Who is the Consensus #1 Pick Overall
Figuring out whom to pick number one overall for a fantasy football draft can be a very tough decision, often leaving an uncomfortable feeling in your stomach if you get it wrong. Every website and writer has their own opinion, and they rarely have the same guy tagged as number one overall. This is supposed to be a sure fire no-brainer pick that will generate double digit points week after week. For the sake of this article we will say that this is a 12-team league with standard scoring and no point-per-reception (NON-PPR) format.
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Figuring out whom to pick number one overall for a fantasy football draft can be a very tough decision, often leaving an uncomfortable feeling in your stomach if you get it wrong.
Every website and writer has their own opinion, and they rarely have the same guy tagged as number one overall. This is supposed to be a sure fire no-brainer pick that will generate double digit points week after week. For the sake of this article we will say that this is a 12-team league with standard scoring and no point-per-reception (NON-PPR) format.
Who’s It To Be?
The stereotypical player reserved for this pick is a running back that does not split carries, and expects to see 50 plus targets in the pass game.
Reasons In Support
There are a few reasons that support the claim for this theory.
These guys can expect to touch the ball over 300 times a year, and 20 plus times in a single game. The equation is simple; more touches equals more chances to score points. No other player, besides a quarterback, touches the ball more in a game than a running back. That is why targeting a back that rarely splits carries in the top five picks pays off, barring injury.
Looking at stats from the past six years 43 running backs scored over 200 fantasy points, while only 24 receivers managed 200 plus points.
However, in recent years the league has been shifting to more of a pass happy one. This is leading to more wide receivers being drafted earlier in rounds. In the 2014 season, there were eight running backs that tallied over 200 fantasy points, while conversely there were seven receivers that reached over 200 points, so the numbers are almost equal.
Even more, over that six year span only four running backs scored more than 300 points. The simple piece to take away from this data is that running backs have a better chance to score more points.
One may ask, why not draft a quarterback or tight-end in the first round?
Not a bad idea considering elite quarterbacks are the highest scoring players on the field and after the top 3 tight-ends the drop-off is huge.
So why not target one of these guys in the first round? Well it isn't an outlandish idea, but for an example lets say Andrew Luck or Gronkowski are taken at pick seven overall. This team has to wait 10 picks before they draft again, and at that point many of the top tier running backs and receivers will be off of the board.
This team will have a top QB or TE, but the team will struggle throughout the season at the receiver and running back positions.
Another deterrent to drafting a QB or TE first is that every team only needs to start one of them each week.
Where as, the running backs and receiver position requires 2-3 to start each week. It doesn't matter if you have the best guy at any position when they can sprain an ankle, break a bone, or get suspended at any minute. With this in mind having depth at the RB and WR position becomes more valuable than having a top QB or TE.
Going along with the injury scenario brings us to the next point to consider when drafting. Running backs are easily the most injured players in the league and this creates turnover on each team.
The Dreaded ACL Tear
So when drafting it is imperative to target top RB's and WR's early in the draft to account for any injuries your team might sustain. Also, expect the waiver cupboard to be pretty bare later in the season when multiple guys go down with injuries.
The final knock on receivers is that with the recent adjustment to increased passing in the NFL it has created more parity between WR's on a team.
With so many great receiver tandems on every team it has watered down the bottom part of the top tier receiver's points. It has become increasingly easier to find a receiver that can score over 125 points a season. Patience will help to find good receivers later in the draft and allow the first pick or two to explore other players.
It seems clear now that running back is a solid choice for the first overall pick.
Now the question becomes who to take at the number one spot? Well trying to determine who will be the number one running back each year is about as easy as trying to win the lottery. Every year the top two backs for fantasy points are different, and the top ten fluctuates vastly with a few surprises each year.
The main consistency is that Charles, Lacy, Forte, Foster, Peterson, and Lynch are all in the top ten when healthy. These guys are a sure-fire bet to be at the top of the rankings every year. So these are the guys that should be focused on for a number one pick.
Image by SD Dirk
The next question is which one of these guys will have a breakout year?
This is a tricky question since there are so many different variables that affect one of these guys being the best. Items to consider are: strength of schedule (sos), previous fantasy points, team personal, health, contract year, and team philosophy.
