Friday, August 29, 2014

Top 5 Running Backs

I wish I could be as edgy with running back as I was with quarterbacks, but the reality is that running backs are so often products of their systems that the guys you know are, in general, the best guys. That doesn't mean the list isn't as correct; it's absolutely 100% correct. It's just more predictable.

5. Jamaal Charles, Kansas City Chiefs
Charles is a fantastic fantasy running back, but I'm not 100% on him as a premier "winning" running back. He's a slasher with breakaway speed and good hands out of the backfield, but when you must have four yards up the gut, can he deliver? He's the only guy in my five who's listed at under 200 pounds, and that gives me pause enough to push him to #5. Still a really, really good option, just not the best.

4. Matt Forte, Chicago Bears
I owned Forte in my big time keeper fantasy football league from his first day until the league folded two years ago. I'm completely familiar with how prolific he is as a pass-catching running back. What's impressed me the most about him is the fact that he's responded positively to varying workloads. After exceeding 300 carries his rookie season, his carries declined for three consecutive seasons. Then last year, he posted the highest total carries + targets of his career, and he remained productive in both aspects. That speaks to his innate football skill, as well as his ability to adjust to whatever circumstances present themselves.

3. Marshawn Lynch, Seattle Seahawks
I honestly though that Lynch was on his way out of the league when he got traded from Buffalo to Seattle in 2010. But it turns out, that was just the change of scenery he needed. In a result that's typical of Buffalo sports, Lynch discovered himself after leaving, and he's been an absolute monster for the past two seasons. He's a marginal receiver out of the backfield, but he's the kind of guy you can count on for three hard yards any time you need them. That's pretty important in the playoffs, when sometimes you absolutely must have those three yards.

2. Adrian Peterson, Minnesota Vikings
Peterson is probably past his prime, but there's no denying that he's still everything in Minnesota, and he's the only reason they win any games at all. Christian Ponder isn't an NFL quarterback, Matt Cassel is an excellent backup, and Teddy Bridgewater isn't ready. The Vikings will probably win 5 games this year, and in all 5 I would expect that Peterson will account for 200+ total yards. The fact that I'm expecting 1,000 yards in just five games of Peterson should tell you all you need to know about what I think he can do.

1. LeSean McCoy, Philadelphia Eagles
Remember when I said I wished I could be more edgy? Well, yeah. McCoy is the consensus best running back in football (with apologies to Jamaal Charles), and deservedly so. He offers a great balance between running threat and receiving option that makes him hard to game plan for. The running backs who seem to do best in the playoffs are the guys who can factor into every play, like Marshall Faulk or Edgerrin James or other former Indianapolis Colts. Warrick Dunn if you like. McCoy is as talented as any of those guys. He can bring it home (though, please, dear god, don't let the Eagles win the Super Bowl).

Receivers is coming next, and I honestly don't know what to expect out of it. Except Calvin Johnson at #1, obviously.

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