Fantasy Football Draft Strategy 2012: Running Backs to Avoid in First Round

Ian Hanford@Ian_HanfordFeatured ColumnistAugust 20, 2012

GLENDALE, AZ - JANUARY 01:  Runningback Marshawn Lynch #24 of the Seattle Seahawks rushes the football against the Arizona Cardinals during the NFL game at the University of Phoenix Stadium on January 1, 2012 in Glendale, Arizona. The Cardinals defeated the Seahawks 23-20 in overtime.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Common fantasy football draft strategy almost always points to taking a marquee running back in the first round, and this year is no different, but there are a handful of ball-carriers you should avoid at all costs.

They may look attractive on paper, but a household name doesn't mean anything. Don't be the one who finds that out the hard way this year.

Let's take a look at two running backs who you should avoid in the opening round of your fantasy football draft this year.


Chris Johnson

Johnson may be a former NFL Offensive Player of the Year, but who do you think opposing teams will key on in an offense featuring a first-year starter at quarterback?

Of course it will be Johnson. That doesn't bode well for a back coming off of two seasons where he averaged fewer than 4.5 yards per carry. He still cleared 1,000 yards, but there's no doubt that Johnson has regressed since 2009.

If you're looking for a No. 1 running back, Johnson is going to be appealing. He definitely passes the popularity test, and he should be there in the mid to late first round, but you must avoid him.

With Jake Locker starting the season behind center, the Titans offense is going to go through some growing pains. They will lean on Johnson while they are, and every defense in the league is well aware of that.

He's a fine No. 2 back, but your team is going to suffer if he's your franchise option.


Marshawn Lynch

Fantasy football drafts are to running backs what the NFL draft is to quarterbacks. Lynch may not seem like a first-round talent, but someone will give him a look because of impending fear that elite options will run out.

Lynch had 1,204 yards and 12 touchdowns last season. With Matt Flynn behind center this year, the Seahawks will lean on Lynch again this season.

Don't expect him to duplicate that production. He inked a new contract this offseason, and, despite his talent, there isn't much about him that screams "hard worker."

Lynch will take his new deal and kick back this season, at least enough to see his touchdown total drop to single digits. Considering the touches he's sure to get, that's not nearly enough bang for your buck.

The Seattle ball-carrier is a worthy No. 2 option, and even a No. 1 if it's early in the second round, but taking Lynch in the first round is an unnecessary risk.

I could stretch this list to include injury risks like Matt Forte and Adrian Peterson, but talking you out of taking them in the first round would be pointless. Until then avoid these two backs at all costs in your draft's opening stanza, and you'll be just fine.