Designing the Perfect Fantasy Running Back
Have you ever wished you could be a mad scientist and create a football team of mutated supermen? What if through some breakthrough in genetic engineering we were able to make the perfect player, for fantasy domination. This guy would be the unquestioned number one player at his position. Every player in the league has strengths and weaknesses, and it is up to me to harness these strengths and put together a player, mutating the best features of each into the perfect Fantasy stud, albeit mutated. Here we are, back at the lab again for another experiment in genetic engineering this time to design the perfect fantasy running back.
The running back mutation will be built on 10 different criteria blended together to make the perfect player at the position. These 10 genetic mutations are: Size, Speed, Vision, Hands, Elusiveness, Touchdown Prowess, Open Field Ability, Will, Versatility, and Ball Security. He will also be surrounded with an offensive line that will make him impossible to stop. We must choose one player at his position to take an attribute from, and each player can only be “harvested” once. Let us begin our experiment.
Size – There are many different opinions on the perfect size for a running back, whether it be a short thick bowling ball like Maurice Jones Drew (5’8” 215 pounds) or a Scat back the size of C.J. Spiller (5’11” 200 pounds), it all depends on the scheme that the offense will typically run. No matter the scheme I know there is one guy every team would love to have on their team and that is Adrian Peterson. His size is remarkable at 6’1” 220 pounds, he is as big as some linebackers and no one wants to meet him one on one in the hole. Peterson isn’t the battering ram of Brandon Jacobs but at his size he can do all things well and that is why he is the perfect candidate to start with.
Speed – Speed is relative when it comes to running backs at the NFL level. You can be one of the fastest to ever wear a jersey, but that will not make you the most effective. You must use your speed to your advantage and once there is space you must explode through the hole. Chris Johnson is one of the fastest players in the NFL without a doubt and the fact that he has a 2,000 yard rushing season under his belt shows that he can use his speed effectively. Johnson is so fast he ran a 4.24 forty at the NFL combine and absolutely wowed scouts, jumping himself to be selected in the first round. Chris Johnson can absolutely fly down the sideline and might have the best straight-line speed of anyone not named Usain Bolt. If you ask Johnson however he believes he could beat bolt in the forty.
Vision – Vision is an underrated aspect of a running backs game, but without it even the top guys would fail to average 4 yards a carry. A running play is always designed to hit one gap, offenses and defenses both know this, sometimes it is executed to perfection opening a seem any running back could go through. Other times the main hole is filled but a cutback lane is wide open, those with great vision find this lane and explode through it. Matt Forte isn’t the fastest or most elusive back in the league but he has great vision and finds seams in the defense. Forte can see a hole two lineman over, make a move and explode through the hole. Forte’s vision makes him fun to watch as he can consistently gash defenses for 10 yard chunks. With an offensive line as bad as the Bears it is a must for a back to have good vision, without it 2 yard gains would be the norm.
Hands – Having good hands for a running back just used to be an added bonus for some of the best running backs in the league now it is a must in today’s pass heavy NFL. Ray Rice has a great set of hands for a running back in the NFL and constantly seems to be catching 70 passes year after year. His 70 catches would make for an adequate third receiver but this is on top of what he does running the ball, not to mention that he averages 10 yards a catch and add in a few scores in it is hard not to love the receiving element Rice’s hands bring to our players game. In today’s NFL it is super important for a back to be not only able to catch passes but to gain yardage after the catch. Last season there were 12 backs with over 400 yards receiving and as this league becomes ever more skewed toward the pass we can only expect this number to rise in future seasons.
Elusiveness - Elusiveness is a big part of an NFL backs game; it is something that allows them to turn a 5 yard run into a 64 yard score. Most scat back types in the NFL are very elusive constantly breaking defenders ankles. C.J. Spiller is one of the most elusive runners in the game with quick hips and ability to shift his hips and leave defenders in the dust. CJ’s ability to make moves make him effective in tight areas, slide through small holes, and explode for long gainers. Most of the truly elusive backs in the NFL are used as change of pace backs as their size has been questioned as their ability to carry a full load of carries, given the chance I have no doubt in my mind that he could be a 25+ touch a game type of back because his elusiveness will keep him from being hit. Spiller is currently 2nd in the league with 10 runs for 20 yards or more, while being slowed by injury, trailing only Adrian Peterson.
