Fantasy Football: Running Backs More Important than Ever

Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports

Running Backs are still the Kings of Fantasy Football. But star kings are growing more scarce and finding the right ones is crucial to winning a championship.

The NFL has changed. It is a passing league, so we should all be drafting the best Quarterbacks and Wide Receivers in the first round of our fantasy football leagues, right? Well, no, not at all. Sure, you can justify drafting them in the first round, but it is not the best game plan. Guys like Peyton Manning and Calvin Johnson are fantasy gods, why not draft them high? Because winning fantasy football is all about value. You get productive players with Manning and Johnson, but what about the running backs? By drafting one of those two, you lose out on guys like Jamaal Charles, Eddie Lacey, LeSean McCoy, Adrian Peterson, Matt Forte, Le’Veon Bell, and Marshawn Lynch. And the drop off in running backs after those guys is pretty drastic. Sure guys like Zac Stacey, Demarco Murray, Reggie Bush, Alfred Morris, and Giovanni Bernard are good, but they all have their flaws. Some are in timeshares, have injury problems, have fumbling problems, or lack pass-catching ability. With the "running back by committee" approach that NFL offensive coordinators seem content using, the good running backs are a must have in fantasy football.

While running backs are the most important position, some of the first round running backs last year were land mines. Maurice Jones-Drew and C.J. Spiller were huge disappointments to the people that drafted them. While the land mines exist in the first round, running backs are still too important not to take in the first round. Since I have declared running backs a must have, here is a list of the running backs I think will be fantasy studs this year. And for good measure, I have also included the running backs that will probably be good and the guys most likely to be busts. I can not predict injuries, but I do worry about some guy's age.

Studs:

Eddie Lacy- This guy could be the first running back taken in 2016 fantasy football drafts. He had a monster year behind a terrible offensive line without Aaron Rodgers for a large portion of the season..

Jamaal Charles- Charles is in Charge. Enough said.

LeSean McCoy- He is an Eagle. And he is very good. Dislike the Eagle part.

Matt Forte- He is underrated in real life and in fantasy. The guy is a monster.

Marshawn Lynch- Seattle is to loud as skittles are to touchdowns.

Adrian Peterson- I have some worries about his age. The day Adrian runs out of gas will break my heart.

Le'Veon Bell- He had some bad luck injuries last year, but he is an amazing back. He catches the ball well.

Montee Ball- Peyton Manning’s running back is fantastic to have in fantasy.

C.J. Spiller- Fred Jackson is not getting any younger and this guy is explosive.

Probably Good:

Alfred Morris- He needs touchdowns to be a fantasy ace, and the Redskins offense will need to be good for that to happen. So I think he will probably be good.

Doug Martin- He had a rough year last year, but I think the "Muscle Hamster" will bounce back.

Giovani Bernard- Great player, but I worry about Jeremy Hill taking snaps.

Reggie Bush- He is pretty great, but he split carries with an effective Joique Bell last season. He is most effective in PPR leagues.

Bishop Sankey- I want to put him in the studs category, but we should not do that with rookies. It s a good rule of thumb, but I still want to draft him in my leagues.

Zac Stacy- I really like Zac Stacy, but I worry about Tre Mason.

DeMarco Murray- He gets hurt and the Cowboys are mediocre.

Ben Tate- He was not a great replacement for Arian Foster.

Ryan Mathews- I give up on trying to make guesses about this guy.

Andre Ellington- He is a good player, but I wonder how many snaps he will actually get.

Rashad Jennings- I worry about the Giants line, but he was good in Oakland.

Shane Vereen- If he wins the Patriots running back job, he will be great. The trick is that New England is the King of the "running back by committee" approach

Pierre Thomas- The Saints need a running back, and Thomas is the early favorite, but he is older.

DeAngelo Williams- I am not a huge fan of the Panthers running back situation, but Williams is the guy to have.

Busts:

Arian Foster- Back surgeries do not lead to better play for older running backs. It is my goal to figure out who the number two running back is in Houston.

Frank Gore- He is getting up there as well. The pick you will likely need to use on him will be higher than his production.

Trent Richardson- Yikes. Maybe he will be better.

Chris Johnson- I have not drafted Chris Johnson in years. Let him be someone else’s headache

Steven Jackson- He is getting too old, but he might be better than last year. I doubt it will be by much

Knowshon Moreno- He was good in Denver, but that was because it was Manning’s offense.

Toby Gerhart- He is an okay running back. I wish Rashad Jennings had stayed in Oakland.

Ray Rice- An investment in Bernard Pierce is a good idea. But his production may be limited.

Darren McFadden/Maurice Jones-Drew- One is old and one gets hurt a bunch. Not a great combination.

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