Running Back

Week Two Fantasy Running Back Rankings

Friday, 13 September, 2013

Week Two Fantasy Running Back Rankings

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1. Adrian Peterson- Don’t make much of Peterson’s non-success after his first carry. Not many backs had all around games in week one.
2. LeSean McCoy- The conditioning looks to have paid dividends for McCoy
3. Jamaal Charles- Kansas City will surprise some this week with their expanded offense. Charles has always been a fantasy stud in prior years, and will see his stock rise week to week this season.
4. Ray Rice- The Ravens will stomp the Browns this weekend. Rice should get at least two touchdowns.
5. Matt Forte- His shiftiness isn’t like it use to be, but Forte is a dual threat running back in the Bears offense
6. Arian Foster- His role may be reduced some this year, but he is still a top eight fantasy back week to week
7. Reggie Bush- His numbers will come down drastically this week at a tough place to play. But an overall game of 100 all purpose yards will be suffice for fantasy owners.
8. Eddie Lacy-Lacy’s impact was not huge week one, but he responded better than most backs do after a fumble. In the second half he had some quality runs against a strong 49ers defense.
9. Alfred Morris- Morris was one of many backs that had a case of fumbles week one. Don’t give him the label of sophomore slump just yet.
10. Steven Jackson- Jackson gets to go against his former team and will be ready to go
11. Doug Martin
12. CJ Spiller
13. Trent Richardson
14. DeAngelo Williams
15. Darren McFadden
16. Marshawn Lynch
17. DeMarco Murray
18. Frank Gore
19. Stevan Ridley
20. MJD
21. Chris Johnson
22. Darren Sproles
23. David Wilson
24. Rashard Mendenhall
25. Knowshown Moreno
26. Lamar Miller

28. Ryan Matthews
29. Ben Tate
30. Pierre Thomas
31. Daryl Richardson
32. BenJarvus Green-Ellis
33. Bernard Pierce
34. Ahmad Bradshaw
35. Joique Bell
36. Ronnie Hillman
37. Mark Ingram
38. Isaac Redman
39. Bilal Powell
40. Fred Jackson
41. Montee Ball
42. Kendall Hunter
43. Brandon Jacobs
44. Bryce Brown
45. Daniel Thomas
46. Jacquizz Rodgers
47. Mike Tolbert
48. Mike Bush
49. Ronnie Brown
50. Felix Jones

Power To The Backfield

Wednesday, 28 August, 2013

Power To The Backfield

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The BCS Championship was supposed to be a matchup of the two best teams in college football when Notre Dame and Alabama took the field. All the hype of a possible Notre Dame upset over Alabama was pushed even higher by the Notre Dame fanfare. They had beaten Stanford and Oklahoma, so seemingly they stood a chance against Alabama.

Eddie Lacy’s dictated running, spin moves, and shedding of tacklers put an end to that moot point. The bowl game turned from a championship into what looked like a week one college game. A game usually dedicated to conference powers tuning up for the season with a weak opponent. The demolition derby began early and was a three hour spectacle of Alabama’s coup de grace over Notre Dame.

How Eddie Lacy performed in that game with ease, surely was thought to catapult him as a first round pick. Poor draft workouts and surgery nicked his stock a little bit, but not to the dismay of the Green Bay Packers. The carousel of backs since Ahman Green had a productive season has seen the likes of Ryan Grant, Alex Green, and even Cedric Benson a year ago.

Voicing displeasure surely would of happened by other quarterbacks around the league, but Aaron Rodgers is an on the field performer and not a media guy.

Having success with a rookie running back has fallen from the hey days of Robert Edwards and Fred Taylor years ago. Last year though it resurrected with top backs Doug Martin, Trent Richardson, Lamar Miller, and sixth round draft pick Albert Morris all having quality seasons. Significant impact years that retrained the eyes of fantasy owners and dynasty league drafts to pay attention to a rookie running back no matter if he is drafted in the first round or not.

Like Merril Hoge says a factor back is a factor. Coming into the NFL it is never guaranteed for immediate success but chances are growing now that more teams are in need for bigger depth at the running back position. Aging of backs has also caused a somewhat of a make shift of longevity in running backs lessening the opportunities of rookie backs. With the surplus of backs and cut downs on carries per game, its aging backs better. A veteran that does not see the field too much as a second or third back is going to be considered by other teams, while before teams would just rebuild through the draft. Now teams know the legs are not burnt up from their first four to five years in the league, and can count on them for a second contract.

It’s sort of similar to how the NBA handles second round draft picked rookies. Contracts are not guaranteed so they make those picks fight out a roster spot with an NBA/Overseas veteran that has just as much talent. The gap has closed in the backfield for elite prospects, so why over pay for a first round running back?

