Much space on fantasy sites in the last few years has been dedicated to the rise of the wide receiver. After all, the NFL is a passing league, right? As such, wide receivers have become more and more important in fantasy leagues. But are we sure the NFL is a passing league, at least when viewed through the prism of trying to win a fantasy league?
The top five scorers among flex players (running backs and wide receivers) are Adrian Peterson, Arian Foster, Doug Martin, Ray Rice and Marshawn Lynch. I don't have to tell you what they all have in common. The rest of the top 25 is divided almost right down the middle with 11 receivers and nine running backs. If you're curious, Brandon Marshall, Trent Richardson, Calvin Johnson, A.J. Green and Stevan Ridley round out the top 10.
Moreover, the average starting running back in a 12-team league has outscored his average buddy lined up out wide, 140.23 to 137.98, for the entire season. So again, I ask, are we sure the NFL is a passing league for fantasy purposes.
Well, yeah, we are, but maybe not for the obvious reasons. Let me preface this by saying there's no substitute for having one of the elite backs in the league. Odds are the Adrian Peterson owner in your league is still playing this week. But take a look at those elite backs again. Only Foster and Rice were considered sure things coming into the season. Peterson was going somewhere in the second round. Lynch was a third rounder. Martin was frequently on the board into the fourth round.
Take a look further down the list of running backs, and the song remains the same. Ridley was a popular sleeper, but far from a lock. The next two are Jamaal Charles and Frank Gore, who likely went in the second and third rounds, respectively, so they've essentially performed up to their preseason expectations. The final four backs among the top-25 flex players? Alfred Morris, C.J. Spiller, Chris Johnson and BenJarvus Green-Ellis. Only Johnson was expected to be in this stratosphere, and his season is still considered a mild disappointment.
Let's take a look at the other side of the ledger. The top three receivers through 14 weeks are Marshall, Calvin and Green. The latter two were essentially the consensus 1-2 at the position, and most experts had Marshall in the top five. The only relative surprises among the top-25 flex players are Vincent Jackson (13), Reggie Wayne (21) and Randall Cobb (24). The others were all considered rock solid picks back in August: Demaryius Thomas, Victor Cruz, Dez Bryant, Roddy White, Julio Jones and Andre Johnson.
All of this is to say the hidden skill of wide receivers is reliability. If you grab an elite receiver in August, chances are he'll still be an elite receiver in December. Focusing on those elite receivers early leaves your roster open to take fliers on the Alfred Morrises and Stevan Ridleys later in your draft, too.
Fantasy football does not discriminate between rushing yards and receiving yards, or touchdowns scored on the ground or in the air. Next year, remember that in most instances you're better off trusting a seemingly elite receiver over a seemingly elite running back.
So that's what I think. Here's what I think about what other people think for Week 15.
? Mario Puig at RotoWire (subscription required)
? In Brad Evans' great "Flames" column this week, he
? Within this "empty the notebook" story at NFL.com, is talk of Robert Griffin III's knee injury. This cautions that you should
? The Fantasy Doctor at Pro Football Weekly answers a few questions from readers counseling them to
? CBS.com's Jamey Eisenberg lists
? Over at KFFL.com, Cory Bonini says
Chat with me on Twitter, @MBeller.