Touchdown Prowess – One of the biggest things NFL backs are asked to do is find the endzone when the team is in the red-zone, some vultures (Tommy Vardell Brandon Jacobs, Michael Bush, and Mike Tolbert just to name a few) have made an NFL and fantasy career out of being able to do just that. There are a few runners today that have a knack for finding the endzone, but the best candidate to harvest would have to be Arian Foster. In his 43 career games he has scored 44 total touchdowns, hard to complain about a running back that is going to score once a game. Arian Foster is a threat to score from anywhere on the field but he excels at punching it in within the five yard line. Scores are always a big if for players today, but with Arian they are almost guaranteed, which makes him the most sought after commodity in Fantasy today.
Open Field Ability – A back who is deadly out in space is a great resource because he can score from anywhere on the field. Whether it is a handoff, a screen, or a simple dump off, no one wants to see a guy like Jamaal Charles sprinting towards them. Charles has an array of moves that can leave defenders in the dust. He can use speed, jukes, spin, stiff arms and other moves to take it to the house and that is a great thing. You can check your stats all game long and then suddenly you see one rush for 80 yards and a TD, that is a good day for most backs but guys who can do it on one carry in this league are truly special.
Will Power – There are some running backs out there that just refuse to be denied, whether it is fighting for an extra yard or leaving his body exposed to try and get in the endzone. Maurice Jones-Drew has always been doubted as a running back because he is no taller than I (5’6”) and this is an impressive feat in itself, and yet he uses this as motivation. This guy has been under-recruited, under-drafted, and under-paid for mush of his career and he just uses that as fire to keep the train that is MJD rolling through ball carriers. If I has to choose one ball carrier in the league to get me one yard, MJD would be my first choice because he will never quit fighting for it, and that is all one can ask for. The Jags offense is so atrocious that it feels like MJD must fight for every yard on every play or this team would be 3 and out every series. As they say it’s not the size of the dog in the fight but the size of the fight in the dog.
Versatility - Sometimes versatile backs can get pigeonholed into being a 3rd down guy, a slot receiver or a return specialist, but versatility can be a huge asset when used properly. Reggie Bush is one of the most versatile backs out there when healthy. For starters, in a collegiate game against Fresno State he posted over 500 total yards, an absolutely insane number for someone other than a quarterback. In his rookie year, he was lined up in so many different spots and he caught 88 passes, which was top 10 in the league. Not to mention he has 4 career punt returns for touchdowns, and also had a 1,000 yard rushing season. With the NFL game ever evolving it is important that we can use our back in a multitude of roles including splitting him out side and letting him dominate those who try to cover him down the field. With the versatility of Reggie Bush our back would also be able to do anything we need him to do and play ever skill position on the field and special teams.
Ball Security – The Lawfirm of BenJarvus Green-Ellis is the obvious choice for ball security. Before this season he had never fumbled once in his 4 year NFL career, this is unique as he has had 400+ carries over the last two seasons. Feature Backs are just prone to fumbling, even the best in the league through their careers average about 3 a season. The Lawfirm has three this season, but if you average those out, it is still 1 fumble every 20 games, a number any back in this league will gladly take. Ball security will be a huge asset to our back as he can be trusted for almost never giving it to the opposing defense, and with his array of skills we can’t get our back into the doghouse with fumbling issues.
Our experiment is now complete, we have just created the perfect fantasy running back by fusing the Size of Adrian Peterson, Speed of Chris Johnson, Vision of Matt Forte, Hands of Ray Rice, Elusiveness of C.J. Spiller, Touchdown Prowess of Arian Foster, Open Field Ability of Jamaal Charles, Will Power of Maurice Jones-Drew, Versatility of Reggie Bush, and the Ball Security of BenJarvus Green-Ellis.
To put our player in the best situation we will put him in a Rex Ryan offense, give him the workload of Trent Richardson, and line him up behind the zone blocking scheme of the Houston Texans offensive line. With a great back like ours Rex will allow him to run all day, with his ground and pound style. The workload will give him a great mix of running plays as well as opportunities in the passing game. The zone scheme of the Texans O-Line will open up holes for him to exploit.
A projected stat line: 350 Attempts for 2,200 Yards 20 Touchdowns. 100 catches for 800 yards and 10 Touchdowns. Total Fantasy Points: 480 Fantasy Points. Fantasy Points per Game: 30.0
Next Up: The Perfect Fantasy Receiver
by: Stagg Party