Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
Speaking of running backs, the reason the value is lacking is because we’re seeing less and less true “feature backs”. Doug Martin and Marshawn Lynch are both elite talents, but both of their teams are talking about scaling back their workloads. The same goes for Reggie Bush, while we’ll also have to watch how new additions impact guys like Zac Stacy, Steven Jackson, Darren McFadden and several others.
Guys like Giovani Bernard, Bishop Sankey and Ben Tate could actually be on the way up toward that feature type role, but the uncertainty and lack of stability is clearly there.
Looking back at least season, just eight running backs eclipsed 200 fantasy points. This just goes to show the dip in value and the fact that there are only so many truly elite options.
While there is always the chance on swinging and missing due to injury (Arian Foster and Doug Martin) or poor performance (C.J. Spiller or Ray Rice), the value is better with a first round running back due to role and upside.
Running backs are also easier to backup in case of a freak injury. Aaron Rodgers was off draft boards in the first two rounds last year, yet he was hurt for half the year. If you tried replacing him with a Packer or someone off the waiver wire without a solid backup plan in place, you were probably screwed. If you replaced Doug Martin with Bobby Rainey or Arian Foster with Ben Tate, however, you were still doing okay depending on the week.
The main point here is the lack of truly elite running back options is quite clear. If you don’t spend picks on potential elite options early, you’re throwing caution to the wind in hoping you’ll find a gem later in the draft.