Here are four words no college fantasy football owner wants to hear: Running Back By Committee.
It’s a plague that has infected the NFL. There are very few true featured backs left in the pro game. The trend has also picked up some steam at the college level.
It begs the question: Who are the talented college fantasy running backs that could fall victim to this “demonry”?
There are some programs where fantasy running back duos are able to co-exist: See Oklahoma and Oregon in 2008. There are other situations where it completely devalues the players involved, driving fantasy owners insane: See Clemson and USC from the past few years.
Here is a quick rundown of some potential RBBC situations to monitor this offseason.
Say It Ain’t So!
Kendall Hunter was a fantasy star last fall, and he should continue to be a top player in 2009. However, there are whispers out of Stillwater that coach Mike Gundy might want get the other backs more involved in their offense.
Bigger backs Keith Toston and Beau Johnson proved their worth last season, both averaging over six yards per carry. In addition to stealing carries, they could become a bigger part of Oklahoma State’s goal line offense—vulture alert!
We’re not saying “don’t draft Hunter,” but keep an eye on the stories coming out of Pokes camp in August.
With Knowshon Moreno off to play on Sundays, the logical question to ask is, “who’s next in line?” Well, the answer might be multiple backs.
Prior to Moreno, you have to go back to 2002 to find a 1,000-yard rusher in Athens (Musa Smith). The leading rushers in 2003-07 were hardly fantasy-worthy options: 709 yards/6 TDs, 875/8, 736/4, 798/6. Those infatuated with Caleb King should beware of Richard Samuel, Dontavius Jackson, and Washaun Ealey.
Georgia will be breaking in a new quarterback this fall. Does this mean they will rely more on the running game and go back to their old RBBC ways?
“Wait a minute Geek, we thought Darren Evans was the second coming of Lee Suggs?” Not so fast, my friend.
While Evans was a fantasy sensation down the stretch in 2008, let’s remember he was forced into heavy duty out of necessity. Kenny Lewis Jr. was lost for the year with an Achilles injury, and the coaches didn’t want to burn the redshirt of Ryan Williams in the middle of the season. The coaches are very high on Williams, who was Rivals.com’s No. 3 prep RB in 2007.
When you factor in that Lewis should back, and the Hokies landed another highly touted prep ball carrier in their latest recruiting haul (David Wilson—No. 4 RB in 2008), you come to the realization that Evans is no sure thing to repeat his 2008 performance.
Here we are on March 13, and there has still been no word from the NCAA on whether Luke Lippincott will be granted a sixth year of eligibility. What the heck are they waiting for?
As we discussed in a previous article, if Lippincott returns, the Nevada RB situation is thrown out of whack. We think Lippincott and Vai Taua would both be draft-worthy fantasy options, but the chances of one becoming a superstar would be greatly diminished.
Those of you who watched the Navy offense under coach Paul Johnson know that the Midshipmen spread the ball around to many backs. It was really difficult to figure out, from a fantasy perspective, who would be getting the ball from game to game.
Johnson moved on to Georgia Tech, and his offense took the ACC by storm. He relied heavily on the star running back he inherited, Jonathan Dwyer. Dwyer went on to become the ACC Player of the Year after racking up 200 carries, 1,395 yards, and 12 TDs.
This year, Louisville transfer Anthony Allen enters the fold. Allen scored 20 touchdowns in two seasons as a Cardinal. Will he take away carries and scores from Dwyer? With another year under his belt, will Coach Johnson start to mimic his old Navy offense and get others the ball? We shall see.
Save Yourself the Trouble
If you play NFL fantasy football, you know to steer clear of Denver Bronco running backs, right? Every year, some sucker takes a Bronco too high on draft day, thinking he will be the next Terrell Davis or Mike Anderson—and that pick usually doesn’t pan out. The same thing can be said for USC running backs in the post-Reggie Bush era.
Until coach Pete Carroll proves he can commit to a feature back (or even two backs), just save yourself the aggravation and avoid the temptation to take a Trojan RB.
As long as Tim Tebow graces Gainesville with his presence, don’t listen to any of the hype surrounding the other Gator running backs who show great promise this spring. Chris Rainey, Jeffrey Demps, and USC transfer Emmanuel Moody are all fantastic talents, but most likely won’t have a chance to become fantasy stars until Tim leaves campus.
High Profile Question Marks
Miami: Javarris James, Graig Cooper, and early enrollee Mike James create a logjam in the Coral Gables backfield.
Ohio State: Beanie is off to the NFL. Boom Herron and Brandon Saine return, and prep star Jamaal Berry could shake things up.
Texas: Mack Brown claims the ‘Horns are hellbent on improving their (non-McCoy) running game. Cody Johnson, Fozzy Whitaker, Vondrell McGee, and incoming freshman Chris Whaley are in the mix.
Michigan State: Exit Javon Ringer. Enter freshmen Larry Caper and Edwin Baker. Glenn Winston could be out of the loop due to legal troubles.
Arizona: Will Nic Grigsby and Keola Antolin continue to split carries, or will one emerge?
TCU: Aaron Brown departs. Will highly touted incoming frosh Waymon James challenge Joseph Turner?
Todd DeVries is the founder of CollegeFootballGeek.com, your premier resource for college fantasy football information. Check us out.