Running Back Draft Values
Running back is the most stressed position for the 2013 fantasy football season, and the reasons for this make sense. There are 10 -12 quarterbacks that are solid starters week in and week out. The increased number of reliable QB's directly translates to an increased number of reliable WR's. Tight ends are looking very similar across the board (with a few exceptions), and defenses and kickers are always the stepchildren of fantasy rosters. Based on current NFL trends, it appears the running back position is the roster spot that could elevate fantasy football teams to championship status.
With so much attention and pressure being put on running backs to carry fantasy football teams in the 2013 season, here is a summary of what the first three preseason games have shown.
Tennessee Titans - The Titans upgraded their offensive line and this unit has shown they are much improved from last year. This bodes very well for both Chris Johnson and Shonn Greene. Jake Locker has also shown signs of maturity, and while no one is expecting him to be a gamebreaker, he may not be the game-buster fantasy footballers are afraid he could become.
Maurice Jones-Drew - MJD has not played a lot during the preseason, but he has looked strong during his time on the field. The Jacksonville offense has shown a few moments of improvement, but a bad offense has not held MJD back in the past. Jones-Drew looks healthy and may prove to be a very good fantasy draft bargain.
Ahmad Bradshaw - The Colts passing offense has looked very solid this preseason, but their running game has not looked as good. The reports say the Colts want to be more physical and use a power run game, but they have not been very successful with this offensive philosophy through three preseason games. The missing factor for the Colts has been Ahmad Bradshaw. Bradshaw showed he has the ability to be a shifty powerback during his time with the Giants and he should be able to step right in and fill this void for the Colts once the season starts.
Ryan Mathews - Mathews has quietly had a very strong preseason, as he has gained 121 yards on 26 carries with one touchdown. Mathews was a major fantasy disappointment last year and no one is expecting San Diego to be the super-charged offense of year's past, however Mathews has fallen to the mid-rounds of fantasy drafts and has shown signs during the preseason that he could be a great value pick this year.
There are four running backs that have been overhyped during the offseason and these running backs are still causing fantasy owners to scratch their heads. Montee Ball, Le'Veon Bell, Eddie Lacy, and Lamar Miller have all been tagged as fantasy sleepers entering the 2013 NFL Season. The problem is that none of these young running backs have set themselves apart from their competition over the course of the preseason. With fantasy football drafts already underway, these once super-hyped sleepers are nothing more than lottery tickets with the potential for a big payoff.
Montee Ball - Ball's pass protection has been very poor and his ground game has not been very impressive either. If you can't protect Peyton Manning, then you don't get on the football field. Ball's draft value is very low, and he should be avoided in all drafts.
Le'Veon Bell - Bell has not only under impressed, but now he is hurt. His stock has taken a major hit, and now he is only worth a late round pick in hopes that he can earn playing time once he returns. Bell has the potential to take over the starting job in Pittsburgh, but remember the Steelers just traded for Felix Jones.
Eddie Lacy - Lacy has had very wowing performances this preseason and very unspectacular performances. The bigger obstacle to Lacy's draft value is the fact that DuJuan Harris is still listed as the top running back in Green Bay, and Harris has gotten lots of first team reps during preseason game action. Is this just a decoy by the Packers, or is Harris really going to get the majority of the carries? Lacy's draft value is directly related to how fantasy owners choose to answer this question.
Lamar Miller - Miller received great hype and praise over the offseason. This hype peaked when Frank Gore compared Miller to Clinton Portis. A comparison like that sure got the attention of the Fantasy Football World. But despite all the high praise, Miller has not lived up to this hype during the Dolphins' preseason action. Miller's draft value is in flux, but if he is named the starter then he will move up several rounds on draft day.