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Shuffle Up: The year backfields broke

Scott Pianowski
Roto Arcade

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The Eagles are 1-2, but don't blame Shady (USAT)

Here is the Shuffle Up you really care about, the running backs (with the tight ends in the second half). It's a mess most years and it's really a mess this year.

Please note that these are not weekly ranks. The prices below reflect my expected value from Week 4 through the end of Week 16. Anything that happened in the first three weeks is an audition, but this list won't be an A to Z listing of the top scorers. You can get that elsewhere. Assume a basic scoring format (not PPR).

I've decided to go back to a dollar-value for the Shuffle Up to better illustrate the tiers at play. The prices are simply a tool to show how the players relate to one another - it works better than a straight ranking. Players at the same cost are considered even.

I've added an asterisk to the players with major injuries. I'm not going to debate those ranks - they're provided as a courtesy. Generally I expect less from long-term injured guys than most pundits - I wanted no part of the Rob Gronkowski circus this year, for one example. Play for today. If you have rosy expectations for Steven Jackson, fine - maybe you'll be proven right down the road. But don't forget the one "restore confidence" week a player like Jackson might need before you feel comfortable starting him. As my buddy Mike Salfino likes to say, it gets late early out here.

Next week, we go back to the quarterbacks and wide receivers. Make the jump, see what you think.

And remember the golden rule of this exercise - a player doesn't gain (or lose) 15 percent of extra value simply because you roster him.

$37 Adrian Peterson
$36 LeSean McCoy
$34 Jamaal Charles
$32 Matt Forte
$32 Marshawn Lynch
$28 Doug Martin
$27 Alfred Morris
$26 DeMarco Murray
$25 Arian Foster
$23 Ray Rice
$22 Chris Johnson
$21 C.J. Spiller

Morris looked like a fairly safe pick all summer, and if anything the floor is even more secure now. Consider what he's posted in the first three weeks: 247 total yards and two scores despite game flow that's worked completely against him. Morris has just one carry all year while Washington's been in the lead (h/t, Pat D). The Redskins defense isn't likely to improve much, but this isn't a 2-14 team, either . . . If you want to cash out on Spiller, you can probably get 70-90 percent of draft day value in most pockets. I'd take a long look around and see what's possible. Buffalo's offensive line doesn't inspire much confidence but it hasn't held Fred Jackson back, and Spiller isn't making splash plays in the passing game (longest catch: seven yards). Is Spiller's mind right after the awful personal tragedy in the summer? No one can say. And even if Spiller starts to run like we saw in 2012, Jackson is too good to be completely ignored. It's going to be a time share on some level . . . Everyone knows McCoy has just one full season on his resume, but it's not like he's fragile either - he missed a modest two games from 2009-2011 before last year's step back (12 starts). He's obviously a wonderful fit in the Chip Kelly offense, a mix of explosiveness and lateral agility. The receptions have taken a step back, but he's nonetheless on pace for over 600 receiving yards (I know, one big play skews those numbers, but McCoy will make more of them). If you were redrafting right this second, you could justifiably consider McCoy with the first overall pick.

$20 Trent Richardson
$18 Reggie Bush
$17 Darren McFadden
$17 Eddie Lacy
$17 Frank Gore
$16 Giovani Bernard
$16 Darren Sproles
$16 Joique Bell
$15 DeAngelo Williams
$14 Fred Jackson
$14 Maurice Jones-Drew
$13 Stevan Ridley
$13 Le'Veon Bell
$13 Lamar Miller
$13 Bilal Powell

Obviously Ridley is a reasonable trade target if you can get him at a silly-low price, but you can see by this ranking I won't be aggressively targeting him. The Patriots have no problems going with a committee approach in the backfield, and obviously they're as secretive as any team when it comes to public information disclosure (we're not getting any usage-pattern clues ahead of time). Brandon Bolden seems ready to take on a decent chunk of the workload, Shane Vereen should return at some point, and apparently the Patriots see some value in LeGarrette Blount (no one else seems to). And let's be fair about the Ridley fumble from Week 1 - it was a case of dropping the ball, an error without contact or defensive pressure. Ridley also had a second fumble that week, wiped out by penalty. The Giants handling of David Wilson strikes me as ludicrous, but I can defend New England's stance on Ridley - or at least understand the genesis of it . . . The Powell emergence is a good example of how fantasy owners can be rewarded by watching an unexciting team closer than the general roto public. Michael Salfino knows the Jets as well as anyone and saw the Powell-Ivory thing from a mile away. When Ivory is out of uniform completely, Powell probably steps up to RB2 territory. He doesn't have any elite skills, but he's good at just about everything - and that's going to keep you on the field, touches flowing.

