Thursday, September 1, 2011

Fantasy Football 2011: Under and Overvalued Running Backs


1) Ray Rice. Sure, he's burned you in the past, with Willis McGahee taking all of the goal line love, and late-season matchups with Pittsbrgh just providing no end of heartache. But if you've got a top pick in a serpentine draft this year, who else would you rather have? Rice's handcuff is the ancient Ricky Williams. His fullback is Vonta Leach, who oesn't touch the ball and might be the best in the business and clearing a whole. His offense is going to move the ball, and he's going to get you over 2,000 yards from scrimmage, since he's a key member of the passing game. He's reasonably durable, in the prime of his life, going to score 12 times this year, and his team's best player. Draft him in the top five, get the best numbers.

2) Peyton Hillis. Last year's out of nowhere stud back gets the healthy dollop of skepticism from too-smart players, with concerns about being able to handle the load, love for Montario Hardesty to poach numbers, and the sense that the Cleveland attack is going to grow another dimension any day now. I'm not seeing the hate. Hillis didn't really run down last year so much as he just ran into good defenses; that won't happen all year. He's a true dual threat that doesn't leave the field near the goal line, and there's damned few of them in the league, really. And if the Browns get a dimension or two this year, that just means more drives where he doesn't leave the field for a punt right away. Bank on him for 1,600 yards and 10 scores.

3) Cedric Benson. Don't get me wrong; he sucks out loud, on ice, in a closed room and in church. But 300+ carries is hard to find these days, because intelligent NFL teams don't do that, and when you are starting rooks all over the skill position places, the mule back is a reasonable way to take time off the clock and the game in sight. And with more and more teams moving away from heavy running back attacks, the Bengals actually become someting of a novelty. Cedric the Jailhouse Entertainer will deliver 80 yards a game a score every other, which rolls out to 1,500 and 8. Just don't watch him play.

4) Reggie Bush. Is he really going to tun into a guy that gets 15 carries, 5 catches and 100+ yards a game from scrimmage? No; the division is too hard for that, and expecting health at this point is asking a lot. But a vengeance year of bg games against weak opponents, with lots of run time while rookie Daneal Thomas figures out the playbook and pass protection? Oh yes. Take down 1,500 yards from scrimmage and 8 scores, and don't be afraid of Chad Henne killing him; even the worst QBs can complete a dump off.

5) Beanie Wells. Well, who else are the Cardinals going to give the ball to? The last back standing is going to take advantage of the Cardinals actually having a QB this year, and with Larry Fitzgerald on the outside, he'll never face eight in the box. So long as he doesn't put the ball on the ground (a lot), he's going to get enough touches to wind up with 1,200 yards and 8 scores, with clear starts and stops along the way.


1) Arian Foster. Everything came together for this out of nowhere back last year, and he delivered huge results for a Texans team that played to his strengths. Oh, wait, you mean this isn't the Steve Slaton brief for 2009, but an entirely new overvalued first round pick that's going to destroy your team? Foster was always going to stumble this year with a healthy Ben Tate starting to work out a timeshare, and TE Owen Daniels getting back to speed in the red zone. Now, throw in a reoccuring hamstring problem, the lifelong problem that is his handle (look back at his college career; he puts the ball on the ground a lot), and the ton of film that opponents have of the Texans running game. This way lies third round production in the first round -- 1,200 yards from scrimmage and 6 TDs.

2) Matt Forte. Take a look at Chester Taylor's numbers from last year: they were beyond putrid. Now take a look at the vengeful stylings of Marion Barber, who Bear Fan is going to go all soft boy over near the goal line. Finally, toss in a special teams that got neutered by the NFL, which means more long fields, more playing from behind, and more staying in to block to keep Jay Cutler alive. 1,300 yards and 7 scores, which is not what you drafted.

3) Knowshon Moreno. The current regime didn't pick him, doesn't see who he's anything approaching special, and won't be playing to win game after Halloween. So last year's disappointing 1,150 yards from scrimmage and 8 TDs isn't happening again; more like 900 and 5, and a lost job. It's not going to work out for him in this town.

4) Pierre Thomas. I'd get into this, but it's simple; he can't stay healthy and the Saints have real options now. You can do better.

5) LeSean McCoy. Love his talent, hate the fact the Eagles are going to spread ti around and limit his touches. Remember, Andy Reid spent a decade cuckolding your Brian Westbrook pick, too....

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