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2011 Fantasy Football: Three-Dimensional Running Backs



There will be many more 2011 Fantasy Football Rankings and features this summer, including tons of 2011 Fantasy Football Mock Drafts, Player Rankings, Sleepers and Busts. I'll also have an extensive 2011 NFL Fantasy Football Preseason Stock Report.



2011 Fantasy Football - Three-Dimensional Running Backs (July 16):

The purpose of this article is to delve into the top fantasy running backs and determine which are overvalued. To do this, we'll look at the three dimensions of a fantasy running back, and how many dimensions each of the top-10 finishers had over the past several years.

The three dimensions of a fantasy running back are:

1. Workload - Will this running back get enough carries? Some running backs are considered too brittle to receive 250-plus carries in 16 games.

2. Scoring - Will this running back be used on the goal line? If not, he obviously won't generate many touchdowns, limiting his potential.

3. Catching - Will this running back catch at least 30 passes? This is important, as non-receiving running backs play only two downs and become somewhat obsolete when their team is trailing.



Let's look at the top-10 running backs from the past several years and see how many dimensions they qualified for.

2010 Fantasy Football Running Back Leaders:

Running Back
Workload
Scoring
Catching
Arian Foster, Texans
Adrian Peterson, Vikings
Jamaal Charles, Chiefs
Peyton Hillis, Browns
Chris Johnson, Titans
Darren McFadden, Raiders
LeSean McCoy, Eagles
Michael Turner, Falcons
Rashard Mendenhall, Steelers
Ray Rice, Ravens


2009 Fantasy Football Running Back Leaders:

Running Back
Workload
Scoring
Catching
Chris Johnson, Titans
Adrian Peterson, Vikings
Maurice Jones-Drew, Jaguars
Ray Rice, Ravens
Frank Gore, 49ers
Thomas Jones, Jets
Ricky Williams, Dolphins
Ryan Grant, Packers
Joseph Addai, Colts
Steven Jackson, Rams




2008 Fantasy Football Running Back Leaders:

Running Back
Workload
Scoring
Catching
DeAngelo Williams, Panthers
Michael Turner, Falcons
Adrian Peterson, Vikings
Matt Forte, Bears
Thomas Jones, Jets
Steve Slaton, Texans
LaDainian Tomlinson, Chargers
Maurice Jones-Drew, Jaguars
Brian Westbrook, Eagles
Clinton Portis, Redskins


2007 Fantasy Football Running Back Leaders:

Running Back
Workload
Scoring
Catching
LaDainian Tomlinson, Chargers
Brian Westbrook, Eagles
Adrian Peterson, Vikings
Clinton Portis, Redskins
Joseph Addai, Colts
Jamal Lewis, Browns
Marion Barber, Cowboys
Willis McGahee, Ravens
Frank Gore, 49ers
Edgerrin James, Cardinals




2006 Fantasy Football Running Back Leaders:

Running Back
Workload
Scoring
Catching
LaDainian Tomlinson, Chargers
Larry Johnson, Chiefs
Steven Jackson, Rams
Frank Gore, 49ers
Willie Parker, Steelers
Brian Westbrook, Eagles
Tiki Barber, Giants
Maurice Jones-Drew, Jaguars
Rudi Johnson, Bengals
Deuce McAllister, Saints


2005 Fantasy Football Running Back Leaders:

Running Back
Workload
Scoring
Catching
Shaun Alexander, Seahawks
Larry Johnson, Chiefs
LaDainian Tomlinson, Chargers
Tiki Barber, Giants
Edgerrin James, Colts
Clinton Portis, Redskins
Rudi Johnson, Bengals
LaMont Jordan, Raiders
Thomas Jones, Bengals
Mike Anderson, Broncos


I figure six years is a good sample size to work with. Here's what we can take away from this data:

  • Of the 60 running backs listed, 58 of them were two-dimensional. Both of the one-dimensional running backs - Jamaal Charles and LeSean McCoy - finished in the top 10 fantasy running back rankings in 2010.

  • Of the 60 running backs listed, 51 of them fit the Workload criteria (exceeded 250 carries, or would have with 16 games).

  • Of the 60 running backs listed, 52 of them fit the Scoring criteria (used on the goal line).

  • Of the 60 running backs listed, 45 of them fit the Catching criteria (caught 30-plus passes).

