Forgot Log-in or  Password? |  Help  Not a member, Register Now!
      
Fantasy Football Today
Fantasy Football Today Blog
Gameday Inactives
2014 Draft Prep Guide
Downloadable Draft Kit
Mock Drafts
Get Your Draft Board
Player News
Stats
Players
Depth Charts
Roster Trends
Columns
Injury Report
Projections
Rankings
Schedules
Scores
Fantasy Games
Playoff Challenge
Commissioner
Prize Leagues
Free
Office Pool Manager
Game Pick'em
Player Challenge
Fantasy Baseball Today
Fantasy Baseball Today Blog
2015 Draft Prep Guide
Mock Drafts
Player News
Stats
Players
Depth Charts
Roster Trends
Columns
Injury Report
Rankings
Projections
Schedules
Probable Pitchers
Scores
Standings
Fantasy Games
Commissioner
Free
Prize Leagues
Player News
Stats
Players
Columns
Injuries
Projections
Rankings
Schedules
Message Boards
Fantasy Games
Commissioner
Free
Player News
Stats
Players
Columns
Injury Report
Projections
Rankings
Schedules
Mock Drafts
Scores
Standings
Fantasy Games
Commissioner
Free
Prize Leagues
Downloadable Draft Kit
Player News
Stats
Players
Columns
Injury Report
Projections
Rankings
Schedules
Mock Drafts
Scores
Standings
Fantasy Games
Commissioner
Free
Prize Leagues
No Fantasy Teams Found
 
 
 

Offseason Extra: RB tiers for 2012

Senior Fantasy Writer
  •  

Dave Richard's tiers and strategies: QB | WR | TE

It's always been in the best interests of Fantasy owners to draft as many running backs as possible. Now it's a necessity.

The position continues to be minimized and compartmentalized. As it stands now, only nine teams appear to be ready to lean on one back for most of their rushing work. Most others will use two in some capacity that will limit both statistically but help the team win, which is all they care about. That's too bad because it means these tandem situations will still wreak havoc on Fantasy owners: Last year there were only 32 instances where running backs on the same team in the same game each had double-digit Fantasy points. Only one team, the Saints, accomplished the feat more than three times.

Check out our Fantasy Football podcast!
There is no better source for entertaining Fantasy advice than our Fantasy Football Today podcast. Dave Richard, Jamey Eisenberg and Adam Aizer will help you pass the time as you anticipate Draft Day 2014!
Latest episode | Subscribe today!

Tandems are one issue, injuries are another. Three Fantasy running backs with first-round pedigrees tore their ACLs (two of them late in the year, jeopardizing their chances to start 2012 on time). A handful of other relevant backs were sidelined too.

And with tandems and injuries becoming factors, playing time and stats obviously become impacted. Only two running backs topped 300 carries in 2011, a dozen had 250-plus carries and 19 had 200-plus carries. That's it. And of the 34 running backs that had at least 100 Fantasy points in standard formats, a dozen played 16 games. Fifteen played in 14 or 15 games (which we as Fantasy owners can settle for). Seven, or roughly one fifth of the rushers we're talking about, played in 13 or fewer. Remember, these are the backs that actually did something! We're not talking about guys we lost for much of the year like Jamaal Charles and Jahvid Best.

What's more, passing numbers are up. The league set a season-high for passing yards with 117,601 and a second-best mark in touchdowns thrown with 745. Rushing attempts were up from the previous year by 51 carries, making the 13,971 attempts that running backs had in 2011 the second fewest since 2004. The 400 rushing touchdowns scored is a nice number, but it's flawed. Quarterbacks totaled 67 rushing touchdowns and receivers and tight ends ran for eight. So 325 touchdowns, or roughly 10 per team, were scored by running backs.