Eddie Lacy is trying to buck the notion that he should of fell to the second round, instead of being a first round pick. Many would want to point out the fact that Mark Ingram from Alabama has not even surpassed Pierre Thomas on the Saints depth chart. That is true, but a situation can change all of everything, and Lacy has that chance in Green Bay.

With Duane Harris just going down to a season ending injury the Packers have exactly what Lacy wants. Opportunity. He gets to step in a heavy workload situation where he can either fall out of favor with the Packers quickly, or supplant himself steadily in a role the Packers have been trying to fill for years.

Green Bay still has running backs James Starks and Alex Green and may utilize them early in the season if Lacy struggles. But Green Bay knows what Starks and Green can offer them and want to build away from that, not onto it. Jonathan Franklin the other rookie drafted from UCLA appears to be behind in understanding the offense so his impact will be little if any until later in the season.

This predicament with Lacy can leave fantasy drafters with endless questions. To draft Lacy as their second or third back, or let him stray to unchartered waters elsewhere, and not have to worry about him altogether. I believe Lacy is vastly undervalued right now, and even more with the season-ending injury to Harris who the Packers planned on involving heavily.

Let’s put the past few semi-successful running backs in Green Bay in perspective. In a passing attack that ranks top five with the best quarterback in football, James Starks and Ryan Grant had solid seasons. Starks had more of an impact in the Green Bay Packers playoff Super Bowl run because he was coming off an injury. Grant’s heyday was more with Brett Favre but he still provided solid action and results for the Packers.

If those two backs can do it why not Lacy? The primary issue with Green Bay Packers running backs in the past has been injuries. Lacy has already had a few that he has had to recover from, and will need to avoid the injury bug.

Being ranked anymore from the high teens to mid 20’s is where Lacy is falling for running backs. Select Lacy as your third running back and stamp trade bait and the green arrow next to him for stock rising. For where he is ranked even if he only stays your backup running back you can’t complain. But like last year’s rookie crop, I doubt he’ll stay on the bench too long.

Top 60 Fantasy Football Running Back Rankings

Tuesday, 20 August, 2013

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Did you hold your fantasy draft back in June or July and now are left staring at a roster you believe to be the best possible? There can only be one hype man of your team and that’s you. By week one you may find yourself needing to upgrade. Rankings by your fantasy league via rotisserie stats are meaningless. Pay attention to weekly rankings here.

After the second week of the preseason here are where the running backs rank.

! Denotes On The Rise
^ Denotes On The Decline

1. Adrian Peterson
2. Doug Martin !- Owners and soon-to-be draftees worry not. Martin did not sustain a concussion on his knee to the head in week two of the preseason.
3. Jamaal Charles
4. Marshawn Lynch
5. Arian Foster ^- Foster has not let little nagging injuries in the past few seasons deter his fantasy success. One can escape a couple of times, but the injury bug is calling Foster’s name. Precautions seem to be the main reason he is missing preseason. For fantasy owners Foster is the top ten back that has the most question marks.
6. CJ Spiller
7. Ray Rice
8. LeSean McCoy
9. Alfred Morris
10. Chris Johnson
11. Trent Richardson
12. Stevan Ridley
13. Ryan Matthews
14. MJD !- MJD is quickly falling out of the top tier of fantasy backs. As we’ve seen with top fantasy backs of the past, once the fall begins, the drop descends rather quickly from fantasy relevancy.
15. Matt Forte
16. Frank Gore
17. Darren McFadden
18. David Wilson !- The Giants just have a knack for having that steady backfield. Manning’s had Tiki Barber, Brandon Jacobs, and Ahmad Bradshaw who have all been fantasy studs at one point or another.
19. Steven Jackson
20. Lamar Miller
21. DeMarco Murray
22. Andre Brown
23. Reggie Bush
24. Chris Ivory
25. Vick Ballard
26. BenJarvus Green-Ellis ^- Green-Ellis’s biggest impact for fantasy owners were his mauler runs for six in the red zone. Still Ellis was an every down back that could provide chunks of yards to those plungers. Giovanni Bernard has been electric in games and in practice. Carries will be taken away from Ellis slowly but surely, and likely a higher fashion of split carries than Ellis has seen in quite awhile.
27. Darryl Richardson
28. Rashard Mendenhall
29. Darren Sproles
30. Le’Veon Bell
31. Mikel Leshoure
32. Bryce Brown !- The fast pace expected from the Eagles has to come with movement of backup players at key positions. Running back is at the top of the list as the Eagles will do all they can to protect Vick’s health.
33. DeAngelo Williams
34. Eddie Lacy
35. Ronnie Hillman
36. Giovani Bernard
37. Mark Ingram
38. Shane Vereen
39. Ben Tate
40. Jonathan Stewart
41. Bernard Pierce
42. Montee Ball
43. Fred Jackson
44. Jonathan Dwyer
45. Ahmad Bradshaw
46. Danny Woodhead
47. Joseph Randle
48. Isaac Redman
49. Jacquizz Rodgers
50. Fred Helu
51. Donald Brown
52. Mike Bush
53. Mike Goodson
54. Pierre Thomas
55. Alfonso Smith
56. Joique Bell
57. Jonathan Franklin
58. Denard Robinson ^- Each year there is a new wrinkle unfolded by franchises to muster yards on the football field. Robinson’s use as a Jaguar should be one of the more curious developments in the early weeks of the season. This will not be like the Pat White experiment Miami tried. Robinson will get direct carries from the backfield as he has in the first couple weeks of preseason and at Michigan last year.
59. Knile Davis
60. Daniel Thomas