  • Of the 18 running backs in the top three each year, 16 of them fit the Workload and Scoring criteria. The exceptions were Charles (2010) and Brian Westbrook (2007).

  • Of the 30 running backs in the top five each year, 29 of them were two-dimensional, with the sole exception being Charles.

    Since the players in question are Jamaal Charles and LeSean McCoy, let's focus on them.

    McCoy may meet the Workload criteria next year. Andy Reid said the following of his star running back in June:

    "I think last year LeSean showed that he could be a full-time running back and shoulder that load."

    Now, McCoy may never get 250-plus carries because Reid refuses to run the football, but his unbelievably high reception totals (78 in 2010) will make up for it.

    As you can see by some of the bullet points above, Charles is the bigger issue. The former Longhorn is unbelievably talented; there's no denying that. The concern is that he's too brittle to handle a high carry total and the goal-line work.

    If you disagree, that's your opinion. The opinion that counts though is Todd Haley's. After the opening drive of the second half during the playoff loss to Baltimore, Haley gave Charles one touch when the head coach reportedly stripped offensive coordinator Charlie Weis of his play-calling duties. Quite curiously, however, Haley told ESPN that Charles should be prepared for more carries in 2011. Schizophrenic, much?

    Forgive me for not trusting Haley. The guy is in way over his head, and despite telling the media that he would "ride the hot hand" prior to the 2010 season, he stubbornly gave Thomas Jones way too many touches.

    But let's say Haley lives up to his word for once. What if he plans on giving Charles 250-plus carries? Can Charles last? Keep in mind that Charles has never had more than 275 total touches in his entire football career. He had 275 total touches in 2010, as well as 2007 during his final year at Texas. Is he capable of shouldering 300 or more touches? He'll need to if he wants to finish in the top five fantasy running rankings again; because there's no way he'll average 6.4 yards per carry next year without Weis, and unlike McCoy, his reception total isn't high enough to offset his expected YPC decline.

    So, let's say Charles averages 5.5 YPC. I think that's a very generous figure. To get to his 2010 rushing yardage total of 1,467, he would need to carry the ball 267 times. That would beat his carrer high by 37 attempts. I'll be shocked if Charles gets 267 carries in 2011.

    Speaking of Charles and McCoy, let's take a look at the top 20 fantasy running backs, according to FantasyFootballCalculator's ADP, and see how many dimensions each has:

    2011 Fantasy Football Running Back ADP Leaders:

    Running Back
    Workload
    Scoring
    Catching
    Adrian Peterson, Vikings
    ???
    Arian Foster, Texans
    Chris Johnson, Titans
    Jamaal Charles, Chiefs
    Ray Rice, Ravens
    LeSean McCoy, Eagles
    ???
    Rashard Mendenhall, Steelers
    Maurice Jones-Drew, Jaguars
    Darren McFadden, Raiders
    Michael Turner, Falcons
    Frank Gore, 49ers
    Steven Jackson, Rams
    Peyton Hillis, Browns
    Matt Forte, Bears
    LeGarrette Blount, Buccaneers
    Ryan Mathews, Chargers
    ???
    Ahmad Bradshaw, Giants
    Shonn Greene, Jets
    ???
    Knowshon Moreno, Broncos
    Jahvid Best, Lions


    A few things based on that chart:

  • As noted multiple times in my first 2011 Fantasy Football Mock Draft, the running back position is extremely thin this year. Look at all of those X's. Only four, possibly five running backs - Arian Foster, Chris Johnson, Frank Gore, Steven Jackson and maybe Adrian Peterson - are three-dimensional. Unfortunately, one is a possible one-year wonder. One is injury-prone. And one is on the down side of his career.

  • Jamaal Charles should not be the No. 4 running back off the board. The Chiefs are bound to decline without Charlie Weis, and Charles just doesn't get the touchdowns or a big enough workload to offset Kansas City's freefall.

  • Two undervalued two-dimensional running backs are LeGarrette Blount and Matt Forte. They should both be drafted earlier than they currently are slotted.

