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Doug’s Dynasty Den – Running Back

The Den rolls on!  In this article, we’ll tackle what many of you already know to be my favorite position – Running Back!!  I have my hand in four dynasty league teams and of the sixteen picks, fourteen of them were RBs.  When I’m in a dynasty rookie draft, it’s a rare occasion that I’ll take a WR.  Judging which WRs are going to have an impact has tremendous variance, and my thoughts are that you can always claw your way into finding a viable WR if you really have to.  TEs, forget it, I don’t even print out a cheat sheet for that position.  There are times when I’ll grab a QB, last year saw a couple rookie QBs were worth taking a chance on in the late first/early second round.  This year, I can see spending a third/fourth round pick on one of the lower ranked guys.  QBs are another breed where you can scrap something together in FA since they get hurt so often. 

In dynasty, as with redraft, RBs are gold.  Particularly in dynasty, where guys 1-5 on an NFL RB depth chart (and sometimes even deeper than that!) are on someone’s dynasty roster.  You’re just not going to find a viable RB come up in free agency, and if there was one, he’d go for someone’s entire FA bankroll.  The only way to combat that is to pick as many rookie RBs as possible and hold onto them until one of them one day becomes a viable fantasy option.  For that reason, if I’ve got a couple QBs already on my roster, I have no problem using all four of my draft picks on RBs.  Not a great crop this year, but as with every year, someone will emerge from the middle to late rounds of the NFL draft.  Load up on them and keep them on your roster. 

Just to recap, the Dynasty Den is really geared towards those of you in dynasty leagues, so the rankings listed here will reflect that.  In other words, these rankings are based on what I believe the player’s overall career will be like in the fantasy sense, this is by no means a ranking of how I think these players are going to perform in 2005. 

Here’s how we’ll be breaking down the players:

Great White – Guys that have value in both the short (redraft) and long (dynasty) term
Hammerhead – Guys that may have short term value, but do have long term value
Blue – Guys that have an outside chance at helping in the short term, more likely will have long term value
Leopard – Virtually no short term value, slight chance of having some long term value
Sand – No short term value, little to no long term value

Oh, if you missed the breakdown of QBs, check it out here:  https://www.fantasysharks.com/artman/publish/article_1181.htm

As always, if you think I’m a fool, drop me a line here:  dcoutts@fantasysharks.com.  I don’t always get a chance to respond to everyone (sorry!), but I do read everything.  Thanks in advance and good luck!

Great White
Let me say this right away here, I think this year’s rookie RB class will be WAY overvalued on draft day in redraft leagues.  My suggestion to you re-drafters, avoid this year’s rookie RB crop entirely.  There are just too many questions about playing time for my liking.  That said, these four guys should have been the top 4 players taken in your dynasty draft. 

Carnell Williams, Tampa Bay (1, 5, Auburn)
Williams may be one of only two rookie RBs to have an impact in 2005.  Yes, you are reading that correctly.  I’ve already been involved in many redraft league drafts, and the rookie RBs are going just rediculously early.  My advice to you redraft guys, don’t take a rookie RB.  Don’t even bother.  The risk/reward is just not there with these guys, I’ve seen this happen year after year and yet fantasy owners continue to make the same mistake just for the slimmest of slim chances that you’ll be able to say “I told you such and such rookie would be great this year.”  These are the guys that don’t have much hardware on their fantasy mantle. 

As I said, I do like Williams this year, which is why he is the head of the Great White class.  Nothing of note standing in his way to the starting job so it’s his to lose.  Michael Pittman is not much of a threat and I can’t remember the last time Charlie Garner had a good season.  I see a nice career out of him as well, Jon Gruden knows how to use a running back and that translates into fantasy points for us, nice. 

Ronnie Brown, Miami (1, 2, Auburn)
Now that Alex Smith has been signed (rediculous contract, by the way, you think San Francisco got any “nice job” calls from General Managers around the league after that contract was announced?  Talk about getting fleeced!), the Dolphins and Brown can go to work on their contract numbers.  A strange thing happened after the NFL draft, Ricky Williams got his act together and is back in Miami!!  Yes, I know that Ricky will have to sit out the first four games, but should Brown and Miami not be able to get close on the numbers, it’s not out of the question for Miami to go piece mail during those games and wait for Williams.  However, should Brown get into camp and fit right in, he has a great opportunity in those first four games to force the coaches to work him into the playbook even when Ricky comes back. 

