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The Sun-Times - Heber Springs, AR
  • Fantasy Football: Draft value of running backs gets higher

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  • GateHouse News ServiceOne carry was all it took to remind fantasy football owners of just how fragile your draft and/or season can potentially be.
    Ryan Mathews (SD) broke his clavicle on the first carry of pre-season last week, and it has already had a ripple effect on drafts. Mathews says he’s targeting a return Week 1 of the regular season, but previous and current fantasy owners of the third-year back know that injuries tend to linger.
    Add that to the knee injury to Trent Richardson (CLE) from a couple of weeks ago and the uncertainty of Marshawn Lynch (SEA) and suddenly the value of running backs has skyrocketed.
    I’m not too fond of either Richardson (rookie), Lynch (rushed for more yards last year than in last two seasons) or Mathews (injury history), but their absence has — short or long term — changed the landscape of the draft.
    Last weekend, I participated in my first draft of the year (more on why drafting early is for dummies in a bit). Aside from a few odd-ball picks, it was clear that running backs were going to be selected at a premium.
    Nine of the first 15 picks were RBs, including Adrian Peterson (MIN), Chris Johnson (TEN), Matt Forte (CHI) and DeMarco Murray (DAL) which were all drafted in the first round in a 12-team league. Jamaal Charles (KC) and Darren McFadden (OAK) were selected 13th and 14th overall to begin the second round.
    I think the general consensus was if I don’t take a back soon, I’ll be stuck with a bottom-tier guy as my RB1.
    Not good.
    This is the climate that some of you may face during your upcoming draft. The upside is there might still be some quality guys available by the time you make your picks (top-tier receivers, QBs and even tight ends may be steals at your draft position).
    Remember, it’s not impossible to win a league with less-than stellar backs. But you’ll probably want to stash as least one capable guy, especially if they’re elite. Because they likely won’t be there by your next pick.
    Drafting early is dumb
    There isn’t a depth chart in the NFL that’s been finalized. Not one. So what’s the big rush in drafting early in fantasy drafts?
    It’s pretty dumb if you ask me. I’ve noted in this space before that drafting early is for dummies. Well, once again you can count me in as a big dummy.
    I ended up drafting pretty well — then again, I say that every year and haven’t won a championship since 2010 — but I picked up players that have question marks.
    Mike Wallace (PIT) is still out of camp and will be in a new system with new offensive coordinator Todd Haley. Greg Jennings (GB) is still concussed and you just don’t know with concussions how long a player will be out.
    Page 2 of 2 - And of course, nabbing those two players in the second and third round respectively, I wasn’t left with much at running back after Ray Rice (BAL). But again, a dummy would draft this early with so many question marks.
    Breakin’ Bread List
    For those unfamiliar or may have just forgotten from last week’s column, the Breakin’ Bread List showcases who I expect to be the top scorers for the week.
    As the season hasn’t exactly started yet, this will show who I believe will be the top six scorers for the season. Here’s the catch — I’m only using two quarterbacks. As we’ve seen of late, QBs tend to score the most points in fantasy, so as to show a more complete list, I’m using that limit.
    This list, along with Can’t Wait! Waiver Wire Pickups, The Purple Drank list — presented by JaMarcus Russell and Don’t Sleep on my Sleepers will be included in this fantasy column once the football season is underway.
    Next week, I will predict my six duds for the season in The Purple Drank list — presented by JaMarcus Russell.
    QB: Aaron Rodgers (GB), Drew Brees (NO)
    RB: Ray Rice (BAL), Arian Foster (TEX)
    WR: Calvin Johnson (DET)
    TE: Rob Gronkowski (NE)
    Joey Baskerville (@jmark79) writes his Pick Six Weekly column every Wednesday during the NFL season. He is a sports writer for The Journal-Standard. Reach him at jbaskerville@journalstandard.com.

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