The Reggie Bush Factor

Wednesday, 7 August, 2013

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The New Orleans Saints may hate to admit it, but when they let Reggie Bush walk away a few years ago, a part of the Saints explosiveness disappeared. Darren Sproles had some sporadic games in which he was able to reappear in the form of Reggie Bush like a magic-trick, but injuries have hurt Sproles effectiveness.

New Orleans never really did use Bush in the way he would have liked. They used him more as a decoy, and with how fast the Saints were scoring, Bush’s role was never really questioned. Part of the issue that has transformed Bush was his ability to shake off the misperception that he could not run in –between the tackles. As a Saint, he truly couldn’t. That’s where the Saints would utilize one of their plethora of backs they had to carry the load.

Bush wanted to shake that label, and he did just that as a Dolphin. He proved to be much more than a PPR fantasy option, as he had several big games on the ground. Even though Miami had options of Daniel Thomas and Lamar Miller, Bush still put up viable numbers of nearly 1000 yards rushing.

Now the question is how will Miami and Detroit adjust with/without the Bush factor? Miami believed they needed to give their young running backfield a chance to break through. Miller and Thomas figure to platoon the carries. Both had their share of carries last year but I do not believe either put two feet down for the permanent lead role in 2013.

With both having injury concerns it will be imperative they make it through September and October healthy. Nothing lowers the chance of a young back to prove himself than getting hurt right out the gate. There are too many young talented backs that will get an opportunity if that happens. In the preseason game against Dallas on Sunday neither Miller nor Thomas had great outings, with Miller botching a handoff at the start of the game.

The preseason is not a time to over react, the Miami coaching staff believes they made the right decision with these two. I do not expect either to be a fantasy football juggernaut, because of their offensive line issues and the second year growth of Tannehill. They do deserve to be flex options and roster depth fillers.

In Detroit, Reggie Bush is going to get a slightly bigger role than what he had last year in Miami. Detroit is not going to go full throttle with him as they still have Mikel Leshoure and Joique Bell. The area where Bush will exceed his fantasy value over the past two years is out of the backfield. We all know the Lions have Megatron and a decent cast of receivers around him. They’re also a team that ranks near the top in pass attempts with Matthew Stafford and three to four spread receiver sets.

This is the area where Bush’s stats out of the backfield should shift back to where they were as a Saint. That should get him in the range of 450 (low end) to 600 (high end) receiving yards. There is no telling what he can do with the type of explosiveness he has and additional throws that will come his way.

He will be involved and not forgotten as what happened in New Orleans. You just have to hope that Bush does not get disgruntled throughout the season if the Lions lean to Bell or LeShoure in a given game. He didn’t in Miami, so I do not expect it to get to him now.

If you’re not focusing on running backs early, and plan to get your RB2 later, than Bush is a solid gamble to fill that role. That’s in standard fantasy formats. If it’s a PPR than you’ll be more than happy with Bush.

One More Season

Tuesday, 6 August, 2013

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Bring back Ray Lewis from the studios of ESPN and on the field with a championship contender. Come on New England bring him on board to be the leader of the Patriots defense, and deliver Brady another quest for a shot at a title. No, no, no, this is not a Brett Favre early August rally to see Ray Lewis on the field for one more season.

It does have to do with Jacksonville Jaguars running back Maurice Jones-Drew. Is it his time to fall off the fantasy radar maps much like greats in the past did, LT, Shaun Alexander, Larry Johnson, etc? He is approaching that age that makes true franchises and fantasy owners get the jitters. All types of questions can surface but I’m not one to predict a complete downfall season unexpectedly. Typically you can see signs of wearing down from a running back to negate his fantasy value. Examples of the more recent would be all the backs listed a few sentences ago, and throw a back like Michael Turner in that mix as well.

