Tier 2 Running Backs Shredding Your Hopes and Dreams?

By Lance Zierlein
November 8, 2012

If you heeded our advice in the preseason, you stayed away from that second tier of RBs.

Before the season started, I wrote an article warning fantasy owners about the perils of getting involved with tier 2 running backs due to the issues that potentially plagued so many of them.  They were certainly a high risk bunch and many of those RBs have turned out to be duds this season.

Here is a list of the current fantasy leaders at the running back position with my preseason positional ranking listed next to them and ESPN's preseason ranking next to that.  This leaderboard and the rankings next to them are representative of STANDARD scoring leagues.  Arian Foster, Ray Rice and LeSean McCoy were considered the consensus top 3 backs headed into the season and they are all currently in the top 10 with Foster and Rice in the top 5 so the tier 1 backs have held up their end of the bargain relatively speaking.

Running Backs

  1. Doug Martin  (18) (27)
  2. Arian Foster  (1) (1)
  3. Adrian Peterson  (10) (10)
  4. Marshawn Lynch  (13) (6)
  5. Ray Rice  (2) (2)
  6. Trent Richardson  (11) (15)
  7. Alfred Morris  (53) (57)
  8. C.J. Spiller  (35) (33)
  9. Stevan Ridley  (25) (24)
  10. LeSean McCoy  (3) (3)
  11. Frank Gore  (19) (17)
  12. Willis McGahee  (30) (20)
  13. Chris Johnson  (6) (4)
  14. Jamaal Charles  (15) (9)
  15. Reggie Bush  (23) (21)
  16. Ahmad Bradshaw  (14) (19)
  17. Michael Turner  (12) (16)
  18. Shonn Greene  (29) (25)
  19. Matt Forte  (4) (7)
  20. Darren McFadden  (5) (11)
  21. Darren Sproles  (21) (18)
  22. Mikel LeShoure  (45) (59)
  23. Andre Brown  (Not in Top 60) (same)
  24. BenJarvus Green-Ellis  (22) (22)
  25. Marice Jones-Drew  (8) (5)
  26. Ryan Mathews  (7) (12)
  27. Steven Jackson  (17) (13)
  28. Joique Bell  (Not in Top 60)
  29. Isaac Redman  (33) (36)
  30. Pierre Thomas  (46) (46)
  31. DeMarco Murray  (9) (8)
  32. Michael Bush  (31) (32)
  33. Jackie Battle  (Not in Top 60) (same)
  34. Danny Woodhead  (Not in Top 60) (same)
  35. Felix Jones  (42) (43)
  36. LaRod Stephens-Howling  (Not in Top 60) (same)
  37. Donald Brown  (24) (39)
  38. Fred Jackson  (16) (14)
  39. DeAngelo Williams  (34) (31)
  40. Daryl Richardson  (Not in Top 60) (same)

99 Problems and a Tier 2 running back is probably one

As anticipated, the tier 2 backs have been a mess.  Chris Johnson has certainly come on as of late, but we all know that 140 yards or 40 yards is possible in any given game.  Darren McFadden's high ankle sprain will further crush his already disappointing season while DeMarco Murray and Ryan Mathews' injuries played right into their "injury prone" labels they carried into the season.

Maurice Jones-Drew and Steven Jackson were BEGGING you not to take them due to their excessive workload issues and a contract issue for MJD, but you didn't listen, did you?

Well, it was virtually impossible to avoid at least some of these disappointments regardless of how worried you were about their health or performance headed into the season.  There are only so many starters that can be drafted and you have to get your hands on some RBs at some point.  Adrian Peterson's recovery from an ACL injury is unprecedented and Doug Martin is coming off of the greatest rookie game of all time for a RB.

Remember this advice next year

I'm on pace to make the playoffs in every league I'm in this year for the first time since I started playing fantasy football.  The secret?  I FINALLY stayed true to my own preseason advice.  I usually give other people the advice and then flake out at the last moment during my drafts or auctions, but this year I targeted and selected the safe wide receiver options from Tier 2 rather than reach for Tier 2 RBs in the second and third round.  This advice is especially pertinent in PPR leagues where WRs like Roddy White, Julio Jones, Vincent Jackson and Brandon Marshall have been rock-solid options for me for most of the year.

Next year, approach your fantasy league drafts and auctions like an NFL GM - create your draft board, target the players who you think offer the best value and stick with those players within the first few rounds.  I'm not saying to skimp on your RBs, but don't reach for the position over a better player at another position.  We all go into a season knowing which RBs are risky options but it is time to listen to your head rather than clinging to your old draft strategies.