Cedric Benson, Chicago (1, 4, Texas)
Those of you that wrote off Thomas Jones when the Bears selected Cedric Benson are not going to have the last laugh.  One of the teams Tony and I have a hand in have Thomas Jones, and though Chicago taking a RB at 1.04 was not pleasant news, it wasn’t the end of the world either.  Jones proved that he could be durable and carry the load last year, and one of the most difficult things for a rookie RB to learn is to pass block.  Not to mention, and many will scoff at this, but Thomas Jones is an excellent option in the passnig game.  So at the very worst, we were looking at Jones at least being a third down option.  Fast forward to now, and as of press time, Benson was still unsigned.  More bad news for Benson in 2005 and great news for Jones for this year.  Of course, come 2006, Benson’s stock should take off like a rocket so don’t be afraid to take him on your dynasty team for this year…just know you probably won’t get much from him in 2005. 

JJ Arrington, Arizona (2, 44, California)
Another intruiging battle for the starting role takes place in Arizona and I see Arrington as the other rookie RB that could have an impact in 2005.  If your dynasty team needs a RB now, perhaps Arrington moves up your list in front of Benson and Brown.  I see those two having better overall careers, but sometimes you have to play for the present as well.  Arrington is just what the doctor ordered for the Cardinals and Coach Green, and with only Marcel Shipp to get around, JJ has a very good chance to be a productive fantasy player in 2005. 

Hammerhead
The Hammerheads are filled with a trilogy of intruiging prospects, guys that are “in the mix” for 2005 and could be long term options.  Don’t be afraid to pull the trigger and put these guys on your team, drafting them in front of any or all the available WRs. 

Eric Shelton, Carolina (2, 54, Louisville)
The Panthers backfield is crowded, but the reports I’m hearing on Stephen Davis are not good.  In addition to Davis, many will point to Deshaun Foster as being the guy.  I’ve changed my tune on Foster, a couple years ago there may not have been a bigger booster of Foster than myself.  Now, I’m not so sure.  Yes, the guy has looked tremendous at times, but the fact that he’s been hurt in every one of his first three seasons is not good.  Couple that with the fact that he’s in a contract year this season and you’ve got a situation where the Panthers drafted their future in Eric Shelton. 

Frank Gore, San Francisco (3, 65, Miami, FL)
As 2004 wore on, even the most ardent of Kevan Barlow supporters were growing tired of his act.  The whining, the complaining – there’s no room for that in football!!  So where does that leave Barlow in 2005?  No one knows for sure.  What we do know, is the Niners drafted a viable option should Barlow continue his 2004 story.  Gore could emerge as a player in 2005 and should be around for the longer term in San Francisco, certainly more so than Barlow. 

Maurice Clarett, Denver (3, 101, Ohio State)
Speaking of crowded backfields, there probably aren’t many around the NFL as deep as Denver.  Yet as we recall in 2004, Reuben Droughns was fifth on the RB depth chart and he turned out to be a pretty good fantasy play last season.  We’ve all heard and more than likely grown tired of the Maurice Clarett story.  Finally, we’re going to see the guy in pads running on a football field.  While on one hand, the Broncos have been a runningback factory, on the other hand, the Broncos have been a runningback factory – a different guy every year.  Clarett will have his work cut out for him and will probably need a couple of breaks to see the playing field, but I’m betting he’s got a chip on his shoulder from having to sit out a couple seasons so he’ll be ready to roll and produce when asked. 

Blue
We start to get a little deeper here, but don’t overlook any of these guys in the later rounds of your dynasty drafts. 
 
Darren Sproles, San Diego (4, 130, Kansas State)
Owners of LaDainian Tomlinson should be looking in this direction for his backup.  Jesse Chatman is out of the picture, so only Michael Turner stands in Sproles’ way.  You don’t need me to tell you about Tomlinson’s workload and durability, so any action in 2005 (and even 2006) is unlikely, but it can’t hurt to protect your investment. 

Marion Barber, Dallas (4, 109, Minnesota)
Barber is another guy that’s in a mano-e-mano battle for the backup job.  He’ll take on Anthony Thomas for the role behind Julius Jones.  While I don’t see Barber getting past Thomas, Barber is a nice young RB that is worth stashing on your dynasty roster to see what happens in the next couple of years. 

