Adrian Peterson, Arian Foster, Adrian Peterson and Adrian Peterson.
Those were the preemptive No. 1 overall fantasy draft picks from the 2013, 2012, 2011 and 2010 seasons, and they’re all running backs.
There’s a great deal of dwindling value at the RB position when it comes to fantasy points. Last season, only four running backs ran for more than 100 yards at least five times. In 2012, eight running backs accomplished that feat, and two accomplished it 10 times.
Due to supply and demand, it’s no surprise strong runners are the best commodity in fantasy football.
The evolving league is all part of Roger Goodell’s operation to turn the NFL into NFL play 60, all in the name of player safety. Soon it’ll be like pop warner and Steve Smith will be the only injury-prone player in the league. I almost wish Vince McMahon would bring back the XFL, just get rid of the goblin-faced, scantily clad cheerleaders and it’s a respectable brand of football.
2013 launched the latest shift in what has become a holy grail for fantasy quarterbacks. Peyton Manning tossed a ridiculous 59 touchdowns and posted an even more ridiculous 5,477 yards passing.
How about Saints quarterback Drew Brees, who became the first quarterback to throw for more than 5,000 yards in four straight seasons. A 5,000-yard season was once a monumental feat, now it’s just another day at the office.
Practically every quarterback, average to great, stands a chance to go off in any given. Even Andy Dalton belted out 33 touchdowns and racked up over 4,000 passing yards. It’s getting hard to tell who’s even a bad quarterback anymore.
But that leaves the question, since the quarterback position is the most lucrative spot in terms of fantasy points, shouldn’t you always draft the best one first? The answer is still a resounding no.
Depending on where you draft, you’re almost certainly likely to encounter the dilemma of taking an Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, Peyton Manning or a LeSean McCoy, Alfred Morris, Adrian Peterson. This is especially true if your first draft pick lies in the back-end of the first round where the talent level of RBs starts to dip and you’re tempted to draft a quarterback.
Even though Manning posted one of the greatest seasons ever by a quarterback, good quarterbacks continue to be Chicago pizza deep. Last season, 10 quarterbacks threw for at least 4,000 yards while 11 threw for 25 touchdowns. If you’re in 12-team league, odds are you implemented at least one of those guys into your lineup.
Drafting the top running back is the best way to go when it comes to building a championship fantasy team. Let’s take a look at last year’s most commonly drafted player at No. 1, Vikings running back Adrian Peterson.
Peterson’s stats from 2012: 16 games played, 2,097 yards (6.0 yards per carry) 12 touchdowns
Peterson’s stats from last season: 14 games played, 1,266 yards, (4.5 yards per carry) 10 touchdowns)
Was he worth it? Considering the hype Adrian Peterson was up against coming off one of the greatest seasons ever by a running back in 2012, those who invested in 2013 Peterson weren’t disappointed. He eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark for the 6th time in his seven-year career, despite suffering a groin injury that sidelined him for two games. He’ll likely undergo offseason groin surgery, but he should be back in time for training camp and will be 100 percent.
Peterson also benefited from one of the better offensive lines in the league yet his play suffered because of inconsistencies at the quarterback and wide receiver positions.
The Vikings signed Josh Freeman in hopes the veteran would spark an offensive resurgence, but he fizzled out instead, going 20-for-53 for 190 yards and zero touchdowns in his only start which resulted in an ugly 7-23 loss on Monday night to the lowly New York Giants.
Freeman is unlikely to play for the Vikings again and Minnesota is left with an aging Matt Cassell and a so-far inconsistent Christian Ponder. The Vikings select 12th in the 2014 draft and will likely get a shot at one of the four quarterbacks, most likely Derek Carr or Blake Bortles.
Peterson’s 2011 stats: 12 games played 970 yards, 12 touchdowns
Peterson’s 2010 stats: 15 games played. 1,298 yards, 12 touchdowns
Was he worth it? Suffered an injury in 2011 that kept him from 1,000 yards but Peterson never disappointed in the red zone.
Arian Foster’s stats from 2011: 13 games played, 1,224 yards (4.4 yards), 10 touchdowns
Arian Foster’s stats from 2012: 16 games played, 1,424 yards, 15 touchdowns
Was he worth it? Pretty obvious he was based on the numbers. Foster played in 16 games for the second time in his career (he played in all 16 in 2010). Even though he averaged a career-low in yards per game (4.1), he eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark for the third straight season while rushing an incredible 351 attempts. It’s no wonder he played in only eight games before burning out with nagging injuries in 2013.
Keep drafting running backs.