Thursday - Mar 21, 2019

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Handcuffed!

Do you remember the good ‘ol days of fantasy football? Each manager in your league had a cheat sheet showing the two running backs that they planned to draft with their first picks. More research went into running backs than any other position since these players ended the season with the most points year in and year out. Whether it was Priest Holmes, Shaun Alexander or LaDainian Tomlinson, you could count on these players to receive nearly every touch and score more than most quarterbacks and wide receivers.

During this day and age, the dynamics of the running back position has evolved into what teams often refer to as “committees,” which is a system of dividing the running load between two to three different running backs. Coach Mike Shanahan was an early adopter of this system, which caused many fantasy managers to avoid drafting Denver Broncos running backs. In 2006, Shanahan began the season with Mike Anderson as his starter, but then fluctuated between Tatum Bell and Mike Bell throughout the season. Shanahan continued this trend in

Denver
, while other teams began to jump on board with a similar strategy leaving fantasy managers completely frustrated.

At the conclusion of the 2009 season, eight of the Top 10 teams in rushing yards used a committee approach. Most notably,

Carolina
’s dynamic duo of DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart, nicknamed “Double Trouble” as well as “Smash and Dash,” each tallied more than 1,100 yards. A successful trio of backs was used by the Baltimore Ravens (Ray Rice, Willis McGahee and Le’Ron McClain) and Dallas Cowboys (Marion Barber, Felix Jones, Tashard Choice). The hottest or healthiest back would generally receive the bulk of carries, but this week to week uncertainty is often difficult to forecast.

Although the committee trend has become more common each season, there are still a handful of teams that count on one primary back for running duties. Last year, many managers were reluctant to draft Chris Johnson due to the fear of shared carries with LenDale White. However, Fisher chose Johnson 358 times to White’s minuscule 64 carries. Other backs that managers should be able to count on in 2010 as the primary runner include Adrian Peterson, Matt Forte, Ryan Grant, Steven Jackson, Maurice Jones-Drew, Frank Gore and Cedric Benson. However, there will likely be a number of sleepers from other teams that can be chosen in late rounds, which can help managers reap huge rewards. Last year’s key sleepers included Justin Forsett, Ray Rice, Ahmad Bradshaw and Ricky Williams.

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In preparation for my draft, I plan to check rankings, team depth charts and injury reports in order to keep tabs on running back situations. If you are unsure whether a running back will receive the bulk of carries, try to handcuff his cohort if possible. These days, running back roles can fluctuate more often than Brett Favre’s decision to retire!

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