I’ve come to a conclusion about my draft strategy for next year. I’m not drafting any starting running backs. Nope! Only handcuffs in the later rounds for me. I won’t be fooled by you starting running backs and your supposed “talent”. Oh no siree, I’m moving on! In all seriousness though, what the hell is going on? The starters that haven’t been hurt, arrested, kidnapped, or shamed into retirement, haven ‘t been good. Anyone watch LeSean McCoy, Eddie Lacy, or Matt Forte lately? How is anyone winning in fantasy?

According to Yahoo’s rankings there are 4 RB’s in the current top ten that were going in the 7th round or later (Darren Sproles, Ahmad Bradshaw, Knile Davis, and Chris Ivory) and three out of those four were going in the last two rounds or undrafted. Let’s not stop there, take a look at the top 25 and you’ll see names like Terrance West, Isaiah Crowell, Mark Ingram, Bobby Rainey, and Justin Forsett. Every player I just named is ranked higher than Matt Forte and only Justin Forsett is ranked lower than LeSean McCoy. This is crazy! The only things more ravaged than my fantasy backfields are Hope Solo’s vajayjay and Jennifer Lawrence’s place as America’s Sweetheart. Thanks Fappening!

So I know what you’re asking yourself. What does this all mean for you and how long will it stay this way? First off no it won’t stay this way, the cream will rise to the surface eventually. Shady and Forte will go off, Lacy will find himself, and a few of the aforementioned no names will come back down to earth. Don’t panic. The lesson that can be learned from all this is that running back is increasingly becoming the middle infield of football. It’s a handful of good options, a lot of flux, and a position where how you play the wavier wire is just as important as how you draft. I could go on all day, but before we go any further let’s talk about some handcuffs making noise.

Lorenzo Taliaferro – After last week’s break out performance Taliaferro was this week’s hot wavier wire pickup. He looked as good as any Ravens back has looked this season as he went for 91 yards and a TD on 18 attempts. He was decisive, ran down hill and was physical at the point of contact. Harbaugh and Kubiak have both spoke very highly of Taliaferro since Sunday’s break out. That’s usually a sign of an expanded role. The feeling right now is that Bernard Pierce will be back in the starting role this week. How long he stays in that role is anyone’s guess. With the exception of garbage time against the Steelers in week two, Pierce has been the personification of a shart. You know a surprise, but in a really, really bad way. I’d be shocked if Taliaferro doesn’t run away with the job in the coming weeks. Pick him up now, thank me later.

Isaiah Crowell – I have to give the Browns credit they’ve moved on from the dumpster fire (see Wrong, Jay) that was their running game last year. They now have three solid backs deserving of NFL reps. Crowell has actually out performed Terrance West since Ben Tate went down in week 1. After watching the Browns loss against the Ravens last week I came away impressed. In just two short weeks I’ve gone from telling him to go back to being a silversmith in an 18th century New England village, to crushing hard. I’m now writing Ralph and Isaiah forever on all my trapper keepers. I still like Terrance West, but Crowell has simply outperformed him.  What’s not to like he’s averaged 5.2 YPC and has broke a couple of big plays to boot.  He’s not a burner, but he is a power back that can get the hard yards after contact. The Browns are on the bye this week, and he’s been getting the first team reps over West, he’s a great pickup if someone dropped him. Use the bye week panic to your advantage

Donald Brown – He got 31 carries and 6 looks in the passing game last week, but he only gained 89 total yards. Lucky for Brown, Danny Woodhead became the latest victim of Runningbackalypse and Ryan Mathews is weeks away. To make a long story short, there’s no one to compete with for carries. Well unless you consider newly signed Shaun Draughn anything more than a hologram. Put it this way, he’s on his 4 team in 3 years, nuff said?

Alfred Blue – As the old expression goes some things in life are unavoidable taxes, death, and Arian Foster injuries. Well we got one of those last week and my boy Blue looked okay as he ran for 78 yards on 13 carries. As of right now Foster is listed as questionable and looks like a game time decision for week 4. Blue is definitely worth a stash in 12 team leagues going forward. With Foster already potentially missing multiple games he could be in line for some serious opportunity ROS.

Bishop Sankey – Finally! Seriously, Sankey finally got a chance to show what he can do, albeit in garbage time. He toted the rock 10 times for 61 yards, and by all reports was the most dynamic player in the Titans offense. I know most dynamic player in the Titans offense is like being the smartest idiot, but it’s a least a little sunshine in all around gloomy year for running backs. I still think Sankey has a chance to break outand it’s coming sooner rather than later. Remember Shonn Greene. I thought Sankey was awesome at Washington and expected big things this season. If the opportunity comes again this week look for his value to skyrocket. This is a great buy low candidate.