But this is Fantasy Football, and you cannot ignore running backs. The good news is that because so many teams use multiple running backs, there are plenty of players to choose from throughout your draft. The number of good backs capable of putting up 1,000-total-yard, seven-touchdown seasons has grown. According to early projections, there are 28 players with that kind of potential (including the elite backs), along with another nine or 10 guys that can get close. This does not include rookies like Trent Richardson, Lamar Miller and David Wilson, all of whom will be wildly popular in drafts this summer so long as they land with a team that isn't stocked at running back.

This is a good thing as it should afford owners the opportunity to at the very least build some quality depth and at the most land three or four quality rushers to begin the season. Tack on another couple of sleepers and you've got a running back corps you can feel good about. That's all you can ask for.

Consistency Counts
The average Fantasy point total per game among Top 12 RBs was 12.9 (standard scoring). Here's who had at least 13 Fantasy points in 40 pct. or more of games played.
Player No. of
13+ FPTS
Pct. Player No. of
13+ FPTS
Pct.
Ray Rice 13 81% Michael Bush 7 44%
LeSean McCoy 11 73% Kevin Smith 3 43%
Arian Foster 9 69% Adrian Peterson 5 42%
Maurice Jones-Drew 11 69% Matt Forte 5 42%
Marshawn Lynch 9 60% Ahmad Bradshaw 5 42%
Fred Jackson 6 60% Reggie Bush 6 40%
Darren McFadden 4 57% Frank Gore 6 40%
Ryan Mathews 7 50%      

The basics

Plan to draft a lot of running backs. This goes without saying. The more running backs you draft, the more opportunities you'll have to trade for help (or have depth at a slippery position). So long as your league allows, aim to minimize your backup quarterback and receiver roster spots and dedicate yourself to drafting running backs unless you can steal someone at another position.

Handcuffing backs is more important than ever. As we said before, only 12 of the 34 running backs that had at least 100 Fantasy points played 16 games last year. Backing up at least one rusher with the guy taking some work off his plate is just plain smart. More importantly, knowing when to expect your handcuff(s) to be taken should be part of your plan. You should check in with our draft averages before you make your picks to get an idea of where all the backups are going, then be prepared to draft accordingly. Remember, not all backups are created equally: The backup for Maurice Jones-Drew (Rashad Jennings) won't be picked as soon as, say, the backup for Darren McFadden (Michael Bush, potentially a Top-60 pick). You can only blame yourself if you don't draft the backup to your stud.

Get familiar with who's rehabbing and who's ready. Last year was awful for Fantasy owners as several reliable running backs suffered major injuries that could impact their careers -- none bigger than perennial first-rounder Adrian Peterson. He might not be a first-rounder this year. Here are the names you need to keep an eye on, along with their key teammates.

Player Injury Date Recovery time Key backup
Adrian Peterson ACL Dec. 24 9-12 months Toby Gerhart
Jamaal Charles ACL Sept. 18 9-12 months Dexter McCluster
Rashard Mendenhall ACL Jan. 1 9-12 months Isaac Redman
Darren McFadden Foot Oct. 23 TBD Michael Bush*
Fred Jackson Leg Nov. 20 2-4 months C.J. Spiller
Jahvid Best Head Oct. 16 TBD Mikel Leshoure
Mikel Leshoure Achilles Aug. 8 10-12 months Jahvid Best
Ryan Williams Patellar Aug. 19 8-12 months N/A
Tim Hightower ACL Oct. 23 9-12 months TBD*
* - subject to free agency

Waiting for running backs?

If you had asked me five years ago if I would endorse a draft strategy that didn't involve taking running backs early, I probably would have laughed at you. But if NFL teams aren't valuing running backs like they did five years ago, perhaps Fantasy owners shouldn't either.

We're already at the point where we can expect at least three quarterbacks to get picked within the first 12 picks on Draft Day. What if you're one of those owners? And what if you pick up a stud receiver in Round 2 and Round 3? Is your team toast?

