Running Back

WHAT VALUE DO SAINTS RB’S HAVE?

Monday, 23 June, 2014

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Perhaps no team in football has been as tortuous as the New Orleans Saints to figure out their stable of running backs. Pierre Thomas has had the highest prime value for the Saints. He went from a high carry back to an inordinate amount of carries. Last year his fantasy worthiness almost came exclusively out of the backfield.

The Saints have used a platoon of running backs intermittently that drives fantasy owners nuts. With Darren Sproles departed to the Eagles, it leaves the same backfield of players. Is the Saints backfield being overlooked from a fantasy standpoint because of this? Likely so.

It seems odd to think about, but Darren Sproles has been a main key to Brees career. Out in San Diego, Sproles played the lightning bolt to LT. When he became a free agent the Saints went after Sproles to replace Reggie Bush’s role. He filled it admirably.

Now who will Brees have to be his Reggie Bush or Darren Sproles?

Both guys were fantasy havens for PPR leagues and combined yards of rushing and receiving. It was a toss up between Sproles and Pierre Thomas for more effective fantasy running back. Neither lit the fantasy scoreboard on a weekly basis, but did just enough to be fantasy running back three or four.

Who is going to catch the out of the backfield receptions for the Saints? Sproles had over 70 catches for the Saints each of the last three seasons.

Based on the Saints current roster, you’d have to believe the Saints are planning on reducing Pierre Thomas’s carries some more. They dwindled quite a bit last year as he boosted his performance out of the backfield. Last year he caught 77 passes for over 500 yards. Before that career season he had over 40 catches just once in his eight year career. His yards per carry dipped to a career low of just 3.7 yards last season. This should be clear evidence that the Saints want to use Thomas as their Sproles/Bush 100 percent.

That leaves the big void of whom will be the Saints main tail back for rushing the football. Mark Ingram has been nothing short of a disappointment in his stint as a Saint. The former Heisman Trophy winner has struggled with injuries and consistency. One bright sign from Ingram was his finish to the 2013 season. He had two games in which he came close to 100 yards, including in a playoff victory over the Eagles. In the divisional round he did have a costly fumble against the Seahawks though.

The Saints other two running backs are Khiry Robinson and Travaris Cadet. Robinson had spots a year ago where he looked like he would overtake the main running back duties. It just never materialized and left fantasy owners regretful on taking a flyer on him.

Maybe that was a move warranted for this upcoming season. Robinson will likely have a fair amount of carries with Ingram. For now it’d be hard to rank one higher than the other. You’d expect the Saints to give Ingram every chance to gain the upper hand on the time split, but Ingram’s proven to drop the ball when given opportunities.

I’d still downgrade Ingram and have an asterisk on Cadet stealing some thunder from both. New Orleans has too many receptions and carries available to have fantasy eyes drifting. If you’re anti-Ingram take your shot in later rounds on Cadet or Robinson.

JUNE RB FANTASY FOOTBALL RANKINGS

Monday, 16 June, 2014

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1. Jamaal Charles- In Philadelphia, Andy Reid was able to develop the Mr. do it all running backs. That certainly has occurred in Kansas City. Charles was already a top five back before Reid, and now is cemented as the top back heading into 2014.

2. Matt Forte- I have Forte ranked a bit higher than most as he just plays at the steady level. You can count on him to have a balanced game each time he steps out onto the field. Other backs don’t make up their fantasy points if they suffer a lackluster rushing week like Forte does. He consistently gets you a solid amount out of the backfield.

3. Adrian Peterson- Teams truly attacked to shut down a hopeless passing game from the Vikings. Even the unworldly Peterson couldn’t shed the defenders they had in the box. The bright side is the Vikings cut ways with Josh Freeman and have directed Christian Ponder to the bench. The job will be in the hands of Matt Cassel and Teddy Bridgewater. Peterson’s season should be somewhere in between two years ago and this past season, which would please fantasy owners.

4. Le’Veon Bell- I loved the workmanlike demeanor Bell displayed last season. He was a gem for fantasy owners off the waiver wire. Typically backs that catapult from a great waiver wire pickup, tend to skyrocket the next season. Pittsburgh has been one of those teams that’s been supplanted and dormant. If Bell becomes the proper focus, Pittsburgh could contend as the division winner once again.

5. LeSean McCoy- McCoy could truly be ranked higher, but I have him slightly lower because Chip Kelly will utilize the depth of the Eagles more than the Chiefs, Steelers, Vikings, and Bears. There is no question that McCoy has Jamaal Charles type of capability on any given week.

6. Eddie Lacy
7. Gio Bernard
8. Arian Foster
9. Marshawn Lynch
10. Montee Ball
11. DeMarco Murray
12. Reggie Bush
13. Alfred Morris
14. Andre Ellington
15. Doug Martin
16. Zac Stacy
17. Knowshown Moreno
18. Toby Gerhart
19. Ryan Matthews
20. Rashad Jennings
21. CJ Spiller
22. Ben Tate
23. Chris Johnson
24. Bishop Sankey
25. Shane Vereen
26. Ray Rice
27. Joique Bell
28. Trent Richardson
29. Frank Gore
30. Darren Sproles
31. Steven Jackson
32. MJD
33. Fred Jackson
34. Darren McFadden
35. Lamar Miller
36. Pierre Thomas
37. Danny Woodhead
38. Terrance West
39. Chris Ivory
40. Tre Mason
41. Bernard Pierce
42. Stevan Ridley
43. DeAngelo Williams
44. Mark Ingram
45. Donald Brown
46. Ahmad Bradshaw
47. Bobby Rainey
48. Latavius Murray
49. James Starks
50. LeGarratte Blount

JUNE TOP TEN PPR RUNNING BACKS

Thursday, 12 June, 2014

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It’s mid-June, which means optimism for fantasy football drafts is right around the corner. Commissioners are already loading your inbox’s and sending you text messages about joining their league. Do yourself a favor and commit to the three leagues now, and tune out the bombardment of invitations that will come all summer.

