Fantasy Football Drafters, “Don’t believe the Hype!” It’s ringing in my ear like Flav is sitting next to me. This is my motto for this year’s drafting of running backs.
I started early this preseason professing my RB/RB philosophy. More recently I’ve seen others getting on board. I don’t claim to be the guy that started it but I was. (If you haven’t read my draft platform yet I suggest you do. Understanding the position breakdowns will make more sense.)
Running Backs are my big bet this year. Last year a number of starters got hurt & Adrian Peterson’s injury a few years back shook the ground of fantasy football. Much like Gronk changed our views on Tight Ends, injuries changed how we draft RBs. Add the plethora of new draft ideas like RB Zero, WR/WR, & PPR leagues & the value of good runners goes way down. Just a few years ago picking a receiver in the first round caused hushed murmurs in the draft chamber. This is why we should, more than ever, go heavy RB. They zig, we zag.
Think of our plan like chess. If you copy every move of your opponent you will be on check while they’re on check-mate. If you draft the next best WR in the first round you will lose to the teams before you in that category. Instead get a top 3 RB & differentiate your fantasy team.
I have done a ton of live mock drafts & ran a simulation of 3200 drafts. I used a consensus ADP from the big sites to simulate against. All size leagues from 8-22. The best looking teams & projected scoring teams were all RB/RB.
(To remind you I do both a ranking using my spooky psychic skill & then use my program to make projections. My final ranking is usually 80% data, 21% me (& spirit world.) Seeing that I created my program, it’s not far from my rankings.)
Enough theory who to pick.
As stated in my platform article, we want to draft a Unicorn.
A running back who gets touches on all three downs.
A running back who gets goal-line carries.
A running back that is not in a “RB by Committee”.
A running back who can catch footballs & get Yards After Catch (YAC).
A running back who has never had a serious injury or history of missing games.
While this is a tall task it isn’t impossible. About the same odds of marrying a supermodel. (Why I call them Unicorns.)
ADP – Average Draft Position
My favorite back this year is Lamar Miller. I think I’m the only person in the Universe of fantasy football to rank him #1. My reasoning is simple. He is a top back in the best situation & free of injury. If Brock Osweiler is halfway decent he will be keeping defenses off the line of scrimmage. Hopkins, Fuller, & Miller is going to be an explosive mixture of receiving threats. The offensive line is all upgraded from last year & the playbook should be pretty balanced. Miller should get 20+ rushes per game & 4-6 targets.
My next Unicorn is Devonta Freeman. The Falcons have an improved line & the passing game should be strong. Freeman was great last year & lead all Running backs in Fantasy scoring. He even missed two games with a concussion. Devonta also has great hands but I expect a few of those targets to go to Tevin Coleman. Still I expect a big season that could see him scoring a butt load more points.
Most people now scream what about Adrian Peterson or Todd Gurley?
AP is old & some year he will lose his magic. Why risk it when similar options are available, like Gurley. Well, Gurley has never played a full season of football in college or Pro. Can he make 16 games? Also Benny Cunningham looks like a sure bet to get a decent number of carries. Him & Malcom Brown both could take goal line duties. Remember your first 3 picks should be consistently productive players not risky “what ifs”.
Ezekiel Elliott hasn’t played a down yet so I’m not taking him until I see something. Again, it’s about risk. I also see two other RBs in Dallas looking good.
Le’veon Bell is interesting but he missed most of 2015 with a bad injury & finished 2014 with an injury that made him miss the playoffs. He is also a two time loser in the drug program & serving a 3 game suspension. I know potheads & the ganja is tough to quit. Want to risk a 10 game suspension?
David Johnson is an interesting story. If you look at his fantasy football 2015 stats you will shit yourself. You will ask yourself, “What was I watching?” Was I high on psychedelics & made up a full season of success?
Some experts are picking DJ as the best RB in 2016 fantasy football drafts. Here is why I think it’s crazy.
He only had two games with 20+ carries & only broke 100 yards once. He is great but we have a small sample size. We also have Andre Ellington & Chris Johnson coming back to steal some carries. Remember DJ got all his production when CJ2K went down! All this said I still think he could be an amazing back just not the best bet for a top pick.
Look at CJ Anderson, he is in the same small sample boat. If you look at his stats he only did well if he got 20+ touches & his fantasy football scoring isn’t that impressive. His only impressive work was 3 games in 2014. He did have nagging injuries he played through last year so that did affect his production. The Broncos look committed to giving him his 20 carries so it’s a tough bet. Surely not a first round pick. Who does this leave? It leaves the best bets you can make. We need to compare injuries, past stats, projections, offensive scheme, Committees, & pick the best bet in your mind. Use these Unicorn traits to pick the running back you feel the best bet.
After reading this you may think I hate all running backs. Not true. I still say pick RB/RB. I just like to look for the negatives in all players. My con list is usually longer than my pros. I find it makes me well aware of the risks to each guy & forces conservative picks. It just comes down to deciding what variables you deem the most important.
If you have any questions about how you think this will work out, go check out the simulation Fantasy drafting tools at FantasyPros. Use the ADP of the Fantasy Football site you use since your competition will be using the built in rankings. Pick RB/RB in the first two rounds and come back with two WRs. You will see it for yourself.
Remember to slay a dragon you must fight a dragon. Some risk is involved I’m told. Same with catching a Unicorn.