To view the Midseason Quarterback Review, click here.
On to the second phase of my Midseason Review, the running backs. You will see:
1) My Midseason Fantasy Football Awards - I will be naming the top performers, the best draft day steals and the duds at each position.
2) You will find a chart of the top ranked fantasy football players, divided by position. This chart compares their current totals with their draft positions to give you an idea of how everything is shaking out.
3) Matt Forte
Matt Forte was the 13th selected running back in most drafts and is putting up top five numbers. His performance is singlehandedly holding the Chicago Bears offense together. Depending on your scoring format, if you were lucky enough to grab Forte in the third rounds, you are likely sitting pretty with two huge running backs.
Forte is fifth in the league with 96 rushing yards per game. Considering that he only has two rushing touchdowns on the season, you can see that he is getting his fantasy point elsewhere. And that place is in the receiving game.
Forte is only behind Darren Sproles in receptions from a running back with 38. On top of his high PPR performance, Forte leads all running backs in receiving yardage. With only three combined touchdowns this season, it seems eminent that he is due for a scoring streak. I wouldn’t be surprised to see his fantasy value jump even higher in the second half of the season.
2) Adrian Peterson
Unsurprisingly, Peterson has compiled the most fantasy points of any running back at this point. At the beginning of the season he was fighting off Ray Rice, Jamaal Charles and Arian Foster to be the first overall pick in the draft. And it would seem that those who went for him made the right choice.
Adrian Peterson leads the league in carries (167), yardage (798) and rushing touchdowns (9). This means that he is on pace to have a better rushing season than any back from 2010. And most of these stats came with an underperforming Donovan McNabb under center.
With an improved passing game in Minnesota opening more holes for Peterson, he could well be on his way to a 1,600+ yard, 18 touchdown season. Not including the points he is adding through the air.
1) LeSean McCoy
As the sixth running back taken 2011 fantasy football drafts, McCoy is on his way to proving that he should have been considered at the top spot.
Unlike Adrian Peterson, LeSean McCoy has already seen his bye week, meaning that is fantasy football points per game total is the highest in the league at over 20! McCoy has the highest yards per carry and rushing yards per game average in the NFL and has eight touchdowns on top of that. McCoy improves on this number by adding in his receiving skills where he adds 23 receptions and two more touchdowns.
With the Eagles finally hitting their stride and the offense clicking for the first time this year, it is hard to imagine what McCoy is capable of for the remainder of the season. It is not hard to imagine him ending the year as the highest scoring running back in fantasy football this season.
Steals of the Draft
3) Tie: Beanie Wells and DeMarco Murray
Despite an injury two weeks ago and already seeing his bye week, Wells is still tied for the 12th highest scoring running back in fantasy football this season. He has put up a total of 92 fantasy points as the 25th running back taken in the draft. Not too shabby for a man who was drafted to be your bye week fill-in.
Wells was largely written off due to injuries and past performances but has come on strong so far. It will be tough for him to keep up the pace and stay healthy, but as long as he can stay on the field, he’ll remain high in the rankings.
DeMarco Murray also makes the list because of his 45 fantasy points (good for 32nd in the league), the vast majority of them have come in just two games. Murray replaced the injured Felix Jones on a team that couldn’t run the ball to save their lives. And those that picked him up were handsomely rewarded with his record breaking performance. Murray went largely undrafted, in the leagues where he was picked, he was the 52nd running back off the board.
2) Darren Sproles
If you are an avid GHL reader, you will know that I am one to avoid running back by committee teams. They are little more than a giant headache. It might be time for me to shake that strategy a little bit after the performance of Darren Sproles.
He is tied for 12th in the league in fantasy points, despite sharing the backfield with Pierre Thomas and Mark Ingram. While he has made a slight impact in the rushing game (305 yards and two touchdowns), the majority of his points are coming in the passing game where he has 389 yards on 51 receptions with two additional touchdowns.