Be sure to also ask a question on the scoring system of your possible league. If your not a fan of inflated points than be selective when giving the ok to join a league.

For PPR leagues that are out there you need to be dialed in for guys that are going to catch the football. It can make the world of difference in your week to week score, and ending up with a crushing defeat.

Here is an early look at backs that should end the season as a top ten PPR running back.

Darren Sproles
Sproles was already a dynamic force as the Saints cog out of the backfield. He has aged a bit and is on his third team in as many years. But Sproles still has the wheels to capitalize in the Eagles fast and furious offense. This is an Oregon blended Chip Kelly move. Sproles will torcher opposing fantasy football PPR leagues, while remaining as a likely third or fourth back in standard leagues.

Matt Forte
Forte is that back nearing that questionable phase of his career. He has hit bumps before in his career but somehow has maintained solid fantasy status. One of the main reasons he has been able to do so is because of the new system he is in. The Bears have a more open attack which is allowing for Forte to get out in open space. You have to wonder if the end is coming for him in a Bears uniform though. But for 2014 he is one of the few backs you can count on for duel credit as a rusher and pass catcher.

Le’Veon Bell
Bell was a back that drove some owners to the postseason and drove others nuts. He is a young back though that will be propelled to an even higher status this season as a Steeler. He still needs to find his balance statistically on a weekly basis before being rendered as a high value standard fantasy back. For PPR leagues though he is cemented as a worthy starter.

Others:

Jamaal Charles
His quarterback is one of the highest check down passers in the game in Alex Smith.

Reggie Bush
Bush remains on a team that will continue to utilize his unique skillset.

Danny Woodhead
Expect regression from last year’s out of nowhere performance from Woodhead. He’ll still have solid value though.

Chris Johnson
His new situation should refuel some fantasy value to Johnson.

Ray Rice
The Ravens won a Super Bowl based on Rice’s ability to create out of the backfield. Two years later and there are some big time questions lurking on his fantasy football projections.

Giovanni Bernard
Bernard is the new head honcho set to take the throne over older speed backs listed above.

Pierre Thomas
Thomas no longer has the high value he once held as a standard fantasy back. The value he does hold is strictly in PPR leagues.

Is McCoy Headed for the LT Wall?

Monday, 26 May, 2014

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Tenure as a top fantasy football running back is a long gone signature to fantasy football. Back in the 1990′s and even early 2000′s the way a running back was handled is completely different from today. Coaches use to burn their star running back year after year, and made fantasy owners quite happy. Emmitt Smith, Curtis Martin, Ricky Waters, etc. all enjoyed a top tier track record as fantasy backs.

Then things began to change in the 2000′s. The size of athletes grew, along with intense training, salary cap restrictions, and a plethora of other dynamics. Teams began to realize they had to shift their player priority plans in two to three year spans, instead of long term. Relying on a running back on the downtrend of his career just was not feasible anymore.

Teams began to implore better analytics to achieve youthful running backs for a lower dollar amount. Essentially they had a backup plan in their backfield, and in turn could keep their backfield competitive with proper rotation.

The period where fantasy owners were leery on how to draft in a dual backfield system has been over. Fantasy owners have adjusted and many could argue that this day and age of fantasy football there is better depth to be had. Before owners could win the league based on having two to three of the top players. Now you truly have to grind out your roster top to bottom on a week to week basis.

Still a draft can be ruined if your top pick(s) end up the IR report for a long duration of the season or hit an abrupt fantasy wall.

There is no other position that has a free fall at the top position like a running back. An elite receiver or quarterback can sustain their careers into their 30′s. At running back that wall can come abruptly well before the age of 30 or shortly thereafter.

Priest Holmes, Shaun Alexander, LT, Ray Rice, Brian Westbrook and countless others have deteriorated in one season right before our eyes. It’s like watching a stock downtrend month to month after a strong run. As a fantasy owner you think the back will bounce back any week, but it just doesn’t happen. The next season that back is properly ranked with a red down arrow next to his name. His stock is still sinking and his backup is gaining on him via the front office and coaching staff.

That’s the business of the NFL.

In Philadelphia, Eagles fans have become accustomed to top backs that fizzle quickly. Duce Staley, Brian Westbrook, Correll Buckhalter, and Ricky Waters all saw their time come and go.

McCoy is just 25 but not a young 25. He has been a strong back in this league for a good five years now. Unheard of for backs his age. He also has been the type of back that carries the load running and out of the backfield. Andy Reid was one of the few coaches that didn’t mind utilizing his backs at a high rate, and was always infatuated with backs that could catch the ball. Chip Kelly may even hold this area of football higher than Reid.

You wouldn’t expect a tremendous blip from McCoy this year barring injury, but a dip is possible. Sooner or later McCoy is going to slowly lose one of his dominant traits. It may just be this season. Draft cautiously.

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.