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Fantasy Advice

The Running Backs I Simply Can't Trust

By August 22, 2014 No Comments

I think most standard league fantasy footballers can agree that running back is the most important position in the game. It always seems the guys at the top of your league after week 10 are usually the ones with the best running back depth. The correlation between RB success and fantasy success creates a lot of pressure around drafting the position.

Last year I drafted Trent Richardson with my first round pick, and it really ended up putting me in a serious hole to start the season. Drafting your number one and number two RBs is all about mixing talent, with opportunity, and minimizing the risk.

I mean, nobody can predict injuries or in-season suspensions, but it may be wise to not draft a proven, yet aging running back that has an intriguing young talent knocking on the door to steal his carries. Your first two RBs are being drafted to (hopefully) be in your lineup every week, so nailing those two positions can really put you on the path to fantasy success

If you take fantasy football as seriously as me and the guys at Let’s Talk Fantasy Football do, then hopefully you’ve already started your in depth research and mock drafting. Mock drafting is especially useful in gauging where certain players are being drafted. Knowing players market values can help you know the right place to draft the guys you want on your team.

As I mock and mock and mock and mock, I’m starting to see that there’s certain players that are just being drafted way higher than I’m willing to take them. For instance, I know I’m most likely not going to own Jimmy Graham this year since his Average Draft Position is the 7th overall pick. I can pretty much rule it out, since I won’t be going Tight End in the first round.

Below I’m going to list Five Running Backs I don’t think are going to end up on my (championship) squad this season. Now this of course doesn’t mean I think these Running Backs will definitely be busts, rather I think I would just simply not want to draft them as high as they are going. If this was a Tight End list, Jimmy Graham would be on the top of it. All that would mean is that I would still obviously draft Graham, just not until late second round or later. You feel me?

Montee Ball: ADP 2.01

Overall, I thought Montee Ball was a huge disappointment last season. He started his rookie campaign right in the mix of the best offense in football history and only needed a few good games to prove himself as the starting back for Peyton Manning. Between fumbling issues and the emergence of Knowshon Moreno, there were games Ball completely disappeared, finishing the season with only about 700 total yards and 4 touchdowns.

Now Ball is the starter, and his ADP is the 11th overall pick!? Yes I know the logic behind the “Peyton Manning running backs are totally sweet” theory, and yes Knowshon blew up last year, but with CJ Andersen getting some buzz in camp and the incredibly small sample size we have, there’s no way I’m drafting Ball before the third round. Not to mention an appendectomy leaves him out of the preseason.

Gio Bernard: ADP 2.10

Giovani Bernard is great for the highlight reel, and I definitely think he is a good talent. In future fantasy football drafts, I could completely see Bernard being drafted in the first round. But not in 2014. Yes he scored 8 Tds last year which is decent, but Green-Ellis still got 220 carries last year!

Cincy just drafted Jeremy Hill in the second round. I’m not sure Bernard goes on the field much inside the 10 yard line which is definitely a cause for concern. His consistency is relatively good, but again, end of the second is a little too high for me.

Zac Stacy: ADP 3.07

I guess I’m super skeptical of sophomore RBs, and Doug Martin and Trent Richardson help me slightly justify that notion. The risk of a drafting a guy with such a small sample size is that you can’t determine any trends. There’s nothing to compare the year to. Tre Mason isn’t a huge factor for me in St. Louis, although I do think he will get on the field a lot.

Stacy is still the workhorse. But the NFC West is stacked with scary defenses, and last year Stacy only scored one TD in division games. From weeks 6-12 the Rams play: SF, SEA, KC, SF, ARI, DEN, SD. Those are some brutal matchups, and for me doesn’t help me trust Stacy (or the Rams really) in the third round. I think he will even go mid second round in a lot of drafts, and for reasons like that, I am down on Stacy.

CJ Spiller: ADP 4.02

I don’t know if I’ll ever draft CJ Spiller on any of my fantasy teams. Injuries, Fred Jackson, the Bills offense, all factors that make me wary to draft him as my second back. I know Fred Jackson’s older now, but I think Buffalo still likes him. Spiller can completely disappear from games like Montee Ball did, but at least Montee Ball won’t quietly torture fantasy owners by remaining active while injured.

Also, the Bills picked up Bryce Brown from Philly. How much more patient will the Bills be with Spiller? How much more patient can fantasy owners possibly be with Spiller!? To me Spiller is a 6th or 7th rounder in fantasy this year, though I know he will be taken earlier. I mean the guy scored 2 Tds last year. And for people who rave about his screen pass/receiving potential, the guy had no receiving Tds and only 185 yards through the air. As Charlie Brown would say: “UGGGHHHGGH”

Reggie Bush: ADP 4.03

Bush is one of the few backs I am low on that has nothing to do with him. It’s completely due to the emergence of Joique Bell. Bell is the obvious goal line option and from watching the Lions, you could tell that Bell’s workload has been steadily increasing. The guy was the 17th best RB last year as a backup.

Yes, Reggie Bush was #11 but I would be really surprised if Bell, who is also a significantly better blocker, sees the field more and more. I don’t think fantasy owners should go into the year thinking that Reggie Bush is a viable option EVERY week. I don’t want Bush to be my second best running back this season in fantasy, as I don’t see him getting over 1,000 on the ground again.

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Matt Rodgers

Matt Rodgers

Sr. Fantasy Analyst at Let's Talk Fantasy Football
New Jersey Packers fan living in Hoboken. Fantasy football is a way of life and makes Sundays the greatest day of the week. I will lie to you during trade talks
Matt Rodgers