Since I started playing Fantasy Football about 5 years ago I can not remember a pre-pre-season where I have been so disconnected to the rankings of the players in the league. I’m not sure if I just was too busy with too many other things last season and didn’t pay as much attention as I usually do or if it is something else but I feel like I am way behind. Walking through Krogers a couple days ago I spotted a rack full of Fantasy Football issues and decided it was time to get started. Digging through I found the cheapest one on the rack, Beckett Fantasy Football, voted best fantasy magazine by the FSTA (whatever that is). It looked as good as any of the others and was $1 to $3 cheaper so what’s not to like, not like it will be the last one I buy this year.
My first stop was their 12 Team Mock Draft (pg 24). I immediately wanted to see who was ranked where in the first round. First pick of course was Adrian Peterson, no surprises there. I’ve always been a ‘first round = running back’ kind of guy, fantasy old school I guess you would call it. So now I look through the rest of the first round, preparing to line up the rest of the RBs. Call me Mr. Fantasy Pessimist but talk about dropping off a cliff. Listed below are the top 10 running back picked after AP and why you should be apprehensive about picking each of them high in your first round.
- Michael Turner – I only have to turn back to page 17 for the scoop on Michael Turner and the magic number 370. As in the curse of 370 carries. The curse says that any back that has over 370 carries in any given season will see a significant downturn in production in the following season. According to the article only 3 of the 21 back that have exceeded 370 carries in a season have avoided the curse; Walter Payton, LT(after 2002) and Eric Dickerson. The most recent cursed; Larry Johnson went from RB rank #2 in 2006 to #40 in 2007, Shaun Alexander went from #1 in 2005 to #28 in 2006. Catching only 6 passes last season he certainly doesn’t deserve this spot in PPR leagues.
- Matt Forte – Matt Who? I honestly don’t think I watched him play in a game all season last year. You can’t deny the monster numbers he put up though in his rookie season (1700+ yrds, 12TDs, 63 rec) He’s got a QB now taking some of the pressure off but how many times have we seen a player drop off after a tremendous rookie season, this pick would make me nervous.
- Maurice Jones-Drew – In his 3 seasons in the league he is yet to have a 1,000 yrd rushing season. Still he is averaging about 13 TDs, over 1250+ total yrds and 46 rec each of those years and he will no longer be sharing the backfield with Fred Taylor who looked remarkable “non-fragile” in MJDs previous 3 seasons but still in those seasons MJD has only rushed over 100 in a game 7 times. Does he really belong this high?
- DeAngelo Williams – Yeah he had a monster half a season in 2008 averaging 124 yards and 15 scores over the last 8 games but can he produce at that level over an entire season. And don’t forget Fox loves to bring in the big short yardage back on the goal line and Jonathan Stewart is custom made for that role plus a lot more of DeAngelo’s carries between the 20s. I predict the best season of DeAngelo’s career is behind him, he won’t finish as a top 10 fantasy back this season.
- Steven Jackson – If the Rams addition at offensive line pan out Jackson could finish as a top 3 fantasy running back but that’s a mighty big if. Youth is on his side though so if he stays healthy he may have a chance panning out as a first round pick.
- LaDanian Tomlinson – He’s 30 and he has carried a heavy workload over his entire career which showed itself as injuries last season. He was one of the best but his time has passed him by. Sproles got the big money contract so he should as least get an equal share of the workload. LT might have a good season left in him but probably won’t put up the numbers to finish a top 10 fantasy back.
- Clinton Portis – Portis is approaching rapidly the downside of his career measured more by carries than his age. Injuries plague him late in the season but he will still put up good numbers while he is in there. This is probably the right place for him but I wouldn’t be surprised to see a WR or QB go off the board before him.
- Brian Westbrook – Westbrook turns 30 this season and few backs in the league have had more touches to this point in their career. McNabb was resigned for one reason, the Eagles think they have one more Super Bowl run in this team. This only happens if Westbrook is healthy in January and January stats don’t count in Fantasy. Look for the Eagles to rest Westbrook every chance they get to try to save him for the post season. No garbage time points for him.
- Brandon Jacobs – Jacobs is good for about 100 yrds a game and a score every time out. No more and seldom any less, the new Rudi Johnson He won’t have to share touches with Ward this year but the passing game won’t take pressure off of him either, he’s probably in about the right spot here, maybe lower in PPR leagues.
- Marion Barber – He lost over a yard per carry and a handful of TDs compared to the previous two seasons and the backfield in Dallas is crowded. He’ll have a good season but I doubt a top 10 fantasy back season.
Who they overlooked: Chris Johnson (he can run, wow can he ever run, he can catch, he just can’t score TDs when LeDale is getting all the short yardage work), Steve Slaton (he is still the man in Houston, someone will get a very nice RB in the 2nd round in Slaton, almost 60 rec), Frank Gore (can Mike get big numbers out of Gore running behind a lousy offensive line, I won’t bet against it).
My draft is scheduled in 71 days and it is very clear I have a lot of work to do to get ready for it.