As the NFL moves towards a new paradigm in their game, focusing on the passing aspect of offensive schemes, the value of running backs have been greatly reduced in fantasy football circles. When I started playing fantasy football, over 20 years ago, great focus was placed on the player that touched the ball the most on offense, and some drafts in the 1990’s consisted of all running backs in the first-round. Times have changed, and so have the drafting philosophies.
As we prepare for the 2013 fantasy football season, many players in various leagues are going to take either Arian Foster, Adrian Peterson or Alfred Morris as the first overall running back. I say let them. I like Doug Martin this year as the top back. At this point in the year, and I stress, AT THIS POINT, I like Martin, Morris, Peterson and Foster in that order.
Martin is firmly entrenched in a run oriented offense under second-year head coach Greg Schiano. His success in his first season led to the Buccaneers trading away LeGarrette Blount to the New England Patriots. Martin was a spectacular rookie for the Buccaneers last season and rewarded any fantasy owner that selected him. He rushed for 1,454 yards on 319 carries and caught 49 passes out of the backfield for another 472 yards, totaling 12 scores. He did all of this while operating behind a makeshift line for the entire season. ProBowl guards, Davin Joseph and Carl Nicks missed the 2012 season. A 2,500 total yard season is not out of the question for Martin in 2013 with 15 scores.
Some players will reach for Baltimore Ravens RB Ray Rice in the first-round. He barely crossed the 1,000-yard mark in 2012, and while he does catch a lot of balls out of the backfield, I’d temper expectations for 2013. WR Anquan Boldin is gone and there have been many questions surrounding the use of Rice in the Ravens offense.
Houston Texans RB Arian Foster is one of the few feature backs in the league, but his usage has to come into question. 391 times he touched the ball this past season. Do some online research on running backs which touch the ball over 370 times in a single season. Twice now in the last three years, Foster has over 390 carries.
Adrian Peterson is going to be a popular pick as the first running back off the board in many leagues, if not the first overall section in the first round. Peterson nearly had a record setting year while coming off a horrific knee injury, rushing for 2,097 yards. He accounted for 388 touches. You can make the case that Peterson was responsible for the Vikings reaching the playoffs in 2012, but Minnesota’s offense is still a question mark. QB Christian Ponder still has questions regarding his ability. Percy Harvin is gone and the oft-inured Greg Jennings was brought in. Rookie WR Cordarrelle Patterson is, well, a rookie.
Washington Redskins second year back Alfred Morris should still be a very productive fantasy option next season, but fantasy owners are going to have to monitor the progress of QB Robert Griffin III.
Many fantasy owners might be asking about why I have not included Seattle Seahawks RB Marshawn Lynch in my breakdown. Lynch is complete beast when he plays, but there might be an underlying issue surrounding him for the 2013 season. Many pundits wondered why Seattle used their first selection on RB Christine Michael in last week’d draft. Lynch is facing an upcoming trial for a DUI charge that many suggested that might result in a suspension for a portion of the 2012 season. Perhaps the Seahawks are more aware of the situation than many around the league know. Lynch’s behavior off the field precedes him.