby – 7a

Jarryd Hayne – 6aa

La’Ron McClain – 9d

De’Anthony Thomas – 7a

Summary: Brandon Bolden will finally be asked to carry the load fulltime with long time SFL veteran Danny Woodhead off to the NFL. Bolden had a less than stellar camp, but wasn’t really outshined by anyone. Two players that might take carries from Bolden are Nic Grigsby and De’Anthony Thomas. Grigsby is a talented player, but could find himself in the doghouse after getting into high publicized shouting match with head coach Mike Jones while Thomas is an electric player that will fight for more touches whether it is through carries or catching the ball out of the backfield. Jarryd Hayne has looked like a beast in training camp and could be a real surprise player if he can adapt from the rugby game while promising rookie David Cobb found himself in the training room more than on the field during camp. Veteran fullback La’Ron McClain will help stabilize the run game as the Freeze adjust to someone other than Danny Woodhead as the feature running back.

Nashville Renegades

Joique Bell – 9df$

Tommy Taggart – 7

Anthony Allen – 7a

Summary: The Renegades entered camp very thin with only two running backs and one fullback on the roster. Joique Bell has been one of the better running backs in the league the past several years, but has really been driven into the ground at this point. It’s tough seeing him last the entire season with the wear-and-tear after coming off a 361 carries in 2015. The only other option for Nashville is Anthony Allen who was traded from Dallas midway through camp. Allen has shown promise, but every time he takes a step forward its two steps back as fumbling has become a persistent problem throughout his career. The only other face in Nashville’s backfield is AFL fullback Tommy Taggart. He’s a solid short yardage option who has had plenty of work pass protecting, but like most AFL fullbacks, it’s difficult seeing his game transition to the outdoor level.

New Orleans Nightmare

Alfred Blue – 8aa

Tyler Gaffney – 6ai

Andrew Harris – 7

Summary: Rookies Alfred Blue and Zach Mettenberger took the league by storm in 2015. Things look to be very different in the backfield down in the Big Easy so can Blue build off last season’s performance is the big question? Blue had 341 out the 499 total rushing attempts for the Nightmare last year and will be the feature back again, but without the leadership of Jon Cornish. Cornish did well playing second fiddle last season averaging 7.3 yards per carry however injury issues caught up with the 31 year old and led to him announcing his retirement in December. Andrew Harris is an experienced veteran who is capable of taking on much more of a role than the six touches he had in 2015 while Tyler Gaffney hasn’t done anything to prove he’s worth over half-a-million a year and didn’t even touch the ball at all last year. While Derrick Ross wasn’t special last year having a fullback lead the way will be missed.

New York Marauders

Montee Ball – 7ac

J.C. Copeland – 6aa

Benny Cunningham – 7a

Tyrell Sutton – 7a

Fitzgerald Toussaint – 6a

Chevon Walker – 7

Henry Hynoski – 9di

Summary: The big question surrounding the defending champs is how will they handle the loss of Chris Ivory? After rushing for 1,901 yards the team will now look try to find his replacement among several choices. Two familiar faces are last year’s backups Benny Cunningham and Chevon Walker, but combined they only rushed for 485 yards. Cunningham offers a physical, between the tackles attack while Walker provides more of an outside the tackles homerun threat. Newcomer Tyrell Sutton, who has bounced around SFL camps, actually put together a nice camp and should fight for carries. The believed frontrunner heading into camp was former NFL 2nd round pick Montee Ball. However he showed up to camp overweight around 240 pounds and has left the door wide open for the other players to pass him up on the depth chart and might be a free agent bust if he doesn’t turn things around. Rookie fullback J.C. Copeland looks to have the makeup of being a solid fullback in the league, but the late addition of Henry Hynoski will have Copeland spending more time on the bench rather than opening up running lanes.

