Everyone wants to know who the top picks will be in their fantasy drafts. Your competition is grabbing all of knowledge and training they can get to establish that competitive edge against you. We want to provide you with all of the tools you need, especially where it's most important. If you have one of the top three draft picks in your draft, that qualifies as important. In almost every draft this year the top three will be: Arian Foster, Ray Rice, and LeSean McCoy... in some order. Just about everyone has Foster at number one.
Not me. Allow me to explain.
Okay, in "The Program" we talk at length about doing a prime profile on our draft picks, especially the ones that require a highest investment. The #1 pick is as sizable an investment as there is, so let's break it down.
1. Prime Age Range - All three are in the prime age range for the position. McCoy is 24, Foster and Rice are 25.
So far so good.
2. Prime Pedigree - Foster was undrafted out of Tennessee after a dismal senior season (though he did have a dynamic junior season for the Vols). Rice and McCoy were both 2nd round draft picks after great collegiate careers at Rutgers and Pitt, respectively.
Okay, a small step back for Foster there.
3. Good Injury History - Foster missed three games last year twice injuring a hamstring, and even tweeting a picture of the MRI of the injured tendon. He did bounce back to carry the ball 278 times in 13 games. McCoy has played in 15 games each of the past two years. Rice has played in all 16 games for three years in a row with more than 200 carries each season.
So, another small step back for Foster.
4. Handcuff Option - All three guys have a clear-cut backup. However, Dion Lewis in Philly and Bernard Pierce in Baltimore aren't real threats to take significant carries away from the starter. Plus they can be taken very late in your draft. In Houston, Ben Tate has emerged as a potential future star at RB in the NFL. He'll take some of the action away from Foster and will cost you maybe a 7th round draft pick.
Huge advantage for Rice and McCoy.
5. Other Situational Changes - There haven't been a lot of coaching or quarterback changes for these guys over the past two years. Also, they all just signed new 5-year contracts so money isn't an issue here. The biggest situational difference that I can see is the situation at fullback in Houston and Baltimore. Vonta Leach was the FB in Houston two years ago and is generally regarded as the best in the league. He went to Baltimore last year and is still there. Houston filled in last year with a pretty good FB named Lawrence Vickers and this year it looks like they are going with James Casey. That is not a good thing.
Big advantage for Rice over Foster. A "push" for McCoy.
So, remind me again... Why does everyone have Foster clearly ranked #1?
In a PPR league it gets worse since Rice will get you 72 receptions per year and Foster checks in around 60. McCoy's numbers there have fluctuated a lot, but the average the past two years is 63. Again, another feather in Rice's cap.
The only thing I can think of to knock Rice is that the Ravens lost pro-bowl guard Ben Grubbs to free agency. That is a concern, but it isn't as big of a deal as losing a fullback or having a significant injury history. It's just not enough to overcome everything above.
And, of course there are many other factors to consider when you are preparing for your draft. I hope you get one of the top three picks, but regardless you will need to have the best possible draft preparation and the best execution strategy on draft day, plus excellent in-season roster management. All of those things and much more are detailed in our training program that goes from entry-level techniques, through the second level, and all the way through to "graduate" level. "The Program" is an extensive system that we call "The Masters Degree in Fantasy Football." Check it out here!