Fantasy Question of the Week: Should I Run or Pass?

John Buco@john.bucoCorrespondent IJune 19, 2008

With fantasy basketball, fantasy hockey, and March Madness significantly behind us, we turn to probably the two most popular fantasy sports among avid and casual players:  baseball and football.

Being that the fantasy baseball season is now in full swing (no pun intended), I am going to take a first look at the fantasy football draft.

The looming question usually is who to take first.  This year, the first three-four picks are pretty clear, even in the exact order:

1.  LaDainian Tomlinson—He has clearly been the driving force toward fantasy championships for the last several years.  And last year was an off year?

2.  Adrian Peterson—It took some difficulty for me to put him this high, given the propensity for sophomore slumps, but the upside to the risk is just too great.

3.  Steven Jackson—He's healthy.  Marc Bulger is healthy.  Most importantly, Orlando Pace is healthy.  Could be a banner year.

4.  Joseph Addai—He gets the edge over Westbrook (aging) and Marion Barber (first year carrying the full load).  Addai could have a breakout season behind the most silent-but-deadly offense in the league.

So, after Addai is taken, where do we go?  Do we stick with the running backs or move on to something else?  Conventional wisdom says get your running backs first.  However, there have been many successful team owners who have waited until rounds three or four to take their backs.

For instance, I remember a guy I drafted with last year.  He started the draft with the eighth pick and took Tom Brady.  He drafted Randy Moss in the second round.  In rounds three and four he took Marshawn Lynch and Adrian Peterson.  Almost everyone laughed at him. He only lost one game that season (the Patriots' bye week).

However, this is a rare occurrence.  Picks five-seven should be smart.  It seems pretty safe to go with Westbrook, Barber, Frank Gore, and Clinton Portis.  Brady, Moss, and Peyton Manning are also safe picks.  Once you hit that pick nine or 10, it gets interesting.

Pick 10 is arguably the best pick after one and two.  That lucky person gets two picks in a row.  Most take the two best running backs on the board.  Some people this year may get "stuck with" Larry Johnson, Marshawn Lynch, or Willis McGahee.  (I use the term "stuck with" very loosely.)

To be honest, the running back core gets deeper every year.  There really are only a handful of good quarterbacks, and rarely does someone get lucky with a Derek Anderson.

Wide receivers are not as deep as they used to be either.  Moss, Terrell Owens, Larry Fitzgerald, Anquan Boldin, Andre Johnson, and Reggie Wayne round out the top of that class.

The best bet is to stick with conventional wisdom and take a running back in the first round.  The only players other than running backs that should go first are (in this order):

1.  Tom Brady

2.  Peyton Manning

3.  Randy Moss

Honorable mention:  Terrell Owens, Tony Romo

I most definitely entertain differing opinions.  I am not the expert drafter in my own right.  Just remember to consider that much of so-called "Fantasy Football Guru-ism" is based on a large amount of luck. 

Some people could have predicted a good season from Adrian Peterson, but not nearly the numbers that he put up.  And if you had told me that Derek Anderson was going to make the Pro Bowl, I (and everyone else outside of the Cleveland metro area) would have smacked you silly.