Orlando Rockets

Ray Agnew – 7a

Andre Ellington – 10f

DeVonta Freeman – 8aa

Rolly Lumballa – 7

Jerome Messam – 7

Kory Sheets – 7d

Damien Williams – 7a

Summary: Orlando is home to the best running back in the league in Andre Ellington. He is hands down the best dual threat back in the SFL, eclipsing over 2,000 yards from scrimmage for the second straight year in 2015. He’ll get competition for touches with from second year man DeVonta Freeman. Freeman had an absolutely spectacular camp and looks to build off a promising rookie game and will offer the Rockets a very good one-two combo with Ellington. Veteran Kory Sheets probably finds himself off the roster with the emergence of first year Rocket Damien Williams and CFL big back Jerome Messam. At fullback, neither Ray Agnew nor Rolly Lumbala are going to blow anyone up, but Lumbala at least provides another weapon catching the ball out of the backfield.

Philadelphia Bulldogs

Jay Ajayi – 7a

John Crockett – 6aa

Dennis Johnson – 7d

Tim Hightower – 7

Aaron Ripkowski – 7a

Derrick Ross – 7

Summary: The Bulldogs face a similar situation that their rivals in New York are facing, how will they will replace one of the franchise’s all-time great running backs in Alfred Morris? Management believes the answer lies in first round draft pick Jay Ajayi who entered camp atop the depth chart. The expectation is for him to step in and take on the role of a feature back, but there are concerns about his durability and in particular his reconstructed right knee. The biggest challenge to Ajayi’s reps is Tim Hightower who has brought his career back from the brink and had a solid camp and eclipsed Dennis Johnson on the depth chart. Johnson really hasn’t progressed and could see his days in Philadelphia coming to a close with rookie John Crockett having an impressive camp and making a case to move up the depth chart. At fullback, rookie Aaron Ripkowski looks to be a more conventional choice over Arena star and SFL bounce around Derrick Ross.

San Antonio Marshalls

Mykell Benson – 7

Marcus Murphy – 6aa

Khiry Robinson – 7aa

Jacquizz Rodgers – 8

Ben Tate – 8D

Cierre Wood – 6aa

Summary: When beginning to address the problems on offense for the Marshalls starting with the running game would be a really good choice. As a team the Marshalls rushed for a league low 214 rushing attempts and league worst 565 yards all season. Albeit they are a spread, pass-first team to have that little production from the ground game puts a tremendous amount of pressure on the passing game and makes it easier for opposing defenses to attack the offense. Although the Marshalls might take a committee approach in the backfield leading rusher Jacquizz Rodgers returns as the feature back and although he accumulated 1,281 yards from scrimmage that pales in comparison to the 2,143 Jamal Charles had in 2014. Rodgers still looks to be the best fit for the Marshalls despite NFL Veteran Ben Tate being signed. Khiry Robinson could be utilized more if Tate continues to be unimpressive on the field with youngsters Marcus Murphy and Cierre Woods looking to get in the mix. Fullback Mykell Benson returns, but he is underutilized in an offensive scheme that doesn’t quite suite him. The Marshalls have talent to greatly improve upon 2015’s rushing numbers, however it will be up to the coaches to make the commitment.

Seattle Orcas

Isaiah Crowell – 8a

Ryan Hewitt – 7a

Chris Polk – 8fi

Josh Robinson – 6aa

Da’Rel Scott – 6

Beanie Wells – 7di

Tyler Varga – 6aa

Summary: Isiah Crowell and Chris Polk proved to be an effective one-two punch for the Orcas last year combining for over 1,400 yards rushing and 13 touchdowns. Seattle’s run game should be just fine with Polk and Crowell leading the way and Beanie Wells proved to be a good third option in 2015, but rookie Josh Robinson looks to be pushing to takeover that spot. Ryan Hewitt has stepped up his game as an H-back and looks to get more involved however, don’t be surprised to see rookie Tyler Varga get some reps at fullback either. Da’Rel Scott arrives after a couple years out of the game and it showed.

TOP 5 RB’s
1. Andre Ellington, Orlando Rockets
2. Alfred Morris, Atlanta Firebirds
3. Joique Bell, Nashville Renegades
4. Alfred Blue, New Orleans Nightmare
5. Denard Robinson, Michigan Stags

TOP 5 PAID RB’s
1. Joique Bell, Nashville Renegades – $3.5M
2, Bruce Miller, Columbus Explorers – $1.5M
3. Lamar Miller, Los Angeles Stars – $1.1M
4. Montee Ball, New York Marauders – $1M
5. Vick Ballard, Columbus Explorers – $900K