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Color Yourself Badd (Go RB Early and Often)


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I have read article after article lately about how the landscape of fantasy football is changing. No more work horse running backs, or so we are told. No more picking two running backs with your first two picks. Word on the street is that the time has come to draft an elite quarterback first, or maybe Calvin Johnson, or a top tight end (Jimmy Graham or Rob Gronkowski) — oh, the shame of it. We keep being told there are too many running back by committee and three-headed monsters out there, that we need to grab an elite quarterback and two stud wide receivers early. Well, I for one am sticking to my game plan. Going old school, or old “skool” (looks a little tougher, right?). OK, I will agree that the days of the lone workhorse running back may be waning, and that is my point. You do need to load up on running backs.

After Arian Foster, LeSean McCoy, Ray Rice, and maybe Maurice Jones-Drew, everyone seems to be throwing in the towel on going running back early and often. Well, “Color Me Badd” (how about that 1990s band interjection?). Don’t worry, I don’t want to ‘Sex You Up’ or anything (had to do it — too easy), but I do want to straighten you up. Simply, with my first four picks, I plan to have a least two, possibly three running backs depending on draft order, and you should too.

So, here’s the deal. Wide receiver is deep this year. Very deep. Although Calvin Johnson is a definite stud, I would be surprised to see a repeat of last year’s ridiculous numbers. In most mocks, either Larry Fitzgerald, Mike Wallace, Wes Welker, Hakeem Nicks, Victor Cruz, and/or Greg Jennings (who could all conceivably do almost as well as Johnson this year), have been available as late as Round 3, as is Andre Johnson. He’s pretty OK too.

And, there sure is a lot of intrigue this year at wide receiver. For example, Brandon Lloyd. Come on, Tom Brady to Lloyd — I can see it already. After all, Lloyd led the NFL in receiving yards with 1,448 yards for the 2010 season and made the 2011 Pro Bowl. And then there is Julio Jones, who is poised for a breakout season, or should I say another breakout season, as he was just short of 1,000 yards and had eight touchdowns. Slated to surpass Roddy White, Jones has been available in most mocks as late as Rounds 4 or 5, and never seems to be selected earlier than Round 3. The same is true for A.J. Green.

The always underrated Jeremy Maclin could be selected as a serviceable WR1 with upside after the early rounds. DeSean Jackson could surprise, too. Even Randy Moss is being talked about by San Francisco as its No. 1. All would be available surprisingly late.

And what about Vincent Jackson as Tampa Bay’s new No. 1? With Josh Freeman expected to return to his 2010 form of 25 touchdowns and only six interceptions, or better. And for two seasons now, despite mediocre receivers, Freeman has thrown for better than 3,400 yards.

Let us not forget the reunion of Jay Cutler-to-Brandon Marshall. In 2008, the duo looked for each other a league-high 179 times 33 more times than any other quarterback-to-wide receiver combination. Only three players have topped the 1,000-yard mark each of the last five seasons. Marshall is one of them (Larry Fitzgerald and Roddy White are the other two). That sure is intriguing.

There is also that Cam Newton to Steve Smith thing. Both are usually available after the first few rounds. And could Peyton Manning to Demaryius Thomas be the next Manning to Reggie Wayne? Or will it be Eric Decker? So, are you getting it yet? Receiver is deep!

The way I see it, and believe me, I have done the math, after the top running backs go with the first few picks(Arian Foster, Ray Rice, LeSean McCoy and Maurice Jones-Drew) and the top quarterbacks (Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, Drew Brees, and maybe Matthew Stafford), some real gems, believe it or not, will be left and could easily end the season as Top 5 in their positions. Who, you ask?  Most likely Darren McFadden, Chris Johnson and Ryan Mathews (Mike Tolbert had eight touchdowns last season and is gone, and Mathews still broke 1,000 yards and six touchdowns) will all be around from late-first to late-third round; and you, as mathematical probability dictates, could still end up with Hakeem Nicks, Julio Jones, Steve Smith or Brandon Marshall at wide receiver. I also get the feeling, as far as a potential Top 5 quarterback, that Michael Vick will slip past his worth, as will Eli Manning and Tony Romo — they always do. And we all know how I feel about stealing Ben Roethlisberger after Round 7 [see my previous article “Bank on Ben Roethlisberger”].

Yes, ‘Color Me Badd’, but I’ll take Ryan Mathews, Darren McFadden, Julio Jones and Michael Vick, with my first four any day. Well, did I ‘Straighten You Up?’