Sleeping Nights of Purple Jesus

Andy Behrens
October 10, 2008
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At the risk of further eroding the credibility of fantasy experts everywhere, let's take a look at the top 15 running backs through Week 5, sorted by fantasy points per game. We'll include everyone's average draft position, too, just to emphasize how little we all knew, back when knowing something might have helped:

Top scoring RBs

  1. Michael Turner, ATL, 48.0 ADP, 17.8 PPG
  2. Ronnie Brown, MIA, 72.9, 17.5
  3. Frank Gore, SF, 10.3, 16.2
  4. Reggie Bush, NO, 58.7, 16.2
  5. Brian Westbrook, PHI, 4.4, 15.8
  6. Clinton Portis, WAS, 12.0, 15.2
  7. Marion Barber, DAL, 8.4, 15.0
  8. Matt Forte, CHI, 90.6, 15.0
  9. Steve Slaton, HOU, NA, 14.8
  10. Willie Parker, PIT, 49.5, 14.3
  11. Le'Ron McClain, BAL, NA, 13.5
  12. Brandon Jacobs, NYG, 31.3, 13.5
  13. Adrian Peterson, MIN, 2.3, 13.0
  14. Steven Jackson, STL, 4.7, 12.8
  15. Julius Jones, SEA, 101.7, 12.8

You're free to draw your own conclusions about how this list should affect draft strategy in '09. And no, it's not clear that a random fantasy expert would have outperformed, say, a random laboratory chimp who selected players by flinging (expletive) at a draft board.

But if you're going to be a successful fantasy owner, you'll need to get comfortable with uncertainty. Chris Liss put it well in this week's East Coast Offense:

The difference between the savvy owner and the less savvy one, is that the former is self aware about his lack of knowledge, while the latter makes an informed guess and mistakes it for fact.

The purpose of this post isn't to have a philosophical fantasy discussion, however. Let's return to that list of running backs.

For me, the most startling thing about that top 15 isn't the absence of LaDainian Tomlinson. That's explained by LT2's toe injury. No, the detail that surprises me more than anything else is where Adrian Peterson ranks after five weeks. He's relatively healthy, he has 114 touches, Bryant McKinnie is back...and still Peterson is 13th.

The Saints' commitment to stopping the run at the expense of the pass in Week 5 was not lost on Brad Childress:

"We were running side to side a good bit in that game," Vikings coach Brad Childress said Tuesday. "I thought their safeties were actively involved, which is probably why we had those bigger (pass) plays up the field. We thought their safeties would want to get down and function by the line of scrimmage, and that's why we had some of those shots up the field and some of those guys in tough positions."

Peterson and the Vikings face the Lions this week, and -- as we've mentioned many times, in many ways -- Detroit's defense isn't any good. It's basically Ernie Sims and 10 holograms. They've recorded four sacks, they have no interceptions, and they're allowing 180 rushing yards per game.

The guess here is that Peterson leaps six or seven spots in per-game RB fantasy scoring by Monday. If he disappoints in a week when we've all ranked him No. 1 at his position, then we'll have to search for better answers than "their safeties were actively involved." The Lions can sell out to stop the run and still not stop it.

Commenters, aside from Peterson in the teens, which names on the list above surprise you? (For me, it's Brown and McClain).

Who isn't likely to hang in the top 15? (Dibs on Jones). Who moves in? Addai? Tomlinson? Chris Johnson?

Are you selling Reggie? Or Forte? Maybe Slaton?

This is a discussion, not a lecture.

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Photo via AP