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Why the rush to get two running backs?

Over the last 13 years, there has been a significant jump in the numbers, meaning that there are simply more good running backs to go around.
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - When I began playing fantasy football back in the 80's, the winning strategy was to always get yourself two "stud" running backs in the first two rounds. There was a reason for this strategy - there just weren't enough quality running backs to go around.

Between 1981 and 1994 (excluding the strike-filled years of 1982 and 1987) the league had an average of 11.75 "1000-yard rushers" per season. There were a total of 17.16 runners per year who carried the ball 200+ times, adding five more runners who could be used as a serviceable No.2 running back.

In a basic 10-team league, those stats say that eight teams would likely have just one 1000-yard rusher, but two "lucky" teams would be blessed with a tandem of "stud" running backs.

So there was a rush to be the first to draft two backs. It led to the very popular strategy of drafting running backs back-to-back in Rounds 1 & 2 which to this day many owners still follow.

But over the last 13 years, there has been a significant jump in the numbers, meaning that there are simply more good running backs to go around. Between 1995 and 2007 the yearly 1000-yard rushing list averaged 17.84 players per season with 23.07 running backs getting 200 carries or more.

This is a significant 51.8% increase in 1000-yard rushers and a 34.4% increase in the number of running backs getting significant opportunities to shine.

With an average of 18 1000-yard rushers and five more "serviceable" backs the same 10-team league would place less importance on drafting two running backs right away because there would likely still be a running back available in the third round which you could use.

Thus, there is a good opportunity to pick a No.1 wide receiver such as Randy Moss or Terrell Owens or even a tight end like Antonio Gates, gain an advantage at another position and still come up with a No.2 running back that won't make you cry.

It's time we changed our philosophy and instead of predictably drafting a running back in each of the first two rounds, take a chance and pick a wide receiver in the first or second round then come back with your second ball carrier in the third round.

Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Steve Schwarz at

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