Running backs are still the money makers in fantasy football, that much is clear. The better you can do here, the easier the rest of the team construction is. With PPR leagues becoming more prevalent, you have to do a little more research than you used to, but finding a RB who can give you dual production is a nice, nice, boon. I picked up Ray Rice in the fifth round last year and it was almost enough to get me to the playoffs in spite of my Tom Brady-LaDainian Tomlinson crapfest in the first two rounds.
The top of the line RB's by most experts appear to agree on are Chris Johnson, Adrian Peterson, and Maurice Jones-Drew, with Rice sometimes around the edges of it. After that, we have the two NFC west stars that are young and seem to have been around forever in spite of that: Frank Gore and Steven Jackson. I'm going to go ahead and bypass these guys since we've already been over that.
I like to divide the next group into young (27 and under) and the old, then stay away from the old. If the steadiness of the group is less likely to win me a league than the upside, I'll take the upside. Asides from Michael Turner, who experts put in the Gore-Jackson tier and that I don't, the next expert tier is DeAngelo Williams, Shonn Greene, and Rashard Mendenhall. All three of these guys pass my smell test, I'd go with Mendenhall first since Pittsburgh figures to run a lot more with Roethlisberger out early. Then Greene, then Williams. I like Williams the back, but Williams the guy who shares time with Jonathan Stewart is much less fun.
To cut to the chase, I'd avoid Ricky Williams, Ryan Grant, and Joseph Addai at that point. I think these guys have reached their potential at this point and you're not likely to get anything out of them. I prefer the Jamaal Charles-Chris Wells second year train, and to a lesser extent, the Matt Forte bounceback bandwagon. After those three, I think the next couple of tiers are really even in value. I'm not a Ryan Mathews guy.
It's kind of a bad year to have a late pick. I'd say that the top four guys are far and away more valuable than the rest of the draft, and the tiers don't drop down fast enough to make up for it down the line. I'd suggest an auction, honestly. Also, I'd avoid the Texans RB's for at least the first five rounds. I think this is going to be a split straight out of the Shanahan playbook.
And hey, if you've got a distrust for those free leagues and their crummy scoring systems, you'll love CBSSports.com and their Fantasy Football Commissioner League! Completely customizable, terrific setup, the greatness of being under the same umbrella as Shannon Sharpe, what more could you want? Knock on the door and tell them your buddies from SB Nation sent you and you'll get 50% off! Fast real-time scoring updates, a terrific amount of keeper league options, what more could you want in a fantasy league?
If you are a member of BRB's wacky fun league, The Jonathan Wells Memorial League, please be sure to check in to the league. A few of you have received email invites and not even shown your pretty little faces yet. And that hurts me, deeply.
So how about you, BRB? Which RB's are you pimping this year?
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