2011 Fantasy Football Running Backs Rankings Outlook
The term “running back by committee” has changed the face of fantasy football. Almost every team in the league now splits carries between two if not three backs. The key is drafting the backs that will get the most work and are well rounded enough to get the ball between the 20s and in the red zone. (not to mention is on the field for passing downs) Those are your studs and will go in the early rounds: Peterson, Foster, Johnson, are easy to target and all should have great seasons again. Other key contributors are Charles, McCoy, Mendenhall, Turner, Jones-Drew, Rice, and, McFadden with Charles being the only back in a real time share but is explosiveness more than makes up for that. After these top backs you have a few older and guys like Jackson and Gore that have moved out of the top ten due to injury concerns.
A fantasy football championship is typically not won or lost with your early round picks. It is the middle to late round value picks that make the real difference and since the NFL loves to time share running the ball it is tough to say who those will be on a year to year basis. Here at FantasySmackTalk, you will hear us say this all the time: once you get your core team always draft young with upside over old and reliable. The thinking behind this is a guy like Arian Foster. Last season if you burned your 8th round pick on Thomas Jones sure he is somewhat productive but Thomas Jones did not win anyone any championships. Finding a guy like Foster in the 8th round was a huge win for any owner.
This season there are a few young with upside players that were busts from a season ago that might live up to the hype this year in Greene and Mathews. They are both the future for their respective teams and both play behind a solid line. Blount is another youngster, that came out of nowhere in the second half of the season that should be targeted in those early middle rounds. As far as rookies go our two favorites are Daniel Thomas and Ryan Williams playing for the Fins and Cards respectively. Each will compete and probably win the starting tailbacks job for their teams and like no other position rookie running backs can step into the NFL and have immediate value.
Now do not completely count out older guys in your draft however, it is still all about value and finding that balance. Benson will probably be back for the Bengals and most likely will touch the ball close to 300 times in the 2011 season. Ryan Grant is coming off a nasty injury but if he is healthy he is great speculative draft pick to get late since he is on such a great offensive and was productive two seasons ago.
Draft Day Advice
Ensure you get at least one if not two studs early in your draft. After that fill up your bench with upside guys (we would prefer to see youth but older guys can have upside as well) no reason to carry two kickers, two quarterbacks, two defenses, two tight ends – save those spots for upside running backs. The ones that pan out will either be productive players on your team or at least great trade bait.