Using our first 2012 mock draft as a guideline and picking out of the fourth overall spot, here's what a team might look like with that strategy:

Round 1: Drew Brees Round 2: Larry Fitzgerald Round 3: Greg Jennings
Round 4: Willis McGahee Round 5: Rashard Mendenhall Round 6: C.J. Spiller
Round 7: Isaac Redman Round 8: Mike Tolbert Round 9: Mikel Leshoure
Round 10: Pierre Thomas Round 11: Jabar Gaffney Round 12: Dustin Keller
Round 13: Eric Decker Round 14: Dolphins DST Round 15: Robbie Gould

Note the seven consecutive picks on running backs between Rounds 4 and 10. While the guys we picked aren't exactly studs, they're not horrendous, either. All have moderate expectations for 2012. We should be able to field a good lineup from these backs on a week-by-week basis while enjoying quality stats from Brees, Fitzgerald and Jennings.

In seasons past this strategy would not have worked as well because more running backs were taken in the first two rounds than what's expected in 2012.

Go early on running backs?

What about the exact opposite of waiting? Ditch quarterbacks, receivers and tight ends in favor of quality, capable running backs. After all, the quarterback crop is deeper than ever and tight ends seemingly grow on trees (well, at least those not named Gronkowski or Graham).

Here's a second mock team, again based on where players went in our initial mock draft:

Round 1: LeSean McCoy Round 2: Jamaal Charles Round 3: Frank Gore
Round 4: Willis McGahee Round 5: Jeremy Maclin Round 6: Matt Schaub
Round 7: Mark Ingram Round 8: Mike Williams Round 9: Torrey Smith
Round 10: Titus Young Round 11: Jermaine Gresham Round 12: Andy Dalton
Round 13: Dexter McCluster Round 14: Dolphins DST Round 15: Robbie Gould

Pretty easy to analyze this squad: The running backs are gorgeous while the rest of the team leaves a little bit to be desired. The receivers are young and in capable roles with their teams, which is always a plus. Ending up with Schaub at quarterback isn't exactly ideal, but it's not a disaster either. Heck, he's a phenomenal value in Round 6 -- you're just taking advantage of the deep talent pool at quarterback if you get him instead of a similar passer a round or two sooner. He's backed up properly with Dalton while Charles was handcuffed with McCluster. Again, the lineup should be solid with McCoy, Charles, Gore, Maclin and Schaub locked in from week to week.

Strategy dictated by draft slot?

One way to figure out your best plan of attack might be determined by where your first-round pick is.

If you're picking within the first five selections, you'll have a shot at picking a great running back. Thus, you could opt to go heavy on running backs with your first few picks or take a stud early then wait a few rounds before building up your depth at the position.

If you're picking toward the back of your draft, you'll need a miracle to land an elite rusher and might be in a better position to load up on quality talent at quarterback and wide receiver early, then load up on rushers a few rounds later.

Getting smart with sleepers

You might have felt like a genius for drafting DeMarco Murray last summer (owned in 41 pct. of leagues for Week 1), but you probably wound up looking like a fool for dropping him for someone who was actually putting up some numbers at the time (he was owned in 20 pct. of leagues for Week 6). The lesson here is simple: Don't draft sleepers unless you plan to commit to them for a while -- or unless you have a good reason for taking them.

Maybe your sleeper is a guy who can also be a handcuff for a stud you drafted. Someone like Kendall Hunter for Frank Gore or Jacquizz Rodgers for Michael Turner. That's cool. But maybe your sleeper happens to have a good early-season schedule, or is an injury away from not just seeing some playing time, but being a 15-to-20 touch rusher. Now we're talking -- it's not just about picking a sleeper on Draft Day, it's about picking a sleeper who has a chance to do something from the start of the season.

