Fantasy Stud Backs: Where Are They Now?

Buddy SmithSenior Writer INovember 9, 2008

Fantasy football history is filled with running backs who singlehandedly carried their owners to championships. Emmitt Smith, Terrell Davis, Priest Holmes, Larry Johnson, Shaun Alexander, and LaDanian Tomlinson were every down backs on high powered offenses. Owners of these players cashed in on a bonanza of points.

For awhile there it seemed like every year would produce a new record for touchdowns in a season. Owners adjusted their strategy to the environment causing countless first round picks to be spent on running backs.

Evolution in games happens quickly, and in recent years the NFL is changing. Platoon backfields have enjoyed so much success that it has become the league norm. Fantasy football owners may need to adjust their strategies as well.

I’ve examined some of this year’s top running back picks so you can take an objective look at how they have performed. You’ll be better able to decide for yourself if these picks are really worth it.

First the Good:

Adrian Peterson was projected to be the number two running back in most leagues. He’s had a respectable year himself: 1015 yards, and seven touchdowns is nothing to sneeze at. Hyped as he was, many owners are disappointed, but even talk of a 2,000 yard season may return after yesterday's performance. He was projected number two (RB), and in most leagues he is number one. You can’t complain about that.

Clinton Portis is having one heck of a season in Washington. With 995 yards and seven touchdowns, only AP is having a better year than the Redskins’ number 26. Where did Clinton Portis go in your draft? Portis was widely thought of as the eighth best RB going into the season…thus far you couldn’t have done better. Let’s see how some of those other early round picks fared.

Brian Westbrook is a warrior. He’s got broken ribs and is out producing almost every back in the NFL.  Six rushing touchdowns, plus two receiving touchdowns in eight games is quite a production pace indeed. He was projected fourth at RB and his results are in line.

Marion Barber and Frank Gore round out this top group. With these players so far owners have gotten what they’ve bargained for.

The Not So Good:

If you took LaDanian Tomlinson in the first few picks this year you have to be disappointed. While he’s not a complete disaster you had to think he was going to outscore Steve Slaton by a wider margin when the season started. Turf toe and nearly being thirty seems to have caught up with LT a bit. It’s a shame.

Steven Jackson: This was the second year in a row that the whole world was excited about Steven Jackson in July. Orlando Pace is back, you’d think that would bump his numbers some…alas. He’s stuck in St. Louis, where they’ve just forgotten how to play football against anybody but the Dallas Cowboys.

Many owners spent a top three draft choice on a guy who has a few less points than Steve Slaton, who was available on the waiver wire until week two in many leagues.

Larry Johnson: This bruising back has spent more time behaving poorly in night clubs than running between the tackles this year. With a meager offense he’s compiled a paltry 421 yards and three touchdowns this season. God help you if you spent a first round pick on LJ…it’s the type of move that could blow up a franchise.

Come ON!!

Joseph Addai is currently stinking up my roster. I drafted him while Clinton Portis was still  on the board. The Colts were supposed to score a lot of points this year and Addai was supposed to get almost all of the carries.

Then they started playing the games. Now it’s November, the Titans are undefeated, and Joseph Addai can’t find the end zone with a flashlight. What’s worse is that Dominic Rhodes has played well in relief of No. 29 making him all the less valuable just in case the Colts start clicking again.

Ryan Grant is a mathematical anomaly. How a guy can get that many touches on a team that scores that many points and not be a fantasy star still befuddles me. The hamstring hasn’t helped. they never do. Also I think Aaron Rodgers is sneaking away with all of his goal line touchdowns.

The worst of the worst is Laurence Maroney. Before his season ending injury he had 28 carries for 93 yards and zero touchdowns. I think E.T said it best: “Ouch.”