Fantasy Files: Hold Your RBs Like a Prom Date

The fake girlfriend story continues to ruin my Twitter timeline, although I’ll be begging for more repeat Te’o jokes when everyone starts talking about their baseball teams in a few months.

I do have a quick, semi-cool story about Epogen, which is one of the drugs that Lance Armstrong used to help him win all of those bike races. In 2001 I had a nice long hospitalization. I took antibiotics to kill a staph infection and one of those antibiotics started destroying my red blood cells and I had the equivalent of two pints of blood in my system. What did they give me to restart my red blood cells? EPO. It was administered by injection into the stomach and that hurts as much as you think it does. The nurse told me that each shot cost $2,000 (insurance seemed to cover a lot more back then) and it was used by cyclists to cheat.

Now that I have completed my dynasty fantasy league owner roster with the addition of Chad Scott, who is working hard to challenge Chet Gresham for dude writing for the most fantasy sites in America, it’s time to look at free agency.

We get to keep 40 players, and you’d think that would be enough. We start 17 every week. Is there a strategy regarding which positions that you should keep over others? It’s fairly obvious that while defensive players are key contributors that the waiver wire is much fatter. I’m making a decree to never put a running back in the free agent pool.

Two years ago I put the decaying corpse (fantasy terms only) of Marion Barber up in free agency. He went for 9000 zbucks, which was close to a record. Zbucks are used to “buy” free agents, and as time passes, certain teams have a lot more than others. While the 9000 zbucks may have helped me add a few defensive backups, Barber actually started a couple of games for my friend Paul who ended up winning the title.

Every time I think about releasing one of the 12 RBs currently on my roster, fate intervenes. I was ready to dump former first-round rookie pick Montario Hardesty because he wasn’t seeing the field. In the next couple of weeks he moved into the backup role, and in a dynasty league like ours, getting the clear backup is very important.

Here are my current RBs on the roster, in alphabetical order:

Joique Bell: Acquired last summer after Sig and Cecil mentioned him a few times on the Audible podcast. Tell me he isn’t the most complete back in Detroit. For all the draft picks the Lions have thrown at RB and WR, they seem to have needs at both.

Bryce Brown: 6th-round rookie pick last year. He saved my arse during his two-week stretch in which he looked like Bo Jackson. After a late-season swoon, I doubt I could get a second-round rookie pick for him. Worth a stash.

Michael Bush: First-round rookie pick his rookie year (1.08). Last offseason I had high hopes that he would be a starter, but he signed as the backup to Matt Forte and ended up hurt. His value is pretty darn low at the moment, but he’s a RB with a pulse and still has borderline starter skills.

Lance Dunbar: Free-agent pickup last summer after he made some noise in Dallas camp. I don’t think he’s ever going to be more than a third-string guy but that’s worth a stash.

Matt Forte: He was pick 1.05 in the magical 2008 rookie draft. We’ll get back into that later. Forte hasn’t been that exciting a player to own, but all of my RBs were a bit disappointing last year. He had double-digit games in the last five games of 2012, although that was with Bush out.

Montario Hardesty: When I was “locking down” the Browns’ running back corps a couple of years ago, Hardesty was the 10th overall rookie pick. I traded a second-round rookie pick for Jerome Harrison, if memory serves. Hardesty has been on the roster bubble for a while, but he looked competent at the end of last year, so he stays.

Peyton Hillis: Put a fork in him, right? I got him in free agency during his rookie year and he was a key player during his pre-Madden year. Since then he’s been on my bench, watching James Bond movies on his portable DVD player. Any guy who has a 1000-yard season in his career is worth holding onto.

Taiwan Jones: I felt like he was a bargain in the 4th round of our 2011 rookie draft. He couldn’t earn the starting job even when the top two RBs for the Raiders fell to injury. He has one more year before getting dumped.

DeMarco Murray: He was pick 1.12 in the 2011 draft when I picked up four rookies RBs. He’s had good games and he’s had injuries. Right now, he’s one of my opening-day starters and I’ll ride him until he gets hurt again because his trade value ain’t so good.

Bilal Powell: If he was good enough for Matt Waldman, he’s good enough for me. He was pick 2.10 in 2011. Even with Shonn Greene refusing to give up as every fantasy owner in America dreamed, Powell could only earn committee carries. Maybe next year he’ll earn a starting slot in that putrid offense.

Ray Rice: He was pick 1.09 in the 2009 draft. That’s the 8th running back selected. The 9th was Jamaal Charles. I keep wondering every offseason if this is the year to sell high on Rice. He’s going to turn 26 four days before I turn 50% older than 26. I think I’ll hold for now. Maybe in a year or two he’ll be worth it if my team is in a rebuilding mode.

Jacquizz Rodgers: He was pick 3.06 last year. While he is a smaller version of MJD, you saw a little power in his big run last week against the Seahawks. I don’t think he’s ever going to be a 300-touch guy, but he might be the lead back in a committee on a pretty good offense.

That’s my squad, and I’ll probably add a guy or two during free agency and the draft. When you can start three running backs and oldies but goodies like Marion Barber can help send you to the title, you hold on for as long as it takes.

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