I recently wrote an article (http://www.infobarrel.com/Fantasy_Football__-_The_Scoreless_WR_Stat) that helps you decide how to pick up the best available wide receiver when they don't fall in the elite group. For example, wide receivers like Randy Moss in 2010 is considered an elite player. But in the same year, football players like Wes Welker, Austin Collie, and the like may not be drafted early in leagues, but can score many league owners lots of points. In that article I focused on the scoreless stat called "targets".
For this article my focus is around the running back (RB). The running back depth is not nearly as great, and many times is frustrating to choose your RB2 roster spot. So what measuring stick should you use? With the two league types most commonly used:
1) Point Per Reception Leagues (PPR)
2) Standard Leagues (yards and TDs only)
you have to consider two options for picking your player. The "target" stat for WR play a small roll for RBs. Players like Jamaal Charles in 2010 can score lots of points catching screen passes out of the back field and making big yards after the catch (YAC). Also, with the onset of two feature RBs on a team, it gets quite tricky on who you should pick.
As with all my recommendations, its the first 4 weeks you need to focus on moving your roster around to get it set for the season. So, what do you look for. The Scoreless stat for RBs is "rushing attempts."
Attempts help define who the most likely ball carrier will be on a team. Feature backs like Chris Johnson of the Tennessee Titans in 2010 is a no brainer, but what about your RB2 position?
Draft day is actually a crap shoot for your RB2 position. RB2 positions don't usually flesh out for fantasy league owners until week 2, so this rushing attempt scoreless stat play a larger role after the season starts. For draft day, use last years team playing style as long as the coash has stayed the same.
Come week 2-4, you may move the RB2 position around a lot. At time carrying 5 RBs on your roster is not unheard of. With the NFL becoming more physical than ever, the top backs are likely to get hurt making head way for the back-up. Take for instance the New York Jets in 2010. Here we have Shonne Green listed as the best back. He has a small injury, but it doesn't affect his ability to play. Now Ladainian Tomlinson is the back-up (once a feature back on the San Diego Chargers). After 3 weeks into the season it becomes clear that L.T. is the best back. His rushing attempts have soared, yet Shonne Green remains the #1 RB on the roster.
Another clever example is the Cleveland Browns. The Browns leading up to the 2010 season has one of the worst winning records in football, yet a gem is found in Peyton Hillis. A no name RB on fantasy draft day, but by week 3 if you watch the teams playing style and who is getting all the rushing attempts, Peyton Hillis paid big dividends.
One other note about rushing attempts. The total by week 3 is one way to determine who on what team is getting the most attempts, but if a team is splitting caries between 2 or even 3 running backs, combine the receiving targets with the attempts. Non-PPR formats can still gain yards and it could give that extra boost of points for team with poor rushing offensive lines.
I plan to write more about the running back two (RB2) position for fantasy football. It is probably the most difficult roster spot to fill. More than just rushing attempts needs to be considered. Luck may play a small role, but if you follow my RB2 stat series you should have a collection of stats to rank that RB2 on draft day and through the first 4-5 weeks of the fantasy football season.
So, for now, take a look at the waiver wire and decide who is getting the most rushing attempts. Compare it to your own roster and that of your league and squeeze the gem into your roster.
One last note, while it may take a half hour of your time. Create a table of all the running backs in the NFL on active rosters. Maybe 3 per team, and table all their attempts. Rank them each week. Chart them and see who's is steadily growing week-to-week. Total rushing attempts through 5 weeks is not a clear statistic. If an injury occurs, a players rushing attempts will go from 1-5 to 20-25. A graph will quickly show who is spiking. Read the news on the team to figure out why, and get him on your roster early!
Follow me for more on this RB2 series later.