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Friday 26th May 2017

The NFL has become more pass oriented and wide receivers are being drafted earlier in fantasy drafts. That is no secret. The question is just how significant these changes are. All of the running back busts in 2014 have added fuel to the “Zero-RB” fire. Is it justified? The following table lists the results from my NFFC Primetime Main Event draft, first listing the order taken within the position, and listing the season total points rank within that position in the final column.

Running Points Per Total Points Wide Points Per Total Points
Back Game Rank Receiver Game Rank
1 LeSean McCoy 13.1 10 1 Calvin Johnson 16.8 25
2 Jamaal Charles 18.3 7 2 Demaryius Thomas 22.9 2
3 Adrian Peterson 11.3 118 3 A.J. Green 17.8 32
4 Matt Forte 22.9 1 4 Dez Bryant 18.5 7
5 Marshawn Lynch 18.7 4 5 Julio Jones 19 6
6 DeMarco Murray 22 2 6 Brandon Marshall 14.2 19
7 Eddie Lacy 16.3 8 7 Jordy Nelson 20.1 4
8 Montee Ball 7.4 77 8 Antonio Brown 24.6 1
9 Arian Foster 23.4 5 9 Alshon Jeffery 16.4 12
10 Le'Veon Bell 21.9 3 10 Randall Cobb 18.3 8
11 Giovani Bernard 14.3 20 11 Roddy White 15.2 24
12 Doug Martin 7.7 62 12 Keenan Allen 14.1 20
13 Shane Vereen 11.7 16 13 Andre Johnson 12.1 31
14 Zac Stacy 8.6 55 14 Michael Floyd 8.7 59
15 Reggie Bush 9.7 50 15 Larry Fitzgerald 12.2 46
16 C.J. Spiller 9.2 53 16 Pierre Garcon 9.8 51
17 Rashad Jennings 15.9 21 17 Cordarrelle Patterson 7.3 68
18 Andre Ellington 14.9 9 18 Vincent Jackson 10.9 39
19 Joique Bell 11.9 18 19 Percy Harvin 10.2 66
20 Chris Johnson 7.7 44 20 Michael Crabtree 11 36
21 Toby Gerhart 5.4 61 21 Victor Cruz 10.4 88
22 Pierre Thomas 11.8 36 22 Emmanuel Sanders 20.3 3
23 Alfred Morris 13.1 11 23 Julian Edelman 14.8 15
24 Ray Rice - - 24 Torrey Smith 12.2 30
25 Ben Tate 8.2 4.6 25 Marques Colston 13.9 34

What does this tell us? Going on points per game to give us an idea of the type of player we are getting, an RB1 on draft day scores an average of 16.4 ppg while a WR1 posts 18.2 ppg. The wide receivers still have the edge in the 2nd tier, as WR2’s edged the RB’s 10.8 to 10, but the gap narrows. Keep in mind we are looking at WR1’s as defined on draft day (the top 12 picks at WR), not the top 12 scoring during the season. Just shooting from the hip, a quick glance at the numbers seems to indicate more consistency at wide receiver. Someone better at math than I could crunch the standard deviations from ppg production in previous years to confirm this, but the WR1’s seem to give owners what they were expecting. Other than a handful of games missed by Megatron and Green, the top tier wideouts remained healthy and reliable week to week. The top tier running backs, on the other hand, were an enclave of unpredictability. Sure, Slim-Shady McCoy technically put up RB1 numbers, but do you know of any owner that isn’t ticked off at him? Apart from Perry Van Hook, who saw Matt Forte as being worthy of a 1.1 pick, I know of no other expert that foresaw Matt Forte’s level of production. DeMarco Murray and Le'Veon Bell both had breakouts unanticipated by the market.  Even though the 2nd tier of receivers wasn’t as reliable as the 1st tier, you generally had a decent floor, whereas the RB2’s were chock full of injuries and diminished roles. Doug Martin has been hurt most of the time and even when healthy, he has been ineffective. Rashad Jennings missed significant time due to a knee injury. Chris Johnson is usually an afterthought in an impotent New York Jets offense. Toby Gerhart missed time with a foot issue and lost his job upon returning to the lineup due to ineffectiveness. Zac Stacy, Reggie Bush, Ray Rice, Pierre Thomas, C.J. Spiller…the second shelf of running backs is loaded with fantasy carnage. These players were drafted between the 4th and 6th rounds, something to keep in mind when developing your roster construction strategy.

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