Fantasy files: A brief study of the run game

Can you do worse for fantasy insanity than spending a couple of hours gathering stats followed by doing your fifth mock draft of your upcoming redraft league? I thought not.

I have been conducting short (five rounds) mock drafts of my upcoming once in five year redraft in a local fantasy football league. Today I gave myself the fifth pick and decided to take a QB. I took Aaron Rodgers. If I had the fifth pick in a serpentine draft, I might be able to get Brady in the second but that’s unlikely. And while perusing offensive stats this afternoon I’m petrified to have to start someone like Matt Hasselbeck in my bye week. I got Rodgers in the first, Miles Austin in the second, Chris Wells in the third, Jonathan Stewart in the fourth (my Michael Turner of 2011, if there is an NFL 2011 season), and Hakeem Nicks in the fifth. Instead of thinking deeply on picks I’m trying to go with my gut. The gut’s usually different than the top guy in my rankings. Actually that would be a good draft-day test. Write down who your rankings say you should take and who your gut says you should take and see which team does better.

I’ll do a brief review of the stats I looked up today. Today’s focus is rushing yards per attempt. The Chargers averaged 3.3 yards a carry last year and did nothing to help their offensive line. Even speedster Darren Sproles averaged just 3.7 yards a carry. That’s your Ryan Matthews red flag of the day. The Texans and Colts were second and third worst in YPC, which means Ben Tate and Donald Brown are good dark horse candidates in 2010. The Titans were first in YPC, but that’s just because Chris Johnson is awesome. Shonn Greene already has a high draft rating but the Jets leading the league by far with 607 rush attempts is huge. In 2009 the Ravens led the league in rush attempts and Ray Rice became a top-five stud the following year. Top-ten YPC teams that are surprises are the Bills and Chiefs, neither of which has much of an offensive line. Jamaal Charles’ value dropped with the signing of Thomas Jones and Dexter McCluster while C.J. Spiller should cut into Fred Jackson’s carries. Don’t forget Marshawn Lynch, although fantasy owners will.

2010 trends: The Steelers won’t pass 100 more times than they rush this year. The Browns had almost 500 attempts and why wouldn’t they run it that much with Jake Delhomme as their top QB? New Orleans had a more balanced offense than you think, but it’s hard to see one guy having a 300-carry season which is what fantasy guys care about. San Francisco and Atlanta should run more with healthy stud running backs. And Steven Jackson should get more than four rushing TDs this year but I wouldn’t expect too many more.

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