Running back injuries shake up fantasy drafts

Ryan Mathews aims to look tough in this Twitter photo as he flexes his bicep and flashes his arm tattoo, but he got injured again in the first preseason game for the San Diego Chargers, shaking things up in the top 5 in many drafts.

Fantasy guru Evan Silva addresses this in one of his ongoing drafts where Mathews was the overall #2 pick before news broke of his injury. Now you grab him later as a value pick as he should be back by week 2-4.

Another injury involves Trent Richardson, who went #17 in this draft. It’s not clear whether this pick was made before or after his latest injury news. Richardson, however, is expected to be back in week one. He’ll certainly slip a bit in many leagues, but he has looked great in camp and should get a ton of carries in the Browns offense this year.

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2009 Fantasy Football Preview: RBs

All 2009 Fantasy Articles | 2009 Position Rankings

Ah, the good ol’ running back…they’re the backbone of every good fantasy football squad…most of the time.

Over the past few years, many leagues have tried to diminish the importance of the running back position. If your league only requires one starting RB (and makes the other a flex position), then RBs aren’t quite as important as they are in leagues that require two starting backs. If your league awards a point per reception, the importance of wide receivers and tight ends is increased, while the talent pool at RB is expanded to include players that catch a lot of passes out of the backfield. For example, in a non-PPR league, Reggie Bush is just a mediocre starting back. In a PPR league, he is fantasy gold. (Assuming he’s healthy, of course.)

A typical first round will include 10 or 11 running backs with a quarterback or a wide receiver sneaking in late to break up the streak. With the trend of taking the onus away from the RB position, there has been a small, but growing movement towards drafting a WR late in the first round. The theory goes that the RBs available that late (and early in the second round) aren’t all that much better that those that are available in the late third or early fourth. So instead of following the herd, why not draft a WR like Larry Fitzgerald or Andre Johnson that will give you an advantage at another position? After all, in PPR leagues, Fitz and AJ might very well be expected to score more points than Adrian Peterson.

This year, for owners stuck with a late pick in the first round, this strategy looks solid, but it should (probably) only be utilized in those leagues that have a flex position instead of a RB2 or those leagues that award one point per reception. Instead of drafting Steve Slaton or Chris Johnson, go with Fitz or AJ. Guys like Ronnie Brown, Darren McFadden, Kevin Smith, Pierre Thomas, Ryan Grant, Derrick Ward, Knowshon Moreno and Marshawn Lynch may be available at the 3/4 turn – would anyone be shocked if one or more of these players outperformed Slaton or Johnson? And if you’re in a league that features both a flex position and one point per reception, don’t be afraid to go WR/WR with your first two picks. Yes, you’ll really be zagging when everyone else is zigging, but you really only need to find one good running back to start with your next several picks and you’ll already have a huge advantage at WR1 and WR2.

But if you’re in a non-PPR league with two starting RBs, then it’s usually wise to go RB/RB with your first two picks. Fitz or AJ would be tempting early in the second round, along with Reggie Wayne, Randy Moss, Steve Smith and Calvin Johnson a little later on, but by the time the 3/4 turn rolls around, there isn’t going to be much left at RB.

Still, with all of those aforementioned backs, a few are bound to be available. So let’s focus on a few players that should be available in rounds 3-7 and try to identify the best values of the early-middle rounds. We’ll also provide rankings for the entire RB position, broken into tiers.

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Fantasy Fallout, Week 6: RBs

It’s clear that RB2 duties in New Orleans belong to Deuce McAllister (15 touches, 72 yards). Pierre Thomas saw just three carries (for 18 yards)…The Raiders split touches between Justin Fargas (10 touches, 35 yards) and Darren McFadden (8 touches, 30 yards). Michael Bush saw just four touches (for 13 yards). This appears to be the plan when all three backs are (reasonably) healthy…Thomas Jones (20 touches, 78 yards, 3 TD) finally had a big game, but it’s doubtful that too many fantasy owners were starting him. I like Jones, but the Jets love to throw at the goal line…Chris Perry (13 carries, 14 yards) is playing dreadful football. He failed to score from inside the three yard line and dropped an easy catch…For a guy who’s averaging 5.6 yards a carry, Earnest Graham (5 carries, 11 yards, TD) sure doesn’t get a lot of work. The Bucs were running him at fullback for most of the game…Michael Turner (25 carries, 54 yards) put in another disappointing performance against a good defense. At least he’s predictable…The Baltimore running game was a huge disappointment against a bad Colts rush defense. Willis McGahee got knocked out of the game and his backup, LeRon McClain, only managed three carries (and fumbled once)…Maurice Jones-Drew (24 touches, 148 yards, 2 TD) capitalized on a Fred Taylor injury to post some big numbers. That’s just a glimpse of what he’ll do once Taylor finally retires…Correll Buckhalter (25 touches, 178 yards, TD) looked like Brian Westbrook, Jr…Ryan Grant (33 carries, 90 yards) looked a little better, but still failed to break off any big runs. The holes just aren’t there at the point of attack.

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