$12 Ryan Mathews
$11 David Wilson
$11 Bernard Pierce
$11 Ben Tate
$11 Daryl Richardson
$11 Rashard Mendenhall
$11 Ahmad Bradshaw
$11 Pierre Thomas
$10 *Steven Jackson
$10 BenJarvus Green-Ellis
$9 Willis McGahee
$8 Knowshon Moreno
$8 Danny Woodhead
$8 Brandon Bolden

I'd like to burn everything positive I wrote about the Rams in the last 4-6 weeks . . . If Foster got hurt tomorrow, Tate is a Top 8 back, easily . . . I've been a Pierre Thomas sympathizer from the early days, but he's been surprisingly ordinary from an efficiency standpoint thus far (4.0 per rush, 5.4 per catch). And forget chasing future workload upside here - the Saints have indirectly told us on several occasions they're not going to be featuring any back. The catch rate and frame of the Saints offense help in a PPR, but where are the splash plays?

$7 Daniel Thomas
$7 *Shane Vereen
$7 Jacquizz Rodgers
$7 Jason Snelling
$6 *Chris Ivory
$5 Ronnie Hillman
$5 Isaiah Pead
$5 *Jonathan Stewart
$4 James Starks
$4 Johnathan Franklin
$4 Bryce Brown
$3 Montee Ball
$3 Michael Bush
$3 Andre Ellington
$3 Roy Helu
$3 Knile Davis
$3 Alfonso Smith

It's obviously very difficult for any fantasy back to accrue major value if three players on the roster are getting weekly consideration, and that's what we have in Denver with the Moreno-Ball-Hillman trifecta. Mind you, Ball has tried to take himself out of the mix - he's at 3.2 YPC with two lost fumbles. Moreno and Hillman are making the exciting plays here. But the Broncos realize their backs are good at different things, and when you're playing from a lead as often as Denver is, you have all sorts of latitude with usage patterns. I'd love to see any Denver back turn into a reliable weekly source of touches, but I'm not holding my breath in the thin air.

$2 Mark Ingram
$2 *Andre Brown
$2 Kendall Hunter
$2 Robert Turbin
$2 *Mike Goodson
$2 Chris Ogbonnaya
$2 Isaac Redman
$2 Christine Michael
$1 Mike Tolbert
$1 LeGarrette Blount
$1 Ronnie Brown
$1 *Shonn Greene
$1 Rashad Jennings
$1 Marcel Reece
$1 Brandon Jacobs
$1 Jordan Todman
$1 Toby Gerhart
$1 Lance Dunbar
$1 Brian Leonard
$1 Justin Forsett
$1 Jonathan Dwyer
$1 LaMichael James
$0 Felix Jones
$0 Bobby Rainey
$0 Donald Brown

Tight Ends
$25 Jimmy Graham
$19 Jordan Cameron
$18 Vernon Davis
$18 Julius Thomas
$17 *Rob Gronkowski

If you feel confident Gronkowski returns soon and dominates immediately, fine. Slot him as the No. 2 tight end in that case. He obviously can be a game-changing freak when he's healthy. But he's also been hurt for a heavy chunk of his college and pro career, to the point that we have to price that into his profile. I know my Gronkowski rank wouldn't win him in a start-fresh draft, and I'm fine with that. I'll gladly stand with the safer names in front of him (and they all have upside, too).

$15 Jason Witten
$15 Greg Olsen
$14 Tony Gonzalez
$13 Jermichael Finley
$13 Jared Cook
$11 Antonio Gates
$10 Owen Daniels
$10 Martellus Bennett
$10 Brandon Myers

Witten has a couple of welcome end-zone visits this year, though he's also looking at a career-low for YPC. He's still a reliable target in the middle of the field, but this isn't a vertical threat . . . Cook's big game in Week 1 was probably more tease than reality; I'm not going to put a lot of stock in Sam Bradford or Brian Schottenheimer going forward. It doesn't make Cook a poor fantasy option, but I'm not putting him into the Tier 1 argument, either.

$9 Heath Miller
$8 Kyle Rudolph
$6 Jermaine Gresham
$6 Charles Clay
$6 Coby Fleener
$4 Jordan Reed
$3 Dallas Clark
$3 Scott Chandler
$3 Tyler Eifert
$3 Brandon Pettigrew
$3 Fred Davis

The Rudolph problems are well-documented - a reliance on touchdowns, and the presence of Christian Ponder . . . Ben Roethlisberger trusts Miller more than anyone else in the Pittsburgh offense; if Miller is back to 100 percent, strong numbers should follow . . . Pettigrew dropped his car keys and the TV remote while you were reading this.

$2 Brent Celek
$2 Garrett Graham
$2 Kellen Winslow
$2 Delanie Walker
$2 Mychal Rivera
$1 Rob Housler
$1 Joseph Fauria
$1 Zach Miller
$0 Anthony Fasano
$0 Zach Ertz
$0 Lance Kendricks
$0 Marcedes Lewis
$0 Ed Dickson

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