Sunday - Jun 16, 2019

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Running Back Anonymous

The scene opens up in a poorly lit room, a sort of classroom maybe, an older room as some of the paint is peeling from the walls. There are people sitting on rickety chairs in a circle. I can’t recognize any faces, in fact, I just can’t see faces, just bodies. Seems to me there are between 30 and 40 people, a big crowd for this size room, which is creating that “hot and stale” feeling…now that I think of it, I’m not even sure if I’m one of the people or I’m just hovering above watching the scene…

“Hi, I’m Doug Coutts.” [I guess that means I’m in the room.]“Hi, Doug, ” responds the entire group.
“This is my first time here….” [I’m struggling to find the words]“Welcome, Doug. It’s ok, take your time,” a voice calls out.
“Ok, I’m here tonight because….ummm…well…wow, this is hard to say…”
The person next to me puts a hand on my back and says, “it’s ok, that’s why we’re all here.”
I continue, “…well, I guess….yes, umm….ok, here goes [I take a deep breath] I’m addicted to running backs.”
[The crowd erupts into applause.]I gain confidence and continue, “…I just LOVE running backs, I can’t get enough of them! LOVE THEM, LOVE THEM ALL!”
[The applause grows louder….people are patting me on the back now. Gee, that felt pretty good to say!! But wait, there’s this beeping off in the distance…it’s growing louder…and LOUDER….the others in the room don’t seem to hear it…what’s happening???]

Damn, 6am, it’s my alarm clock, time to wake up.

Has that scene ever unfolded for you? Are you someone that is desperately searching for a local RB-Anon chapter? Perhaps it’s time that I went ahead and started one because when it comes to a fantasy football draft, I don’t even try to hide it anymore: I LOVE RUNNING BACKS!

My psychologist and I agree that there were two events that triggered this affliction. The first incident was way back in the early times of my first fantasy league. I had been scuffling along, not knowing what I was doing. I would just call out names, fill up positions and run the season. Heck, I was more interested in the beer and pizza that went along with the draft. The seasons always ended poorly, and I would foolishly blame it on poor draft position (in our 12 team league, I was #12, #11 and #9 in the first three years of the league). So you can imagine my exhilaration the next year when I drew the ace of spades, #1 PICK, WAHOO! I immediately called out “TD”, and everyone knew who that meant, Terrell Davis. He was in his prime, coming off another season in which he was ridiculously dominant. I revolved my whole draft around him, eschewing all other running backs until the 10th round. Hey, I had Terrell Davis, I didn’t need any more backs and I was gonna win the league easily. Well, a funny thing happened that season, Davis shredded his knee early in the season. That also shredded my season as well as I once again finished in the cellar of the league. I was scarred for a long time.

The second contributing factor happened years later. Tony offered me a chance to share a dynasty league team with him. He would be taking over a team but didn’t think he’d have enough time to dedicate to running the show alone so he brought me on board to insure that between the two of us, we’d be able to run a top notch team. It was our first venture into a dynasty league and seemed like it would be fun. When we got a look at the team we were inheriting and it was obvious why it was being abandoned as simply put, it was [Bill Walton voice here] Teeeerrrrr-ible. Of the 22 players, there were a couple of decent names, but our #1 running back was Jim Kliensasser (and yes, I am chuckling along with you, NEVER should a Kliensasser be your #1 running back, kitchen appliance maybe, running back, NO!). Even worse, the league required a starting lineup that included 2 RBs. Wow. Needless to say, our season was rewarded with the #1 pick in next season’s rookie draft.

I think that’s when it hit me, I never again in ANY league, wanted to be without a running back. Ever since that rookie draft I’ve been in love with runningbacks. Incidentally (I’m sure you’re all on the edge of your seats wondering how bad that team still is), we ended up finagling 2 of the first 4 picks that year, using them to select Ron Dayne and a guy named Shawn Alexander. Two years later (during which time we dealt away Alexander for Ricky Williams) we were league champions. Don’t you just love a happy ending?

So back to the point of this story, my love of running backs and why you should consider joining my group. You’ve read everywhere already that running backs are scarce, good ones that is, not a new story. The key is if you are going to go heavy on running backs, go into your draft with that in mind and STICK TO YOUR GUNS! Take on your fourth running back (ie. Charlie Garner) while the other owners in your league cackle at you, after all, they have Warner, Rod Smith, and David Boston and they’re already claiming the title. Don’t worry, in the later rounds as you’re grabbing startable players like Peter Warrick, Keenan McCardell, and Curtis Conway, they’re deciding between guys like Dominic Rhodes, Richard Hundley, and Dorsey Levens. Hmm, which set of player would you rather be picking from?

The math is very simple actually, most NFL teams go with one primary running back. Thirty teams, thirty starting running backs. Yes, there are a handful of teams that go with a couple guys and there are other teams where a primary back hasn’t yet been determined. So roughly speaking and for the sake of argument, let’s say there is a pool of 40 running backs that are “playable” for your starting fantasy team. “Playable” meaning that on any given week, there are 40 guys that have the potential of at least doing something on the field (and yes, we’re taking out the bye week for now).

Now lets go over to the wide receiver position. Normally, each NFL team has 2 on the field, so if it’s a pass play, theoretically both have an even chance of having the ball thrown their way. So we’re talking about a pool of 60 “playable” receivers. Again, “playable” meaning guys that have the potential to do something. This doesn’t even take into account teams that will often have 3 or even 4 wide outs on the field, but I won’t count them in this exercise.

Most fantasy teams require two running backs and two wide receivers (yes, I know, there are probably a hundred different starting position possibilities out there, but let’s keep it simple for the time being). Translating out, that means that under these conditions, depending on your league size you’re looking at 24 or so of each position in a starting fantasy lineup every week. Factor in the bye weeks and injuries, you’re looking at roughly 40 of each position being selected on draft day that will end up in a starting fantasy lineup at some point.

So it comes down to this, would you rather have to start the 40th ranked RB on your list, or the 40th ranked WR on your list? Don’t get me wrong, things have a funny way of working out, injuries, sleepers, contract holdouts, etc, etc, but we’re talking about the law of averages here. For my money, I’d rather be trolling the depths of the WR ranks for a starter instead of sifting for gold where there is none in at the bottom of the RB stream. There’s a better chance that the later wide receiver selection will be on the field more often than the late round running back.

In any case, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it. The other owners in my fantasy leagues already know of my affliction, and it actually generates some good humor at the draft. Many owners secretly bet on when I will take my first non-running back (can range from round four thru seven). Others have taken to betting on when I will finally end up taking a quarterback (last year round twelve), but that’s an article for another time. Until then, get out there and get your RUNNING BACKS!!

 

 

 

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