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Thoughts from FFChamps: Keys to dominating your fantasy football draft

Posted Aug 27, 2013

In this edition of ''Thoughts from FFChamps'' we focus on drafting your running back.

The season is coming, the season is coming!

Preseason is winding down and Week 1 is almost here ... the only reason I can accept the end of another summer. I’ve said it before: NFL football, Patriots games and fantasy football were created to ease the pain of back to work, school and winter. If your fantasy football league does it right, your draft is sometime between today and the day before NFL opening kickoff. It is time to prepare for glory with FFChamps.com. As we like to say at FFChamps.com: Fantasy Football championships start at the draft and are won in the trenches of the regular season. If you have not tried FFChamps.com, this is the time to do so. Our loyal Patriots.com fans can get 50% off for LIFE if you become an FFChamps.com member by Labor Day. You’ll get 1-on-1 advice access with our experts and immediate access to the FFCPI, our proprietary Weekly Rankings, our Rest of the Way Rankings, and our industry-best Strength of Schedule Tool. FFChamps is the only place for one 1-on-1 team analysis and advice. Go to https://www.ffchamps.com/subscribe/ today. Bottom line is: FFChamps.com will guide you to your bragging rights and league championship trophy and prize.

There are two more columns before the opening kickoff. Once the season begins, we will turn to winning games each and every week and preparing and tweaking your team for a championship. Once the season starts we will be focused on that week’s strategy and will not look back. For now, I want to recap the previous week’s columns. In week 1, we presented the FFChamps.com Ten Commandments. In week 2 we discussed the all-important FFChamps strategy of tiering. In week 3 we went over the QB position.

This week, we will focus on drafting your RB and next week, WR/TE/FLEX.

This is clearly a season where RBs are lacking in depth. In my humble opinion, there are very few no-brainers. In 2013 the top RBs are scarce so it’s essential to make sure you take a RB with pick 1 or pick 2. As discussed last week, there are exceptions based on scoring systems (FFChamps Commandment 1: Know Thy Scoring System). For example, in a 2 QB league I believe you need to take a QB with picks 1 or 2 where in other leagues; you should wait on a QB and be one of the last picks. But there is no scenario where you can wait too long on a RB. If you have the first pick in your draft, you are more than likely to take Adrian Peterson. This week Peterson came out and said he is going to rush for 2500 yards (with no Percy Harvin and Ponder at QB, I doubt it). If you have pick 2, maybe you get lucky because some bonehead passed on AD and he falls to you. If he does, take him. If you are picking 3 to 10 or in a 12-team league, 11-12, you will be looking at other RBs. When you look back on your season, the RBs you take likely will be the most important factor in determining how you did.

Let’s look at FFChamps.com’s top 3 tiers of RB. In tier 1, we have Peterson, Doug Martin, and Arian Foster. In tier 2, FFChamps.com has Marshawn Lynch, Jamaal Charles, and Trent Richardson. In tier 3, C.J. Spiller, LeSean McCoy, Ray Rice, and Maurice Jones-Drew, who just rose from tier 4 to tier 3 this week on FFChamps.com. FFChamps Commandment 5 reminds us to draft players from the next great offenses. This makes me very wary of Spiller and somewhat wary about Charles, although the Chiefs offense is certainly going to be better than it was last season. I am aware that the Jaguars offense is perceived as terrible, but I am more bullish. Cecil Shorts and Justin Blackmon are young, up and coming wideouts. Josh Freeman is serviceable and North Dartmouth, Mass., native, Patriots fan and UConn star Justin Todman has looked explosive. MJD spent much of last season rehabbing and staying fresh. He is 28 years old, in a contract year and is the focal point of this offense. FFChamps.com believes you can take MJD late in round 1 or in round 2 and get RB 1 performance. MJD will also have 30-50 receptions.

Do you know who the second leading rusher in the NFL was in 2012 behind Peterson? It was Redskins rookie Alfred Morris. If you are in a PPR league, Morris is not much of a threat as a receiver but he is money inside the 5 yard line, with double digit touchdowns and 1500+ yards last season. The Redskins offense will be good and defenses will need to focus on RGIII. Morris has top 3 RB potential and is a good value.

When running backs turn 30, they tend to decline in performance but Stephen Jackson is still looking strong and may be one of the three most talented runners and receiving backs in the game. He is now on a stacked Falcons offense that likes to run inside the 3 yard line and has stressed that they will be throwing to Jackson a lot out of the backfield, something they could not do with Michael Turner.

We like Reggie Bush in PPR leagues, and definitely would take a flier on rookie Giovanni Bernard of the Bengals, who is explosive. Other potential sleepers are either David Wilson or Andrew Brown, whoever emerges as the go-to Giants back. Chargers heralded but to date injury prone, underperforming back Ryan Matthews has the talent to be a top 5 fantasy running back. He may be worth one more shot with a new coach and system in place.

The Patriots may have the best running back depth in the NFL. At the time of writing this, I’m not sure what Patriots RBs will make the roster but we know Ridley will. Ridley has the nose for the end zone, is powerful, and should rush for 1000+ yards and double digit TDs. Shane Vereen will make the team and in a PPR league, could easily be valuable but if Ridley is healthy, I see Vereen as being more of a pass catching back and not someone likely to rush for 1000 yards and scoring 10 TDs. If Blount makes the team, he is another guy worth taking at the end of your draft and seeing how he unfolds. I would not draft Boldin or Leon Washington for fantasy football purposes.

Patriots.com reader and FFChamps member Terry sent in the following email.

"Awesome. Thanks for such a fast response to my 1-on-1 question. Love the work you guys are doing for Patriots.com Radio. I’ve been a die-hard Pats fan since ’95 and loyal PFW in Progress listener since ’03, but am brand new to fantasy football. I will be leaning heavily on my FFChamps membership and Patriots.com Radio to make sure my first effort into fantasy football isn’t a disaster."

We appreciate it, Terry and will continue to work hard for you every day, to give you a rookie championship.

Remember to come try us out this season. Fifty percent off for Pats fans -- only $29.95 for the entire season with 24-7 coverage. Go to https://www.ffchamps.com/subscribe/. Tweet us your questions @FFChamps or visit www.ffchamps.com for around the clock rankings, strategy and 1-on-1 advice all the way through your Fantasy Football Championship. FFChamps.com: Extraordinary Results for Fantasy Football Dominance.