Back in the 1990s when I played fantasy football, running backs were gold. Two decades later, they still are.
In last week’s Talk of Fame Network poll, we asked our listeners and readers who should be the first overall pick in a fantasy football draft for the 2018 season. Running backs finished 1-2 in the voting well ahead of the quarterback and wide receiver options.
Arizona’s David Johnson was the leading vote-getter with 43.2 percent support, followed by Pittsburgh’s Le’Veon Bell at 21.6 percent. The three quarterback options were next – Aaron Rodgers of the Packers at 10.8 percent, Tom Brady of the Patriots at 9.5 percent and Drew Brees of the Saints at 6.8 percent – followed by the receivers, Antonio Brown at 5.4 percent and Julio Jones at 2.7.
Johnson at the top of this poll makes sense for a lot of reasons. In both fantasy and real football, it’s all about putting the ball in the end zone. No one does it better than Johnson, who scored a league-leading 20 times last season on 16 runs and four receptions.
Johnson touched the ball more from scrimmage on runs and passes – 373 times – than any other player in the league. He finished eighth in the league in rushing with 1,239 yards and led all NFL running backs in receptions with 80. That’s the profile of a top pick in fantasy football.
Bell could be right there with him this season. His statistics were a tad lower last season because of the three games he missed at the start of the season with an NFL suspension. He stilll finished fifth in the NFL in rushing with 1,268 yards and second among running backs with 75 receptions.
Bell had 10 receptions in one game against New England and a franchise-record 236 rushing in another game against Buffalo. He’ll be there from the start this season. He also has the profile of a player who could be the top pick in fantasy football.
The Talk of Fame Network hosts, not surprisingly, were split. Clark Judge went with Johnson, Rick Gosselin went with his fellow Spartan Le’Veon Bell and Ron Borges, who embraces the football in the air covering the Patriots, went with a wide receiver.
“Everyone likes running backs in fantasy football even if they've been downgraded in real football by NFL coaches and scouts,” Borges said. “I'll go with the latter and make my former fantasy No. 1 pick Antonio Brown. He scores big and puts up big yardage doing it which equals points, both real and fantasy.”