The only one of these backs on a contract year is Forte, and depending on the Bear's season he could end up walking from this team. Nevertheless he needs to perform this year to show other teams he can still play late in his career.
Along with his contract, John Fox is the new coach and he loves to run the ball.
Only problem is he rotates out his backs consistently, so this may mean fewer touches for Mr. Forte. However, Cutler loves to dump the ball down to Forte, and Forte loves to score touchdowns receiving. Matt has rarely been injured in his career and he hasn't shown any signs of slowing down. The Bears have a tough sos, but if Matt stays healthy he will get a lot of looks and may clean up in garbage time.
He is a top three pick this year and should put up around 1000 yards 7 touchdowns with 750 receiving yards and 7 touchdowns.
Image by Mike Shadle
Last year Charles struggled with injuries and the offense was pretty anemic when throwing the ball.
The addition of Jeremy Maclin should help take some pressure out of the box clearing lanes for Charles. Just like Forte, Jamaal is a big piece of the passing attack and gains huge chunk of yards off of screens. The Chiefs have a tough schedule but Charles should be a top three pick this year. He should post healthy numbers at 1250 with 8 TD's and 400 receiving yards with 6 scores.
Another guy looking to make a comeback from a slow season, or no season, is Adrian Peterson.
After being cleared from his domestic abuse case he wants to redeem himself and get back to what he loves. This man is a wrecking machine and after a full season off he is guaranteed to wreak havoc this season. With a tough schedule he may be slowed down, but the revival of Minnesota's passing game may clear some space for Peterson. He does have some competition in the backfield which could spell him on third downs reducing his reception opportunities.
Look for Peterson to go somewhere between the 3rd-5th pick. He should put up 1200 yards and 8 TD's along with 250 receiving yards and 4 touchdowns.
Marshawn Lynch is the image of consistency and a vicious ground and pound running style.
He has finished in the top four of rushing over the past four years. He rarely gets injured or misses time, and does not have much competition in the backfield. With Russell Wilson on a contract year, and the addition of Jimmy Graham the passing game will create new opportunities for Lynch to run the ball and receive some additional passes.
After the Super Bowl loss, and stunning no run call at the goal-line I think the Seahawks have realized who their bell-cow is on this team. One thing to consider is the relationship that Lynch has created with the coaching staff - hopefully he has not burned any bridges.
Lynch is my overall consensus number one pick for the 2015 season. Look for him to put up around 1300 yards 11 touchdowns and 500 reception yards with 6 touchdowns.
Image by Kelly Bailey
Eddie Lacy has also been a consistent fantasy player since entering the league.
Barring a few games he missed in his rookie season he hasn't missed much time due to injuries. The Packers do a great job of taking the pressure off of the run game with their exceptional passing attack. This helps Lacy find gaps in the run game and score multiple red-zone touchdowns.
He doesn't have to worry about any competition, unless he gets into injury trouble. This could be a concern since he has a very downhill aggressive run status. Green Bay has a tough schedule but should be able to put up his typical numbers of 1100 yards 8 TD's and 400 receiving yards with 3 touchdowns. Lacy should be considered a top three pick and his only concern can his health stay consistent with his running style.
**This was written before Arian Foster’s injury**
The last running back that is being considered for top pick is Arian Foster. He has battled injuries and playing time his entire career in the NFL. He plays with a huge chip on his shoulder and wants to prove people wrong about him. When healthy he has finished in the top four running backs multiple times over the past 5 years. The loss of Andre Johnson may hurt his ability to find space, but Hopkins is good at stretching the field.
Houston's offense, and entire team, has struggled the past two season, but they may finally be ready for a revival. They have the 3rd easiest schedule for a running back which should allow Foster to run rampant. The biggest concerns are his health and can the Texan's offense produce numbers? Look for Foster to fall around the 4th-6th pick and post 1200 yards 7 TD's with 250 receiving yards and 3 scores.
Whatever running back you decide to take first make sure you do some research and consider all of the concerns for each player.
Lynch, Forte, Peterson, and Lacy are the most consistent backs and have the chance to put up over 275 fantasy points. The running back is becoming an extinct fantasy scorer, but when you have the top pick or even top 5 picks you should still be drafting these guys. No one will touch the football as much as them and have more opportunities to score big numbers.