I did about five mock drafts last week and drafted a real team on Friday night. It’s the first of four real leagues that I’ll be in (I don’t recommend doing that). I’ve been playing fantasy football since 1993 (yeah, before all this internet stuff) and have been in roughly 40 leagues. So, you can either trust me on some of this information, or you can get your magazine out at the draft and take Ryan Torain in the 8th round (or Kevin Curtis. I swear a guy on Friday night took Curtis in the 8th. Wow.).
So, let’s take a look at some running backs this year (not all…some).
The top portion:
-Ladainian Tomlinson: He’s the consensus #1 overall pick in every draft. But, buyer beware on L.T. I have a feeling that this is the year he starts to break down physically. I don’t know this for sure, but it’s just a feeling. You are a moron if you don’t draft him #1, but it could screw you. The solution? If you can get a king’s ransom for the top pick, I’d do it. Otherwise, you just have to take him or you are a terrorist.
-Adrian Peterson: I had the #2 pick in my draft Friday night and went with All Day. Some would go with Brian Westbrook and that’s fine.
-Brian Westbrook: See previous. In a point-per-reception league, you may want to take Westbrook ahead of A.P. It really doesn’t matter, they are both studs.
-Joseph Addai: Safe. I love Addai. If you can grab him, go for it. Not much risk here.
-Marshawn Lynch: I really like Marshawn, as long as he isn’t driving a car. Relax, take him in the mid-first round.
This is where it gets hairy:
-Steven Jackson: I love Jackson, I do. But, he held out for most of training camp and you have to wonder what kind of shape he is in. Being in shape and being in game-shape are two different things. It’s not that he won’t be able to run, he could get hurt. Also, his offense blows. I wouldn’t love being forced to take him in the mid-late first round.
-Frank Gore: This guy will piss you off. You are sitting at the end of the first round and you want to get a running back, and he’s the “best available.” Ugh. Have fun. His injury history scares me every year.
-Larry Johnson: I really go into the draft with the mindset of “let someone else take Larry.” In the past, he’s had jaw-dropping production. I just don’t trust that anymore. He’s lost o-linemen Willie Roaf and Will Shields and it’s just not the same. If you have to take him, go for it. But, I wouldn’t be thrilled about it.
Another tier down:
-Marion Barber: I like Barber. He runs harder than anyone in the league and has nice production. I’m afraid of his new teammate, Felix Jones. I have a tough time believing that Jones won’t see a lot of time. Someone took Barber #5 overall the other night. That’s WAY too high.
-Ryan Grant: He’s my guy this year. If I can get a nice back in the first round, I’m eager to pair him up with Grant coming back. I know Brandon Jackson has looked good so far, but I think Grant is still Green Bay’s guy.
-Jamal Lewis: Not sure how much Lewis has left in the tank, but he was good last year. If you can find him in the third round you are in good shape. That is, as long as he isn’t your #1 back.
Stay away from:
-Willis McGahee: Do yourself a huge favor and let someone else take him. He’s hurt, he has pissed off execs with his work ethic, his line stinks and Ravens beat reporter Mike Preston says he wouldn’t be surprised if he was cut before the season. I don’t think he will be, but those aren’t words of praise.
-Rudi Johnson: He’s hurt too and stunk last year. As of now, Chris Perry is the starter. More on him later.
-Reggie Bush: Every year, some moron takes Bush way too high. Don’t be that guy. He runs soft and isn’t fast enough to destroy defenses like he did in college. He doesn’t finish his runs very well and he is a hype machine. Let someone else take him.
-Darren McFadden: It’s not that I have a problem with him. I have a problem with these people drafting him too high. Remember, he isn’t currently the starter in Oakland. The fourth round is too soon for me on McFadden.
-The rookies: Felix Jones, Ray Rice, Kevin Smith, Chris Johnson and Matt Forte are all great buys for me. They will fall round after round. These are the guys you should be grabbing while every other nitwit thinks they have to grab a defense in the 7th round.
-Chris Perry: As of now, he’s the Bengals starter. Rudi Johnson returned to practice today, but Perry can be had very late and is worth a flyer. Perry is finally healthy in just his 23rd year in the league.