Fantasy Football: In Round One, Running Back Should be the Focus
Round one of a fantasy draft can have a significant impact on the overall success of your team which is why making sure that you get the pick right is so important. Deciding which position to draft can cause much decisiveness as both the running back and wide receiver positions offer the best overall players in the draft. In my opinion however, the one position I would look at as my main focus would be running back.
Running backs are still very valuable in the league, although the NFL has become much more pass-heavy as I mentioned in an article about quarterbacks from last week. This season, there are five running backs that I would deem draftable in round one, David Johnson, Le’Veon Bell, LeSean McCoy, Devonta Freeman, and Melvin Gordon. Gordon’s stats from last season may have you wondering why I believe he should be considered as a first round pick, but in only 13 games he had 997 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns as well as 41 receptions for 419 receiving yards and 2 receiving touchdowns. Gordon wasn’t the only player who showed up in the receiving game as all five running backs I mentioned had over 40 catches with Johnson leading the way with 80. Also, all except Bell had double digit touchdowns in 2016, however Bell played in just 12 games and still had a tremendous year with 1,884 total yards and 9 total touchdowns.
Both Johnson and Bell are likely to be top two or three selections, while McCoy, Freeman, and Gordon are mid to late first round picks, although one or more may slip into the second round. However, If you are sold on selecting a running back in round one, picking McCoy, Freeman, or Gordon with top 5 picks would not be the worst idea. Obviously, if an elite wide receiver drops to the end of the first round you may need to adjust your strategy, but either way your team should be in good shape. Not every team in the NFL has one clear cut option worth having in RB1 or RB2 positions due to either a team splitting carries between multiple running backs or a team not being very good which is why selecting the right running back in the right situation is important.
In the NFL, so many teams have more than one solid option to catch the ball, whether it be at wide receiver or tight end. Between teams like New England, Green Bay, Oakland as well as others, the ball is spread around enough that you may be able to get away with having the second or third options on a team as starters in your lineup. Running backs however, are not as deep if you want one that has a significant role in their offense.
Having an elite running back who plays on a good team is one of the biggest factors I have began to take into consideration when deciding which to select. For example, Jordan Howard had a phenomenal season in 2016 with 1,313 rushing yards. However the Bears offense as a whole might not be very good in 2017, which is why I would not select him in round 1. All of the running backs I outlined as 1st round pick options played in offenses that were in the top 11 in points, and top 16 in total yards. The above statistics show that the offenses these running backs play in are capable of being above average to very good and therefore should be able to keep opposing defenses from keying in on the running game too much.
Having a great running game is still very vital in the league today. All of the running backs I mentioned have the capability of having 1,000 plus yard seasons, as well as showing up enough in the passing game to add more value to your team. If selected in the first round, these players should live up to the expectation of being one of your best and most consistent players for the 2017 season.
All stats provided by Pro Football Reference.
Colby Gatz covers Fantasy Football for MFST, and you can follow him on Twitter @bostonfan_15.