The vast majority of drafts where passing touchdowns aren't moronically weighted the same as rushing/receiving scores, the top three picks will almost certainly be some order of the following: Arian Foster, Ray Rice and LeSean McCoy. However, after that mark, uncertainties galore populate the running position. Risk-reward is unavoidable. In this episode of Fantasy Hospital, dashing docs Dalton Del Don and Brad Evans offer their opinions on which back, Chris Johnson or Darren McFadden, should be next in the RB hierarchy. Read. Consume. React.
3-D foresees a major rebound for CJ2K: There's no question Johnson was one of the biggest disappointments last season, when he scored just four touchdowns after totaling 28 over the previous two years. His 2.1 YPC after contact tied for 58th among running backs. Still, he managed to total 1,463 yards from scrimmage, and him showing up out of shape after holding out before the season was likely the reason behind his down year; over the first seven games, Johnson got 2.8 YPC while over the final nine contests he got 4.8. Moreover, the big drop in touchdowns was mostly not his fault, as he was given just six goal-line carries. Johnson converted half of those for scores, and it's safe to expect the opportunities to normalize in 2012, as he was given 31 GL attempts over the previous two years.
The Titans don't have a great offensive line, but they added Steve Hutchinson this offseason, and a young offense with some intriguing playmakers will be moving to a version of the run-and-shoot, which should lead to plenty of open running lanes. While the preseason matters little in most cases, Johnson had two 14-yard touchdown runs last week and impressed while doing so. He looked much more like his previous explosive self rather than last year's version, an encouraging sign after Johnson participated in the team's offseason program for the first time since his 2,006-yard campaign.
Johnson hasn't missed a single game due to injury throughout his NFL career, whereas McFadden has never played more than 13 games during any of his four seasons in the league, averaging 4.8 DNPs each year. Johnson is still just 26 years and motivated after a down year, so the pick here is the back who's accrued more yards over his first four seasons in the league than any RB in NFL history.
The Noise prays to the fantasy gods Run DMC plays 16 games: To the trepidatious drafter, this is a Dominique Wilkins windmill slam-dunk win for Johnson. Card-carrying members of Team Huevos, however, know better.
In this risk-reward debate, McFadden is the proper selection. He's incredibly explosive, powerful, versatile and the featured weapon on a largely conservative offense. When healthy, he's achieved super elite status before. Two seasons ago his 17.4 per game mark ranked second only to behemoth Arian Foster. Equally impressive, he's averaged a stout 5.3 yards per carry since 2010.
Many pundits have praised Carson Palmer this summer, but the Raiders are built to run. The offensive line, one of the AFC's best, can move mountains. And new head honcho, Dennis Allen, is a gritty, defensive-minded coach who will emphasis ball control and clock management — great news for DMC.
In an era where volume high-volume rushers are an endangered species, McFadden is a rare workhorse. He will be deployed early and often this season, including at the goal-line, an area where Michael Bush often poached. It would be no surprise if he logged 325 total touches, 1,700 total yards and 12-15 TDs. Despite his injury history, Allen refuses to "baby" him, recently implying the offense will run through No. 20.
And that's the difference.
In terms of talent, Johnson is every bit McFadden's equal. Bulked up and motivated, he should repair an image tarnished by last year's humiliating downturn. However, he won't be the centerpiece of the Titans' offense. Offensive Coordinator Chris Palmer has installed a Run 'n Shoot-styled system, a scheme that will look skyward often. Indications suggest Johnson may only garner 15-18 total touches per game. Tennessee's O-line has shown improvement in exhibition play, but it's not parting seas like Oakland, especially if Jake Locker proves ineffective. Stacked boxes could become common.
Yes, the delicate DMC would probably suffer a mortal wound from a NERF gun, but he has strong odds of leaving investors in the black.
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