Identifying the correct wide receivers will likely be the most important component to your fantasy teams success, but if you don’t nail the running backs your team will have no shot at a championship. Without high level point scoring coming from your running back position, you are going to be an under dog each and every week. Many owners make mistakes when evaluating wide receivers, so in general, it’s an easier position to draft.
I maintain that wide receiver is the most important position and that getting one of the top 5 players at the position is a mandate for building the best possible roster. That places much more emphasis on nailing your running back picks in the later rounds. Selecting a top notch wide receiver in the first three rounds is not for the faint of heart, but will easily pay off if you are able to grab an RB2 in the 4th round or later.
Using my 5 Wide Receivers You Must Draft article in combination with these five running backs to target, you will be able to build solid core of high-upside players who have a great shot of outproducing their ADP and putting your team in the position to not only make the playoffs, but win a championship.
C.J Spiller: ADP 1.05
You have to start somewhere, and nailing your first round pick is important. The old adage is that you can’t win your draft in the first round, but you can lose it. In some sense, that is true. Arian Foster is a huge injury risk, Adrian Peterson is a year older in a pitiful offense and Jamaal Charles has already had his injury scare. C.J Spiller has the highest upside of any running back not named Jamaal Charles, but comes cheaper and with more touchdown opportunities. Spiller is the only player whose ideal, perfect season produces a Ladainian Tomlinson in 2006 type performance.
Steven Jackson: ADP 2.04
Last year, Micheal Turner finished as the 18th overall running back in standard leagues. By the time Turner finished, he was essentially an offensive linemen, grunting ahead at 3 yards a pop. Even if S-Jax is headed towards the cliff, the Atlanta offense is going to be productive enough for him to score double digit touchdowns and near 40 receptions. Jackson is going right next to Maurice Jones-Drew and even though MJD didn’t look bad in preseason, I greatly prefer Jackson’s upside in an explosive offense.
Le’Veon Bell: ADP 3.12
This all changes if Bell’s mid-foot sprain that he suffered against the Washington Redskins on Monday Night turns into a Lisfranc or a fracture. If it’s just a sprain and he will only miss a few games, or possibly none at all, the injury is a blessing in disguise. Owners had started to notice that Bell was the clear lead back in a not-terrible offense. Bell is strikingly similar and his 3rd/4th round ADP meant that he was going to be a perfect component to many championship fantasy squads. While other owners are wasting a pick on Montee Ball, you can draft a guy with no real competition on the roster. Provided he comes back relatively healthy, Bell is one of the most valuable fantasy assets on the market.
Shane Vereen: ADP 6.01
If you play in a casual league, you should have no problem getting Vereen later than his 6.01 Average Draft Position. Even in more competitive leagues, Vereen is still being undervalued. He is the perfect weapon for the Patriots offense and he is inheriting a historically valuable role. Not only will Vereen be filling the shoes of Danny Woodhead (who finished as a top 25 runner last year), but he will also be playing WR snaps and shifting around the formation in the same manner as Aaron Hernandez. We should all be thanking Bill Belichick for his valuable addition to a typically-thin position.
Daryl Richardson: ADP 6.02
While others owners are busy trying to patch their holes at wide receiver, those following my draft plan will be safely planning on selecting Richardson. By the time you are selecting Richardson, your team will likely have one stud WR like Demaryius Thomas (hopefully you are avoiding trap guys like Larry Fitzgerald) and high upside WR2 like Eric Decker or Torrey Smith. Richardson came out looking good in my projections and given that Jeff Fisher has named him the starter, and used him like one in the preseason, the time to buy is now.
Feel free to contact me on twitter about this article, or for any fantasy questions, @davismattek.