When NFL.com Sr. Associate Editor Andy Nesbitt told me he would pass on running backs in the first three rounds of his fantasy draft, I thought it was a perfect way to wrap up our draft coverage.
This sort of strategy would have been laughed at in seasons past, but the fact that it worked shows how drastically the fantasy landscape has changed.
Andy had the No. 7 overall selection in a 10-team league that uses a standard scoring system. He is required to start 1 QB, 2 RB, 2 WR, 1 FLEX (RB/WR/TE), 1 TE, 1 K and 1 DT each week.
He took Tony Romo with his first-round selection. Andy went on to draft Randy Moss (Round 2) and Reggie Wayne (Round 3) in the next two rounds and was still able to secure a stable of running backs that includes Michael Turner (Round 4), Darren McFadden (Round 5), Matt Forte (Round 7) , Chris Perry (Round 9) and Felix Jones (Round 11).
Andy also drafted Greg Jennings (sixth round) and Dwayne Bowe (eighth round) at the wide receiver position. While his No. 1 tight end (Vernon Davis, Round 10) is a hit-or-miss option, overall he finished with a competitive team despite not taking his first runner until his 34th pick.
The fact that he landed a starting running back in the seventh (Forte) and ninth (Perry) rounds, not to mention this season’s top rookie runner (McFadden) in the fifth round, speaks volumes about how draft strategies changed this season. Runners like that would have been off the board no later than the fourth round in most drafts last season.
With the start of the regular season set to kickoff on Thursday night at Giants Stadium, it will be very interesting to see what transpires both on the field and in fantasy land. Was passing on running backs the best gameplan, or will quarterbacks and wide receivers fall in 2008?