Whether you’re a fan of one of them or not, we all know who the bad teams are in the NFL year in and year out, and yet we continue to draft starting RB’s from teams like the Cleveland Browns and the Jacksonville Jaguars in the first and second rounds of fantasy football. This year I know I personally will be trying to avoid potentially good players playing for assuredly bad teams, and if you’re tired of still rooting for the first touchdown to be scored by one of these such teams late into the fourth quarter, I think you should too. Take for instance the two teams mentioned above and look at their starting running backs this year. Both teams will be featuring a former solely-backup running back as their now feature-back this year. Former Houston Texans RB, Ben Tate, now a member of the Cleveland Browns, and former Minnesota Vikings RB, Toby Gerhert, now a member of the Jacksonville Jaguars. Each have each done well with limited opportunities in the past and now seem poised to become, what appears to be, workhorse-backs. However, that does not mean we want them on our fantasy teams.
As the lead back with relatively little competition among either of their respective teams, each of these players could easily see 20 to 30 totes a game. With that kind of opportunity one might wonder why most analysts have these two players ranked so far down during a year in which so many teams are still trying to sort out their running back dilemmas. Some are still determining their lead backs. Others are turning to the dreaded running back committees. While other teams just have an absurd number of question-marks surrounding their running backs with injuries, age, or Thanksgiving-style disputes over the size of the particular player’s slice of the monetary pumpkin pie. Take Doug Martin for instance, ranked as high as the top 10 in RB’s in many of the”experts'” polls and his coach has openly discussed his intrigue, preference, and potential for a committee backfield this season. Yuck! Or take a gander at the newest member of the “Should have Called a Cab Club”, LeVeon Bell. And, even before electing to join LeVeon Bell in the same notorious club, LaGarette Blount decided to join him in the backfield in Pittsburgh where a committee backfield with Bell working the early downs and Blount vulturing goal-line TD’s looms on the fantasy horizon. There’s also Giovani Bernard, C.J. Spiller, Reggie Bush, Andre Ellington, etc. The list goes on and on, but on paper it would seem that clearly the RB’s with secure starting positions and relatively little competition, like Ben Tate and Toby Gerhert, should be picked ahead of all these guys, right?
Now, I love a solid workhorse-back just as much as the next fantasy cowboy, but there is something to be said about just how bad their teams are and how much it will impact their fantasy performance this year. Actually, there is a lot to be said… Take either the Cleveland Browns or the Jacksonville Jaguars and name the best player on the offense. Go on, I’ll give you some time. Either team. Any position. Come on, they’ve got to have at least one player that comes to mind… No? Yeah, that’s what I thought. With the exception of maybe Jordan Cameron, who ended up tanking at the end of last season, there really isn’t much proven talent on either team’s offense at any skills-position. Now I could just tell you they all aren’t good and be done with it, but that wouldn’t be any fun. I’d much rather break down the roots of these team’s medical problems and let you diagnose the patient for yourself.
The problem, or disease rather, starts with each team’s QB woes. Both teams spent early picks in this year’s draft acquiring prospect QB’s. While these QB’s may be enticing and, in the future, very well be their team’s cure, right now these rookie QB’s are simply someone with a cold waiting in the sick room, getting coughed on by a multitude of other sick people, just waiting for the child staring up at him with glossy, red eyes and snot dribbling from their nostrils to just go ahead and sneeze in their face and get it over with. Okay, metaphors aside, not only is each team going to be possibly starting a rookie QB, but both QB spots will be highly contested. Such contest can cause imbalance and turmoil for a team by dividing those players who favor one QB from those who favor the other. It also creates flux in strategic game-planning for coaches and players if one QB is a mobile QB and the other is a pocket-passer. But let us just pretend that both teams will decide on one QB today and promise to stick with him all year, thus eliminating all imbalance, turmoil, and flux all together. Hooray for what-ifs! What we are left with are two most likely sub-par QB’s. But let’s run with ’em. Give them a chance! All we have to do is give them some WR’s to throw to and they can succeed right?
Well to be fair, in theory that could work, but in reality The Jags spent this summer acquiring massive jumbo-trons, (which by the way I am totally okay with because I attend the Georgia/Florida game every year) but for Fantasy purposes I am not okay with. While the sub-par QB’s are getting the signals, reads, and plays right; the defense will be busy loading the box and blitzing while the QB’s throw duck after duck into the stands. And thus, the disease of bad teams and bad QB’s has run its course, finally infecting our potential Fantasy RB’s with terminal Fantasy irrelevancy. With shaky QB’s, little to no offensive targets to throw to, and a stacked and frequently blitzing defensive box, these “workhorse” backs with 20 to 30 carries per game will probably have tough waters to navigate trying to break any run for more than two or three yards. Therefore, they will score fewer TD’s and get ruthlessly pummeled every game and probably be placed on and off on their respective team’s injury report throughout the entirety of the season. But if you drafted either of these RB’s, or perhaps other players in similar boats on other teams, here’s to the hope of finding the cure!