Even though a running back may be regressing, in the right situation he is still going to get a fair amount of carries and a large chunk of the workload. As a Jacksonville Jaguar, MJD, will continue to reap the bulk of the Jaguars offensive categories in terms of carries and percentage of involvement in their offense. It’s a question if those carries will be as meaningful as in years past, and if MJD can avoid hitting the injury bug.

But isn’t that a question amongst all NFL players? Yes it is. A year ago MJD s contract issues held his fantasy value low in a lot of drafts, and he did not end up signing his contract until September 3rd. His value for where he ended up getting drafted was far better than the rounds he landed. At least up until he got injured after six games on the field. His production was still near five yards a carry, and being on a team such as Jacksonville worries of him rushing back from an injury were not even thought of.

He has not played tackle football since mid-October and we are only talking about a foot injury here. As long as it has healed properly, you can expect Jones-Drew to regain some of his fantasy football consistency as a top fantasy back.

Time away from the field in fantasy football means you can fall off the fantasy radar blip just a little bit. Just ask Adrian Peterson. His value has re-risen like a company that had a poor earnings quarter and blew past projections three quarters later. He is right back on top.

While the CJ Spiller’s, Trent Richardson’s, and Doug Martin’s come into this season with a higher rating, do not rule out MJD from sneaking back up past them. Jones-Drew has had a few off the field issues this offseason but none that have been tagged as serious offenses.

Going into your fantasy drafts you should realize that Jones-Drew can be there easily for you as a running back second option. Depending on how running backs fly off your draft boards he should be there anywhere from the mid second to early third round. I say if you can get him as your second running back than do it. He’ll be right there with your RB1 statistically, and will for sure have a half of a season’s worth of games in which he’ll outdo your RB1 fantasy points wise.

MJD is not going to fade just yet. I say give him one more season to prove his fantasy relevance or demise. We all saw how Jamaal Charles and AP bounced back from serious injuries in just one season. MJD will be just fine even on that same pathetic anemic Jacksonville Jaguars offense.

The Burning Question

Tuesday, 6 August, 2013

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You could see the writing on the wall for Andy Reid’s grand finale and official exit as a Philadelphia Eagles head coach. He had a long run in Philadelphia but it just seemed that change was needed on both sides. Still a heck of a coach it was no surprise that Reid was a top candidate for the many vacancies left open in the coaching ranks in the offseason of 2013.

He landed in Kansas City were the team has had offensive woes that ranked near the bottom of the league for a passing attack. The money spent on Matt Cassel was right up there for the money the Arizona Cardinals over spent on landing Kevin Kolb. If there is one thing about Andy Reid he knows how to run offenses.

The supporting cast in Philadelphia was always around for Reid to do so. In his first year in Kansas City how will he manage Alex Smith and have the Chiefs competitive in year one?

The answer to that question is to change his rather unique philosophies on game planning offensively. In Philadelphia it was no secret that Reid’s penchant was to throw the football. This year in Kansas City I expect Reid to tone it down quite a bit and ride the backfield starting with Jamaal Charles.

That’s the burning question for fantasy owners. Can they bank on Jamaal Charles even if Andy Reid is back up to his old tricks. Do the names of Duce Staley, Brian Westbrook, Correll Buckhalter and LeSean McCoy ring a bell? They should. Buckhalter’s name was brought in the mix to showcase that Reid has had success with a complimentary back having fantasy value. The rest were top tier running backs in their heydays, which McCoy is still in.

Jamaal Charles has that game speed shiftiness intangible that Reid has thrived with backs such as Brian Westbrook and LeSean McCoy. They do not necessarily have to carry the load with 300 carries in a season to be a top fantasy back. Reid ensures his stars are involved in the offense from a running back standpoint, but he mixes it up differently than most coaches do.

He’ll wear down defenses with the quick screen or just stretching the field overall with a simple dump pass route to the running back. One of his patented red zone moves with Donovan McNabb at quarterback was the inside the ten yard line quick shuffle pass to the running back from the shotgun formation. With all the presnap focus and confusing formations set on linebackers, it will continue to work in Kansas City.

Charles is an obvious first round fantasy running back candidate. The worries of Reid’s offense should be halted, as it is inflated conversation with actual results produced by his running backs. If Kansas City throws the football 58 to 60 percent of the time who cares as long as Charles is trending as a top back.

If Charles was a 1500 dominating back on a team that had little to offer a year ago, imagine what he will do with a consistent capable team on the field now?

I rate him right in the range of a first round pick between the 5th and 10th pick. That’s dependent on how quick the running backs fly off the board. If you end up getting him toward the later part of the first round you’ll end up smiling after week one, week two, week three, week four—hell the whole season.

Reid’s history with running backs speaks for itself. The talent of Charles will only spring that chemistry upward and give the Chiefs a chance to catapult as a playoff contender.