Last week, the chatter in the shop was about how meaningless the running game in the NFL has become. Quarterbacks are now holding sway in the fantasy football world and their receivers are the weekly money shot benefactors of the largesse. The receivers change. The quarterbacks dial it up. But, the fact remains that the owner who has a running back on the order of Adrian Peterson, Slim Shady McCoy, Doug Martin, Alfred Morris, Marshawn Lynch or someone of that ilk is probably sitting pretty good.
The scarcity of the impactful running back has become a virus that has infected the neighborhood. Fantasy football in terms of impressive running backs has become a league of haves and have-nots. Everybody has a QB on his roster that can put up points. Running back points are harder to come by.
The trade winds have been blowing around the Shop. Those looking to move are looking for running backs. It would seem this year more than most, the line between an RB you play and an RB you have play has become more pronounced. Too many teams have fantasy garbage. If you have two guys as your main guy, you don’t have a main guy.
More than a third of the NFL’s 32 teams have a fantasy mess at running back and more are on the horizon.
We’ve seen what can happen when a team that has been a toothache for years gets a chance to stop a running back committee. With Jonathan Stewart injured, DeAngelo Williams has run 62 times for 291 yards and showed he can be a fantasy starter. He hasn’t scored a touchdown yet – Cam Newton and Mike Tolbert have stolen those. Some things don’t change.
Don’t take my word for it. The chairs were filled on Monday from open to close and the non-paying hanger’s on were deeper than clean rib bones at a Saturday evening BBQ. The running back isn’t extinct, but it may be time for Raj to declare bell-cow RBs as an endangered species. Consider how many teams have no rhyme or reason. Example? We got’s you some examples.
Atlanta – Jacquizz Rodgers has 31 carries to lead the team, with banged up Steven Jackson with 14 and Jason Snelling with 13. Jackson was supposed to be the Big Kahuna, but it ain’t worked out that way. How old is he? Can he be counted on for 16? Nope. 15? Maybe. 12? Possibly. Do the math, young squires.
Buffalo – C.J. Spiller leads the team with 43 carries, but Just Said Fred Jackson has more yards (169) and Buffalo’s only rushing touchdown. Even if he’s healthy, it would appear the time split that has been bothering owners for years
Cincinnati – Everyone other than the man who cashes Marvin Lewis’ checks thinks that Giovani Bernard is going to be the man. He’s averaging five yards a pop and has three touchdowns in three games. But BenJarvus Green-Ellis has twice as many carries and two TDs of his own. The time split makes it hard to play either one.
Denver – Montee Ball was supposed to be the next big thing among non-first round running backs because he was a touchdown machine in college and Peyton Manning would have so many opportunities inside the 5-yard line that Ball would be his Edgerrin 2.0. Instead, fumbling issues and John Fox’s loyalty to veteran running backs had put talent-challenged Knowshon Moreno in the mix and Ronnie Hillman is the most explosive back on the roster. In New Orleans in altitude.
Detroit – Reggie Bush doesn’t play hurt, which has opened the door for Joique Bell. Through three games, Bell has more carries than Bush (34-30), more rushing yards (119-115) and more touchdowns (3-1). When Bush’s latest mangina injury heals, expect him to take over the larger role, but Bell has earned his touches, especially at the goal line.
Houston – Arian Foster has been clucking about having Ben Tate cutting into his time and his production has showed it. Foster has more carries (49) than Tate (27), but has gained just six more yards (190-184). As long as Tate is averaging almost seven yards a carry, it’s hard to keep him on the sideline – whether Foster bitches about it or not.
Indianapolis – Ahmad Bradshaw is off to a strong start on his iffy feet, but, as Chuck Pagano said last week, they didn’t give up a first round draft pick to sit Trent Richardson on the bench. Expect them to be in a time share until Bradshaw’s foot injuries come back.
Miami – Lamar Miller is the better runner (32 carries and a 4.2 yard average) than Daniel Thomas (21 carries, 65 yards), but Thomas has two of the three touchdowns they’ve scored and still looks to be the goal-line guy.
New England – Before he got hurt, Shane Vereen appeared ready to take over Stevan Ridley’s job. But, when Ridley went down, it looked as though Ridley got a reprieve. But, Uncle Bill has now thrown LaGarrette Blount into the mix and it’s going to be as big a mess as it used to be when the Patriots didn’t have a week to week featured back.
New Orleans – The poster boys for bad running back committees, Lucky Pierre Thomas, Darren Sproles and Mark Ingram haven’t had a run of more than 15 yards, none of them has more than 100 yards rushing and the only rushing TD was scored by Drew Brees. The Big Easy in New Orleans is benching all of them.
Pittsburgh – Remember when Le’Veon Bell was getting a ton of fantasy buzz. He’s been out the first three games and the results have been hideous. The Steelers have no rushing touchdowns and pretty much everyone they have tried has failed and they’ve used a bunch – Felix Jones (17-71-0), Jonathan Dwyer (13-41-0), LeRod Stephens-Howling (6-19-0) and Isaac Redman (10-12-0). Is it any wonder they’re 0-3 with that collection of turds?
We have a solid one-third of teams with running back questions. More are coming. Add in the bye weeks and suddenly those with a wealth of backup RB talent have the upper hand. Championships are won after Christmas. The road to Oz is paved once the bye week starts. It’s time for the nasty dog to get out from under the porch. With as few fantasy teams that are two-deep at running back, the value of the endangered species is going to take on added significance now that the bye weeks are kicking in. Those who are hungry will give up a lot to get a taste of RB gravy.