RBs that could start in place of stud RB to begin season: Toby Gerhart, Dexter McCluster, Isaac Redman
Free-agent-to-be RBs with goal-line potential: LeGarrette Blount, Peyton Hillis, Mike Tolbert
RBs playing behind injury-prone starters: Michael Bush (if he stays in OAK), Felix Jones, Daniel Thomas
RBs with goal-line potential: Mark Ingram, Stevan Ridley, Evan Royster
Deep sleepers: Alex Green, Taiwan Jones, Bilal Powell, Shane Vereen

I threw in the deep sleepers at the end to prove a point: Here are four young running backs with upside, but that's all we really know about them. They could end up riding the bench all season much less the first few games. It wouldn't pay to draft them if all you're going to do is drop them for whoever gets hot early in the season.

Let's get to the tiers

If you're looking for preparation beyond rankings, consider placing running backs into groups based on expected statistical production, or tiers. The idea is to get at least one back from every significant tier (or as many backs from as many high tiers as possible). During your draft, if you see a tier about to dry up and it's your turn to take someone, it's probably a good idea to pick the last remaining rusher from the tier.

This is the tier chart I'll use in my drafts, as of Feb. 1.

Elite tier Near-Elite Tier Excellent Tier Near-Excellent Tier
2000 total yards, 10+ TDs 1500+ total yards, 9+ TDs 1300+ total yards, 9+ TDs 1200+ total yards, 8+ TDs
Arian Foster Marshawn Lynch Darren Sproles Beanie Wells
LeSean McCoy Ryan Mathews Jamaal Charles Reggie Bush
Ray Rice Chris Johnson Frank Gore Michael Bush
Maurice Jones-Drew Adrian Peterson Fred Jackson Shonn Greene
Matt Forte Steven Jackson Ahmad Bradshaw  
  Michael Turner DeMarco Murray  
  Darren McFadden    
Very Good Tier Good Tier High-end backups Low-end backups
Roy Helu BenJarvus Green-Ellis Brandon Jacobs Montario Hardesty
Jonathan Stewart Cedric Benson Ben Tate Tim Hightower
C.J. Spiller LeGarrette Blount Felix Jones Bernard Scott
Willis McGahee Pierre Thomas Ryan Williams Evan Royster
Rashard Mendenhall Jahvid Best James Starks Ricky Williams
DeAngelo Williams Isaac Redman Kendall Hunter Danny Woodhead
Mikel Leshoure Stevan Ridley Toby Gerhart Joseph Addai
Peyton Hillis Mike Tolbert Knowshon Moreno Kahlil Bell
  Mark Ingram Dexter McCluster Dion Lewis
  Daniel Thomas Jacquizz Rodgers Shane Vereen
  Donald Brown   Taiwan Jones

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us via Twitter @CBSFantasyFB . You can also follow Dave at @daverichard and on Facebook .

Get player news notifications, manage your team and check scores
- all updated in real time. Download the CBS Fantasy App.

  •  
 
CBSSports Facebook Google Plus
COMMENTS
Conversation powered by Livefyre
 
 
Player News
Raiders GM says team may pursue DT Tony McDaniel
by Elliott Smith | Staff Writer
(1:29 pm ET) The Raiders have interest in defensive tackle Tony McDaniel, who was recently released by the Seahawks in a salary cap move, per BayArea.com. 

Raiders GM Reggie McKenzie, when asked about McDaniel, said "there's a chance" the team would pursue McDaniel, who has played for new Oakland coach Jack Del Rio. 

McDaniel had 84 tackles and two sacks during his two seasons in Seattle. 


Cardinals activate TE Jermaine Gresham from PUP list
by Elliott Smith | Staff Writer
(1:12 pm ET) The Cardinals activated veteran tight end Jermaine Gresham from the PUP list on Monday, a sign that Gresham's balky back is improving, per the team.

Gresham underwent back surgery in July, shortly before inking a one-year deal with Arizona. Gresham had played his entire career with the Bengals, recording 62 catches for 460 yards and five touchdowns in 2014.


