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R.I.P. Stud Running Back Theory? The Evidence is Mounting…

Back in the olden days as they are nostalgically called, when you took off on a trip you went without a GPS or smart phone. Way back in the 20th Century we loaded up our station wagon, put the kids in the backseat and started the trip. The kids were not in seat belts and even four-year olds took a wild ride with no car seat. They squirmed and fought over space, but surprisingly they survived.

All we had were an array of out of day road maps and the current Mobile Travel guide, listing things like motels, restaurants and where to find enchanting can’t miss sights like the world’s biggest fur ball, or encouraging us to stop at Wall Drug, just 700 miles down the road. Looking at the RB situation, I am starting to yearn for a guide like that telling me what exactly is going on.

I know that all the supposedly over-the-hill QBs are dominating scoring and all the stats at that position. I understand that virtually all of the young QB phenoms are sucking big time thus far. You have RGIII and now it looks like Colin Kaepernick on the scrap pile, as well as Andrew Luck who might be there too if he was not indeed Andrew Luck.

The WR and TE positions are pretty much as they always have been with most of the good guys producing well and a few new ones arriving on the scene. When I look at the RB pool, it is like looking at a swimming pool, and seeing that the water is bright yellow. Something is certainly amiss.

A few weeks ago, we began to ponder whether the Stud Running Back Theory is dead. I thought that we should continue that train of thought and go back like CSI experts and reconstruct what has happened thus far this season. When we look at the timeline that began around August 1, 2015 many of us studied the rankings lists and ADP results and drafted accordingly. Here are the Top 10 ADP

RB selections and a brief summary of their status after Week 8:

1. Le’Veon Bell, Pit                  Out for the season—Played 6 games with a 19 FPPG average.
2. Eddie Lacy, GB                    #45 in scoring with a 9 FPPG average.
3. Adrian Peterson, Min       #12 in scoring with a 15 FPPG average.
4. Jamaal Charles, KC            Out for the season—Played 5 games with a 21 FPPG average.
5. Marshawn Lynch, Sea       #27 in scoring with a 12 FPPG average.
6. C.J. Anderson, Den             #49 in scoring with an 8 FPPG average.
7. Matt Forte, Chi                      Out several weeks—Played 7 games with a 17 FPPG average.
8. DeMarco Murray, Phi      #13 in scoring with a 15 FPPG average.
9. Jeremy Hill, Cin                  #35 in scoring with an 11 FPPG average.
10. LeSean McCoy, Buf          #14 in scoring with a 14 FPPG average. .

My hands are almost shaking as I type. I feel like I have just discovered something monumental. This might be bigger than finding the origin of the universe, or certainly finding where we can get a delicious chili dog. Among the 2015 Top 10 ADP RBs, there are absolutely NONE, NADA, ZERO healthy ones among the Top 10 in fantasy scoring.

The only one that is close is Matt Forte. As of this writing, he is not out for the season, but there is no timetable for his return. For fantasy purposes, he is pretty much done for 2015. If you don’t have him for your stretch drive, chances are you will not have to worry about whether he is healthy or not when your playoffs convene without you as a participant.

With Peterson, Murray and McCoy at #12, #13 and #14 in scoring, respectively, you still get two out of three guys who have performed well below expectations and have been battling injuries. If we were farmers instead of fantasy football players, we would be talking about a catastrophic crop failure in the RB field for 2015.

It has gotten so bad that two retread RBs, Darren McFadden and Chris Johnson are Top 25 scorers and more surprisingly, looking good doing it. Back on August 1st, I would wager that you had no idea who Antonio Andrews or Charcandrick West was.. And as for Dion Lewis, who even considered him to be a prospect in the New England picture?

In reviewing the Top 10 actual scorers, we find three top ADP RBs plus another one, Arian Foster (down-graded because of injury likelihood) who are out for the season, or at least several weeks.

Here are the Top 10 RBs in fantasy scoring through Week 8:

1. Devonta Freeman, Atl   Active—26 FPPG average (#38 ADP).
2. Jamaal Charles, KC     Out for the season—Played 5 games averaging 21 FPPG (#4 ADP).
3. Arian Foster, Hou        Out for the season—Played 4 games averaging 20 FPPG (#21 ADP).
4. Le’Veon Bell, Pit            Out for the season—Played 6 games averaging 19 FPPG (#1 ADP).
5. Dion Lewis, NE              Active—19 FPPG average (Not rated ADP wise).
6. Todd Gurley, Stl            Active—18 FPPG average (#19 ADP).
7. Mark Ingram, NO         Active—18 FPPG average (#14 ADP).
8. Matt Forte, Chi              Out several weeks—Played 7 games averaging 17 FPPG (#7 ADP).
9. Chris Ivory, NYJ            Active—17 FPPG average (#32 ADP).
10. Doug Martin, TB           Active—16 FPPG average (#27 ADP).

The ADP rankings are based on the 2015 compilation based on over 4,000 drafts of re-drafter PPR leagues. The RB category had 97 players ranked that were selected out of the overall top 300 players drafted.

In our continuing assessment of whether or not the stud RB theory is dead, we now have this evidence to add to the inquiry. Does it have all the answers? No, not by any means, but it does present us with some intriguing questions to be answered over the rest of the season.

How have your teams been impacted? How is the RB drought affecting you? Has anyone actually run out of RBs to fill lineup slots? Between injuries and a six-team bye week, Week 9 is a particularly challenging one.  Also, if you have any lineup questions for me, give me your roster, what you think your lineup should be and any top players available on waivers. I will not just pick your lineup for you. Please email me at

About Mike Nease

Mike Nease is a member of the FSWA and has been playing the game since 1985, while also writing about it since 2001. Over the years he has sampled about all the playing scenarios that fantasy football offers, including re-drafter, keeper, dynasty, auction, IDP and salary cap leagues. He and his wife Bonnie reside in West Chicago, IL You can contact Mike at anytime and during the football season follow him @mikeinsights.