Some would say, "In the modern era of football, championships are purchased not earned." Eh, maybe.
I'm more inclined to think that of the fantasy realm vs. playing it out in real life. Just ask Daniel Snyder how well that has worked out for him.
What you will typically find is that most fantasy championship campaigns are dominated in one of two ways. The first is drafting steady producers that will help you finish first or second at the end of the season and help you secure the all important bye week in the playoffs. Usually this is done by drafting one or two of the top RB's available, having a solid QB and a couple of steady wide-outs who are capable of catching fire every couple of weeks.
The other way to fantasy glory is how the winner of a ton of leagues managed it last year...draft a solid team and then fall straight into a big pile of luck, by picking one of the two waiver wire wonders of off the scrap heap and riding him straight through your opponents into the fantasy sunset. Of course, I speak of waiver wire wonder numero uno, Jamal Charles and waiver wire wonder dos, Jerome Harrison.
I personally had a solid team last year, then DeAngelo Williams goes down and to my great fortune, Mr. Charles was available. Season, playoffs, championship....all mine. But do you really want to rely on pure dumb luck or would you rather be prepared and dominate the competition from draft to trophy time? Look a win is a win, but chances are, you won't get a gem like Charles that late in the season again this year. So that being said, let's look at the top five RB's who will propel you to victory.
One caveat, since I'm blogging primarily about auction leagues, I'm going to examine this from the perspective of production per dollar spent. Since Chris Johnson is the #1 back on almost every list in existence it's hard not to have him somewhere in my top 5. But he's not. Now, I'm not one to doubt Chris Johnson cause the dude just put up 2000 yards rushing. However, looking back at the past 2000 yard gainers and you'll run across words like 2000 yard curse....etc. Significant drop off in production including yardage and touchdowns, not to mention 4 of the previous 5 didn't even finish the year injury free. Curse or just overuse, I believe the numbers prove it out. Buyer beware.
#1 - Ray Rice $62 value Remember last year, when no one was sure who would get the lion's share of work in Baltimore. Yes, the Ravens were and are loaded at the RB position. But as the season approached last year, you had McGahee, Rice and McClain all vying for top spot. Sure a few of Rice's TD's were vultured by his competitors, but eventually, Rice won out and boy did he, to the tune of 1339 rushing yards, 73 receptions and 702 receiving yards. That's like having a top tier RB and middle tier WR all in one player.
#2 - Maurice Jones-Drew $59 value He's too small, he's not a workhorse back, he's not...shut up...he's the freaking man! MJD made all the naysayers eat a big fat heap of crow last year and there's seconds for all those who are still calling bluff. My man J-D will put up the same 1300-1450+ yards as 2009, and hang the same 50+ catches he did last year. He's a pin ball of a man. He bounces off would be tacklers, shreds backers like Hulkamania shirts. Don't pass on MJD, you'll regret it.
#3 - Adrian Peterson $55 value AP is #2 on most lists behind Johnson. He is a true workhorse back. Strong as an ox and capable of the homerun at any moment. However, AP only had three 100 yard games last year. He did manage nearly 1400 yards but in 3 of his final 5 games last year, he rushed for 19, 35 & 54 yards. Those are #'s that I could put up...well...maybe. Not to mention his propensity to dropping the rock (9 in 2008 & 7 in '09.) All combined, I look for AP to be a top 5 back but not #2 as everyone other list circulating the web.
#4 - Rashard Mendenhall Yes, the Steelers have become a passing team. Heck, it's become a passing league. But Mendenhall has fresh legs, only posting 242 carries last year averaging 4.6 yards per carry. With Roethlisburger out for the first 6 games of the year, look for Mendenhall to receive his fair share of the load. Mendenhall also averaged 10.4 yards per catch out of the backfield and I look for him to receive plenty of check downs as Coach Tomlin will play it safe with backup QB Byron Leftwich.
#5 - Ryan Mathews What a rookie in the top 5. I believe so. San Diego is missing 2 key components of their offense with WR Jackson and LG McNeill possibly sitting out till week 10. What's that do for Mathews you ask? OK, McNeill's absence certainly won't help but look for the Bolts to run plenty. Jackson's absence will put more focus on the running game as QB Phillips will need to dump the ball off more often. And coach Turner has already committed to running the ball, stating he expects Mathews to get up to 250 rushes and as many as 40 catches for the season. If Mathews averages 4.5 yards per carry, that adds up to about 1200 yards and an avg of 7 yards per catch would equate to nearly 300 yards. That couple with Turners propensity to rush the ball inside the 10 yard line, Mathews is almost a lock for 10+ TD's. Pretty solid for a rookie.
OK, back to Chris Johnson. Look, I didn't say, "Don't draft Chris Johnson." He'll be a solid top 10 back, maybe even top 5. But don't count on him equaling his 2009 numbers. He simply can't. I hope he reads this and proves me wrong, that would be great, but he wouldn't take the time for this blog.
Last but not least, Michael "The Burner" Turner would be in my top 5 if he had more catches, but he's simply not the receiving back that my current top 5 have shown to be and he needs to stay healthy this year for me to be comfortable drafting him so high.
OK, next post, 5 RB's to steer clear of in the 2010 Auction draft.