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Fantasy Too Early: Running Backs

The last Friday of June is upon us, and I can't think of a better way to spend it than analyzing the potential performances of the leagues top 20+ running backs and probably blowing it completely. I already know some of the dissenting opinions to come, which is nice, because I have prepared myself for it and have a whole weekend to recover!

For the sake of some brevity, I will only provide the first 20 rankings from CBS and ESPN this time around, but if you want the full depth look, just click the links attached above. For clarity, remember I use Eisenberg from CBS, not Richard. Final note: This is based on standardized scoring. PPR, IDP and Auction drafts are all on my potential "to do" list, depending on how much we can squeeze in pre-football season.






(WCG Expert)

#1 Adrian Peterson (1st) Arian Foster (1st) Chris Johnson (1st) Adrian Peterson (1st)
#2 Arian Foster (1st) Adrian Peterson (1st) Jamaal Charles (1st) Chris Johnson (1st)
#3 Chris Johnson (1st) Chris Johnson (1st) Adrian Peterson (1st) Arian Foster (1st)
#4 Jamaal Charles (1st) Jamaal Charles (1st) Ray Rice (1st) Jamaal Charles (1st)
#5 Maurice Jones-Drew (1st) Ray Rice (1st) Michael Turner (1st) Ray Rice (1st)
#6 Ray Rice (1st) LeSean McCoy (1st) Maurice Jones-Drew (1st) MJD (1st)
#7 LeSean McCoy (1st) Maurice Jones-Drew (1st) Arian Foster (1st) Michael Turner (1st)
#8 Rashard Mendenhall (1st) Darren McFadden (1st) Frank Gore (1st) LeSean McCoy (1st)
#9 Frank Gore (2nd) Michael Turner (1st) Matt Forte (2nd) Frank Gore (2nd)
#10 Michael Turner (2nd) Steven Jackson (2nd) Rashard Mendenhall (2nd) Rashard Mendenhall (2nd)
#11 Steven Jackson (2nd) Frank Gore (2nd) Steven Jackson (2nd) Steven Jackson (2nd)
#12 Darren McFadden (2nd) Rashard Mendenhall (2nd) Ahmad Bradshaw (2nd) Darren McFadden (2nd)
#13 Peyton Hillis (3rd) Matt Forte (2nd) DeAngelo Williams (2nd) Matt Forte (2nd)
#14 Jonathan Stewart (3rd) LeGarrette Blount (3rd) Peyton Hillis (3rd) Ahmad Bradshaw (3rd)
#15 Matt Forte (3rd) Jonathan Stewart (3rd) LeSean McCoy (3rd) Jonathan Stewart (3rd)
#16 Knowshon Moreno (3rd) Ryan Matthews (3rd) Darren McFadden (3rd) Peyton Hillis (3rd)
#17 Ahmad Bradshaw (3rd) Ahmad Bradshaw (3rd) Jonathan Stewart (3rd) Knowshon Moreno (4th)
#18 DeAngelo Williams (4th) Peyton Hillis (3rd) Knowshon Moreno (3rd) Ryan Matthews (4th)
#19 Ryan Matthews (4th) Cedric Benson (4th) Shonn Greene (4th) LeGarrette Blount (4th)
#20 LeGarrette Blount (4th) Shonn Greene (4th) Felix Jones (4th) Shonn Greene (4th)


There are a lot of running backs taken in the first 3-4 rounds of a draft, and for really good reason. The scoring differential between a top 5 and an 11-20 running back can get to be as large a point gap as 100 points on the season...and it only gets worse from there. Think about the difference between a 1200+ yard rusher with 10 TDs and say a 780 yard rusher with 5 TDs...Because that is what it often comes down to when you get stuck relying on time share running backs who aren't explosive. With that in mind, don't be afraid to grab a true top flight wide receiver or perhaps the best QB in the draft if you don't get a shot at the top 5 running backs. There is always round 2, and the receiver scoring gap is the next largest after Running Backs.

My Sleepers: I would keep a serious eye on some of this years rookies near the 9th-11th rounds (Ryan Williams, Daniel Thomas, Mark Ingram) and for some resurgent rushers like Ronnie Brown, Frank Gore, Fred Jackson, Brandon Jacobs, DeAngelo Williams and potentially Ryan Grant.

Some decline: I think people may be disappointed with Arian Foster by year end...Just like people were disappointed with Chris Johnson last year despite a very successful year. To be clear, I don't think Foster is going to bomb, but I just don't see top 5 production this year. Darren McFadden, Peyton Hillis, and LeSean McCoy are all likely to take steps back too, and I don't trust the hype around Jonathan Stewart, LeGarrette Blount, or Ryan Matthews right now.

Final Thoughts: There is some differential, but it looks like a lot of us are thinking the same way when it comes to the top 20 guys, just in some different orders. The other thing to keep in mind is that I leave them in groups by round, rather than by draft position, because that maintains some flexibility for different scoring systems and personal preference. Hope you enjoy, looking forward to your feedback.

Still to Come: Wide Receivers, Tight Ends, D/ST... IDP, PPR, and Auction specials.