Elite Fantasy Running Backs Hard to Come By

Fantasy Football Fantasy Football Strategy

By Guest Writer James Zembriski:

Every year fantasy team owners and experts analyze, discuss and debate what player to draft with their first round pick.

arianfoster

Courtesy of ICON SMI

Many of those debates are between whether a team should choose a running back or quarterback.  Both are extremely valuable commodities to any championship team.  The two positions accounted for the top 25 fantasy players by the end of the 2012 season, with wide receiver Calvin Johnson being the first non running back or quarterback at 26.

Due to the rise of the quarterback, it makes the running back so much more valuable.  Out of the top 25 fantasy players last year, only six were running backs.  That’s 19 to 6.  See why elite running backs are hard to come by?

In this modern NFL era decent quarterback play seems to be at a dime a dozen.  The NFL is a passing league now with eight of top 11 single-season passing attempt leaders, according to NFL.com, occurring since 2010.  Last year, Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford attempted a pass 727 times!  10 more quarterbacks attempted over 550 passes.  That is unheard of!

Due to the quarterback surplus, you do not have to draft Drew Brees or Tom Brady in the first round to have a successful team.  There will still be good quarterbacks available in rounds four, five and six.  Guys like Andrew Luck, Andy Dalton and Eli Manning are all very capable starting quarterbacks and can be easily grabbed in the middle rounds.  That is one of the benefits in this pass-happy league.

That is exactly why it is smarter to grab an elite running back early on in your draft.  16 running backs rushed for over 1,000 yards last year.  While it is still an accomplishment, it is not how it used to be.  Names on that 1,000-yard rushing list such as BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Shonn Greene and Ahmad Bradshaw do not jump out at us as elite backs, yet they made the list.

Would you have relied on those guys to get you that 100-yard game when you needed it most?  I did not think so.

Superstar running backs are far and few between so you have to take advantage of them when you can because running backs tend to be inconsistent. Prime example:  Chris Johnson.  He had two crazy years in 2009 and 2010, rushing for 2,006 and 1,364 respectively with 25 rushing touchdowns.  In 2011, he only had 1,047 yards on the ground.  Last year, Eagles running back LeSean McCoy was not even one of those 16 running backs and only had two rushing touchdowns after 17 the year before.

Adrian Peterson was fortunate enough to come back even stronger after ACL injury but people seem to forget how rare it is.  Superstars like Arian Foster and Alfred Morris still had injuries scares despite their success.

When you find that right elite fantasy running back, hold on to him and never let go because you are never sure how long he will last.


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