I was doing my due diligent fantasy football research this past summer and I wanted to share with everyone that I may have uncovered the elusive Holy Grail in drafting strategy for running backs.
In looking at running back stats over the past 10 years I found a few consistencies in those stats that some people may not be aware of that can provide a radical new approach to drafting running backs in fantasy drafts for years to come.
Here is a list of players and where they finished in RB fantasy points (non ppr) at seasons end in the year mentioned. See if you can find what all these backs have in common.
1999 – Marshall Faulk – Rams – 2nd
2000 – Ahman Green – Packers – 5th
2001 – Priest Holmes – Chiefs – 2nd
2002 – Ricky Williams – Dolphins – 2nd
2003 - Clinton Portis – Redskins – 5th
2004- Corey Dillon – Patriots – 7th
2005- Lamont Jordan – Raiders – 7th
2006- Chester Taylor – Vikings – 12th
2007- Jamal Lewis – Browns – 6th
2008- Michael Turner – Falcons – 2nd
The commonality among all of these players was the fact that they switched teams during the offseason either through trade or free agency. Ten of the 10 seasons this type of player finished in the top 12 ranked RB’s and nine of the 10 seasons these players finished seventh or above.
How does this impact drafting strategy for the 2009 season? Derrick Ward and Fred Taylor were the only running backs of significant importance to change teams this season.
Ward probably will be in a more conducive situation to succeed as Tampa’s QB situation is uncertain and they may have to lean a little heavier on the run this season, especially if they decide to go with Josh Freeman as the starter from day one.
I would definitely grab Ward in my drafts this year if you can. Taylor enters a crowded backfield but he could emerge as a surprise starter and put up Corey Dillon type numbers. You can grab Taylor in the later rounds of your draft, just in case he is this year’s breakout man.
Oh, you probably thought I was going to wrap up my analysis here and call it a night. No way, we are only half way through my new draft theory.
Here is another list of players and where they finished in RB fantasy points (non ppr) at seasons end in the year mentioned. See if you can find what all these backs have in common.
1999 – Edgerrin James – Colts – 1st
2000 – Mike Anderson- Broncos – 4th
2001 – LaDainian Tomlinson- Chargers – 7th
2002 – Marcel Shipp- Cardinals – 21st
2003 – Domanick Davis- Texans – 13th
2004- Willis McGahee – Bills – 9th
2005- Cadillac Williams – Buccaneers – 19th
2006 – Maurice Jones Drew – Jaguars – 8th
2007 – Adrian Peterson – Vikings – 3rd
2008 – Matt Forte – Bears – 4th, Steve Slaton – Texans – 6th
This one is a little easier to figure out. I hope that you guessed in correctly. They were all rookies in those respective seasons. In eight of the 10 seasons a rookie finished in the top 13 RB’s and seven of the 10 seasons one finished in the top nine.
What does this mean for your 2009 draft? Draft as many rookies as you can because these guys are hard to figure out sometimes. Knowshon Moreno usually comes off the board first. He is followed by Chris Wells, Donald Brown, LeSean McCoy, and Shonn Greene. That would probably be the order I would try to draft them in at least.
You should be able to pick up most of these backs in these two theories in the third round or later in your draft so draft as many of the above listed backs as you can. This enables you to get some of the two best WR’s on the board.
If you are in an auction style draft(which if you are not you don’t know what you are missing), you could probably easily pick up a backfield of Derrick Ward, Fred Taylor, Knowshon Moreno, Chris Wells, Donald Brown and LeSean McCoy all for less than the price of what you pay for two heavy hitters at the position.
I know what you are thinking. Man, I really don’t want my running back corp. to look like the group above at all. You have to think outside the box on this one and trust the research and 10 years of statistics that prove the theories. I am going to personally test out this strategy in several of my drafts this season.
I hope some of you will too. If it turns out to be a winner please remember where you heard it first. If it’s a loser, well I don’t think Monty Python ever found the Holy Grail in his movie either, so it could have just merely been a mirage.
Jeff Sock is a contributor to http://www.chinstrapninjas.com