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This season is supposed to the year the "Zero RB" strategy becomes the default strategy for drafting fantasy football teams, wherein everybody waits until the fourth or fifth round to draft their first RB.
What that means, of course, is that some of us might find ourselves with a great big opportunity to pick up a really good RB with late first-round and early second-round draft spots . . . if we dare.
Here's my RB rankings, with a couple of notes on when to draft them:
1. Todd Gurley, LAR
I have him No. 5 overall and that won't change. If one of the top four WRs - Brown, Beckham, Jr., Jones or Hopkins - is still there at No. 5, I'd take one of those guys, but then Gurley becomes a steal. If Gurley is still there at No. 7 or 8, take him, and go WR in Round 2.
2. Adrian Peterson, MIN
The most reliable RB pick in Round 1. People will question Gurley's durability going into his second year, but even as age is becoming an issue, few will question AP's ability to log 1,100+ yards rushing and 8-10 TDs.
3. David Johnson, ARI
He's flashy, can pile up stats, and a few rankers even have him No. 1 among RBs. His coach isn't super RB-friendly and has good depth at the position if he wants to spread touches. Might not take him within the top 6 overall, but could be a late first round bargain.
4. Ezekiel Elliott, DAL
Some have argued for the rookie to be the No. 1 RB, and within the top 5 overall. DAL's impressive O-line and its historical dependence on workhorse backs are factors. Too unproven for me to go that high, but clearly he'll be drafted first round universally.
5. Lamar Miller, HOU
This is where my second tier of RBs starts, but I have no problem making him an earlier second rounder for my team's RB-1, as he's now with a team that has and will throw to its RBs when not throwing to WR stud DeAndre Hopkins.
6. Le'Veon Bell, PIT
As always, it's a very fluid situation with Bell, as he might be suspended for four games and is coming back from injury, though camp reports suggest he's stronger than last season. He may move up my rankings before preseason is done, but with a potential 12-game season and injury history, I'm not ready to use a first-round pick on him.
7. Doug Martin, TAM
Moving up my ranks as we speak. His 1,402 rushing yards last year were his most since his amazing 2012 rookie campaign, and included a 235-yard game, but he tapered off late in the season, and often shares touches with pass-catching specialist Charles Sims. Still a solid RB-1, and possibly a bargain if he's still available late in the second round.
8. Jamaal Charles, KC
Only lasted five games last season, though his 5.1 yards per carry and 8.2 yards per catch were improvements on his sluggish 2014 season. Faces a lot of questions about age and durability now, but still figures huge in KC's game plan as both a runner and receiver.
9. Mark Ingram, NO
Nothing flashy last year outside of a 143-yard game - his only one of 100+ yards rushing - but some key data: 4.6 yards per carry last year slightly better than 2014, and 50 catches in 12 games last year after just 29 in 2014.
10. Eddie Lacy, GB
Lacy's moving up the ranks, and could works his way much higher before the month is done. He's fit and focused, and has a personal chip on his shoulder after a disastrous 2015 season. For now, it's all talk, but a good preseason could make him a late first-round pick.
11. Devonta Freeman, ATL
Many have him in the first round, but all indications are that his workload will be lightened. Has the potential to do nothing for a half, then explode for 10 fantasy points on a single play, so take him higher if you're comfortable with that. Not me.
12. Matt Forte, NYJ
Getting into third-round picks here, and Forte is falling fast, while backfield mate Bilal Powell rises. Jets' O-line is not great, but Forte has made a living off screen passes before and should be motivated to make the Bears look foolish.
13. Thomas Rawls, SEA
Went from Marshawn Lynch's understudy last year to a top 5 fantasy starter - until he suffered a season-ending injury. Yet, four 100+ yard games in a 10-game span, including a 209-yard effort, bode really well if you get him early third round or even late second.
14. Jeremy Hill, CIN
All he does is score TDs - I mean that's really the only thing he does. He had 11 last season, tied for the lead among RBs. His 794 rushing yards don't help his case at all, and he doesn't catch many passes, but could get more touches amid CIN's lack of receivers.
15. Latavius Murray, OAK
Despite a couple 100+ yard games last season he didn't have the breakout many envisioned. Yet he still managed 1,066 yards on more than 300 carries, and OAK has a very good O-line. The big risk is if OAK decides to lighten his workload to keep him healthy.
16. LeSean McCoy, BUF
Not sure why everyone has him higher after he collected only 895 yards rushing last year, five total TDs and saw scoring chances vultured by Karlos Williams. BUF has him No. 1 on the depth chart, but he's an RB-2 in my book.
17. Matt Jones, WAS
He had exactly one game over 100 yards last year and it was early, but the emerging dual-threat back has been handed the starting job in WAS with Alfred Morris gone. It's been hard to trust the WAS backfield for about a decade, but Jones looks like a safe bet.
18. Jonathan Stewart, CAR
Finally got a chance to be the lead runner on his team, and didn't do all that much with it. 989 yard rushing and six TDs is pedestrian enough, but he was rarely used in the passing game. Still, he doesn't share rush touches with anyone, which elevates his value.
19. C.J. Anderson, DEN
He hasn't shown much after being a chic first-rounder last year, but I'm buying into the hype that he's improved his quickness out of the backfield and will get more opportunities this year after ending up in a committee last year.
20. Arian Foster, MIA
A frequently injured player turning 30 doesn't sound very reliable, but Foster delivers when he plays. The question is how much will he split touches with much-hyped backfield mate Jay Ajayi.
Just missed: Dion Lewis/James White/Tyler Gaffney/Someone else, NE
Betting on NE RBs is always risky business. Lewis is coming off an ACL injury, and may miss the opening of the season, but was a PPR gold mine in seven game last season. White and Gaffney are both largely untested and competing with several other backs. What's clear is that whoever catches most of passes out of the Pats' backfield is a definite fantasy starter regardless of whether the QB is Jimmy Garoppolo for the first four games or Tom Brady the rest of the way.
Sleeper: Jeremy Langford, CHI
He doesn't break the top 25 in many experts' rankings, averaged only 3.6 yards per carry last year, and John Fox is famous for using a committee approach at RB, but his 12.7 yards per catch are great for an RB, and he had seven total TDs last season, more than several of the RBs. mentioned above.
* Part 1: The Top 20: New World Order.
Disco Danny O'Shea is our man in fantasyland. He welcomes your comments.
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Posted on May 22, 2019