Panthers DT Star Lotulelei (foot) forced to leave practice
by Elliott Smith | Staff Writer
(12:04 pm ET) Panthers defensive tackle Star Lotulelei was carted off during practice Monday, and Carolina coach Ron Rivera said the veteran suffered a foot injury similar to the one that sidelined him for the playoffs last season, per the Charlotte Observer

Rivera said the team kept out of the remainder of practice as a precaution. Lotulelei suffered a broken foot last January and missed the team's game against the Seahawks. The foot was sore during practice and the Panthers decided to take no chances. 


Raiders RB Michael Dyer making an impression
by Elliott Smith | Staff Writer
(11:24 am ET) Running back Michael Dyer entered Raiders camp as an undrafted free agent, but he has been turning heads with impressive efforts thus far, per ESPN.com.

Dyer has stepped into the role of No. 2 back that was supposed to be filled by Trent Richardson, who has yet to participate in camp. Dyer, whose off-field troubles overshadowed his career at Alabama and Louisville, has taken advantage of the extra snaps.

"I think Michael's done a nice job developing from what we saw in the spring to now," Oakland coach Jack Del Rio said. "He's more comfortable, he's more accountable, more dependable in special teams units and the offense. Every now and then he'll pop through there and show some of that speed that he has, so I think he's off to a nice start."


DeAndre Hopkins ready to assume Texans' No. 1 WR role
by Elliott Smith | Staff Writer
(10:53 am ET) Third-year receiver DeAndre Hopkins is now the focal point of the Texans' WR corps, and he is comfortable with the responsibility of being the top target with veteran Andre Johnson gone, per the Houston Chronicle

Hopkins caught 76 passes for 1,210 yards last season despite working with four quarterbacks. The Texans' QB situation remains unsettled, but Hopkins is eager to make an impact. 

"I'm going to demand the ball and make them (coaches and teammates) think I'm the (go-to) guy. That's always been my mentality every time I step on the field," Hopkins said.


Broncos sign WR Corbin Louks
by Elliott Smith | Staff Writer
(10:05 am ET) Faced with a season-ending injury to wide receiver Kyle Williams, the Broncos responded by signing receiver Corbin Louks on Monday, the team announced. 

Louks has spent time on the practice squads of the Chiefs and Seahawks after playing college ball at Utah and Nevada. 


Bills name OL Richie Incognito one of team's starters
by Elliott Smith | Staff Writer
(9:55 am ET) Bills coach Rex Ryan has been happy with what he's seen from offensive lineman Richie Incognito, so much so that he has named the veteran the starter at left guard, per the Associated Press

Incognito, who saw his career halted due to his role in a bullying scandal while a member of the Dolphins, signed with the Bills in February for a second chance.

"One thing's for sure, Richie's a starter," Ryan said. "He looks about as good as any of them. He really does."


Report: Ravens SS Matt Elam (biceps) out for season
by Elliott Smith | Staff Writer
(9:43 am ET) Ravens safety Matt Elam, who was injured during practice Saturday, is reportedly out for the season with a torn biceps, per The Baltimore Sun

Elam is expected to undergo surgery and will miss four-to-six months. The former first-round pick was fighting for a starting job and apparently suffered the injury while covering a receiver during practice.

"I haven't heard on the MRI yet, but I'm not real optimistic right now," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said.


Chiefs waive DT Jerel Worthy
by Elliott Smith | Staff Writer
(9:29 am ET) The Chiefs announced Monday they have waived defensive tackle Jerel Worthy, whom the team signed to its practice squad in October. 

Worthy played in 14 games in 2012 with the Packers, but tore his ACL in Week 17 of that season and has only played in two games since then.


Redskins RB Matt Jones suffers knee injury Sunday
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(8/2/2015) Redskins running back Matt Jones is being evaluated after sustaining a knee injury during Sunday's practice, reports The Washington Post.

Jones was a third-round draft pick in the 2015 draft and is expected to compete for the starting running back role.


 
 
 
Rankings