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Fantasy Football: 5 Things You Need to Know About the Running Back Position

Giancarlo Ferrari-KingFeatured ColumnistAugust 13, 2013

Fantasy Football: 5 Things You Need to Know About the Running Back Position

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    Since the dark ages of fantasy football, the running back position has always reigned supreme.

    From the days of the workhorse, grind-it-out backs to the modern day running-back-by-committee approach, great fantasy football teams have always thrived off good running back play.

    So before you sit down and draft your team of destiny this summer, it's time to take a refresher course and learn more about the most rewarding position in fantasy sports.

    From the art of drafting handcuffs to guys you need to pay attention to and beyond, start the slideshow below and take a look at five things you need to know about the running back position.

    *All stats courtesy of ESPN unless noted otherwise.

    *All Average Draft Positions courtesy of My Fantasy League.com unless noted otherwise.

Hunt for Value

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    The word "value" can't be emphasized enough when talking about fantasy football and running backs.

    While you always want to draft historically productive players early on, finding niche players who can bolster your roster in the mid to late rounds of your draft is key to building a sound, deep squad.

    Right now as it stands, there are a few running backs who are currently being undervalued.

    Drafting these talented players will give your team a delicious cronut-like treat when it comes to potential trades and scoring during the season.

    New York Giants running back Andre Brown—whose ADP is sitting at 96.30—is a prime example of a fantastic value pick.

    According to Marc Sessler of NFL.com, Brown and fellow Giants RB David Wilson are going to split the workload this season.

    If you're one of those people who get scared off easily, don't get too worried about the fact that according to Chris Wesseling of NFL.com, Brown is headed for Tom Coughlin's doghouse.

    This young man has too much upside to stay down for long.

    When the regular season kicks into gear, not only will he get his fair share of carries, but because of his size and tenacity, he could gobble up a ton of the goal-line work for a potent Giants offense.

    My friends, this is just one example of finding great value.

    Memorize the word, love the word and, most importantly, don't forget it on draft day.

     

     

Don't Wait Too Long

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    Draft strategies vary depending on what type of player you are.

    But before you get creative and try to outsmart your opponents, please remember that running backs are the bread and butter of a potent fantasy squad.

    You've heard it before: The NFL is a passing league. The numbers just don't lie—NFL.com's Steve Wyche wrote a wonderful article detailing the league's aerial evolution.

    In fantasy football terms, this new aerial style of play just means elite running backs are even more important to acquire.

    With so much depth available to you at the wide receiver and quarterback positions, adding running backs early and often will ensure that your friends and work colleagues throw things at their TVs all season long.

     

The Art of the Handcuff

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    Handcuffing is an art that's been around forever. You draft a stud running back and later on draft his backup to make sure an injury doesn't derail your season.

    Like every year, this season there are a few guys who have to absolutely be handcuffed.

    Whether we're talking about Philadelphia Eagles running back LeSean McCoy or the Oakland Raiders' Darren McFadden, making sure you protect these players' stocks with some insurance can't be overlooked on draft day.

    For those owners who don't land players like McCoy or McFadden in their drafts, sometimes if you have the flexibility, stealing a handcuff is a brilliant strategic move that can help you down the line.

    Guys like Bryce Brown—whose ADP currently is 112.77—and Fred Jackson could end up being nice assets for any roster in need of a boost.

    Regardless of how you look at the situation, drafting these talented handcuff RBs in the later rounds is one strategy all fantasy owners need to embrace.

Pay Attention to the Patriots' Ground Game

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    With all of the turnover and change that has taken place within the New England Patriots' passing attack, people have seemed to forget about their ground game.

    Well, for the non-believers, in the team's preseason debut, the Patriots assaulted the Philadelphia Eagles by way of the run.

    Rushing for 248 yards on the ground, the Pats gave fantasy owners a preview of what we can expect during the regular season.

    Whether it was Stevan Ridley exploding for a 62-yard run or Shane Vereen catching a touchdown pass, the one thing that's clear is New England is going to get creative with their RBs.

    It's easy to forget that last season Ridley finished as the 10th-highest scoring running back according to ESPN's standard league scoring. Now, with a depleted receiving core, look for Ridley to have an even more productive year with the team.

    Outside of Ridley, another guy you need to pay attention to is Shane Vereen.

    One of the most versatile players on this Patriots roster, Vereen is going to be very, very good this season—especially in PPR formatted leagues.

    Whether he is providing Ridley with some relief in the ground game or snagging receptions out of the backfield, look for Vereen to be used in various ways.

    So what is the lesson to be learned here? Well, it's simple. Don't forget about this New England backfield when you're on the clock.

     

     

Decide on DeMarco Murray Before Your Draft Begins

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    Dallas Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray may rock a glimmering star on his helmet, but in fantasy circles this young man may not be worth the headache.

    Productive when he's on the field—according to Pro Football Focus (subscription required), Murray graded out as the 17th-best running back in all of football last year—if you decide to draft him, his constant battles with injury will keep you up at night.

    Currently with an ADP of 32.14, Murray is being selected ahead of guys like Stevan Ridley, Reggie Bush, Lamar Miller and Frank Gore.

    As your No. 2 RB, if you're willing to roll the dice, Murray does have a huge upside. Wanting to make sure they establish the run, talking with WFAA sports, head coach Jason Garrett said, "We have to run the ball better."

    And in order to run the ball better, the Cowboys are going to need to get a lot out of Murray.

    But with other proven commodities still on the board, the question becomes, are you willing to take a chance on Murray this season?

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