For this edition of Auction League Best Buys we are going to take a look at the running back position. In a league where multiple teams are using two, three, and even in some cases four backs, it is pretty clear that the runners are the most coveted position this year.
Now that you are playing in an auction league it is going to be even more challenging to grab even one top tier back without using a quarter of your bank roll. Remember the goal is to find the best value for running backs. That is why I suggest the following RB’s to target this year:
Last year during league drafts, Rice was looked at by most experts as the number two overall RB. Since then, guys like Doug Martin and Trent Richardson have stormed into the league and knocked Ray back a couple of notches. This year, Rice is the number six back in our rankings (early edition) and I think that is the perfect place for you to get him at the right price. One of the advantages that Rice has is his ability to be a highly successful pass catcher. Rice was third on the list of receiving yards for RB”s last year. I know T-Rich looks sexy this year but when you look at the numbers, Rice scored two touchdowns less than Richardson but also put up 304 more total yards. The difference was almost 20 points. I am not saying that Rice will do better than Trent this year but he is a better value and that makes him a best buy.
From rags to riches… back to rags? Who in their right mind is not a little frustrated with CJ1K after the past couple of years of average play. Although, since everyone is so annoyed with Johnson, auction league owners can steal him for a great value this season. I have seen him go in the $18 to $20 range, which is a massive bargain. Last year Johnson took the brunt of a lot of criticism for the Titans so-so season, yet offensive line and quarterback problems didn’t help the overall big picture. Johnson will get help this year on the line from Chance Warmack the Titans 10th overall pick in the 2013 draft. When Chance was drafted, Johnson tweeted, “Thank God,” hoping that Warmack can combine with 2009 pick Andy Levitre and bring some stability to the O line. This year the Titans brought in Shonn Greene which may take away some goal line carries, but Johnson says he can rush for 2,000 yards this season and I say he is worth the price to take a chance on and find out.
St. Louis Rams
Jackson has been wanting to be on a competitive team for years and now he finally gets his chance. Jackson is moving to the Atlanta Falcons who are one of the most explosive offensive units in the NFL. There are so many weapons on the Falcons offense that defenses are struggling to watch every player. This will give Jackson the ability to make plays and finally have the season he has been waiting for. There is one small concern. Jackson is a pass catching back on a team that already has Jacquizz Rodgers. Rodgers was eighth RB in the league for receiving yards last year and could cut into Jackson’s catches. That still doesn’t take away from Jackson being the clear lead back in Atlanta and a great value considering Michael Turner was a top 20 back in the Falcons offense last year.
New Orleans Saints
Darren Sproles led running backs in receiving by over 150 yards last year. The closest guy to him was Marcel Reece of the Oakland Raiders. Sproles also had seven receiving touchdowns with the next closest being Danny Woodhead and LeSean McCoy at three a piece. When you look at Sproles you have to look at him primarily as a pass catcher. He will not have the rushing numbers like most backs and that is the reason you can get him at a really good value in 2013. Last year Sproles was out of the top 2o RB’s, but keep in mind that he did miss three games. If he would have played those games he would have been in the top 20 for sure and maybe even the top 15. Sproles is not an RB1 but he will be RB3 material with RB2 upside. You can get him cheap and reap the rewards later.
Remember you should not be afraid of spending half your budget on this position alone. Missing out on Adrian Peterson or Arian Foster isn’t the end of the world, cheaper guys should help you make a run along with having enough cash to grab a top end receiver like Calvin Johnson or A.J. Green. Speaking of receivers, that is what I will be discussing in Volume 3 of Auction League Best Buys (ALBB).