But as a fantasy football owner I wouldn't touch them with a 10-foot pole.
For fantasy football fans playing in point-per-reception (PPR) leagues with an auction draft, running backs like Williams and Stewart are huge risks, therefore:
Avoid drafting running backs like the plague!
Plague being the operative word here - as in "injury plagued."
In PPR leagues there is little difference in the productivity between WR1-2 and RB1-2.
However, the difference in injury risk between wide receivers and running backs is massive, making wide receivers a must safer use of your auction draft money.
2011: The Year the Running Backs Died (Almost Literally)
Last year a large number of the elite running backs missed multiple games due to injury while wide receivers remained relatively healthy.
Some of the elite RB's who missed significant time were Jamaal Charles, Adrian Peterson, Peyton Hillis and Darren McFadden.
My 12-team league is moving to an auction draft format this year, but last year's snake draft results shed some light on the injury risk of running backs. A total of 22 RB's were drafted in the first four rounds in my league last year.
Here is the percentage of games these RB's missed through Week 16 (excludes Week 17 since most leagues have finished by then):
2011 Games Missed Wks 1-16 - RB's Selected in Rounds 1-4
0 Games: 41% (9 of 22)
1 Game: 14% (3 of 22)
2 Games: 9% (2 of 22)
3 Games: 9% (2 of 22)
4+ Games: 27% (6 of 22)
Think about that - last year 45% of the elite running backs missed multiple games.
Running backs are expensive in auction drafts. Every game RB's miss due to injury is wasted money spent in the draft.
In addition to missed games are the frustrating Probable/Questionable/Doubtful games RB's play after returning from injury.
For example, Felix Jones limped through four games in 2011, touching the ball a total of 18 times in Weeks 11, 12, 13, and 16 combined. Steven Jackson carried the ball just two times in Week 1 and four times in Week 3 due to injury.
Running backs get injured too much to be worth the risk in PPR auction draft leagues. The same cannot be said for elite wide receivers.
2011 Games Missed Wks 1-16 - WR's Selected in Rounds 1-4
0 Games: 47% (8 of 17)
1 Game: 29% (5 of 17)
2 Games: 12% (2 of 17)
3 Games: 0% (0 of 17)
4+ Games: 12% (2 of 17)
While 36% of elite RB's missed more than two games, only 12% of elite WR's did.
In auction drafts, elite RB's cost a lot of money. The risk of watching this money sitting on the bench in street clothes is relatively high.
In PPR leagues there is little difference in the productivity between running backs and wide receivers.
The injury risk for RB's is so much higher, however, that WR's are the safer bet in PPR auction draft leagues.
Sorry DeAngelo and Jonathan, but I'll take a pass.
You're just too risky.
Andrew Sweat is a die-hard Panthers fan. For more from this author, visit Andrew's archive or check these out articles:World's Most Dangerous Job: DT, Carolina Panthers
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