 

Fuzzy Handcuffs 

These guys are fun, fun, fun!, Not for everyday use but good to own and a blast when they’re in the mix.  We may wish for a bit more run but in truth they’re probably good the way they are, splitting time and getting the most of their opportunities. Most of these handsome devils could probably be studs if given the chance.

Team Starter (carries/targets/rec) Handcuff(s) (carries/targets/rec) Depth Backs
Buffalo Bills C.J. Spiller (10/3/3) Fred Jackson (6/10/8) Bryce Brown, Anthony Dixon
Cincinnati Bengals Giovani Bernard (14/3/1) Jeremy Hill (7/0/0) Cedric Peerman
Cleveland Browns Ben Tate (injury) Isaiah Crowell (11/0/0) Terrance West (12/2/2)
Detroit Lions Joique Bell (15/0/0) Reggie Bush (12/8/6) Theo Riddick
Indianapolis Colts Ahmad Bradshaw (9/3/2) Trent Richardson (14/4/3) Dan Herron
Kansas City Cheifs Jamaal Charles (injury) Knile Davis (32/1/1) De’Anthony Thomas, Cyrus Gray, Joe McKnight
New England Patriots Stevan Ridley (19/1/1) Shane Vereen (7/6/4) Brandon Bolden, James White
New Orleans Saints Pierre Thomas (8/3/3) Mark Ingram (Injury) Khiry Robinson (18/0/0) Travaris Cadet
New York Jets Chris Johnson (10/2/0) Chris Ivory (10/4/4) Bilal Powell
Philadelphia Eagles LeSean McCoy (20/3/1) Darren Sproles (2/4/3) Chris Polk
Tampa Bay Bucs Doug Martin (injury) Bobby Rainey (11/8/7) Mike James


Standard Issue Police

Whether you’re in the back of a squad car or sitting on the corner while the Po-Po search your whip you’re going nowhere. Do you know why? Because those things are locked on your wrists with a death grip. Much like those cuffs these running backs are firmly locked into their positions. Not for a lack of ability but because the starters are firmly entrenched in their roles. These backs could have value on any given week but more than likely you’ll need an injury to make these guys startable.

Team Starter (carries/targets/rec) Handcuff(s) (carries/targets/rec) Depth Backs
Arizona Cardinals Andre Ellington (18/4/3) Stepfan Taylor (1/0/0) Robert Hughes
Atlanta Falcons Steven Jackson (14/0/0) Jazquizz Rodgers (5/1/1), Davonte Freeman (11/1/1) Antone Smith
Baltimore Ravens Bernard Pierce (Injury) Lorenzo Taliaferro (18/0/0) Justin Forsett (11/5/4)
Carolina Panthers Jonathan Stewart (5/3/3) (Injury) DeAngelo Williams(0/0/0) (Q) Fozzy Whitiker, Darrin Reaves
Houston Texans Arian Foster (injury) Alfred Blue (13/1/1) Jonathan Grimes
Miami Dolphins Knowshon Moreno (injury), Lamar Miller (15/5/4) Daniel Thomas Damien Williams, Mike Gillislee
Minnesota Vikings Matt Asiata (12/6/3) Jerick McKinnon (2/5/2) Jerome Felton
Oakland Raiders Darren McFadden (18/4/4) Maurice Jones-Drew (injury), Latavius Murray (3/0/0) Marcel Reese, Jamize Olawale
Pittsburgh Steelers Le’Veon Bell (21/4/2) LeGarrette Blount (10/0/0) Dri Archer
San Diego Chargers Ryan Matthews (injury) Donald Brown (31/6/5) Shaun Draughn, Branden Oliver
San Francisco 49ers Frank Gore (6/0/0) Carlos Hyde (3/2/2) LaMichael James
St. Louis Rams Zac Stacy (12/6/5) Benny Cunningham (9/2/1) Tre Mason
Tennessee Titans Shonn Greene (10/0/0) Bishop Sankey (10/1/1) Dexter McCluster (1/2/2), Leon Washington
Washington Football Team Alfred Morris (23/0/0) Roy Helu (1/1/1) Silas Reed

 


Duct Tape Cuffs

These are of the homemade variety you’ll use them in a pinch (i.e the starting stud goes down) but they’re always in your drawer (wavier wire) ready to step in and do their job. It may be to the bare minimum degree but they can buy you sometime.

