Top fantasy keeper RBs for 2014

Jamaal Charles leads the list of rushers to retain for next season

Updated: December 11, 2013, 3:53 PM ET
By KC Joyner | ESPN Insider

Jamaal CharlesAP Photo/Pablo Martinez MonsivaisJamaal Charles has racked up 225 fantasy points through 13 games this season.

The dearth of quality running backs and the lack of impact ball carriers in the 2014 NFL draft means the general rule in keeper leagues is to keep as many of them as possible. But what should an owner do if the team has to pick between multiple worthy running backs?

That's where this week's edition of Fantasy Foresight looks to assist. It takes a look at 21 of the top potential running back keeper selections and ranks them according to expected keeper value.

This value is based on an analysis of five areas: Fantasy production level, career wear and tear, 2014 schedule strength, carry division type and point per reception (PPR) value.

For fantasy production level and PPR value, each player is given a grade of blue (elite), green (above average), yellow (average) or red (below average). The grades are then given point values, with blue getting three points, green two points, yellow one point and red zero points.

The schedule strength grade is based on the player's 2014 run defense schedule. Those grades were then assigned point values of 0-2 points (with two points being the most favorable).

The carry division type gives two points for players who will serve "bell cow" roles on their team (meaning they are very unlikely to share the carry workload with another running back). It gives 1.5 points for running backs in lead/alternate backfields that give the bulk of the carries to the lead runner but also sporadically rotate a backup into the lineup to give the prime back some rest. One point is given to backs in platoon backfields that share the workload on a roughly 50/50 basis.

The career wear and tear grade starts with the premise that, if active backs are culled out of the equation, only 32 of 69 backs who racked up 1,500 career carries made it to the 2,000-carry level. That means once a back hits that level he is just as likely to stop producing as he is to give an owner one or two more seasons of quality numbers. Each back is listed with how many seasons of full-time use (defined as 300 carries) he has to reach the 1,500-carry mark and is assigned points based on that distance.

The points for each category are then added together and listed under the heading of total points.

Now that we have the methodology out of the way, let's take a look at the top 2014 keeper RBs: