Monday, December 7, 2009

Running Back Review

This feature will in essence, wrap up the year. I'll discus what the mainstream projection for each player, my projection, what actually happened, and the future prospects are. Technically the season isn't over, but most fantasy regular seasons are, and the means we are past the point where players were useful to all their owners. LDT inflated his totals last year with games in week 16-17, which was the opposite of helpful to his owners who by that point were eliminated or had a found a replacement and let Tomlinson stack up those garbage points on their bench.
We are all about accountability here at the mines. I'm not going to wax poetic about my correct predictions(though I have done that) without telling you where I was wrong and why. Let the results be the judge.

Note: this is by no means any form of ranking for 2010. I wouldn't dream of doing that without a schedule analysis. (and with the CBA we may not know the schedule for a while) This is more like notes for when all the facts are in.

First Tier

Adrian Peterson
Conventional Ranking: 1 almost unanimously
What I said: He is the number one pick, though not by as much as most think. What happened: Currently third, his owners have few complaints. It seems Favre had a neutral impact on his points, leading the offense into the red zone more often, but also hogging all of the short range opportunities. The decline from first to third looks like a reflection of AD's decline in skill. He doesn't look like 08 Peterson. He doesn't totally screw up, but he doesn't make anything happen. We were basically all right, except those who touted AD as the next Jim Brown
Future prospects: He has at least one more year of elite production. His situation is still great, and odds are Peterson gets a few more of the goal line carries next time. He looks like a bottom of the top 5 guy, but I have a little more caution about him than I did this year. Put it this way, if i have the 4th pick next year and he is available, I take him, but I probably groan.

Matt Forte
Conventional Ranking: 3rd or 4th, consistently behind only Turner, following on his 2nd finish in 08 What I said: 2nd, though that is more of a dismissal of Turner. Figuring that he was 2nd last year, and would be the beneficiary of an improved passing game, and on paper an improved line, with an easier schedule. What happened: Essentially none of that. The supposedly improved line disintegrated, becoming one of the worst in the league. The defense destructed, beginning with injuries and getting worse from there. Forte himself was completely ineffectual. We were all wrong, but me most of all. Future prospects: Pretty much nil. If he is still the starter, he could be a sleeper, but I doubt the Bears enter 2010 with Forte as a feature guy.

Maurice Jones-Drew
Conventional Ranking: 2rd-4th What I said:I had him 3rd, he is a touchdown machine and was coming up to a weak schedule. He was due to gain a bigger role in the offense as well. What happened: We were all right. The line was better. The team used the easy schedule to build more second half leads. MJD is second in points with the most touchdowns. He had huge weeks and few letdown weeks, becoming a true feature back. Gotten it done even when the rest of his team disappointed. Future prospects: Looks great for another 2 years at least. I'd say he is a top 3 pick, but he does tend to benefit from a tough schedule because he treasures the goal line carry. A tough schedule would be a bigger setback for him than it would for SJAX or Chris Johnson.

Chris Johnson
Conventional Ranking:11-13th, though some people had him as high as 7th.
What I said:4th, but very close to the top. Johnson would work off a solid schedule and an increased role in the offense(and greater share of touchdowns). What happened: Everything I said he would do and more. The teams poor performance early in the year meant his increased share of the red zone load was meaningless, the team wasn't getting there. But his increased overall load established him as the best back in the lead and he has a commanding lead in points.
Future prospects: He put up more touchdowns after Young came in and the team was better overall. That should be the baseline going forward. Definite top 2 pick next year and probably top 5 for the next few.

Michael Turner
Conventional Ranking: 2nd, loving his last year totals and ignoring how he chalked up points against cupcakes. What I said: Not as good as advertised. He would play well, but score fewer points due to schedule and declining team fortunes. He should be drafted towards the end of the first round. What happened: I was right on the money. He is currently 8th, his touchdown totals are the source of his decline. Future prospects: He is a good player. He will likely take up next year right where he left off. Given the current level of team success, he is a late first rounder, but an improved team or easy schedule will put him back near the top.

DeAngelo Williams
Conventional Ranking: 5th, a step down from a first in 08. What I said: Too many things going against him to repeat on top. His td totals from 08 were fluky and he was in a timeshare on a team facing a tough schedule and a rapid decline. He would end up 8-12th. What happened: Stewart's injury prevented a time share, and Williams's skills improved, but the team's decline was rapid. The lessening of the flukes and lack of red zone shots hurt his td and he ended up right where I said. 9th. Future prospects: Bright. As long as JStew is around, he won't be quite top notch and the Panthers would need to turn it around to put him on top again, be appears very safe.

Brandon Jacobs
Conventional Ranking: Around 10th. What I said: I had him a little higher, a notch above Turner and Williams. I thought he had the potential to scored a lot of tds and no reason that he wouldn't do just as well as 08. What happened: Disappeared from the fantasy landscape. I guess I was a bit wronger, but noone saw this coming. Jacobs just couldn't find the endzone. Even when the Giants were winning, Jacobs wasn't getting it done. Future prospects: Jacobs may be slowing, but I see a bounceback year, at least in terms of touchdown if not of ability. Could end being an Addai09 style bargain. Because he is a gamble now.

Brian Westbrook
Conventional Ranking: A pretty wide range, from 6th to 15th. The player with most range of opinions. What I said: I was near the top, ranking him 9th with the expectation we would get what he has always given us. Not much chance of top guy, but a great chance of finishing in the low end of the top 10. What happened: Something else. He couldn't stay healthy and suffered injury after injury. The annual safe pick was a disaster. Future prospects: Poor. He may not even play again. If he does it be as a compliment to McCoy.

Clinton Portis
Conventional Ranking: A second rounder, around 12-15th, behind the first group of receivers and qbs. What I said:That he was only 27, had always been durable and produced. A safe pick, ahead of top wrs. What happened: He picked up a nick early on and didn't look like himself from week 2 on. Eventually had more serious injuries. Finished in fantasy irrelevance. We were wrong to consider him safe. Future prospects: If Portis is at the stage where he can't stay healthy and is below par when he is, it's a shame because, as i said, he is 27. He could be another Addai-style bargain. To clarify, I mean a guy that has produced before but did not perform the year before the draft. People become nervous and he slips. In the 4th or 5th round, they become worth a risk. If you take other positions in round 2 and 3 it might be better to take a chance on someone you know rather than someone who has never shown anything.

Steven Jackson
Conventional Ranking:5th-8th. What I said: 11th. SJax was getting overdrafted, based on his talent and ignoring his team situation. He would put up a ton of yards but suffer a lack of tds, due to a dearth or red zone appearances. What happened: Exactly what I said. Jackson is 10th with just 4 tds and the second must rushing yards. Future prospects: I think I will flip positions with the mainstream opinion next year. The team will have to improve from this point, and he will pick up a few more tds. If he does end up on a new team, He jumps up to top three status.

Frank Gore
Conventional Ranking: late first round, before the big name receivers What I said: 12th, after first tier receivers. Gore's risk of injury and lack of a strong team offense should keep him out of the first round What happened: Pretty much what I said. Gore looked great early on, but eventually injury caught up to him. He is currently 11th, even after missing a few games. Future prospects:It depends, Gore will always be less value in deep leagues, because you can't get good backups. The bright side of a guy like Gore is that he produces or sits out. He won't screw you like a Forte type. If you have a good team you can get big numbers than sit him. Unfortunately his numbers stem from talent and not situation so handcuffing him is pretty worthless.

Ladainian Tomlinson
Conventional Ranking: Somewhat of a wide range, some were down on him, some had him as high as 1st. Most people had him around 5-7th. What I said: That he wasn't worth a 4th rounder. He was clearly washed up last season. What happened: He was clearly washed up at the beginning of the season. Turner's efforts to get him in the endzone were destructive and embarrassing. No later than week 3 was it possible to have any confidence in him. Future prospects: None. The Charger rb situation is strangely bad for a good team. Recently Jacob Hester has looked miles better than Sproles or LDT. They probably need to acquire someone in the offseason.

Steve Slaton
Conventional Ranking: Range from the late first to mid second round What I said: That Slaton couldn't carry the load for a full season, but that his situation and schedule were so good, he would put up numbers. What happened: Surprisingly, the Texans didn't add a quality back. As I though Slaton faltered. And the Texans suffered greatly for not having another back.Chris Brown cost at least two games singlehandedly. Future prospects: I'm repeating myself, but I think Slaton would be great in a combo with a bigger back. Not a primo fantasy back but a good number 2, especially in PPR leagues.

More backs still to come

1 comment:

  1. best post yet...interesting to see the differences in what you said, most said and then what actually happened. great analysis.