Sproles is on pace to crush the numbers from his best season and even to lead the team in receptions and rushing yardage. Did I mention that he was the 44th running back selected in fantasy drafts?
1) Fred Jackson
Hands down, Fred Jackson is the biggest running back surprise of the season. As the 29th selected running back in 2011 fantasy drafts, Fred Jackson has climbed the ladder 26 spots to be the third highest scoring running back in the league, with almost 20 fantasy points per game.
Jackson has the second highest rushing yards per game total and has six touchdowns on the ground. And like the others on this list, Jackson has been adding points as a receiver out of the backfield with 27 receptions for 353 yards.
Jackson has more than won the starting position in Buffalo and should continue to produce these numbers for the rest of the season. Expect him to say comfortably in the top five for the remainder of the season.
Busts of the Draft
I feel it slightly necessary to list Jamaal Charles here as a bit of a prologue to this section. I’m sure he would be a top 10 running back had he not been lost to injury in the first game of the season.
As one of the five highest running backs taken though, he still needs to be at least mentioned on the list. My sincerest apologies to those of you who snagged him at pick three, four or five.
I’m also going to add Rashard Mendenhall in here as an honorable mention. I own him in two leagues and have been incredibly let down. 7th drafted running back, only 58 fantasy points. Come on.
3) Tie: Felix Jones and Knowshon Moreno
Felix Jones does have a bit of an excuse missing two weeks due to injury, but when you consider the miniscule numbers he managed when healthy (compared to the monster numbers of his replacement), you can stop blaming the offensive line and point the finger at Jones, the 16th running back taken in the draft. Jones fails to even make the top 40 with only 34 fantasy points. Less than DeMarco Murray has managed in just two games.
Knowshon Moreno also makes the list because the man doesn’t even start anymore. Going into the season, fantasy owners were hopeful that Moreno would receive the brunt of the carries with Willis McGahee and Lance Ball as his backups. Owners were confident enough to pick him as the 21st running back.
However, Moreno has just 22 fantasy points this season, despite being the team’s starter. He was soon replaced by McGahee who has accumulated more points. I don’t see either Jones or Moreno being able to turn this season around after being outperformed by their backups.
2) Peyton Hillis
The Madden Curse is alive and well. To be fair, Hillis has missed a little time due to injury, but one of those injuries was strep throat, so I have lost all respect and he is making number two on my list.
When you make a player the 14th selected running back, you expect him to have earned you a bit more than 36 fantasy points on the season. Especially considering that the 13th overall pick has gotten over three times as many points.
Hillis has only accumulated 211 yards this season, which is less than his backup Montario Hardesty. Hillis has also scored just two rushing touchdowns. For a cover boy, Hillis is not living up to his expectations from 2010.
1) Chris Johnson
Easily the biggest disappointment of them all. When we learned that he was going to play and receive a ridiculous sum of money, we were all sure that he would have a huge season as he did a few years ago. We were so confident that he was the fourth running back taken overall. But in his time off, he seems to have forgotten his job and is sitting at an abysmal 47 points. Good enough for 30th best in the NFL.
To give you an idea of how awful this is, backups Michael Bush, James Starks, Ben Tate, Jonathan Stewart, Mike Tolbert and Darren Sproles all have more fantasy points. Last season Johnson had over 1300 yards rushing, halfway through this season, he is on pace to have 600.
Top 20 Fantasy Football Running Back Performances
The following chart is compiled of information taken from fantasyfootballcalculator.com. All draft positions were in mock drafts done in early September. Players are ranked in order of their total fantasy football points per game (FFPPG).
The Prediction bar on the right side measures whether I think the player will continue at this pace for the rest of the year, see a decline (-), or improve their rankings (+).
List does not account for time missed due to injury.
Tim Hightower (IR)
Unlisted: Jamaal Charles (IR) (5th running back taken), Felix Jones (16th), Knowshon Moreno (21st), Ryan Grant (26th), Joseph Addai (33rd)