We were lied to. All of us.
We were told that the running back was … well, back.
The days of grabbing a high-scoring quarterback were over. The stud back had returned to fantasy football, and if you didn’t grab one early, a season of shame and a sixth-place finish awaited you.
There were nine to 10 sure-fire fantasy RBs you just HAD to draft. We were told that taking C.J. Spiller, Doug Martin, Ray Rice or Trent Richardson early was the ticket to success. Let those losers grab Peyton Manning or Drew Brees in round two. You, my friend, could wait until round six and have Russell Wilson QB your squad. You’ll be sittin’ pretty.
The running back position has never seemed more barren than it is this year. While LeSean McCoy, Adrian Peterson, Jamaal Charles and Matt Forte are having stellar seasons, chances are your first round draft pick has let you down.
In the last decade, an average of 17 RBs a year have rushed for 1,000 yards – with a high of 23 in 2006. This year, 10 backs are on pace to top 1,000 yards, with No. 10 – San Diego’s Ryan Matthews — just sneaking in with 1,019 projected yards.
We knew the NFL is a passing league these days, but it’s apparent that in many cases teams are just abandoning the run early and often.
If you don’t have one of the precious top RBs, or your back is wallowing in a mediocre season, it’s tough to find a winning formula on the waiver wire this time of year. But there are options.
Here are five of them for those of you scraping the barrel. They’re not sure-fire options, mind you, just five players with a hint of upside.
1: Peyton Hillis, Giants: He has the Giants’ RB job to himself at the moment, he can catch out of the backfield and he was a beast for Cleveland in 2010, so he’s had success. Problem is his running style is prone to injury and Andre Brown’s return is lurking in future weeks. But Hillis can be productive for a few games. And if he stays upright, maybe longer.
2: Zac Stacy, Rams: With QB Sam Bradford done for the year, St. Louis is in trouble. The offense wasn’t exactly the 1999 Rams before the injury, but afterwards it looks more like the 1991 Colts. But losing Bradford does mean having to rely more on the running game. And Stacy is the Rams running game.
3: Shane Vereen, Patriots: Vareen was a high upside pick on draft day and probably went somewhere in the mid rounds. Hopefully, his owner dropped him after an opening game injury knocked him out for eight weeks. Tom Brady needs all the weapons he can get, and Vareen will get lots of chances when he returns after their Week 10 bye.
4: Donald Brown, Colts: Trent Richardson hasn’t shown much since his trade to Indy. It was expected the move would actually help his fantasy value, but that hasn’t been the case. It’s Brown who’s looked more like the dynamic back in that offense. It’s a committee situation, but here’s a hunch Brown has more value going forward.
5: Chris Ivory, Jets: He went from a sleeper pick to comatose very quickly in New York. In the season’s first six weeks, he had nine total fantasy points. Nine! Then, last week, he ran for 104 yards on 34 carries. Don’t expect that kind of workload every week, but he’s getting healthy now and the Jets are showing they’re not afraid to use him.
QUICK HITS FOR WEEK 8
If you drafted Robert Griffin III, this is the week you got him for. Two teams – Denver and Washington – with great offenses and no defenses. Sounds like three and a half hours of points and yards flying around the mile-high air.
Frank Gore, Kendall Hunter and any other 49er RB you can get your hands on. Jacksonville is awful against the run. They’re almost 30 yards per game worse than any other team in the NFL in that category.
The Packers are hurting. Injuries have knocked three of their top four targets out for Sunday night’s game against the defensively challenged Vikings. But as long as they have Aaron Rodgers, that makes guys like Jarrett Boykin a fill-in fantasy star.
This is the week injuries to his top two WRs catch up with the Falcons’ Matt Ryan. Arizona may not be world beaters, but they do have a nasty pass defense.
Any Buffalo Bill running back. Fred Jackson is slated to start and C.J. Spiller is doubtful. But does it really matter? The Saints’ improved defense is pretty good, if you haven’t noticed.
Mike Wallace has had some nice moments for the Dolphins this year. And by “some” I mean two. The Patriots will make sure that number doesn’t reach three.