    ***** COMMENT BOX IS BELOW THESE LINKS *****


    More 2011 Fantasy Football Articles:
    2011 Fantasy Football: Home

    2011 Fantasy Football Rankings:
    2011 Fantasy Football Rankings: Quarterbacks - 9/8 (Walt)
    2011 Fantasy Football Rankings: Running Backs - 9/8 (Walt)
    2011 Fantasy Football Rankings: Wide Receivers - 9/8 (Walt)
    2011 Fantasy Football Rankings: Tight Ends - 9/8 (Walt)
    2011 Fantasy Football Rankings: Defenses - 9/1 (Walt)
    2011 Fantasy Football Rankings: Kickers - 6/26 (Walt)
    2011 Fantasy Football Downloadable Spreadsheets - 9/8 (Walt)
    2011 Fantasy Football Dynasty Rookie Rankings - 8/27 (Walt)
    2011 Fantasy Football Auction Values - 8/27 (Walt)

    2011 Fantasy Football Cheat Sheets:
    2011 Fantasy Football Cheat Sheet: Top 150 Traditional - 9/8 (Walt)
    2011 Fantasy Football Cheat Sheet: Top 150 PPR - 9/8 (Walt)
    2011 Fantasy Football Cheat Sheet: Top 150 Touchdown - 9/8 (Walt)

    2011 Fantasy Football Mock Drafts:
    2011 Fantasy Football Mock Draft: Real League Draft - 8/31 (Walt)
    2011 Fantasy Football Mock Draft: Fake Mock - 8/25 (Walt)
    2011 Fantasy Football Experts Draft - 8/25 (Walt)
    2011 Fantasy Football Mock Draft: Forum 2-QB Mock - 7/21 (Walt)
    2011 Fantasy Football: Mock Draft Scenarios - 7/17 (Walt)
    2011 Fantasy Football Auction: Mock PPR Auction - 7/14 (Walt)
    2011 Fantasy Football Mock Draft: Forum PPR Mock - 7/7 (Walt)
    2011 Fantasy Football Mock Draft: Forum Mock - 7/3 (Walt)
    2011 Fantasy Football Mock Draft: Four-Man PPR Draft - 6/19 (Walt)
    2011 Fantasy Football Draft: Fox Sports - 5/5 (Walt)

    2011 Fantasy Football Articles:
    2011 Fantasy Football Injury Reports: Week 2 - 9/18 (Walt)
    2011 Fantasy Football Weekly Rankings: Week 2 - 9/18 (Walt)
    2011 Fantasy Football: Week 2 Add/Drop - 9/13 (Walt)
    2011 Fantasy Football: Training Camp Stock - 9/8 (Walt)
    2011 Fantasy Football: Start Em, Sit Em - 9/6 (Walt)
    2011 Fantasy Football: Preseason Stock - 9/3 (Walt)
    2011 Preseason Recap and Fantasy Football Notes - 9/3 (Walt)
    2011 Fantasy Football: Preseason Targets - 9/3 (Walt)
    2011 Fantasy Football: Late-Round Sleepers - 9/1 (Walt)
    2011 Fantasy Football: Round-by-Round Strategy - 9/1 (Walt)
    2011 Fantasy Football: Value Comparison - 9/1
    2011 Fantasy Football: Must-Have Players - 8/24 (Walt)
    2011 Fantasy Football: Busts, Players to Avoid - 7/25 (Walt)
    2011 Fantasy Football Mailbag - 7/24 (Walt)
    2011 Fantasy Football Sleepers - 7/23 (Walt)
    2011 Fantasy Football: Various League Strategy - 7/18 (Walt)
    2011 Fantasy Football: Three-Dimensional Running Backs - 7/16 (Walt)
    2011 Fantasy Football: ADP Analysis - 7/15 (Walt)
    2011 Fantasy Football: First-Round Bust History - 7/10 (Walt)
    2011 Fantasy Football Mailbag - 7/9 (Walt)
    2011 Fantasy Football Mailbag - 7/4 (Walt)
    2011 Fantasy Football Mock Draft Analysis - 7/1 (Walt)
    2011 Fantasy Football Mailbag - 6/18 (Walt)
    2011 Fantasy Football Mailbag - 6/12 (Walt)
    2011 Fantasy Football Mailbag - 6/5 (Walt)
    2011 Fantasy Football: Stock Up (Draft) - 5/6 (Walt)
    2011 Fantasy Football: Stock Down (Draft) - 5/6 (Walt)
    2010 Fantasy Football: Buy Low - 4/8 (Walt)
    2011 Fantasy Football: Defense Strategy - 4/8 (Walt)
    Running Backs with Most Carries - 4/8 (Walt)





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