Vernand Morency, Houston (3, 73, Oklahoma State)
Morency falls into the Blue category simply out of numbers.  I’m still baffled as to why Dom Davis doesn’t get much respect in the fantasy community, but that’s just me.  He’s entrenched as the starter, and just recently signed to a long term deal.  He’s not going anywhere.  Morency has to battle Tony Hollings and Jonathon Wells on the depth chart so things are a bit crowded.  Don’t expect much playing time in 2005, or even beyond for Morency.  

Ryan Moats, Philadelphia (3, 77, Louisiana Tech)
Moats sneaks into the Blue category based on numbers and players in front of him.  Brian Westbrook and Correll Buckhalter aren’t exactly poster children for durable players, so Moats does have an outside shot at seeing some work.  I do like his long term prospects, so draft him and hold for a couple years to enjoy. 

Leopard
And we go deeper still, use a late round dynasty draft on these guys and find room on your roster to hold onto them for a year to see if they are NFL material. 

Alvin Pearman, Jacksonville (4, 127, Virginia)
Fred Taylor’s backup will always have some fantasy value, and Pearman has a decent chance at winning that role.  He’s in a battle with Labrandon Toefield, who didn’t win many friends in the coaching staff last season.  That said, Pearman should make his way onto the field, he has good hands so he should see at least a little action in the passing game. 

Brandon Jacobs, New York Giants (4, 110, Southern Illinois)
Sure, I’ve heard the stories that Jacobs might steal a few goal line carries, but that’s not going to get it done in the fantasy world.  He’ll probably end up as Barber’s backup this season, but I just don’t have a good feeling about his long term fantasy outlook. 

Damien Nash, Tennessee (5, 142, Missouri)
Before the Travis Henry trade, Nash was a Hammerhead, now he falls all the way to Leopard.  It would be very easy to dismiss Chris Brown as a long term option because he lacks any sense of durability.  Travis Henry is the exact opposite, extremely durable.  For that reason, the Titans may have settled on Henry as their guy for the next 2-3 years, leaving Nash as the backup.  

Deandra Cobb, Atlanta (6, 201, Michigan State)
I like Cobb, not his first name so much, but his running ability.  However, with guys like Warrick Dunn and TJ Duckett in front of him, Cobb may not see the light of day for a number of years. 

Ciatrick Fason, Minnesota (4, 112, Florida)
If it were anywhere else but Minnesota, then Fason makes the cut as a Hammerhead.  But for the Vikings, forget it.  Michael Bennett, Mewelde Moore, Moe Williams, Wizzinator, the list goes on and on.  Worse, is that Minnesota never seems to settle on a single guy, so the chances of one of these players being any kind of fantasy factor.  Fason isn’t too high on my list of rookie RBs. 

Sand
These guys have the deck stacked against them, they’re looking at very little change of playing time in 2005 and all are long shots to stick around for any long term benefits. 

Cedric Houston, New York Jets (6, 182, Tennessee)
Curtis Martin looked as good as ever last year, Derrick Blaylock is in the mix.

Noah Herron, Pittsburgh (7, 244, Northwestern)
Herron probably starts the season as RB5, or perhaps even just the practice squad. 

Anthony Davis, Indianapolis (7, 243, Wisconsin)
Edgerrin James and Dominic Rhodes will be carrying the load, Davis hopes to carry their gear. 

Fullbacks
No sense sugar coating any of these guys, they don’t even make the cut as Sand Sharks.  Some cool football names in the mix here, definately fullback material.  However, that means in no way shape or form should they be considered fantasy football material.

Manuel White, Washington (4, 120, UCLA)
Justin Green, Baltimore (5, 158, Montana)
Rich Razzano, Tampa Bay (7, 221, Mississippi)
Nehemiah Broughton, Washington (7, 222, Citadel)
Lionel Gates, Buffalo (7, 236, Louisville)
Madison Hedgecock, St.Louis (7, 251, North Carolina)

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FantasySharks.com began in 2003, disseminating fantasy football content on the web for free. It is, or has been, home to some of the most talented and best known fantasy writers on the planet. Owned and operated by Tony Holm (5 time Fantasy Sports Writer Association Hall-of-Fame nominee,) Tony started writing fantasy content in 1993 for the only three fantasy football web sites in existence at the time.