The League

Fantasy Check

A Brave New World


A long-standing fantasy maxim has been to draft running backs first. Some owners have taken this practice to the extreme, selecting three or even four backs before filling another position.

But over the past few seasons, that strategy for many owners has gone the way of the drop kick. With most teams using at least two running backs regularly, the fantasy draft philosophy of hoarding running backs and handcuffing a starter and his backup really no longer applies.

FoxSports fantasy writer John Halpin wrote a column the other day about just that phenomenon and illustrated the point with a most illuminating set of statistics.

From 2000 to '06, there were at least 10 players in each of those seasons with at least 300 carries. In 2007 there were six and last season only five.

Running backs in the mold of Emmitt Smith, Marshall Faulk and Barry Sanders are mostly nostalgia now. That's why in recent seasons, LaDainian Tomlinson became all the more valuable, but even he may have a reduced workload this season.

These days in the copycat NFL, the widespread trend is to rely on multiple players to carry the ball. Think about it. How many true workhorse running backs are out there? Maybe a half-dozen?

And even then, you could argue Adrian Peterson is the only sure bet. That's why experts unanimously rank Peterson first among running backs but diverge greatly from there.

Last season the real value was in players who shared backfield duties. That should be the case again this season with players such as Chris Johnson, Jonathan Stewart, Rashard Mendenhall, Pierre Thomas, Fred Jackson and many others.

By Gene Wang  |  August 12, 2009; 1:15 PM ET  | Category:  Fantasy Football Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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It seems like 300+ carry back is a rare commodity nowadays. I had Clinton Portis in fantasy last year and he was one of the only backs you could count on to touch the ball 20-30 times every game.

Who would you consider other backs that are the closest to a 1-back system (i.e. 300 carries or 200-350 carries/receptions)?

Thanks for the insight!

Posted by: Skins101 | August 12, 2009 2:02 PM

other backs than portis...frank gore, steven jackson, maurice jones drew, maybe michael turner

Posted by: Anonymous | August 12, 2009 3:36 PM

Adrian Peterson obviously. Matt Forte, Michael Turner, Maurice Jones-Drew, Steven Jackson and Ryan Grant also.

Posted by: Gene Wang | August 13, 2009 10:01 PM

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