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 listing, you’re infringing on the unwritten guidelines of procrastination. the remainder of the drunk idiots smoking weed and cramming for the massive day are trying on the identical information, so no matter how correct the specialists are, what you discover from 20 minutes of Googling is a reasonably good start line.
Let’s be sincere, we’re all simply drafting in opposition to the room anyway. Choose your bidding wars — or let some randomly generated snake order decide your destiny — and hope you don’t spend helpful 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 crew.
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 could possibly be caught with a top-five decide in a snake draft as a result of the marbles actually didn’t fall your manner.)
Regardless, no matter manner you end up with a shot at a seemingly top-five decide within the sparsely studied draft materials, a type of operating backs goes to break your season. Barkley made specialists’ high 5 final yr, and I personally understand how 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 plenty of groups in 2020 (and ’21), and David Johnson was the sunk value in 2019.
So first, earlier than I identify 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 rather than 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 function in a potent offense make him really feel protected — 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 the most effective he’s ever felt, and I’d be prepared to wager 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 not too long ago identified that there hasn’t been a high 5 again over the age of 27 in 5 years. Meaning by default — or quirky anomaly — Ekeler (27) and Henry (28) are the previous males out.
So between a operating again with the physique of Terry Crews who virtually had 1,000 yards in eight 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 reasonably simple choice. Henry is an all-time nice. Adrian Peterson had 1,400 yards when he was 30. Ladanian Tomlinson virtually had 2,000 yards from scrimmage when he was 28. That’s the form 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 positive Henry’s 2021 ruined the seasons of a big portion of the pretend 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 function for 2 years. Was I one of many many managers whose 2020 was steadily devastated by the at all times tight hamstring of the Chargers’ operating again? Possibly, possibly not, possibly fuck your self.
I do know he’s elite out of the backfield, however essentially the most dashing makes an attempt he tallied in any game final yr have been 17. The cash is within the assured touches, and if a few of these get taken away, particularly within the pink zone, it’ll be laborious to justify what you spent on him. Head coach Brandon Staley, speaking about Ekeler’s function 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 operating 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 crew have obtained this offseason additionally makes me nervous. Wouldn’t or not it’s peak Chargers to instantly dig themselves into an insurmountable gap as quickly as we forgot they weren’t the Chargers?
For those who’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 at all times a again or extensive receiver within the high 5 who dismantles your rickety hopes of successful the trophy.
The game of roulette with the highest-priced ability 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 deciding on 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 loads for Austin Ekeler.” Again away — or hope he tops your $65 bid.
Daniel Elton, senior editor at Wahu Times, writes about politics and policy with a focus on climate advocacy. Daniel previously at the New Republic and, and Self. Daniel can be reached by email.