They’re not yet gone…and they’re definitely not forgotten. It may be time to consider listening to trade offers with the bye weeks coming up. Are running backs vital to week-to-week winning? It all depends if you have one. If you have two, God bless you, son. If you have three, you’re an idiot not to trade one of them. The return harvest might surprise you.
- Everything was supposed to be different in Arizona with Carson Palmer, but it looks like the same-old from this angle. In Week 1, he threw for 327 yards and two TDs. That dropped to 248 yards and one touchdown in Week 2 and 187 yards and no TDs last week. Nobody likes diminishing returns.
- Eddie Lacy was supposed to the Packers drought of 100-yard rushers, which had reached almost three full seasons. In the last two games, the Packers have had two 100-yard rushers, but neither was Lacy – one was James Starks and the other was Johnathan Franklin. Lacy may find himself with a bigger headache after his concussion subsides.
- On his first carry of the season, Adrian Peterson sent a shock wave through the barber shop by breaking a 78-yard touchdown, prompting Wino Bob to immediate proclaim that he would run for 3,000 yards this season. In his next 68 carries, he has rushed for 203 yards – less than three yards a carry. So much for that 2,500-yard nonsense, unless he plans to rush for 171 yards a game from here on through.
- Bring back Matt Birk! The Ravens are averaging 2.6 yards a carry and nobody who has run the ball is averaging better than 2.9 a rush.
- The Panthers are 1-2, but have allowing allowed six points (two field goals) in the first half of their three games, outscoring opponents 31-6 in the first half.
THE RAZOR’S EDGE
10. The Gronk Tank – For those who drafted after the point the Pats said Rob Gronkowski wouldn’t be put on the PUP list, there was enthusiasm, Those who took him, didn’t take him to be questionable or doubtful. Aaron Hernandez has as many receptions as Gronk through three games. The tie will be broken. Week 4?
9. In Rod We Trust? – Julio Jones is averaging nine catches and 125 yards a game, while running mate Roddy White has a total of seven catches for 56 yards. He’s a tough guy, but he’s hurting his team as he tries to play through a high-ankle sprain and he is killing fantasy owners who have expected each week to be his breakout game.
8. Colin-oscopy – There isn’t enough lube on the planet to slide the last two games of Colin Kaepernick past the boys in the Shop. Let’s assess. In the air, he’s 26 of 55 for 277 yards with no TDs and four picks. He ran, right? Not enough. The number 37 means two things in the NFL. It’s the age of QB hell-bound on getting to a Super Bowl (Peyton Manning) and the passer rating of the one that lost last year.
7. All Done Smith – At the Shop, we’re no strangers to DWIs. The consensus excuse was they were too drunk to walk, so they drove. Aldon Smith’s arrest at 7 a.m. on a Friday raised more than a few eyebrows. His trip to rehab was an organizational pre-emptive strike to Raj, Rerun and Dwayne bringing the “What’s Happenin’?” hammer down. Smith’s loss will impact both sides of the ball. Welcome to the playoffs, San Francisco. Welcome to as many road games as you can win.
6. Pack Under Attack – Green Bay has allowed 34 points twice in three games and opponents have a higher rating (113.7) thanks to averaging 309 passing yards a game with eight touchdowns and just two picks. The Green Bay offense can win shootouts, but their defense might make shootouts a requirement. Already two games behind the Bears in the NFC North, Green Bay’s defense needs to step up or they’ll be looking at a wild card at best.
5. Sinking Vikings Ship – Minnesota has allowed 12 touchdowns in three games and has allowed typically low-scoring teams like Detroit, Chicago and Minnesota to score 96 points – 31 or more in each game. The loss to Cleveland may signal the beginning of the end for Leslie Frazier and his staff because fantasy owners are lining up when they see Minnesota on the schedule.
4. Start Spreading the News – The Giants have allowed 115 points and been outscored in every quarter. It’s bad enough the G-Men have been outscored 40-19 in the first half, they’ve been pounded 75-35 in the second half. Everyone is waiting for the Giants to flip the switch they always seem able to do, but this time it may be too little, too late. When you allow five touchdowns a game, it’s hard to inspire any confidence because there are as trustworthy as Slippery Mike being asked to bring the day’s receipts to the bank. For those who picked the Giants to win the Super Bowl, it’s late September and they really should be back in school.
3. Olympus Has Fallen – Through three games, the Redskins offense has been consistent – two or three touchdowns, one or two field goals. RG3 has put up good numbers. Alfie and Pierre are tight with the fellas. But their numbers are fraudulent. Opposing QBs have a combined passer rating of a pimped-out 120.1.Ouch, babe. Throw in a five-yard rush average, the only reason you want Redskins players now is for the garbage-time bank value of playmakers. All D.C. buildings should have flags at half-mast on principle.
2. It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia? – From the ‘Supp Squad comes an internal warning. The first half of the first Eagles game, Chip Kelly gave the NFL an official B-slap wake-up call. In Week 2, San Diego cut it back. In Week 3, their former coach said, “I don’t think so” despite being dressed like the Kool-Aid man (“Oh, Yeah!). As we close the Shop this week, we pause and light the Vick candle. Not yet gone, but it’s comin’. The NFL is figuring out the Chiponator 3000 and Mike’s going to take a beating. Trade Shady and DeShady (Jackson) while they have “’Twas Booty That Killed the Beast” value.
1. They’ll Be Home For Christmas (and dead by Halloween) – The Jaguars are getting to the point where its hard to keep putting them here. Maurice Jones-Drew is averaging 2.6 yards a carry and the Jags couldn’t cover a 21-point betting line. The are dead in the water and the sharks are circling the bodies.