For millions of years or as long as men have gathered in groups to draft fantasy football teams, the running back has been the dominant selection. If you don’t share the philosophy then you’re at least familiar with the strategy of taking two running backs first to create a solid scoring foundation. The top overall draft picks are almost always elite RBs, and you most likely spend the majority of the football season sending out terrible trade offers with the hopes of acquiring another RB.
Essentially, RBs have almost always ruled the world. Too bad the jerkface coaches of the NFL are doing their best to destroy that philosophy, what with the ever-increasing trend of committees and scenarios. But does that mean that you can’t use a little strategy to make sure that you acquire an elite RB on draft day? Yes, actually, it does mean that. Unless you have a top 5 pick this year (depending on how your league rewards and favors QBs) you’re probably not going to get top tier production from your backfield.
But that doesn’t mean that you can’t at least have solid productivity while creating harmonious scoring across your roster. You just have to clear your mind, forget your fan allegiances, and for once in your life stop telling yourself that THIS is the season that Joseph Addai becomes a monster. Again, I will remind you that I am not professing to be a fantasy football expert, like the many people at the big boy sites who don’t know their asses from a hole opened by the Green Bay Packers offensive line. But I do have some opinions that could help you, and chances are they’re at least better than your moron friends who spend $10 on magazines each year.
Today’s topic is the running back, as we fight to protect the endangered species that is the featured back. And yes, I’m using more attractive females to make my arguments.
The Mila Kunis
I think that by now, as we grow to understand the general male consensus on female attractiveness, the ladies I’ve chosen to represent each group should need little explanation. In this case, Mila Kunis is wonderful and can do no wrong, therefore these are your elite RBs, playing in their primes, at the top of their games, and worthy of every ounce of praise that we have. Well, sort of.
1) Arian Foster – Let me start off by saying that making Foster the top RB is very difficult for me. While his numbers from last season are insane and bordering on Priest Holmes, they came from nowhere and could just as easily disappear. But as long as Foster plays for a high-powered offense, behind a great offensive line, he should be a stud. Still, the top of the mountain is making me very happy that I’m picking 11 this year.
2) LeSean McCoy – You could say this is too early for a guy who has to share the ball with Mike Vick, but McCoy is my gut feeling guy. Granted, he was an absolute stud last year, so it’s not a difficult feeling to have, but look as far as ranking him No. 2? Look at his offense, and then look at Tennessee and Minnesota. The Philadelphia Eagles will be running a lot in garbage time this season, and McCoy is the reason I didn’t have Vick No. 1 for QBs.
3) Jamaal Charles – Say what you want about Thomas Jones and splitting carries, but the Kansas City Chiefs would have to be insane to not make Charles the focal point of their offense this season. It’s year 4, time to make him a superstar. If he’s not earning some nickname like Faulk 2.0 or the Pope (an homage to Holmes, obviously), I’ll be disappointed.
4) Chris Johnson – I don’t want to have him this high, because I wouldn’t draft Johnson with a Top 5 pick. He’s holding out for more money and he’s the only good part of Tennessee’s offense. He wasn’t great last season and he’s a guy who should always be great. I just think there’s a huge red flag on CJ this season.
The Elisha Cuthberts
This next batch of RBs is a little older and worn out than today’s hot, young stars, but they’re still sexy enough to get the job done. Also, you’ll notice that the numbers jump around a little bit. Don’t worry, they’re still ranked. It’s just easier to compare them to attractive females this way. And that’s really the most important aspect. Now where’s my Grantland invite?
5) Steven Jackson – I hope for Jackson’s sake that the St. Louis Rams have finally put a quality balanced offense together. I would imagine that they will re-sign Mark Clayton. The addition of Mike Sims-Walker is great for the passing game. Therefore, I believe that Jackson will have a monster year. Otherwise, get his bags ready.
6) Adrian Peterson – Like Chris Johnson, I want nothing to do with AP. I’ve had him twice – once in greatness and then last season. Anyone who had Purple Jesus last season knows where I’m coming from here. The Minnesota Vikings were without Sidney Rice for most of last season, so the passing game was screwed and it felt like AP was allergic to 100-yard games. Now the Vikings are completely without Rice and they’ve added Donovan McNabb. Look, I really like AP and I’m not calling him washed up by any means, but he needs to get the F out of Dodge, ASAP.
7) Michael Turner – The Atlanta Falcons offense should be a complete juggernaut this season. Tony Gonzalez called Julio Jones the best receiver he’s ever played with, which should piss Roddy White off a little, but if he’s the piece they were missing from last season, then Turner’s job should be much easier. However, he’s still a tad fragile, so buyer beware.
10) Maurice Jones-Drew – See: Adrian Peterson. Mojo is all the Jaguars have on offense this season, unless Mike Thomas is suddenly the best receiver on Earth. Spoiler alert: He’s not. I really enjoy Mojo, but I wouldn’t draft him even if I were him.
11) Frank Gore – Pro: Gore is pissed about his contract, but he didn’t hold out, so he’s going to bust his ass to have a great season and earn him one last huge payday. Con: The football season is not 8 weeks. If Gore is your primary back, you’d better have a good backup, because Gore gets at least 4 bye weeks.
