By RICK SOLEM
Usually I don’t say I hate fantasy football until about Week 7.
But this year, the running back situations have me hating early.
Either the NFL needs an overhaul or fantasy football does. I’m guessing it’s the latter that will cave first, but I’d argue, the NFL wouldn’t be as popular if not for fantasy football (that’s a double negative, I know).
Just about every fantasy league requires two running backs and, even as the season is about to begin Thursday, nobody knows who’s going to carry the ball, save for a few teams.
And even some of the sure things have question marks. Eddie Lacy is young and Adrian Peterson is old. Matt Forte doesn’t score touchdowns. LeSean McCoy has Darren Sproles to worry about and Jamal Charles has no offensive line. And you could always use the argument – as is the case with Marshawn Lynch and all the rest – that these six were highly used last year and rarely do RBs repeat performances.
But those are the sure things. And you somehow need two of them, which you’re not getting. So your guess is as good as anyone’s as to who’s going to be the running backs – whether it’s these six or the next 44 on ESPN’s rankings. Seriously, any of the top 44 running backs here could be the No. 1 back this fantasy season. Mark Ingram is 44th and plays for the Saints. Is that so far fetched?
And therein lies the problem. The guy who wins the league is the guy who lands this year’s Knowshon Moreno or Rashad Jennings. Moreno came out of nowhere to be a Top 5 running back last year, while Jennings was a Top 10 back after Week 9 last year.
Hell, those guys could be flip flopped this year to come out of “nowhere,” now that Jennings is a starter for the Giants and Moreno may take a back seat to Lamar Miller for a few weeks in Miami before taking over. Nobody is high on either, again, this season.
Then again, Jennings, 29, could lose out to rookie Andre Williams. Miller could be a stud. Ahh!
Frank Gore is always a staple in San Francisco, but maybe this is the year he dies. Someone’s drafting Carlos Hyde. And then what happens if you’re the guy that grabbed Hyde? You keep him and watch Gore tear it up. Drop Hyde in Week 3. Gore sprains an ankle that Sunday and you’re not first on the waivers anymore to pick up Hyde. Season. Over.
Your entire season comes down to a waiver wire pickup.
Stupid fantasy football. Stupid waiver wire. Stupid running back by committee.
Do you take Arian Foster, knowing he hasn’t been healthy in years? Do you take Doug Martin fresh off a torn labrum and a line that blows? Zac Stacy looked like a great pick, but the Rams offense came in putrid and now will really be so with Shaun Hill behind center.
That’s not even the worst quarterback/offensive situation in the NFL. Ben Take looked tasty for the Browns, but then Josh Gordon got suspended for the year and neither quarterback looks worth a damn. Now it really looks bleak. Plus, you don’t want to gamble on injury-risk Tate who hasn’t done much in the NFL anyway. And, that is, of course, when you pass on Tate and watch him lead the league in rushing, touchdowns, receptions and he probably steps in for Johnny ManHoyer and plays quarterback.
Of course, there are obvious fliers out there and then there’s the bonehead that drafts Khiry Robinson. Then we all watch him go for 1,500 yards and 10 TDs, while the idiot that took him tells you he knew the entire time his boy Khiry (butchering the pronunciation) was his man all along. T.J. Who’s Your Momma?
Is Giovani Bernard the obvious breakout or Montee Ball? Both? Neither? Can Ryan Matthews repeat last year’s performance? Is Andre Ellington the real deal? What about the white guy, Toby Gerhart? You could take a flier on the Jets’ Chris Johnson or be the savvy guy who takes Chris Ivory. Or the moron who took a Jet.
Why would anyone draft Ray Rice after last year’s debacle and the offseason … debacle? C.J. Spiller or Fred Jackson? Shane Vereen or Stevan Ridley (or James White or Brandon Bolden)?
Every back, every team has some sort of question mark and your guess is as good as the nerds who sit around and crunch stats to determine this stuff. And, you know what? They have no clue either. So, hopefully you just guessed.
My strategy: I grabbed Le’Veon Bell AFTER he was arrested. And then I waited. And waited. And finally took Maurice Jones-Drew as the laughs came from the peanut gallery.
“Jones-Drew? He’s on a terrible team!”
Oh, right, because he’s been leading Jacksonville to the Super Bowl year after year. He had one bad year. I’ll risk it.
My actual strategy: “Cry about the running back situation and demand our league drop down to one running back and a flex next season, while refusing to burn a high draft pick on the Bernards, Balls and Tates.”
I’ll just hold out for the waiver wire lottery, because there’s always one running back (or seven) that ends up being serviceable. Then again, I knew MJD was going to have a bounce back year. Championship.