When it came to draft day at the shop in August, I vowed I wouldn’t be one of the sheep that felt obligated to take a running back with my first pick. Fortunately for me, I got the second pick and took Doug Martin and the point was moot (“Baa, baa, baa”). But, the transcript of our draft sounded something like this: “Peterson. Martin. McCoy. Foster. Spiller. Lynch. Charles. Richardson. Rice. Morris.” The first 10 picks were running backs, which was our entire first round.
There was a time when that made sense. Running backs are the only players who know they’re going to touch the ball 15-20 times a game and can put up points at any time. But, those were the good old days of fantasy football. When it came down to it, the boys in the shop league did the same thing everybody else did. They treat running backs like a cow swimming across the piranha-infested waters of the Amazon. If you don’t get to eating in the feeding frenzy when it starts, you end up chewing on nothin’ but bones.
Fortunately for me, half the second-round picks went running back as well, so it was Christmastime when Peyton Manning and Julio Jones came into the fold with my next two picks like a pre-shave hot towel. I was lighting up the victory cigar after my third pick. But, two weeks into the season, one has to ask if running backs are as important as they used to be in the NFL. Larry the Mailman brought to my attention that the throwing numbers in the NFL have made scoring from running backs cut back to the bone. Check out some of these numbers through Week 2.
Through 32 games, only nine players have had 100-yard rushing games, including QB Terrelle Pryor. The numbers doubled in Week 2 (from three to six). Only two running backs are averaging 100 yards a game (LeSean McCoy and Doug Martin) and only eight are averaging 75 yards or a more a game. Only four players have run for two touchdowns (Adrian Peterson, quarterback Michael Vick and late-round scrubs Knowshon Moreno and Joique Bell).
Meanwhile, there have been 23 300-yard passing days in 32 games, including Aaron Rodgers, Eli Manning, Peyton Manning, Matt Ryan, Drew Brees and Robert Griffin III each doing it twice. Eleven passers are averaging 300 yards and Eli Manning is on pace to throw for 6,500 yards. Brother Peyton is on pace to throw for 6,150 yards and 72 touchdowns. It used to be the only elite, pass-happy QBs threw for 4,000 yards in a season. Through weeks, 19 QBs are on pace to throw for 4,000.
Even more surprising is that there have been 38 100-yard receiving games, including fantasy throw-ins like T.Y. Hilton, Jerome Simpson, DeAndre Hopkins, Brian Hartline, Chris Givens and Rueben Randle. Thirteen receivers are averaging more than 100 yards a game and 28 are averaging 75 yards a game or more.
Of the top 15 players in total yards from scrimmage, which should favor running backs since they touch the ball in both the run and pass game, only five of them are running backs. Nine are wide receivers and one (Jimmy Graham) is a tight end.
Those who took running backs in the first round of the draft (I’m lookin’ at everyone in my league with one eyebrow raised), you did what you had to do. It became a riot situation where if you didn’t get involved, you weren’t involved. But, when it comes to dealin’ with the bottom line, one thing can’t be disputed. Running back used to be the straw that stirred the fantasy drink. You couldn’t win playoff byes or championships without a killer running back. Now you can. The game has changed and fantasy drafts have to change as well.
Running backs are the fatted calves swimming across the Amazon. Next year, expect there to be meat remaining for those piranhas on the far side of the bank. Times are changin’, my friends, and it might be time for fantasy football to get more in line with real-life football. Quarterbacks and dominant wide receivers are not only the future of fantasy football, they’re the present.
- The last two games that Seattle has played at home against San Francisco, they’ve spanked the 49ers by a combined score of 71-16. If they meet in the playoffs, pissy San Fran head coach/mediocre QB punk Jim Harbaugh had best drop to his knees and pray it’s not in Seattle.
- Could this end up being the year of the tight end? Through two weeks there have been 34 tight end touchdowns and, of the 33 players who have two or more TDs, nine of them are tight ends. Considering that fantasy mainstays Rob Gronkowski and Heath Miller aren’t included in that list yet due to injury, it might be time to pay more attention to the “glorified blocker” at the end of the line.
- Does Adrian Peterson get credit for two 100-yard games Sunday? He went over 100 yards early in the fourth quarter against Chicago, but, after a 13-yard loss on a sweep gone bad, he dropped back to 89 yards and ended the game with exactly 100 yards.
- The Clean Livin’ Award has an early frontrunner in Eddie Royal. He’s been passed around the NFL like a soggy doobie, but may have found a home in San Diego. In two games as a Charger, he has five touchdowns, which matches his season high for his career.
