This holiday weekend – and heading into a new NFL regular season – a huge number of Fantasy Football drafts are about to be completed.
Sure, some commissioners procrastinate on setting up their draft times, while others intentionally wait for the end of the preseason, in hopes to see position battles get resolved.
So, as you ponder which players you want to add, consider the following options at the running back position, specifically comparing players and each individual’s average draft position (ADP) in ESPN Fantasy leagues. For RB’s with a similar ADP, here’s who you should pick, and why:
Fantasy Football: Draft Him, NOT Him – Running Back Edition
Draft Maurice Jones-Drew (ADP: 28.3) and NOT Matt Forte (ADP: 18.6)
Maurice Jones-Drew is returning from an injury, so there’s some risk there, but this is the clear starting back in Jacksonville, and a player that will receive a hefty number of carries. Fantasy owners must not forget that MJD was the NFL’s leading rusher in 2011 (1,606 yards), and he’s also a solid PPR guy. All in all, if he can stay healthy, he will be a bargain for those that choose to draft him in the 2nd or 3rd round.
Matt Forte is another solid PPR back that has been fairly consistent over the years. But Forte, while not missing as much time as MJD in 2012, is also an injury risk, and hasn’t exactly lit the Fantasy boards on fire, scoring just 18 total rushing TD’s over the last four seasons. Add to that an offense being led by Marc Trestman, and it’s unclear what Forte’s role will be. Yes, Trestman is an offensive-minded coach, but there are still question marks heading into the season. With MJD, there are fewer questions.
Draft David Wilson (ADP: 31.7) and NOT Chris Johnson (ADP: 24.7)
Chris Johnson is four years removed from a season where he posted 2,509 total yards and scored 16 touchdowns. Since, his average YPC has dropped more than a yard, and heading into the 2013 season, the Titans aren’t exactly a potent bunch offensively. To top it off, Johnson has managed a combined ten rushing touchdowns over the last two seasons.
A much better alternative would be David Wilson of the Giants, who remains a bit of a wild card, but is still the starter on a much better offensive team that is led by Eli Manning. In 71 rushing attempts last season, Wilson averaged five yards per carry. He also lost his primary competition in the run game, as teammate Andre Brown broke his leg and will be out for a lengthy amount of time. Therefore, this is the guy in New York, and Fantasy owners should expect solid numbers from him.
Draft Reggie Bush (ADP: 41.2) and NOT Darren McFadden (ADP: 39.9)
Darren McFadden is an explosive player, there’s no doubt about that, but he’s missed time due to injury in each of his last five seasons. In fact, McFadden hasn’t played in more than 13 games in any season, and when making selections this high in the draft, a Fantasy owner needs to nab a player with more reliability. Combine that with the fact that Raiders are expected to struggle, it’s quite likely that Oakland will be playing from behind, and therefore throwing the ball a lot in the second halves of games. Plain and simple, there are plenty of better alternatives.
One option is Reggie Bush, who is now with the Detroit Lions, an explosive offense that is headlined by Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson. Reggie has also missed some time in his career, but should be a PPR machine and a much better choice for your Fantasy squad. If Bush were able to stay on the field for most of the season, he could be a top five Fantasy running back in 2013.
Draft Daryl Richardson (ADP: 89.0) and NOT DeAngelo Williams (ADP: 74.2)
It’s a big surprise to see Daryl Richardson going nearly fifteen picks later than Williams (on average). Richardson has been named the starter in St. Louis, and he’s an explosive back that can pick up yards in bunches. His size may raise some durability questions, but with Jeff Fisher running the show, he’ll likely be used wisely and efficiently. Richardson will likely share some time with Isaiah Peed (among others), but in the end, this starting back should be considered a bargain this late in your draft.
On the other side, there’s DeAngelo Williams, who hasn’t been Fantasy relevant since 2008. Williams’ last 1,000-yard season was in 2009 and for years, he’s shared the starting job with others, and we will likely see more of the same in 2013. Plain and simple, Richardson’s upside is much higher.
Kevin Paul is a freelance sportswriter that is also a Fantasy Football regular, winning a number of various leagues over the years, including last season, when he took a league with a roster that included Aaron Rodgers, Adrian Peterson, Reggie Wayne, Vincent Jackson and Wes Welker. He’s also posted a combined 417 victories against the spread over the last three NFL seasons.