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Fantasy Football Rankings: Heath’s top 12 running backs

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A narrative-based approach to this season’s “RB1s.” Okay, actually I’m mainly talking about Beast Mode.

NFL: Oakland Raiders-Minicamp
I refuse to be the guy that missed out on Beast Mode’s epic return.
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Yours truly has always been more fan than “expert.” I have an aversion to numbers that probably comes from having poor math teachers in grade school. At least, that’s what my math teacher friends tell me. They contend that if I had better teaching as a kid that I would actually enjoy math as an adult.

I think it’s a stretch. But still, the conundrum remains. I love fantasy sports, but I hate numbers. What to do, what to do.

My plan this year is to be more reliant on my gut. I won’t do that by totally ignoring the numbers, which I concede are integral to success in the fake game. But it will be a relief for me to let go of the math a bit. This year I want to embrace the narrative, which does have a place in our analysis. Athletes are people, too. Hence, stories will always matter.

That doesn’t mean I won’t compete. In Week 17 of last year, I enjoyed the Tim Riggins-style block by Michael Floyd that sprung my Julian Edelman shares for a massive day against the Dolphins. Because of Edelman and some others, I nearly took down the $1 Squib on FanDuel, finishing in fourth place out of 47,058 entries. A cool $700 on that $1 entry was some serious return-on-investment. I also finished eighth out of 62 experts in FantasyPros’ season-long NFL Daily Fantasy Accuracy Cup last year. And finally, after focusing solely on tight ends here at Fake Teams for in-season rankings, yours truly was 10th in tight end accuracy out of 132 experts over at FantasyPros. This year I want to do all of that better. I just might take a slightly different path to get there.

This year, I am reinserting more fun stuff. Like Marshawn Freaking Lynch returning to football. As you’ll see below, that is one narrative that I am fully embracing this season.

So without further ado, I give you my top 12 running backs of 2017. I wish you would haggle and agree or disagree in the comments section. That would make it more fun for me. Discourse within the community is what makes it all more enjoyable. It also makes us more informed. Maybe you’ll share something I haven’t considered, or vice versa. Let’s find out, eh?

  1. David Johnson
  2. Le’Veon Bell
  3. Ezekiel Elliott
  4. LeSean McCoy
  5. Melvin Gordon
  6. Devonta Freeman
  7. DeMarco Murray
  8. Marshawn Lynch
  9. Jay Ajayi
  10. Todd Gurley
  11. Jordan Howard
  12. Leonard Fournette

Honorable mentions: Lamar Miller, Isaiah Crowell, Ty Montgomery

I have no serious departures from the industry inside my top seven options. Most touts acknowledge the big three first, followed by McCoy at four.

My major departure is Marshawn “Beast Mode” Lynch. Conventional wisdom says to temper expectations with the running back who is 31 years old and a year removed from football. But this year I said I would rely more on my gut, and my gut tells me to be illogical with Lynch. Some situations just shouldn’t be questioned. Okay, maybe every situation should be questioned. But I don’t want to do that with Lynch.

The Raiders have a complete offense and a great offensive line. If Latavius Murray can score 12 touchdowns behind this unit in 2016, Marshawn can score...20? I’m not joking. I’m asking.

Many will chalk up the year away as a negative for Lynch. And I suppose you can do that. For my part, I’ll consider it less wear-and-tear on the guy, which is a positive. There’s also the narrative of a guy coming back rejuvenated and refocused. I can’t imagine how refreshed Marshawn feels after gallivanting around Scotland and passing out Skittles to the locals.

I mean, watch this video and tell me that you can remain rational with a personality like Marshawn’s. I can’t.

So for that completely narrative-based reason, I have Lynch as my RB8. He may inch higher as we glean more information about the situations ahead of him, too. Stay tuned.

Poll

How many touchdowns will Beast Mode score in 2017?

This poll is closed

  • 47%
    Less than 12
    (113 votes)
  • 34%
    12-15
    (82 votes)
  • 8%
    15-20
    (21 votes)
  • 2%
    20+
    (6 votes)
  • 7%
    He’s a bust. Draft DeAndre Washington.
    (18 votes)
240 votes total Vote Now