Fantasy Football Preview…the Running Backs

You know how you go to a restaurant and they bring out some weak looking salad and lame piece of bread to start off your meal? Not here at Halftime Adjustments- we bring out the meat! Everyone knows that Running Back is the key position in fantasy football. If you aren’t getting production from your backs, you aren’t winning.

This week we offer up our fantasy draft preview. Today Running Backs, tomorrow pretty boys, I mean QB’s. Wednesday is for Wide Receivers, Thursday Tight ends, and Friday we will serve up a double decker with Defenses and Kickers.

Most fantasy previews give you an overall listing, and follow it up with position ratings. If that is what you are looking for then do a search. You can find cheat sheets almost anywhere. When I go into a fantasy draft, instead of listing my players 1-100 or whatever, I break down each position into different categories. For preview purposes we are going to call these categories Elite players, Plug-n-Play, Solid Starters, Good Options, and Worth Drafting. This is a collaboration between John and I, and so we will both offer up one player that we feel is a sleeper. Our working definition of sleeper is a player that we believe will outperform his draft position. Make sense? Let’s get started.

Elite Running Backs-

L. Tomlinson, S. Jackson, L. Johnson, S. Alexander

This list shouldn’t surprise anyone. The biggest question is where to place the cut-off. Tomlinson is a given. Do I expect him to top last years’ numbers? No. But if he comes close he is worth the top pick. Consider this, Tomlinson scored more 12 more TD’s than second place finisher Larry Johnson. The 8th best RB scored 12 TD’s. ‘Nuff said there. Larry Johnson looks like he is going to be there from week one, which is the only reason we would have kept him off this list. Well, that and a serious disrespect for the Chiefs’ passing attack. Jackson is the pick everyone is touting this year, which makes us a little nervous, but if anyone is going to pull off 1200 yards rushing, nearly 1000 receiving and a dozen scores Jackson could certainly do it. Finally we like Shaun Alexander to return to form. Hopefully his line does as well.

Plug-n-players-

F. Gore, J. Addai, W. Parker, R. Johnson, L. Maroney, E. James

This is the group of players that you are supposed to be able to count on week after week barring major injury and bye week. Gore, Addai, Parker and Johnson were that type player last year, and I believe that James should be once again. Maroney will benefit from Dillon’s departure, and his gain is your gain. Those wide outs in New England will stretch the field and open up running lanes for the former Gopher. Bank on it.

Solid Starters-

B. Westbrook, T. Henry, R. Bush, W. McGahee, R. Brown, C. Portis, J. Lewis

This group is somewhat unique. All of these backs are going to be the focal point of their offenses. One of these guys will erupt this year and break into Elite status. So which one will it be? As a Brown’s fan I hope it’s Lewis, but you have to expect the Browns to be behind in games and have to air it out. Same with Brown and Portis. Reggie Bush? Maybe. My money might be on McGahee. He should have a chip on his shoulder, and Ray Lewis should knock some sense into him in camp. That is an offense that shouldn’t have to put up 30 points to win, and will be able to feature the quick McGahee.

Good Options-

Jones-Drew, C. Benson, T. Jones, M. Lynch, B. Jacobs, C. Williams, M. Barber

This group is made of players that I would rather have as injury insurance, or use in match-up situations. If your backfield is dependent on one or two of these guys having big years I am doubting your chances to win your league. No offense. Benson gets the chance to carry the load for the Bears, while Jones moves on to the Jets. Lynch is the perhaps the best bet for rookie to gain 1000 yards because of the system he is going to in Buffalo. Marion Barber is John’s pick for sleeper here, so let’s let John talk about him.

marionbarber.jpgI like Marion Barber as a sleeper. Dallas has a history of successful RB’s. Players like Tony Dorsett and Emmitt Smith became who they are today because Dallas knows how to protect and open holes for their Running Backs. Even Julius Jones, a mediocre back in my opinion, has done fairly well in the Cowboy’s system. I think Barber has a nose for the end zone and the skills to make the next level and in the Dallas program he has a head start.

Worth Drafting-

D. McAllister, A. Peterson, T. Bell, W. Dunn, J. Jones, D. Williams, F. Taylor, C. Taylor, K. Jones

Obviously these guys will be drafted in your league, unless you have like 6 teams. Note that we called this category worth drafting. These are guys that we feel have potential to move into another group. McAllister was my last round choice last season. That kind of paid off. Bush pushes for more touches this year, and if McAllister is not 100% look for Pittman to get some carries between the tackles. Both of Minnesota’s backs are here because we have no idea which one will get the bulk of the action. Then again, maybe that doesn’t matter. That passing game is so sad that I would line-up both guys and give them their carries. No RB tandem since Mack and Byner have both run for 1000 yards in a season. I think these two have that potential this year. Bell runs for Denver. That about sums it up.

dwilliams.jpgDeAngelo Williams is my pick to rise above his draft position. Let’s start with the obvious- his numbers last season weren’t spectacular. He won’t go very high in your draft. I really don’t like Foster. Never have. I don’t think he possesses any break-away qualities. He isn’t a speed burner, and he hasn’t proved he can carry the load of a full season. The Panthers switched to a zone blocking scheme this year, and early results are good. If Williams get into the open field he will be dangerous, plus John Fox has no reservations about running the ball until you can stop it.

So there you have it. Instead of trying to merge your different lists into one player list, go into your draft with players broken down into categories. Would you rather have an elite QB or a Plug-n-Play running back? That’s up to you, but you will have ‘graded’ all your players and it won’t take you nearly as long. You’re welcome.

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1 Comment

Filed under Fantasy Football, football, Jamal Lewis, NFL, rankings, Sports

One response to “Fantasy Football Preview…the Running Backs

  1. Nice RB analysis. I would argue that Travis Henry will outperform the group you have him in (he’s already proven to be a stud off the field :) as he’ll get most if not all the carries in a run friendly system. I also think Maurice Jones-Drew will be good, he won’t replicate the 16 TD’s from last year but Fred Taylor is bound to get hurt and if/when he does Jones-Drew immediately becomes a top 10 back.

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