- Why don’t you draft a kicker very high? Eleven of the league’s 32 kickers are averaging nine points or more and the difference between No. 1 and No. 11 is just four points and only two points separate No. 3 from No. 11.
- In two games, Josh Scobee Doo has just three points. But, he hasn’t missed a kick yet. He hasn’t tried an extra point and made his only field goal (a 27-yard chip shot).
- Those with Matt Prater on their roster are getting their points in small chunks. He has 18 points, 12 from extra points to go along with two field goals.
THE RAZOR’S EDGE
10. Arian Nation – For the last couple of years, Arian Foster has been as dominant at a position that isn’t the focus of fantasy football anymore. But, there are a handful of running backs that are the only show in town in the backfield. Foster was one of them. Now he isn’t. Now he’s crying like a kid who got an atomic wedgie. Maybe if he had practiced since May, Ben Tate wouldn’t be cutting into his time. Quit your whining, Arian, and show why you deserve to be out there more. Tate’s not your little brother. He’s your competition. That’s why Foster has 173 total yards through two games and Tate has 163.
9. Welcome To Phila*elphia (there is no D in Philadelphia) – As the media hypes up Chip Kelly for being an offensive innovator, they seemed to forget that you have to play defense too. The problem with the Eagles offense is, when it succeeds, it’s off the field in two minutes and the defense is sent back out. When it fails, the defense is back out in 30 seconds. This ain’t the Pac 10, Chipper.
8. Wicked Hard (pronounced Hodd) – It’s hard to put 2-0 New England in the Razor’s Edge, but Tommy Boy looked like a hostage in his postgame press conference. The Pats beat to rookie QBs by a total of five points. More offensive help is on the way, but Brady’s Bunch is looking as vulnerable as it ever has during Tommy Boy’s tenure.
7. Yuccaneers QB Woes – Josh Freeman lost his captaincy, although Greg Schiano’s New Jersey associates were said to have counted the votes. It seems like only a matter of time until the Schiano Crew sends Silvio and Paulie Walnuts to “take care” of things and put Mike Glennon in the chair at the head of the table.
6. Black Sunday – The Raiders win! The Raiders win! Oh, wait. It was against the ratty Jaguars. That should only count as half a win, especially seeing that they only scored one touchdown. When your leading fantasy scorer is Polish Power Sebastian Janikowski, celebrate now. The boys in the shop have a feeling Peyton Manning will put up a little more of a fight next Monday.
5. From Rags to T-Rich’s – The Browns have been uglier than a 10 dollar hooker in the first two weeks. That wasn’t a surprise, but for those who invested a first-round pick in Trent Richardson, the prospect of getting next to nothing too often is scaring them off. The good news is that only other player with a rushing attempt has been Brandon Weeden running for his life. But, when your team has one touchdown in two games, you aren’t bragging that up.
4. Something To Ponder – Last week, if Ndamukong Suh hadn’t have been a punk, Minnesota QB Christian Ponder would have thrown a Pick-6. Last Sunday at Chicago, he did and his team lost by one point. Do what you do best, son. Take the snap, turn around, give the ball to A.P. and get out of his way. Otherwise, Matt Cassel better start warming up the old soup bone.
3. They Might Be Giants (but not now) – It was bad enough that the G-Men gave up 36 points to the Cowboys, who couldn’t get anything done against Kansas City, but to get lit up for 31 points in the second half by Peyton and the Broncos has a lot of people wondering how they’re going to stop mobile QBs like Cam Newton, Mike Vick, Aaron Rodgers and RG3? Eli has the horses to win shootouts, but can you expect to need 40 points to win. The Giants do.
2. Call In the Pentagon – Washington’s defense has been doubly brutal. Robert Griffin III has been awful in the first half (even though he has shown he can light up prevent defenses), but both of his games this year have been over at halftime. The Redskins allowed 26 points in the first half of their opener and trailed 24-0 at halftime against Green Bay. With no defense and a struggling QB, the best RG3 owners can hope for is that he continues sopping up the gravy with a biscuit when his team is three scores behind and the other team is celebrating on their sideline.
1. Make the Jaguar Extinct – It’s been said many times, many ways. If you have any Jaguar – from Maurice Jones-Drew on down – get rid of them. If you can’t score a touchdown against Oakland, you’re misery is only beginning. Jags fans (both of them) are counting down the days until they get the first pick in next year’s draft. At this point, they may as well sign Tim Tebow so they can sell some jerseys to the churchin’ up types.