Picking a running back in the first
round of your fantasy draft seems like the most sensible thing
to do, doesn’t it? It must, or else why would fantasy owners
have made a running back their top pick in 42 of the last 50 first-round
selections in 10-team fantasy drafts between the years 2009-2014?
But here’s the thing, it’s actually not that safe
That’s because only 55 percent of the top-10 fantasy totals
over the past six seasons have come from the “trusty”
running back position.
That’s a huge difference between perceived reliability and
And the gamble is even more risky that that!
Because not only might the running back not finish among the top
10, he might not even finish in the top 100!
Matt Forte: A running back worthy of the
In the last six seasons a first-round selection hasn’t even
finished as a top-100 value a total of 10 times and eight of those
were by running backs.
Despite these facts, when we check fantasyfootballcalculator,
seven of the top-10 selections are running backs, including the
first five, led by Kansas City running back Jamaal
Here is the complete top-10 from 1,225 mock drafts during the
first two weeks of May:
Charles is a huge talent both as a rusher and receiver. But the
emergence of Knile
Davis in 2014 should concern Charles’ fantasy owners. Charles
racked up 33 touchdowns over the past two seasons, but what coach
doesn’t like to use a 230 lb over the 199 lb scatback near the
Is there a more risky play than choosing “AP” in the first round?
Where will he play? He’s repeatedly said it would not be in Minnesota.
While he may soften on that stance, how will the Vikings use him?
Most suggest that Peterson would return to his workhorse status
McKinnon as the third-down receiving back, but nothing is
written in stone. Of course, if Jerry Jones gets his hands on
Peterson, with the great Dallas offensive line, the sky’s the
limit. That’s a huge swing in his possible value.
Bell didn’t have a sophomore jinx. He built on his solid rookie
season to post 2,215 yards from scrimmage and 11 total touchdowns.
Unfortunately, he’ll start the 2015 season watching the action
from the owner’s box as he’s been suspended for the first three
games after being charged with marijuana possession and DUI in
an August incident. That means DeAngelo
Williams will get three games to show what he can do. If he
performs well, the Steelers might have to let him have a bigger
portion of the offense than Bell’s fantasy owners would prefer.
McCoy will ply his trade in a new offense, in a new city, for
a new coach. That alone adds risk to selecting him. Despite all
the recent verbal “shots” he’s taken at his former head coach
Chip Kelly, McCoy is likely to miss the old offense. He averaged
313 rushing attempts per season under Kelly. That will not happen
in Buffalo. Fred
Jackson was a “pain in the backside” to C.J.
Spiller owners for the past five seasons and now he’ll be
a pain for McCoy owners.
If we are seeking to eliminate first-round risk, we are left with
the two most reliable running backs options in this season’s draft
– Lynch and Forte.
Since being shipped off to Seattle, Lynch has become a force.
In four full Seahawks seasons he’s averaged 1,339 rushing yards
and 12 touchdowns. It’s not a coincidence that Seattle is 43-21
over that span with two trips to the Super Bowl. (Yes, they would
own two Lombardi trophies instead of just one if they would just
have handed him the ball one more time.). There may be a lot of
talk about his successor, but make no mistake about it, that guy
isn’t on Seattle’s current roster.
Forte was just a late second-round selection out of Tulane
in 2008, but he’s been a fantasy stud from his first day in the
NFL. It’s his dual ability to be part of the running or the passing
game that sets him apart from most other backs. It doesn’t matter
whether the Bears are ahead, or behind, Forte is a major force
in the game plan. In seven seasons he’s averaging 1,101 yards
and six touchdowns on the ground and 63 receptions for 532 yards
in the air. He caught 102 balls last season. Forte only averages
eight touchdowns a season, if that numbers were 12 or 13, he’d
be the No. 1 overall selection. Still, he is as sure a thing as
there is in fantasy football.
If you are looking for the monster 2,000-yard rushing season,
these guys are not what you are seeking, but if you are looking
for guaranteed first-round level production that will help your
fantasy lineup, you can’t get any better than Lynch or Forte. Steve Schwarz served as the fantasy sports editor of The Sports Network and is the 2014 FSWA Football Writer of the Year.