The Revolution of the ‘Stud’ Running Back

by Jim Coventry

Five weeks hardly makes a season, especially in fantasy football, but it allows us to take a good, long look at things so we can make informed decisions. Did you have a top-4 pick? If you did, unless you stepped out of the box, you probably have LaDainian Tomlinson, Larry Johnson, Steven Jackson, or Frank Gore on your team, and unless you really did well with the rest of the draft, you’re probably not in the best spot possible right now. Here are a couple of charts for you to get some information from (scoring based on PPR league with standard scoring):
Weekly RB rank of the ‘big 4’

Player Week 1 Week 2 Week 3 Week 4 Week 5
Tomlinson 2 31 11 2 10
Johnson 15 25 51 8 33
Gore 16 6 44 11 24
Jackson 42 20 13 DNP DNP

I have been playing fantasy football for fifteen years, and I cannot remember a group of clear-cut top RBs playing so poorly for this long of a stretch of time.

Tomlinson has been OK and he is the only one that can still be deemed as a player that can still earn his lofty draft status.

Larry Johnson
has had an inexcusable run of poor play and the week he ranked # 8 was too little to make much of a difference.

Frank Gore
has not been any type of a factor to speak of.

Steven Jackson
doesn’t get a reprieve either, because he couldn’t do better than #13 when healthy.
If you look back at one of my previous blog posts (The Abuse of the Workhorse RB), you will see what I had to say about the prospects of these four stars. Little has been done to dispel the ideas that I presented.
Now, to look at the bigger picture- who has been producing this year, besides the teams that have been giving you trouble all year…..

Week 1

Player
Weekly Rank
LaMont Jordan
1
Adrian Peterson (Min)
4
Derrick Ward
5

Week 2

Player Weekly rank

Jamal Lewis

1
DeShawn Wynn
8
Carnell Williams
10

Week 3

Player Weekly rank
Ronnie Brown
1
De’shaun Foster
3
LaMont Jordan
7
Earnest Graham
10

Week 4

Player Weekly rank
Sammy Morris
4
Leon Washington
5
Justin Fargas
6
Correll Buckhalter
7

Week 5

Player Weekly rank
Kenton Keith
1
Ronnie Brown
2
Najeh Davenport
3
Mike Sellers
4
Brian Leonard
9

Is it just me, or is this a crazy amount of ‘afterthought’ players cracking the top-10 in the weekly RB standings? I don’t want to overreact, nor do I hope that this post causes you to do that either, but I do want to sound the horn on something that might be the norm in this crazy game that we play: The two-back systems that many teams are using and the abuse of the workhorse backs may soon be putting RBs in the same up-and-down cycle that WRs are notorious for.
We draft RBs in the first two rounds for a couple of reasons, the first being position scarcity- hey, if there are only a small number of useful backs, you’d better get them while they are on the board. The second reason is that a top RB could always be counted on to be the rock of your team almost every single week. Both of these concepts may be called into question when we draft next year.

What do we do with this knowledge? That is actually a very tough question to answer, but I’ll offer some thoughts:

1)     If you think this trend is the real deal and if you have one of these players that were drafted at the top of the first round, trade your stud back for a package of players right now. Other owners in your league will be expecting these top-shelf players to be beasts in the second half. If you can secure two-to-three solid starters for your team, this could help you win a title.

2)     If you do not have one of them, but you still think these backs are going to struggle, try to broker a three-way deal where you acquire one of the top backs, but already have a deal in place that can get you more than you gave up.

3)     You may see this as a short-term situation that will be corrected as the season goes on. In that case, proceed as you normally would.

I guess my main point is that the landscape of fantasy football is constantly changing and we should always try to be a step ahead of the rest of the fantasy world. Sometimes, we will consider things and say, ‘nah,’ but other times, we will raise an eyebrow and say, ‘aha!’ I’d like to respond to some of your comments, so feel free to reply at the bottom of this post. Let’s not be Lovie Smith of last year and keep saying, “Rex is my starting QB.” We can at least say we’ll evaluate what gives us the best chance to win!

Category: Fantasy Football

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5 Responses

  1. drbeeker says:

    should I drop Vince to Add that old guy down in AZ?

    Also, I have Shaun Alexander – who do you think I can get for him?

  2. gnidakr says:

    I currently have LT (mine is a keeper league where we keep any 7 players from year to year). I have been on the fence about what to do with LT this year. I could move him for R. Moss right now but that would leave me with W. McGahee as my regular starting RB with no legitimate #2. That could leave me with starters of W. McGahee @ RB and starting WR of R. Moss, R. Wayne, and TJH.

    I am only 1 game out of my division race with the “human” production from LT my worry is that I move LT and N. Turner realizes that if he continues to give LT the ball good things begin to happen for his offense as a whole. P. Rivers starts to have more time to throw the ball and receivers are more open due to the extra attention paid to LT.

    Thoughts?

  3. jbeau says:

    I stepped outta the box and drafted Addai at #3, and have been greatly rewarded for it. The other 11 guys in my draft laughed and scoffed at me, thinking I was nuts. Other than LT and Jackson, I would not have considered anyone else. Thing is if I had the #2 pick I would be screwed, because I was high on Jackson. Worked out for me.

    Quick comment on the two comments above:
    1)I have Shaun in another league, and can’t get squat for him. I suggest you wait after this week, cause he has a great history on Sunday nights, averaging 2 tds and 120 yds. Then you may be able to get a #1 receiver for him.

    2)I wouldn’t trade LT, he is still healthy and its only a matter of time with him. You have two great WRs already, and teams figured out that they need to double Moss up. He isn’t gonna get those crazy numbers for the whole season.

  4. mvp1986 says:

    Say bye-bye to Vince in a 1 year league. He has few weapons and he’s very shaky when teams force him to beat them.

    Shaun Alexander……Obviously, you won’t get a top-10 RB for him, but you could get a #3 RB and a #2 WR, which could give you the depth to make a title run, but that’s if you have a couple other decent backs.

    Otherwise, try to snag an Edge James or Thomas Jones type for him straight up.

    Jim

  5. mvp1986 says:

    I couldn’t responsibly say to go Moss for LT straight up. You would have to get at least 1 other player that could start for you now. You could even trade that extra player off for someone else.

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