Longer NFL Season Means More Running Back-by-Committee Headaches

Jason TurnerCorrespondent IMarch 29, 2009

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - DECEMBER 21:  DeAngelo Williams #34 of the Carolina Panthers runs the ball against the New York Giants on December 21, 2008 at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has expressed that he would like to see the league eliminate two of its preseseason games, and extend the regular season to 17 or 18 games. Although these are only preliminary discussions, there is a possibility that we could see two more regular season games in the not so distant future.

It seems that the  NFL owners are on board with this idea because two more regular season games would mean more dollars in their pockets in a time when the sports economy is, as Joe Namath would say, "Strug-gel- ing."

With two more regular season games we get a longer fantasy season, and we get to bid farewell to some meaningless preseason football. Any true football fan has to be excited about the possibility.

More real football in the same amount of time. Instead of two weeks of watching practice squadders go at it while coaches hold their collective breath in hopes that some catastrophic injury doesn't occur, we will have two more weeks of regular season play.

There are a lot of positive things that could come from an extended regular season for fantasy football leagues.

In fact, I believe that I could talk until I was blue in the face, but I would never convince most fantasy owners that this is a bad idea in any way. If you are reading this article, you probably fall under the category of "if this means more fantasy football then it can't be bad."

You're the type that is excited by the fact that the yearly fantasy draft will have to be pushed up a couple of weeks, prematurely ending the dog days of summer. Talking fantasy football over the grill at your Fourth of July party won't be overly fantasy geeky anymore.

And you've already calculated, that at his 2007 pace, Tom Brady would have had 56.25 passing TDs!

Other than merely bringing us more of our beloved football, extending the regular season by a couple weeks will mean some good things for our fantasy leagues that we might have not thought about.

For instance, two more regular season games will help separate the contenders from the pretenders in the standings. Maybe it won't make a substantial difference, but any time a season is lengthened the really good teams will come out in the wash.

Look at it as a chance to catch that team that has used smoke and mirrors to pass you in the standings.

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I know that it doesn't completely numb the pain, but a longer regular season makes the words "out 3-4 weeks" sound just a little bit less terrible. More games would give owners a better chance to bounce back from the injury bug.

After all, nothing is more frustrating than drafting the perfect team and missing the playoffs by a game because of an injury to a key component. If you've ever owned Brian Westbrook you know exactly what I am talking about.

Without question, there are some great things that could come from an 18 week NFL regular season for fantasy footballers. But if we break it down a little further, one can find some drawbacks as well.

So what negative could come of this?

Three simple words. Running back-by-committee.

I'm not sure if one is supposed to hyphenate those words, but it is rather symbolic to do so. Three words locked together to do the job that one word should probably be doing. I mean, we need to get some kind of ruling on this.

Do we abbreviate the term? This would also be symbolic. RBC...It has a ring to it. It sounds just like what it happens to be. A terrible disease that has spread throughout fantasy football.

Perhaps the most frustrating aspect of NFL coaches deploying RBC's it that it makes so much football sense to do so. Keep your stud running back fresh and healthy for a grinding season. I get it. It makes perfect sense for any NFL franchise with enough talent or specialists to get away with it.

As much sense as it makes, RBC is spreading. And it is slowly killing fantasy football as we know it.

There used to be a time when you drafted a runningback and had a very good idea of exactly what you were getting into. Each NFL team seemed to have one fantasy relavent workhorse running back. You might have an explosive third down back or goal line specialist here and there, but the running back landscape was pretty much transparent.

These days, it seems like more of a crap shoot. Will Darren McFadden take the full load away from Justin Fargas? What would  Adrian Peterson be like carrying an Emmitt Smith-like load? 12 different NFL teams used some kind of committee approach in the NFL last season.

And if the season gets any longer, I can assure you that more teams will adopt this practice. Besides, this is the copycat league. After all, who didn't run the "Wildcat" formation at some point last year.

I came down with a couple of cases of RBC last year myself. I took McFadden and Fargas and ended up trading both of them. That paid off.

On the other hand, I rode the Deangelo Williams roller coaster for a few weeks before becoming ill, trading him away, and becoming even more ill when he tore up the NFL over the last half of the season. Then and there I vowed to never get exposed to RBC again.  

So how is fantasy football forever changed with a longer NFL schedule? For the last 20 years I witnessed running back laced first rounds in every fantasy draft in which I've been involved. That was until last year.

Last year I witnessed seasoned fantasy owners changing their drafting guidelines and going with a wide receivers or quarterbacks in the first couple of rounds.

It seems as if now there are a handful of stud fantasy running backs that get drafted in the top of the first round, and then there are a bunch of time sharing run of the mill backs. RBC had infected our otherwise predictable draft.

This isn't your dad's fantasy league anymore. RBC has pretty much equalized all of the big three positions in fantasy football drafts. With more leagues going to point-per-reception formats, wide receivers are becoming more prevalent in the first round.

Quarterbacks are gaining value simply due to the fact that runningbacks are losing value in timeshare situations.

I myself am torn on the issue. I would love more meaningful games in a season's time, but on the other hand, I completely despise RBC's as they relate to my fantasy team and drafting strategy.

Either way, as fantasy owners it is out of our hands. We will have to wait and see what the league does and adjust accordingly. Many of us have prayed that RBC's will simply go away.

We hope that it is a fad that comes and goes like the run-and-shoot offense. But if the league decides to have more regular season games RBC will become a way of life. And much like the dinosaur, the dodo bird, and hair bands, the stud fantasy running back will be extinct.

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