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Which high working again will likely be a fantasy soccer bust?


Saquon Barkley didn’t live up to his top-five fantasy draft status last year

Saquon Barkley didn’t stay as much as his top-five fantasy draft standing final yr
Photograph: AP

With impending, ill-timed, why-the-hell-did-you-schedule-it-on-a-Saturday-afternoon-when-I-told-I-have-a-wedding fantasy drafts looming, in the event you’re not skimming random web high 100s to solidify your consensus high 100 record, you’re infringing on the unwritten guidelines of procrastination. You realize the remainder of the drunk idiots smoking weed and cramming for the massive day are wanting on the identical information, so no matter how correct the specialists are, what you discover from 20 minutes of Googling is a fairly good start line.

Let’s be sincere, we’re all simply drafting in opposition to the room anyway. Decide your bidding wars — or let some randomly generated snake order decide your destiny — and hope you don’t spend precious draft capital on David Johnson or Saquon Barkley or Ezekiel Elliot. Along with constructing or revealing character, public sale drafts have made essentially the most coveted gamers out there to each staff.

Now whether or not you need to goal one of many high 5 gamers is a matter of technique, however often, there are just a few irresponsible spenders per league, and their early sprees could make a doable franchise cornerstone out there if the nomination course of works out proper. (Or you possibly can be caught with a top-five decide in a snake draft as a result of the marbles actually didn’t fall your method.)

Regardless, no matter method you end up with a shot at a seemingly top-five decide within the sparsely studied draft materials, a type of working backs goes to smash your season. Barkley made specialists’ high 5 final yr, and I personally know the way that turned out. (Editor’s Notice: Sadly, I do, too). Zeke completed high six or seven in 2021, however the yr prior he didn’t break 1,000 yards and completed with eight complete touchdowns. Christian McCaffrey wrecked lots of groups in 2020 (and ’21), and David Johnson was the sunk value in 2019.

So first, earlier than I title the double agent within the high 5, who’re the consensus high backs? My cursory analysis says it’s some combination of those 5:

  • Jonathan Taylor
  • Derrick Henry
  • Christian McCaffery
  • Austin Ekeler
  • Joe Mixon

I noticed Dalvin Prepare dinner instead of Mixon in a few mocks, however he has a prolonged historical past of accidents and could be too apparent of a alternative. So out of these remaining gamers, Taylor will get a move due to the fireball he was final yr, and Mixon’s earlier consistency and position in a potent offense make him really feel secure — albeit begrudgingly.

So that leaves Henry, McCaffrey, and Ekeler — and all three have large health concerns. I know it feels insane to assume Run CMC is going to be durable considering he’s played 10 games total in the past two seasons. Yet Carolina has the least impressive quarterback situation, and whether it’s Baker Mayfield or Sam Darnold, he’s going to be on the receiving end of a lot of check downs and handoffs. For what it’s worth, he’s adamant that is one of the best he’s ever felt, and I’d be prepared to guess on his pedigree.

At 26, McCaffrey is also the youngest of the three, which low-key issues. So far as age goes, Deadspin employees author Jon Hoefling just lately identified that there hasn’t been a high 5 again over the age of 27 in 5 years. Which means by default — or quirky anomaly — Ekeler (27) and Henry (28) are the outdated males out.

So between a working again with the physique of Terry Crews who nearly had 1,000 yards in eight video games throughout an injury-shortened season, and a 5-foot-10, 200-pound all-purpose again whose longest play from scrimmage final yr was 40 yards, it’s a fairly simple choice. Henry is an all-time nice. Adrian Peterson had 1,400 yards when he was 30. Ladanian Tomlinson nearly had 2,000 yards from scrimmage when he was 28. That’s the type of aristocracy King Henry is in.

What Ekeler did in ’21 was worthy of a top-five decide, and if he places up one other 20 touchdowns after having a earlier season-high of 11, good for him. Whereas I’m certain Henry’s 2021 ruined the seasons of a big portion of the faux GMs who chosen him, Ekeler’s first yr of full-time work in 2020 was equally damaging — it simply wasn’t as excessive profile. He’s damage inclined and has solely had the position for 2 years. Was I one of many many managers whose 2020 was steadily devastated by the all the time tight hamstring of the Chargers’ working again? Perhaps, possibly not, possibly fuck your self.

I do know he’s elite out of the backfield, however essentially the most speeding makes an attempt he tallied in any recreation final yr had been 17. The cash is within the assured touches, and if a few of these get taken away, particularly within the purple zone, it’ll be laborious to justify what you spent on him. Head coach Brandon Staley, speaking about Ekeler’s position this season, stated, “Hopefully, we are able to do much more with him.”

That’s good and all, however you may want him wholesome later within the yr — he missed Week 15 (additionally a fantasy playoff spherical) in 2021 — so that you don’t gag away one other playoff berth. Los Angeles additionally added fourth-round decide working again Isaiah Spiller out of Texas A&M who’s getting some first-team reps in camp.

All of the press Justin Herbert and LA’s different NFL staff have obtained this offseason additionally makes me nervous. Wouldn’t it’s peak Chargers to instantly dig themselves into an insurmountable gap as quickly as we forgot they weren’t the Chargers?

In the event you’re complaining about my argument being based mostly solely on intestine feeling and luck, you’re lacking the purpose. Accidents or odd circumstances dictate the result of fantasy soccer. There’s all the time a again or large receiver within the high 5 who dismantles your rickety hopes of successful the trophy.

The sport of roulette with the highest-priced talent gamers is why fantasy specialists blather on about gamers’ worth later within the draft. (Or, once more, for you plebeians on the market, it’s why individuals who get a top-five decide in a snake draft bemoan their luck. As a result of in the event you botch it, you’re not choosing once more for nearly two rounds.)

So, if mid-bidding struggle with the league’s self-proclaimed genius, you end up saying, “This looks like lots for Austin Ekeler.” Again away — or hope he tops your $65 bid.

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