The running back position in fantasy football can be a fickle one. Last year there were many players that everyone felt safe drafting in the first round, and roughly half of them end up as a bust.
If there's anyone you know who's claiming they saw these collapses coming, they're liars. No one saw Arian Foster, Doug Martin, Ray Rice, Trent Richardson and CJ Spiller performing that poorly. Sure they all faltered for different reasons, but they faltered nonetheless.
I'm not here to advocate that this years crop of running backs is safer than last year or that things can't go poorly again. I'll start by saying I just don't see how it can be much worse.
Sure 2014 presents an ugly running back situation. In fact outside of the top four or five guys there is a ton of risk at the position. The risk is exactly why I think you need to take a back in round 1. I'd rather take a chance on a guy early rather than late, because your options in later rounds are going to be the true definition of boom or bust. You simply can't afford that for your number 1 and number 2 running backs.
You Need to Take a Running Back in Round 1
Running backs are the center of every fantasy football team. Although NFL teams have been devaluing running backs in the monetary sense, they are being used just as frequently as ever. They are being thrown into pass situations more often than not and this is part of the reason some running backs values are so high.
I'll save you the typical ranting about why running backs are so valuable. You don't want to hear the traditional stuff. The real reason you need to draft a running back in round 1 is because the position gets ugly really quickly. After the first 5 running backs the questions begin to mount in my mind.
Some of the next few guys have question marks surrounding their durability, whether they were only one year wonders (ala Trent Richardson in 2013) or if they'll be the sole back in their backfield. Outside of those "second tier guys" the question marks only get bigger.
I know for sure that I don't want to go into the season with a questionable running back in my #1 and #2 slots. The other positions are too deep this year. Take advantage of the running back opportunities you have, before they're gone.
Why You're a Fool if You Take a Running Back in Round 1
Did I mention the risks that the running backs outside of the top 5 offer? Oh I did... well in that case I'll just repeat it quickly.
There are a ton of running backs that I'm worried about in 2014. They fit the boom or bust potential for 2014, however it's not a chance I'm willing to take if I have a pick between 5-10 in round 1. I'll take advantage of the wide receiver talent that is on the board.
If you told me that I could have Calvin Johnson and possibly Dez Bryant as my 1-2 punch I'd be ecstatic. I expect big things from Dez this year and Megatron never disappoints. If that potential combination doesn't get you fired up, then I question your fantasy fandom.
You can also look to draft a quarterback in round 2. Although there is depth at the position there is nothing like getting a true stud. Not having to play the wire or stream quarterbacks each week is a great feeling. Confidence in that position will allow you to focus on other positions with a greater chance of success.
Know Your Draft Board and Draft Strategy
At the end of the day the way you prepare for the draft will impact what decisions you'll make on draft day. Make sure to study various fantasy experts rankings, try different mock draft strategies and settle on a plan for the draft. No matter how much you plan things won't go the way you had hoped. Pick a strategy and stick to it. You'll be rewarded for it in the long run.
I'll be the guy grabbing two running backs with my first picks. I may be stuck in my ways or biased to the ways that have helped me in the past, however there's no way I'll be taking a chance on one of the most important positions in the game.
Draft Advice Series: I'll be posting numerous guides advocating why you should draft someone at each position in the first round of your fantasy draft. This doesn't mean it's always in your best interest. Read why I suggest doing it and why I don't. There's always two sides to every story.
For the record, I never actually played football. I have no doubt that I would get crushed running across the middle for a pass, every single time.
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