Team Starter (carries/targets/rec) Handcuff(s) (carries/targets/rec) Depth Backs
Chicago Bears Matt Forte (13/7/6) Ka’Deem Carey (1/0/0) Senorise Perry, Tony Fiametta
Dallas Cowboys DeMarco Murray (24/4/4) Lance Dunbar (1/0/0) Joseph Randle
Denver Broncos Montee Ball (14/3/2) Ronnie Hillman (2/3/1) C.J. Anderson, Juwan Thompson
Green Bay Packers Eddie Lacy (11/1/1) James Starks (8/1/0) John Kuhn, DuJuan Harris
Jacksonville Jaguars Toby Gerhart (9/2/2) Denard Robinson (8/1/0) Jordan Todman , Storm Johnson
New York Giants Rashad Jennings (34/0/0) Andre Williams (6/0/0) Peyton Hillis
Seattle Seahawks Marshawn Lynch (26/5/3) Robert Turbin (2/1/1) Christine Michael

Thanks for reading and Happy Handcuffing!

 

Don’t forget to send me all your Running Back Questions on twitter @ralphlifshitzbb.

  1. Antonio Brown's Sensei says:
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    Great stuff Ralph… I want to pick up Sankey just need some help on who to drop. RBS are Forte, Ellington, Hill, and just dropped Bernard Pierce for Gerhart (idk y). Any obvious drops? Other candidates include Torrey Smith (I can’t believe I’m sayin it) or Kendall Wright… i just have a feeling Sankey will break thru

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      @Antonio Brown’s Sensei: If I dropped anyone in that group it would be Torrey. Depends on your receiver depth though.

    • James says:
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      Hello. Got a trade offer… He has Arian Foster and I have Alfred Blue. He is offering me Taliaferro for Blue. Would you take it?

      • Ralph Lifshitz

        Ralph Lifshitz says:
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        @James: You have him over a barrel because he’s obviously nervous about Foster’ s injury history. Ask for another player or something better than Blue. Blue probably has more value ROS, Taliaferro is probably better in dynasty formats. See if he’ll sweeten the pot. Either way not a bad move.

  2. BTDRNKS says:
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    Who would you rather have: Taliaferro or Crowell going forward?

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      @BTDRNKS: I would go Taliaferro, only because I’m very low on Pierce. There’s a few more mouths to feed in Cleveland, and Tate should be back after the bye. Doesn’t mean he’ll stay healthy, but he’ll be back.

  3. alex says:
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    should I drop west to pick up crowell?

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      Yes for sure drop West and get Crowell

  4. Xmus Jackson Flaxon-Waxon says:
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    Drop Pierce for Crowell?

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      @Xmus Jackson Flaxon-Waxon: I’d be interested to see what the Ravens do Sunday before making that move.

  5. de nachos says:
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    I think you are on to something here. I’m tempted to try the ‘punt’ starting RB in a draft next year. This could be your homage to baseball and eschewing starting pitching. Running Backs are sooooooo deep…where’s Sky and Prez lets get this trending.

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      @de nachos: All of my teams that are actually above .500 this year imployed the “Upside down” strategy. I faired much better targeting top notch recievers/tight ends/ and QB’s in the top two or three rounds and then getting guys like Jennings, Sproles, Miller, Matthews, Moreno, and Bradshaw later. I think we’re at a point where much like starting pitching in a H2H you’re better off targeting a bunch of quality depth at RB and going for the high end WR’s, TE’s, and QB’s.

      • Good Will Hunting 2: Hunting Season says:
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        @Ralph Lifshitz: i agree with that my best teams went receivers early, but they didn’t go any earlier than round 6 on QB (i got luck in round 6 in one spot, figured to only get him in 5th though). ryan was later than 4th. I guarantee you brees/rodgers even peyton owners by and large are not tearing up the world right now, due to how early they grabbed QBs, and this is mostly from the lesser WRs they likely have.

        • Ralph Lifshitz

          Ralph Lifshitz says:
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          @Good Will Hunting 2: Hunting Season: Agreed on the QB’s by in large. I took Peyton late second round in one draft and took Rodgers late third round in a few. The Peyton team has been good, the Rodgers teams are 2-1. Last week really hurt. Then I have a couple of two QB leagues where they go early and often. Even Shaun Hill got drafted in that league.

          • Good Will Hunting 2: Hunting Season says:
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            @Ralph Lifshitz: of course in 2 QB leagues, i’m in one with super flex, and i have foles/palmer/hoyer, but i inherited that team 2 days before draft. it’s a 14 teamer with deep benches, and all i did was draft young RB’s since when i inherited it it only had ellington (seriously no other RB). did have dez/aj green/orange julius though.

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      @de nachos: I have to give credit where credit is due. Michael Salfino of Yahoo/WSJ. Was talking about it all off season.

      • de nachos says:
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        @Ralph Lifshitz: that naked honesty just endears you more to us unwashed masses

        • Ralph Lifshitz

          Ralph Lifshitz says:
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          @de nachos: I’m sure your hygiene is excellent!

