So you're about to have your fantasy draft. Or you're thinking about doing a fantasy draft. If you already had your draft, sorry 'bout your luck. You shoulda hit me up sooner to do this. Not that I would have ... but at least you would've asked. And that would have been nice. Sorry, where was I?
Right ... drafts. Anyway, when you're prepping for your upcoming leagues, there are probably more than a few players that you're considering adding to your board. I'm here to tell you that you might be doing it wrong. That's okay, no judgment. We've all been there. Allow me to offer some constructive criticism. Over the next few days I'm serving up a few players that you're probably waiting too long to draft. They might not be league winners but by the end of the season, you'll be glad you have 'em. No need to thank me. Just doing my job.
Let's get started.
Chris Carson (RB25, ADP: 5.04)
"You want it to be one way ... but it's the other way." -- Marlo Stanfield, *The Wire*
We are living in a points-per-reception world. As NFL offenses throw the ball more while striving for greater efficiency with their aerial attacks, running backs have been forced to adapt or die. Once upon a time, Adrian Peterson was the prototype for what teams craved in their backfield, the landscape is now populated with Christian McCaffreys, Alvin Kamaras, and Saquon Barkleys whose hands are just as much an asset as their legs.
But there is a Land That Football Time Forgot. Tucked away in the idyllic Pacific Northwest resides a pigskin anachronism. An offensive scheme that seems stuck in amber, where establishing the run is a way of life and not just a punchline. Last season, the Seahawks were the top rushing offense in the league and the only team to run the ball more than 50 percent of the time.
Oh ... and do you know how many passes Carson caught? Twenty. For context, Saquon Barkley had 14 receptions in one game last season.
Right now, I'm sure plenty of you are screaming at your screens about how being a run-heavy offense doesn't improve a team's chances of winning. My answer to you is to take it up with Pete Carroll. I'm not here to argue with you. I'm just here to tell you that there is a path to solid running back production that doesn't involve gobbling up quarterback dump-offs.
Which brings me back to a certain fictional peddler of street pharmaceuticals. As we all have rushed to find running backs that can catch the ball, some of the more traditional backs have been pushed to the wayside. Mention Leonard Fournette or Derrick Henry and you're bound to see some furrowed analyst brows. Carson is likely to inspire some of the same reaction. We want it to be one way but it actually could be another way.
The difference is that where teams like the Jaguars and Titans have professed a desire to run the football, the Seahawks have actually been about that life. Not to mention that Seattle is expected to win more games than either of those other two teams, opening more chances for the 'Hawks to lean on the ground game.
There's also The Case of Rashaad Penny. Plenty of chatter has centered on what Penny's role will be this year and how much he might eat into Carson's touches. Honestly, it might not be that drastic. With Mike Davis now in Chicago, it opens up 112 carries from last year. It's plausible that Penny could walk into an expanded role with Carson not losing much.
If old people are to be believed, there's more than one way to skin a cat. I don't want to know why people know that but that's a different discussion. The point is that eventually, non-pass-catching running backs could end up being the new fantasy football market efficiency and Chris Carson could be your prototype. What's old is new again.
Marcas Grant is a fantasy analyst for NFL.com and a man who is thankful for the selective amnesia that allows you to forget the confusion of infancy. Send him your parenting insights or fantasy question on Twitter @MarcasG.