I’m evolving in my fantasy draft strategy since I started playing fantasy football.
I never bought into the old adage that “getting a top-tier running back in the first round is key to Fantasy Football success.” In fact, I can proudly say that I’ve been about as competitive as anyone in Fantasy Football leagues I’ve been a part of and have never chosen a running back first. I’m a quarterback first kind of guy; that guy who has taken Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers, or someone of that ilk every year. Without fail.
Not this year. I am all in on a running back first-round.
I’ve noticed that I’ve gotten into the final or semifinal of leagues and have been hoping, nay, praying that whatever warm body I’ve discovered holds up for another week. Last year I hopped on the Alfred Morris train in June and was rewarded handily for it. In another league last year I’m still trying to process what point in my life I was at when I started Vick Ballard in a playoff game (seriously?!). My sister, who happens to write a fantastic college football blog, will tell you I generally watch everything a quarterback does and how much it hurts me to rely on a running back with such a high pick. I just can’t go another season hoping Willis McGahee isn’t a fluke.
So the question regarding this years rookie crop of running backs: who among them is worth trusting with your precious roster space?
I’ll be honest, there certainly aren’t many; and if you’re expecting Doug Martin or Alfred Morris to come out of this group then you’re going to be sorely mistaken. If you are like I USED to be, and decide that other positions can take precedence over running back then here are a few rookie options I would implore you to consider.
- Montee Ball, RB, Broncos: At Wisconsin I remember thinking Montee Ball was about as good as it gets at the position. Based on his performances this preseason I can’t say he has done anything to change that belief. He’s catching the ball well (which in a Manning led offense is essential) and has shown he can be an every down back (also essential since running backs in a Manning led offense rarely leave the field). If you can get him in a later round do it. Don’t reach, but you will need a running back eventually, and you don’t want to know what happens after the main guys are gone.
- Eddie Lacy, RB, Packers: I don’t think there is any real surprise here. Coming out of Alabama he was one of the few backs in the nation that looked like a guy who got his game days mixed up. I’m wary because of his weight issue and the offense he plays in. As a rookie I expect him to line up behind Rodgers day one and get the majority of those close out yards as long as the Packers defense is what its supposed to be. Can’t go wrong here, but don’t wait too long because his ADP (average draft position) is about #53.
- Christine Michael, RB, Seahawks: “Beastmode” is clearly the number one guy in this offense. But there is a reason Seattle went out and drafted themselves a tough runner with elite skills this past draft out of Texas A&M. Right now he is more of a handcuff than anything else, but I would be willing to wager that if Lynch goes down, and Michael plays well (which I fully expect him to do) you may have found yourself a running back that, in year one, could guide you to a fantasy league title. He really is that good.
- Giovani Bernard, RB, Bengals: It is time for the BenJarvus Green-Ellis madness to end. I understand what the Bengals want to do in bringing along the rookie out of North Carolina, but I don’t care. He (in my opinion) is the most ready of this group to come in and do what Trent Richardson did last year in Cleveland. While this list has no particular order, he would be the back I covet the most if I were targeting a rookie year one.