If you listen to Sports Time Radio you know that we play in two 20 team fantasy leagues for baseball and football. One of the leagues is done using an auction format style draft while the other uses a more common snake style draft. Well the football drafts are coming up at the end of the month and it’s time to get ready for them. The auction league is much, much easier for me to get ready for. The snake league on the other hand can be difficult. How many of you have wanted a player and he goes a pick or two before you where going to take him and then you have to scramble and find another player at the last second? To add a little more pressure when that happens we run the leagues through Yahoo and there is a time limit on how long you have to make a pick. What’s given me trouble the last few seasons has been the running back position. We have to start two running backs each week and of course you’d like at least one running back on your bench to cover your bye weeks. That means that 60 or more running backs can be selected in our draft and if you don’t get a quality guy early on your in trouble. I’ve been trying to get running backs in order and here’s what I’ve come up with; maybe it will help you out as well.
If you happen to be drafting in the top four picks you’re going to get a top quality running back. You could put the names of Adrian Peterson, Vikings, LeSean McCoy, Eagles, Jamaal Charles, Chiefs and Matt Forte, Bears into a hat and as long as that player stays healthy you’ve got your guy. I have them ranked with Charles #!, Forte #2, Peterson #3 and McCoy at #4. Charles is on top because he doesn’t have the weapons around him that Forte has and that’s a good thing in fantasy football. Peterson has never really been involved in the Minnesota passing game and that can hurt his value especially in PPR (Points Per Reception) leagues. I think McCoy will be hurt be the addition of Darren Sproles this off-season more than people think he will be. There are four guys who aren’t quite to the level of the top 4 but you’d like to have. Marshawn Lynch, Seahawks, Eddy Lacy, Packers, Le’Veon Bell, Steelers and DeMarco Murray, Cowboys. Most experts would’ve included Lynch with the top-level guys, but look for his carries to be cut down this season. He;s also added up quite a few carries the last couple of seasons and that will wear on a running back. Bell and Lacy are kind of the same back. Both of them are coming off of solid rookie seasons where each of them missed games due to injuries. When healthy though they’ve proven they can get yards and touchdowns for fantasy owners. If there was a guarantee that Murray would play all 16 games this season he would be right up there with the top guys, but he always seems to be injured. If you take him this season and he stays healthy you could have a fantasy star on your hands. For me it’s Lynch at #5, Bell at #6, Lacy #7 and Murray #8. As we move along it gets tougher to rank guys as it’s guys coming off of injuries or guys who haven’t reached their potential yet. Montee Ball, Broncos, Doug Martin, Buccaneers, Arian Foster, Texans, Alfred Morris, Redskins, Andre Ellington, Cardinals, Giovani Bernard, Bengals, Reggie Bush, Lions and C.J. Spiller, Bills. For me I have Ball at #9; he had surgery for an Appendectomy, but all signs point to him being ready for Week 1 and he’s got Peyton Manning as his quarterback. #10 is Martin; he’s coming back off of an injury, but his new head coach s Lovie Smith and old school guy who likes to run the football. #11 I’m going with Spiller. There’s so much talent there and you think sooner or later he’s going to have that breakout season. I have Morris at #12 and Foster at #13. These are two guys in new systems with new head coaches that had great success in their old systems. Will that carry over? Bernard is #14; if he was the only back in the Cincinnati system he;d be ranked higher, but you have to wonder how much time he’ll share. Bush is #15; another guy in a time share situation and that’s to bad. He might out up big numbers if he played every down. Ellington lands at #16 for me. His head coach has praised him and said he’d be the every down back; you’ll just have to take that chance. We’re headed towards what would be the end of our 1st round; so if you reach a little here I can understand that. This next group could reward your choice. Ben Tate, Browns, Ryan Mathews, Chargers, Rashad Jennings, Giants and Toby Gerhart, Jaguars. Tate is #17; this is his first shot at being a teams every down back. He has had some injury issues; so there may be some risk reward with this pick. Jennings is at #18 another running back who needs to prove he can stay healthy, but if he does the Giants like to run the ball and if he’s their guy you’ll get the fantasy points. Gerhart would be that “sleeper” pick at #19. He’s the every down guy on a bad Jacksonville team, but he is effective in the passing game; so he should score points for you even on a bad team. Mathews split time last season, but got the majority of the carries; so I have him at #20. He’s another guy who needs to stay healthy for his fantasy owner. Remember you’re going to need to start two running backs every week. Zac Stacy, Rams, Frank Gore, 49ers, Chris Johnson, Jets and Ray Rice, Ravens. #21 Stacy could be a guy who ends up being better than this draft positions. The thing that may hold him down is the division he plays in. #22 Rice is in a new system run by Gary Kubiak and backs in that system do well. Remember though he’s suspended the first two games of the season. Johnson at #23 is with a new team that has a young quarterback and may rely heavily on the running game. That would be a huge plus for Johnson’s fantasy owner. Every year they say that #24 Gore’s carries are going to be cut or he’s going to play less and every year he puts up solid numbers. There’s always a chance that could happen; so there’s some risk with this pick. Bernard Pierce, Ravens is way up my board at #25. He’ll get to start the first two games of the season and Kubiak’s system has always featured two running backs. #26 Stevan Ridley, Patriots. you know he’s going to split time when you draft him, but he’s the rushing guy in that split. He should also be the guy getting the goal line carries. #27 Joique Bell, Lions maybe the best of the time share running backs out there. He should get those short yardage goal line carries. #28 Trent Richardson, Colts They seem dedicated to giving him carries. Will produce some numbers based on opportunities, even if he doesn’t wow you while doing so. #30 Steven Jackson, Falcons At one time a top-tier fantasy running back, but those skills appear to be gone. He should still get the bulk of the carries in this offense. #31 Darren Sproles, Eagles he goes from one offense where he fit in well to an offense where he might be a perfect fit. This is a pick that may pay off big for you. #32 Bishop Sankey, Titans should be the first rookie running back off of the board. The concern may be that he doesn’t get the goal line carries. #33 DeAngelo Williams, Panthers he’s been a let down for me before and I’ll try to stay away from him, but it’s that time of the draft. #34 Pierre Thomas, Saints he should get the most playing time out of their three headed backfield. With Sproles gone he could be used in the passing game more. #35 Danny Woodhead, Chargers had a good season last year and you’ll be looking for him to repeat that. #36 Shane Vereen, Patriots is mostly used in the passing game, but from time to time will get a carry. #37 Fred Jackson, Bills he’s Spiller’s back up, but if there’s an injury or if Spiller doesn’t produce Jackson could be a value pick. #38 Knowshon Moreno, Dolphins was the breakout running back last season, but left Denver. Had minor knee surgery recently. #39 Chris Ivory, Jets they like to run the football and someone has to carry it when Johnson doesn’t have it. #40 Mark Ingram, Saints I bought the hype that he would breakout last season and it cost me, but here I am again making him my last ranked running back. Here are a few more names in no particular order if you;re still looking for running backs. Khiry Robinson, Saints, Lamar Miller, Dolphins, Maurice Jones-Drew, Raiders, Andre Williams, Giants, Terrance West, Browns.