Of course, fantasy football is won in a broad sense by cramming a roster with as many productive players as possible. This sometimes happens (or doesn’t happen) out of circumstance: injuries, suspensions, and late-round shockers can make a roster much stronger or weaker than expected. The only way it can be planned and executed on purpose is to extract value from each opportunity, each draft pick, each time. That's a wild goal and too high a bar to set for us mortals. But at the very least, we're looking for more sleeper hits than high-round misses.
It’s been argued quite well that the middle rounds are a pitiful wasteland to chase running backs, and I tend to agree. I don’t find it wise to stockpile a bunch of handcuff guys, either; they wind up wasted picks more often than not. Instead, I’m more apt to lock in 2-3 predictable workhorse backs early, then take later stabs at big (if longshot) value.
To that end, I poured over the backs likely to be available beyond the RB50 range in a PPR format – where late-round value is rare. Here are three names that jumped off the page - actually, just one name, plastered over three value-packed guys.
D'Andre Swift is a dazzling prospect, wildly athletic, and versatile in the mold of Aaron Jones. Many are expecting an RB1 season and drafting Swift accordingly in early leagues, but new Lions coordinator Anthony Lynn has already thrown cold water on that appeal:
“Jamaal [Williams] is what I'd call a classic 'A' back… My 'A' backs are normally my bigger backs. They can run between the tackles, block probably a little better than a 'B' back; they can also run the perimeter. I can leave those guys in there for all three downs."
Sure, it seems questionable to so glibly announce you’ll be pulling the dynamic Swift off the field for the plodding Jamaal Williams more than you have to. Still, the ex-Packer sure looks poised for a prominent role right off the bat. By claiming the Adrian Peterson/Kerryon Johnson role from down the 2020 stretch, Williams would draw noticeable usage and likely the bulk of the goal-line role. More importantly to his value, though, he’d serve as a strong handcuff to Swift, who lost three games to a frightening concussion last year and is off to a rocky medical start in camp.
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