Running Back News & Notes – July 8th
July 8, 2013 | Jeff
Greetings from the fine folks here at The Fake Football, and welcome back after a long holiday weekend. Hopefully you’re done sweeping the bottle rockets off your roof and the hangover has subsided, because we’ve got two scoops of fake football goodness headed your way! Over Independence Day weekend, there were a few notable pieces of information released concerning the world of fantasy football running backs, so let’s dive right in and see how this recent pre-training camp news impacts the fantasy prospects of some top rushers…
Steven Jackson – Our old buddy SJax looks like he’ll be a fantasy MONSTER in Atlanta (check him out in our staff rankings), and it appears he will be as fresh as ever heading into the 2013 season. According to Daniel Cox from atlantafalcons.com, Atlanta offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter plans on using Jackson sparingly over the preseason. Koetter added, “Steven’s got a gazillion carries in his career. Coach Smith will determine how many carries he gets, but I don’t believe Steven Jackson needs a bunch of touches in the preseason.” While a “gazillion” is a little off, Jackson does have lots of work under his belt in his nine year career, including 2,396 regular season carries alone. This statement from the Falcons is welcomed news, as the health of Jackson will be the only factor that could potentially derail him from a stellar fantasy season. Fantasy owners should have no worries about snagging Jackson at the 1/2 turn in 12 team drafts this fall, as a double digit touchdown total is well within reach.
Giovani Bernard – Word out of Cincinnati is that Bengals running backs coach Hue Jackson (no, not Wolverine) thinks Giovani Bernard can be an every down back, a notion that The Fake Football whole heartedly supports. Jackson said, “He has that skill set where I think he could play and be an every down player,” according to Pete Schramm of Bengals.com, which makes Bernard’s sixth round ADP seem even more appetizing than BenJarvus Green-Ellis’ seventh round spot. In situations like this, it is generally better to be on the younger, upside-ier side of a time share, a la Fred Jackson/C.J. Spiller of 2012. I wouldn’t go nuts picking Bernard in the fourth round at this point, but in the middle rounds, he is a fair value with juicy PPR potential. BGE is better left for other owners at this point unless he falls to insane (10/11th round or later) levels.
Ray Rice – The running back workload in Baltimore is a hot topic as the fantasy season begins to take shape. Ray Rice is a staple in first rounds of fake football drafts, but the looming presence of backup Bernard Pierce is frightening to many fantasy owners (more on that topic HERE). Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun acknowledges Pierce’s talent, but calms Rice owners by stating, “Although Pierce’s workload is expected to increase this year after he averaged 6.75 carries per game as a rookie, the Ravens aren’t planning to dramatically alter how they divide up the playing time. Rice remains entrenched as the featured back.” Although we can’t simply ignore the “Pierce Factor,” Rice will still get the large majority of the carries in Baltimore and is versatile enough (69.5 reception average over the past four seasons) to produce big time fantasy points in 2013. Rice’s current average draft position (according to myfantasyleague.com) of eighth overall still seems fair at this point.
Shane Vereen – 2013 fantasy football offseason darling Shane Vereen has been blasting up the ADP charts in recent weeks and he’ll need to ice his hammies from all this climbing by the time fantasy drafts begin. Vereen, in line to take over Danny Woodhead’s role/receptions in New England’s offense, appears ready to expand that pass catching role in 2013 with the void of Wes Welker, Aaron Hernandez, and Woodhead in the Patriots offense. Paul Perillo of Pro Football Weekly shared an interesting note about Vereen on patriots.com recently, as he noted that, “During the spring there were times when Vereen lined up as a receiver on the outside where the Patriots were looking to isolate him in space against a linebacker.” This is just more good news to pile on top of Vereen’s already mouth-watering fantasy potential for the upcoming season. Vereen’s current eighth round ADP is a decent spot but the progression of his average draft spot is worth monitoring through draft season.
Daryl Richardson/Isaiah Pead/Zac Stacy – The St. Louis backfield is a nice jumbled mess of running backs at the moment and doesn’t appear to be getting much clearer at this point in the offseason. Clark Judge of CBS Sports tabbed Daryl Richardson as the early favorite, “mostly because he’s the only guy with a resume.” I wouldn’t put too much stock in this report, as training camp and preseason games are the only things that will help fantasy owners get a clearer picture of what to expect from the Rams. I would still place a nice shiny nickel on Isaiah Pead leading the backfield in 2013, but we will have to wait and see. If you’re drafting at this crazy early point in the summer for some odd reason (you degenerate, you) snag two of the three, grab your rabbit’s foot, and hope to get lucky.