16) DeAngelo Williams – If Williams had gone to the Denver Broncos or Miami Dolphins like everyone expected, I would have him in my Top 3. Instead, he stayed in Carolina and who the hell knows what that means? The Panthers brought in Derek Anderson to mentor Cam Newton, which means Newton will be playing by Week 6. And despite Williams’ huge contract, Jonathan Stewart will still get his reps, so it’s a crap shoot.
The Alison Bries
While I think that Alison Brie is a woman worthy of cloning, she’s not quite at the top of her game. But her ceiling is tremendous, and soon enough she could also be scissoring Natalie Portman, so these are the guys who could be monsters as second or early third round picks, if they even slide that far. More commas.
8) Rashard Mendenhall – As I said, I have the 11th pick in my draft (12 teams) so I have a big checkmark next to Mendenhall’s name on my draft wish list. Unless Aaron Rodgers or Mike Vick slip to me at 11, I could very well end up picking Mendenhall. If either of those QBs slip to me, I could probably still take him at 13. We know he’s great for yardage and TDs. We just have to live with him loving Osama Bin Laden.
9) Ray Rice – OK, I know that Rice will not fall to the late second or early third round of any draft. If he does, I want into your league next year. After all, I still have him ranked 9th. I’m just saying that if I’m picking in certain spots, I’d rather have an elite QB or WR than Rice. He has a world of potential but last season left many of us scratching our heads. However, if your league is a PPR, then Rice gets bumped up into the Top 5 without argument.
14) LeGarrette Blount – Too early? Probably. But look at the rest of the RBs behind him and ask yourself one question – are they featured backs? The answer is almost an emphatic no. Blount is well on his way to being Tampa’s featured back, which could be a very good thing. He was turning into a beast last season, so this could very well be his transition to full stud. Or he could melt down and attack someone. There’s always that option.
15) Ahmad Bradshaw – On one hand, Bradshaw must feel like a moron for asking for too much money once the lockout lifted and hoping that the Dolphins were feeling generous. Not only did he ignore the fact that Miami is a cheap team, but it bit him in the ass when it came to leveraging their interest against the New York Giants keeping him. But on the other hand, Brandon Jacobs knows that he’s second fiddle now. That’s why he took less money. You just have to worry about him taking more touchdowns.
17) Matt Forte – He sucked two seasons ago but rebounded nicely last season. His positive is that he’ll catch a lot of passes and he has great potential, but his negative is that he catches those passes from Jay Cutler, which means that the rest of the offense is suspect.
The Holly Lynchs
Holly Lynch is the super cute girl with glasses from the State Farm commercial, but she has also been in other stuff that I have never seen. As far as I’m concerned, she could be wonderful in everything or she could just be great in that commercial. Just like these guys and last season or college. Essentially, these are solid No. 2 RBs with the potential to be decent No. 1’s.
12) Darren McFadden – He has tremendous talent but he plays for the Oakland Raiders. Give him a team with an actual QB and he’s a monster. Otherwise, draft him in a value spot.
13) Peyton Hillis – He was a touchdown factory last season, but he plays for the Cleveland Browns. Will he repeat what he did last year? If you know, we’re going to Las Vegas this weekend. Otherwise, the earliest I would take Hillis is the late second round. Just remember that regret is a lot better than being stuck with a fluke.
18) BenJarvus Green-Ellis – For the past few seasons, I’ve had the feeling that the New England Patriots would really screw with everyone and suddenly become a running team. While they haven’t done that yet, the Law Firm still looks like he has the potential. At the very least, he’s sure to put up solid late season numbers.
19) Felix Jones – By cutting Marion Barber, the Dallas Cowboys showed their faith in Felix Jones. The problem is they also showed their faith in Tashard Choice.
21) Ryan Mathews – I don’t know why Mathews was anointed god-like rookie status last year, but people still acted like he was a supreme bust because he didn’t put up LaDainian Tomlinson numbers. Give the guy time. If he sucks this season, then we can roast him.
22) Shonn Greene – When all is said and done, and this world is a scorched nuclear playground for mutant insects, they will still talk about how Shonn Greene never got a chance to be great.
24) Ryan Torain – It says a lot that despite multiple stupid injuries, Mike Shanahan has stuck with Torain. He showed flashes of brilliance last season and could still be a mid-round steal. But now he has Tim Hightower lurking.
25) Jahvid Best – The Detroit Lions cut Kevin Smith because they don’t like a stand-up runner. That means Best is the man now in a quickly improving offense. Too bad that improvement still isn’t on the line.
29) CJ Spiller – Critics called him a bust last season. I called him a Buffalo Bill. If Fred Jackson’s stem cell reserve finally runs out, Spiller could get a chance to be an every down back.
30) Knowshon Moreno – John Fox really wanted to bring DeAngelo Williams to Denver, but since that failed he’s stuck with Moreno. That’s not a bad thing. Fox is good with his RBs and Denver could have a solid passing game if they stop dicking around and choose a QB.