Tuesday, August 7, 2012


Aptly named, the song Survival by Muse is the Official song of the 2012 London Olympics. It is apt, because sport, and especially Olympic sport, is about being the fittest and best athlete. And everyone knows that Darwin proposed 'survival of the fittest.'

Anyway, not a lot in the way of news this week. I do have a few pictures from the races last Sunday. I also have another fantasy football column. This week I'm focusing on running backs, a tough position to predict.

Week 2: The mighty backs

This week I'm taking a look at a very tough position this year--running backs. With the rise of running back by committee, running backs have been a very vital and volatile position. It usually manages to have a few steady backs on top, a few surprises and lots of decline and injury. This year, as I mentioned last week, I'm looking to pick up steady, strong and proven players, and trying and shy away from injury risk and hype. While many fantasy "experts" put a lot of stock in a player's upside, I will put much more in what they've been able to do in the past.
Also I will have two sets of rankings for those whose leagues are non-standard and might be PPR or points per reception leagues. Having grown up in a PPR league, I tend to favor them, but playing my main league as standard, I will base my rankings on that. PPR rank will be in parentheses (<10, means outside of the top 10 in PPR). 
The rankings:

1. Arian Foster (1):
Foster is the undisputed top back this season, and for good reason. Despite fighting past injury and playing only part of the season, Foster picked up right where he left off in 2010. Some worry that a with a talented Ben Tate behind him, that Foster might be a risk, but I wouldn't rather have my eggs in any other basket at running back this year. I predicted his rise in 2010, and I would love to have a solid and proven back like Foster to anchor my team in both PPR and non-PPR leagues.
2. Ray Rice (2)
Having now proven that his size and touchdown-scoring abilities are no longer a concern, Rice is most definitely deserving of a very high ranking. His ability to be dangerous out of multiple formations and especially as a receiver out of the backfield make Rice a huge asset to any fantasy team. While he might not put up the touchdown numbers of a Foster or McCoy, Rice will make up for it yards and in PPR--receptions.
3. LeSean McCoy (3)
McCoy is in a great position to thrive again in 2012. Last season he broke out (as I suspected, in trading for him early last season) and became a premiere back, and a very steady one. He scored 17 touchdowns and had more than 1,600 total yards, even with a couple weeks without Mike Vick at the helm. His situation will be solid again this year as the spotlight will remain on Vick and loudmouth receiver DeSean Jackson. Exepect another strong season from McCoy, 1,500 yards and 15+ touchdowns would not be surprising.
4. Maurice Jones-Drew (4)
Having been a force in fantasy for the past three seasons, and having three strong seasons before that, Maurice Jones-Drew or MJD should be waning at this point in his career. However, thanks to a light workload his first few seasons MJD has proven to be a durable and strong staple at the running back position. I see him as solid again this season, while 1,600 yards on the ground may be a stretch this year, 1,200-1,300 with 10 touchdowns is a more reasonable expectation. How much longer can he keep that up? That's unsure, but this year, he is still solid.
5. Matt Forte (5)
Where many fantasy writers will place someone like Trent Richardson or Ryan Mathews, I place Matt Forte. With a return off of an injury that really wasn't that serious, and domination prior to said injury, Forte should be put up in this category. He is in a great situation offensively as well.
6. Michael Turner (<10 No. 6 in PPR- Fred Jackson)
Michael Turner, or as I refer to him "Turner the Earner" has been putting up solid numbers for the past four years, ever since he became the feature back in Atlanta. While I don't seem him putting up numbers like in 2008, expect around 1,200 yards and a dozen touchdowns.
7. Frank Gore (<10 No. 7  in PPR- Darren Sproles)
While Gore might be considered an injury risk (he has only played all 16 games twice in six years) he still produces when he isn't injured. If he manages to stay healthy, and especially in the postseason when needed, Gore is a strong veteran, who puts up proven numbers.
8. DeMarco Murray (<10 NO. 8 in PPR- Ryan Mathews)
Murray burst on to the scene for the Cowboys last season, running for a strong 253 yards in his first start in the stead of Felix Jones. With Murray expected to be the starter this season, there is no doubt that he can be a solid starting back in fantasy this season.
9. Marshawn Lynch (<10 No. 10 in PPR- Reggie Bush)
Lynch seemingly came out of nowhere to have a strong fantasy season with 1,200+ yards and 12 touchdowns last year. Since he is really the only threat in Seattle, that might hurt him, but with a guarantee of a ton of touches, Lynch could also stay steady. I'll take the latter.
10. Jamaal Charles (9)
People tend to forget the season that Charles (age 25) put up in 2010. In only a limited role, Charles averaged 6.4 yards per carry, racking up nearly 1,500 yards on the ground, add nearly another 500 receiving and he had a spectacular year. If he returns to form, it could be a great pick in the second or maybe even third round. 

Hang around next week I as discuss receivers, the deepest and perhaps most difficult position to predict.

Sport stock racers try and avoid a spin out by Pat Smith last Sunday at Thunder Mountain Speedway north of Bottineau.

The 12x car, driven by Bob Nostdahl, crosses the finish first in the trophy dash.

Nostdahl tosses candy to awaiting kids.

TMS' flag men relax as they wait for the next race to begin.

The 08 car of Cody  Smith gets a little loose off of turn four and scrapes the wall.

Erik Blada (left) and Frank Smith (right) collide beginning a series of crashes that end with Smith's car rolling.

Matt Hunter of Bottineau crosses the finish first in the 20-lap feature race.

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