As promised, here is my running backs report. I stated in my previous article that you just can’t always go by projections. You have to study what’s taken place around the league as far as injuries and transactions are concerned. I am certain you will be surprised at the results so far.
The most important factor in selecting your running back is evaluating what type of offensive line the team has. The second most important factor is knowing who the quarterback is. In many cases, when a team has a young quarterback or one who is prone to turning the ball over, they will run the ball more. Last but not least, know who the offensive coordinator is. Some of them have tendencies. Look at the season stats for the respective team your RB plays for and look for how often they run verses pass.
A team may not have an Arian Foster, but if they run more than pass, their RB will put up better numbers than a superior one who is on a pass happy team. I screwed up this year by selecting Chris Johnson because I failed to do my homework on the Titans offensive line. I made the biggest mistake you can ever make in fantasy football. I assumed he would do well because; A. he did well in the past and B. The quarterback situation in Tennessee isn’t what I would call elite.
However, I did do well by doing my homework on the NE Patriots. I knew that Matt Light and Brian Waters both retired. I also knew that the replacements were better at run blocking than pass protecting. I also knew that Bill Belichick was adamant about developing a running game to take some of the pressure off of Tom Brady. Stevan Ridley was my diamond in the rough this year, that so far has paid off in a huge way.
As most fantasy enthusiasts know, injuries occur quite frequently when it comes to running backs. If you had Beanie Wells or Cedric Benson, you may find yourself in a pinch. Let me give you a little tip. Every year I watch preseason very closely. (this is besides paying close attention to who did what in college). Why? Because I want to know who is in line to get their shot in the event of injury. My strategy is to take one of those guys with my last pick in the draft. I call them my sleeper.
Last year it was DeMarco Murray in one league, and Roy Helu in the other. This year it was William Powell from the Arizona Cardinals. Why did I select William Powell? 1st of all he led all of the running backs in preseason. 2nd. After studying his tape, I knew he was what is called a “complete back”. What is a complete back? He is a guy that can run effectively, block effectively and catch the ball out of the backfield. 3rd. I knew that Beanie Wells is injury prone. All of this told me, that before the season is over, he may get his shot because when coaches are evaluating young players they want the guy who is a “complete back”.
If you have an injured player, or someone who is just warming your bench, take a flier on William Powell. Beanie Wells is out injured, the #2 Williams went down with an injury too. LaRod Stephens-Howling is possibly returning from his hip injury Sunday against Buffalo, but you can bet that Powell will be sharing the touches with him. based on what I have seen out of Powell, there is really good chance that he will win the #1 spot in Arizona. This guy could very well be the next Arian Foster.
Ok, Let’s take a look at the top 5 projected running backs for 2012. These are based on ESPN’S Standard scoring. The tables below show their current scoring. Did you get duped by going by the projections or did you follow your gut, do your research and grab the right guys?
1. Arian Foster,Hou RB. I remember when Foster came in to the NFL as an undrafted rookie free agent. People thought I was crazy when I said this guy will be one of the best running backs in the NFL. I had studied his game tape and knew beyond a shadow of a doubt (much like Powell) that he was a complete back. Houston was the perfect fit for him as well. They have a stud offensive line and they love to run the football. As I predicted, he was a big hit. ESPN was right on this one. He is currently ranked #1 as he was projected.
2. Ray Rice, Bal RB. Rice isn’t what I would call a really quick RB. He doesn’t dazzle with fancy cuts or astonishing speed. What he does do is run low to the ground with power. He is behind a solid offensive line in Baltimore and has one unique ability. Rice has excellent vision. He sees the slightest hole, puts his head down and plows through it. His low style of running makes him a hard guy to get ahold of and tackle. The other important trait Ray Rice has is the ability to catch the ball out of the backfield. Once again a complete back. You just can’t go wrong on this guy. ESPN so far is wrong on their projection, but it’s a long season. This is only week 5 and a lot of the rankings will change as the season progresses. At this point, the 2012 NFL rushing crown is still up for grabs.
3. LeSean McCoy, Phi RB. McCoy is a very athletic RB. Many analysts believe he is the best RB in the NFL. However, a RB is only as good as his offensive line unless he is primarily used as a receiver like New Orleans Darren Sproles. I knew going in to this draft that if McCoy was available to be careful taking him early because the Eagles offensive line was banged up. (I wish I would have paid closer attention to the Titans because Johnson was the best RB available when my pick came up, Ouch). Unfortunately for McCoy owners he is in no way living up to his projection.
4. Chris Johnson, Ten RB. Well here is my biggest mistake so far in this years draft. Johnson is a great RB and the Titans had a young QB.This meant he should get a lot of touches. However, I broke my own rule and failed to do my research on his team. To be honest I never thought I would end up with him because I had the last pick in the draft. However, a couple people took quarterbacks with their 1st pick being Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers. A few others took top wide receivers like Calvin Johnson. So, as I stated in my last report, I took who I thought was the best available running back being Johnson with my 1st pick. Ouch. I can only hope things pick up as the season progresses. Most analysts are saying to hang on to him, which I planned on anyway.
5. Maurice Jones-Drew, Jac RB. Drew has the most carries of any running back over the last three years. This is a good thing and a bad thing. It’s good because that means he will get you some points every week regardless if he gets in the endzone or not. But, it can also be a bad thing, because when a back is a work horse like Drew, he will not only wear down, but is more suseptible to injury. Drew isn’t one of those quick shifty finesse backs, he is one of those north and south power backs that uses his tree trunk like legs to bull rush through defenders. He is a tank to say the least. He, as well as the others projected above him, can catch the ball out of the backfield, but if he is your #1, I hope you have solid backup because all of the pounding he took over the last 3 years, may just catch up to him this year. Or did it already? Drew isn’t even cracking the top 10 at this point. He is currently sitting at 14th.
Below you can see the current top 5 running backs in the NFL. So far the projections are not real accurate, only two of the projections are correct. It is still early and it will be interesting to see “Who’s Hot and Who’s Not” among running backs in 2012. I will update this at a later date. In the mean time, best of luck with your fantasy teams.
- 1. Arian Foster, Hou RB. (Foster was limited in practice Wed with a knee injury he may slide)
- 2. Jamaal Charles, KC RB.
- 3. Stevan Ridley, NE RB. (My research paid off on this one. I just hope he can stay healthy.)
- 4.Ray Rice, Bal RB.
- 5. Alfred Morris, Wsh RB. (This is one of those guys I had my eye on. I got caught sleeping and someone in our league beat me to him. I only had roster room for 1 sleeper. All I can do is hope Powell breaks out for me at this point. However, with Shannahan you just never know, he may abandon Morris and move on to the next guy by mid season. It happened to Andre Brown of the NYG)
Below I included a video of William Powells’ 100 yard kickoff return to give you an idea of what he may bring to the table. You can also see 2 of his preseason TD rushes here. There is also a 67 yard rush.