Running back. Yes, running back. It seems like this theory is starting to pass, but as you look at the statistics of it, it makes more sense than it ever has before. Yes, there are receivers putting up dynamic numbers that can put them in the same class as many of these running backs, but you have to look at the way that each position is distributed. People have fallen in love with the new "passing league" and think that they have to have AJ Green, Calvin Johnson, Dez Bryant, etc. While these players are great, what's their value in comparison to the other positions? In my opinion, out of the top 3 positions in fantasy football (Quarterback, Wide Receiver, and Running Back) the wide receiver is the least valuable at the top of the draft. There is more depth, more newcomers to the position, and impactful rookies that seem to come every year. While the 6-15 range of running back is more fluid, the top 5 have flirted with that position for a few years. The wide receiver is less stable overall. The top of the wide receiver position is loaded with young stars and less players that have been there for many years.
While I haven’t had much experience with redraft leagues in the past few years because of my focus on my main keeper league, but if I were to do one the choice in the first round would be a very easy one. Running back. Let’s look at some of the statistics from last season based on ESPN’s standard scoring system.
· The difference between the top running back (Jamaal Charles) and the 10th highest scoring running back (Fred Jackson): 120 points, or 7.5 points per week.
· The difference between the top wide receiver (Josh Gordon) and the 10th highest scoring wide receiver (Desean Jackson): 39 points, or 2.4375 points per week.
There could be an argument made for taking a quarterback if you miss out on the 3 or 4 elite running backs such as Jamaal Charles, Adrian Peterson, Lesean McCoy, Marshawn Lynch. Assuming that those are the first 4 picks off the board, I may go with a quarterback, but only if I can find one named Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, or Peyton Manning. Looking at the same statistic I used above, quarterbacks go like this:
*Note: I excluded Peyton Manning because he is an obvious outlier and his stats would skew the data too much and this kind of season does not seem like a year-to-year thing.
· The difference between the top quarterback (Drew Brees) and the 10th highest scoring quarterback (Nick Foles): 97 points, or 6.0625 points per week.
The difference per week from the top quarterback to the 10th is still lower than the running back value, which is why I still advocate for the running back first. Like I mentioned earlier though, if you think that you’ve missed out on the elite group, you may be better off taking an elite quarterback. But please, do not be the guy who takes Calvin Johnson top 5. It is not worth the pick and you will be very slim at running back or have a very average quarterback. So keep laughing to the bank as your draft helps you win the championship.