  6. Allan says:
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    Cutler or Stafford? If it makes any difference I’ve got jeffrey and my opponent has megatron. Starting Stafford over Cutler has killed me the last two weeks.

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      @Allan: Cutler. I hear you on Stafford.

  7. Nick says:
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    I have Murray, R Jennings, Matthews, Hyde, K Davis & Rainey…I have a waiver (10 of 10) in for INgram dropping Rainey…but Crowell is available. DO I make another move for Crowell after the Ingram waiver goes by? If so, Rainey first but if he is gone via Ingram pickup, who do you drop?

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      @Nick: Don’t be so quick to drop Rainey. Let’s see what Martin does. I don’t put a ton of stock into that Atlanta game. The whole team was horrific. I would consider dropping him for either player though.

  8. Wacha Wacha says:
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    Hi Ralph Gerhart was dropped in my 14 team league. Who should I drop for him if anyone? Standard scoring except 1 point awarded for ever 10 kr/pr yards.

    QB M Ryan
    RB D Murray
    RB Stacy
    WR D Thomas
    WR C Patterson
    TE Gates
    OP Cutler
    D/ST Panthers
    DP P Willis
    P Kern
    K c parker
    Head Coach- I dont have one

    BN Ellington, Sankey, Pierce, CJ2K, Eli, Bortles, J Locker, Hester, K Wright, Donnell, Bills D/ST

    Additional questions I just thought of…
    Should I drop another player to add a Head Coach or continue to go without one?
    Start Hester or K Wright this week?

    Thanks a bunch I appreciate the input!

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      @Wacha Wacha: Why so many QB’s? Drop Bortles and Locker get Gerhart and a head coach. Is Jerry Glanville available?

      • Wacha Wacha says:
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        @Ralph Lifshitz:

        QB seemed kind of valuable as there are only 32 that play at all and all of them have been drafted. However dropping one sounds like sound advice thanks.

        • Ralph Lifshitz

          Ralph Lifshitz says:
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          @Wacha Wacha: Yeah if it was a 14 team two QB league then I understand. But if it’s single QB you only need one or two.

  9. Chris r says:
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    With byes this week I got hit hard, no Stacy or Ellington, my 4th RB was jeremy hill, he’s on bye too. my 5th RB is knowshon who I only have because someone dropped him due to injury.

    So this week I’ve got a choice between:
    Lorenzo Taliaferro or
    Jerrick Mckinnon

    Or I drop someone (maybe cardinals defense, maybe mckinnon) For Shonn Greene, or Branden Oliver

    Lots of rocks, lots of hard places here.

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      @Chris r: Go Taliaferro, I could see dropping McKinnon for Greene but it’s a worthy stash.

  10. Josh says:
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    Would you reccommend starting Asiata or the ex-muscle hamster this weekend in a non-PPR league?

    Current lineup:
    RB-McCoy
    RB-Ahmad Bradshaw
    Flex-Asiata or Doug Martin

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      @Josh: I’d go Asiata. The Falcons and the Steelers are equally bad against the run according to the numbers. I suspect we’ll see the Falcons are actually in fact the poorer run defense as the season progresses. Neither the Bucs nor the Vikes should be playing with the lead in either game. So it comes down to touches. I suspect Rainey gets as many looks/carries as Martin. At least Asiata has a defined role.

  11. Ron says:
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    .5PPR – which side you like in each of these trades?

    1) Megatron and Cruz or Demaryius and Jordy
    2) Megatron and Crabtree or Demaryius and Jordy

    Thanks.

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      @Ron: Demaryius and Jordy in both. The second one is closer but Jordy is tied to a better QB and a lower floor. I do like Crabtree though.

  12. Zandy says:
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    Keep one as last bench spot – Rainey Crowell or Pierce? 0.5 ppr

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      @Zandy: Probably Rainey in PPR formats. He gets a significant amount more looks in the passing game.

  13. psssht says:
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    douglas martin or toby gerhart at RB2? man have these two been a TERRIBLE disappointment

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      @psssht: Go Gerhart. There’s a ton of question marks about Martin’s role this week.

  14. Annie's Boobs says:
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    I’ve got Charles, Stacy and Fred Jackson as my top-3 RBs. Would you drop Sproles, Khiry or Joique to pick up either Ryan Mathews or Knowshon?

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      @Annie’s BoobsMaybe Khiry for Knowshon, I’d wait until I knew that one of those two was going to be back within a week or so. From all reports Moreno could be back week 6. I’d hold off until this upcoming week to make that move. Don’t drop Sproles or Joique.

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