Aug 14, 2007
by Jim Coventry, Guest Blogger
I have seen owners play it both ways: some cannot have enough RBs on their roster, while others ride with a few quality ones and provide very little depth. How should an owner deal with the amount of RBs on the roster?
Over the years, I’ve seen many marginal RBs get drafted, just because the player can be seen at the position, and in a contract league, owners have locked such players up to fairly long-term deals. Favorite names I remember are former Rams Trung Canidate & Lamar Gordon, Justin Fargas, Troy Hambrick, and Maurice Morris. Except for a few games or short stretches of time, these were entirely wasted picks and put strain on roster depth for those teams.
I can’t say that I’ve seen many occasions in which an owner drafted lower than a second round NFL selection, and if I did, it hardly ended up panning out. Instead, I have seen the waiver wire produce absolute superstars for the owners that had kept enough roster space clear to make some moves. All of the following players were waiver wire acquisitions (in most leagues) before making a name for themselves in the NFL: Terrell Davis, Priest Holmes, Brian Westbrook, Domanick Davis (Williams), Rudi Johnson, Mike Anderson & Olandis Gary.
As we know, players can be busts no matter where they are drafted by the NFL. The names Ki-Jana Carter and Blair Thomas were two Penn State RBs drafted in the high first round, only to produce absolutely nothing.
However, the odds of success for a 1st round selection dwarf players chosen in the second round, so you may
better protect yourself by following that plan.
I have always believed that the best plan is to let other owners take the bigger risks, while I acquire more established players. Many owners get giddy with excitement as the supplemental yearly draft comes around and the rookies are all ready to be picked. I try to use the excitement against them by trading my draft picks to get players that already produce. I often have to offer the pick with some of my roster depth, but players that you never imagined you could pry loose from someone are ready to fall in your lap before the draft.
I usually try to target players coming off of a poor season that I feel can turn things around based on talent that player has displayed at other times in his career. Players worth targeting this year could be any of the following (based on your preference for them): Clinton Portis, Ronnie Brown, Cadillac Williams, Julius Jones, LaMont Jordan, or Jamal Lewis. Especially if you don’t have to give up too much to get a player you think will rebound, it may be well worth the total speculation you will make when taking someone totally unproven.
As to how many RBs you will actually have on your team, you should treat it like a good stock portfolio: as many blue-chippers as you can find, a guarded risk or two, and a speculative one as well. Obviously, we can’t have all blue-chippers, so diversify as best as you can.
In closing, if you love taking the rookies, try to minimize your risk by not taking the ones taken after the early second round- they were passed up by many teams for a reason. Of course, we have seen the NFL GMs screw up frequently, but they are right far more often than they are wrong. If you like keeping a few established RBs, make sure you save some roster space for in-season waiver wire and free agent acquisitions. If you prefer to keep some veterans that are likely to have jobs for awhile, work the trade route before your draft.