We're through nine weeks of the 2015 NFL season. It's not enough to draw final conclusions on a fantasy football draft but, at least from the perspective of running backs, it's easy to say things are not going well.
From the top 10 running backs drafted, we've already lost Le'Veon Bell and Jamaal Charles for the season. Matt Forte missed Week 9 and will likely miss at least one more game. Eddie Lacy, C.J. Anderson and Jeremy Hill have been crazy confounding.
Through nine weeks, only two running backs taken in the top 10 are in the top 10 now: Adrian Peterson and Forte. And if Forte's injury lingers, he'll fall, as well. Making it worse, the only guy in the teens who could make the leap into the top 10 is DeMarco Murray (Bell and Charles are also in the teens right now, but they certainly aren't going to climb).
For comparison's sake, five running backs in last year's top 10 finished there. In 2013, one of the worst fantasy drafts on record, four guys stayed in the top 10. Four also made it in 2012. If you forecast everything breaking right from here -- Peterson staying healthy, Murray improving, Forte getting back, leaps from Hill or LeSean McCoy -- 2015 could have as many as five by year's end, but that seems like an overly optimistic view to take.
The following chart shows the average end-of-season player-rater ranking of the running backs taken in the top 10, plus where we are at the moment for 2015:
Already, 2015 is worse than 2012 and 2013. It's beating 2014 (which suffers almost entirely because of Adrian Peterson and Montee Ball), but with Bell and Charles only falling from here on out, it stands to reason this year is close to a guarantee to be our worst in the last four.
In games that appear likely to end up 7-6 or 10-9 or whatever, announcers love to say that teams should settle for the field goal on close decisions, because "points are at a premium." The reality (h/t to Bill Barnwell) is that if points are at a premium, touchdowns are that much more valuable, and you should take the shot if it's close.
The same principle applies here. I've seen guys in some of my leagues basically punting on running back, just grabbing the random Orleans Darkwa or Melvin Gordon because "they all suck anyway." The truth, though, is that in a world where running back is the absolute wasteland that it is, the premium guys are that much more important.
My buddy Greg has Todd Gurley, but has been stuck with Charles Sims as his best No. 2 running back. People are clamoring to trade for Gurley, offering Greg two No. 2 running backs in return, and complaining when he says no.
But Greg was right. In a world where no rosters have two stud running backs, the one-stud roster is king.
Hold your big names. Cherish them. Some of us aren't so lucky. On to our Week 10 running back rankings for standard leagues.
Running backs for standard leagues, Week 10
(DK: Daniel Kelley; DC: Dan Ciarrocchi; AM: Andrew Miller; JD: John Daigle; SK: Scott Kaliska. Atlanta, Indianapolis, San Diego and San Francisco are on bye.)
|28||Duke Johnson Jr.||CLE||@PIT||27||25||26||29||33|
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