Let’s look at another comparison to better highlight this shift:
2002 – 2006 – Number of RB’s over 300 points in one season = 27 running backs
2002 – 2006 – Number of RB’s over 400 points in one season = 5 running backs
2011 – 2007 – Number of RB’s over 300 points in one season = 13 running backs
2011 – 2007 – Number of RB’s over 400 points in one season = ZERO running backs
The days of the numerous stud running backs are gone! Honestly, only three, maybe four running backs can truly be identified as “guaranteed” stud backs. These are Arian Foster, Ray Rice, LeSean McCoy and Maurice Jones-Drew (he’s the maybe). There are certainly a plethora of very good Fantasy backs, but the question is, “Are they worth it and where should I draft them?”
This is where the Quality Game Scores and consistency are tremendous factors in identifying the consistently very good backs that can help you win a championship versus the very good, yet inconsistent, backs that will cause you headaches.
So, let’s review 2011 for the running backs and look at those players whom were consistently good, just good and consistently not-so-good. We’re also going to look at this position for the expected and unexpected running backs within each tier in 2011, plus which running backs could be undervalued going into this year’s draft.
So, let’s start with the top tier of running backs as ranked by Quality Success Rate (QSR).
The top four in total points are no surprise to the Tier One chart, and this is why I mentioned them earlier. They are the “rare breed” of consistent studs that remain in the Fantasy Football world. Ryan Mathews may join them in 2012, but last season was the first time that Mathews has cracked the Top 10 in both total points and consistency. His current ADP is RB4 and eighth overall. Color me skeptical until he can repeat this feat in 2012.
I believe Matt Forte is expected to be in Tier One rankings. Forte has been ranked in the Top 12 for three straight years in total points (even though he didn’t play a full season last year) and has improved on his consistency each season. If he signs by July 16th and gets tendered, you can bet he’ll be extremely motivated to put up big numbers in 2012 to get the big payday that he’s holding out for.
If Fred Jackson’s name reaches up and slaps you in the face, don’t be alarmed, you’re not alone. The numbers don’t lie! Jackson was a perfect 10 for 10 in Quality Games until his injury took him down for the season. Yes, C.J. Spiller did perform well over those last six games in Jackson’s absence, but don’t count Jackson out for 2012. His mid-July ADP is RB17 and overall pick around 51.07 (so, early fifth round). Jackson would be a great RB2.
Another Tier One player from 2011 who isn’t getting much love is Darren Sproles. As you can see, in a PPR league Sproles had an outstanding 88 percent Quality Success Rate (QSR). His mid-July ADP is RB14 and overall pick of 33.67 (or late third round). He’s a great value as an RB2, but I believe he can be an RB1 if you drafted someone like Aaron Rodgers in the first round.
Ahmad Bradshaw isn’t getting much love from Fantasy owners in mid-July either as his ADP is RB16 and overall draft ADP is 44 (middle of fourth round). Yet Bradshaw is one of only 10 running backs over the past two seasons with double digit Quality Games. Want to win a bet? Michael Turner is getting even less love as his ADP is RB21 and overall is 59 or late fifth round. Turner is also one of those 10 backs with double digit Quality Games over the last two seasons. There are only five backs that have three straight seasons of double digit Quality Games. Two of them are Chris Johnson and Steven Jackson. I would expect both of them to earn their fourth straight season in 2012. Adrian Peterson and Darren McFadden are both injury concerns, but when they’re healthy they are Fantasy studs. They are certainly great risk with great reward.
Ask one of your friends to name the Top 10 most consistent running backs during 2010 and the first six games of 2011 and I’ll guarantee you no one mentions Jahvid Best. But, he was, checking in with a 75 percent QSR. If you’re looking for a solid backup pick late in your draft this fall, you have to look no farther than Best. Marshawn Lynch surfaced in 2011 after many years of Fantasy disappointment. I’m not drinking his Kool-Aid in 2012. His ADP is too high for someone who hasn’t proven himself for more than one season. His ADP is RB12 as a late second or early third round pick. If you can draft him as your RB2, then he can provide fair value, but I’m not willing to make him my RB1 in 2012.
One of the other Fantasy backs with three straight double-digit Quality Games seasons is Frank Gore. However, I believe that Gore and the 49ers as a team are headed toward a multi-attack offense in 2012, which should reduce Gore’s consistency. I believe he’ll still be a decent RB2, but I probably won’t be drafting him much in 2012. Even with the emergence of Darren Sproles and Mark Ingram, Pierre Thomas still remained fairly consistent and was ranked as an RB2 in both total points and consistency. Don’t hesitate to grab him in late rounds as a backup.
Reggie Bush finally became a consistent back in 2011 in a PPR format. He ended the season with nine straight Quality Games. His ADP is at RB20 and overall is 59 (late fifth round) which is a pretty fair value. Michael Bush and Peyton Hillis could both be of great value in 2012 if Matt Forte or Jamaal Charles gets injured or Forte doesn’t sign, but without one of those events happening, it’s tough to put a “price” on them.
The remaining running backs range from washed up veterans like Willis McGahee, Kevin Smith and Rashard Mendenhall to young players with some potential in Kahlil Bell, Donald Brown and Mark Ingram. It’s tough to predict where any of these players will be in 2012, but at least they were above a 50 percent QSR which is better than the remaining running backs that didn’t make the top four tiers.
Well, there are your Quality Game consistency rankings for the running backs in 2011. If you didn’t make the playoffs and you had Rashard Mendenhall or Jonathan Stewart on your team and can’t understand why, I hope this helped clear things up.