This was supposed to be the year of the running back. Well, it was supposed to be an exhibition between Ivan Drago and Apollo Creed and look how that turned out. (By the way - that was the best line in any Rocky movie uttered by Apollo's trainer. Not like he had a lot, but still. Let's recognize.) So this week we're going to examine the running back position and some of its players in more depth to understand just how far we've fallen. To go from "Rocky IV" to "8 Mile," I'll tell why it's time to stop living up here with your running backs, and time to start living down here.
3: Weeks you'll play Darren McFadden the rest of the season.Under. Sure, the Raiders have a bye this week but you get my drift with this. Chances are you had him in your flex, and you'll replace him with someone else this week who will likely give you more than you were getting from McFadden and he'll be relegated to your bench as the byes come to a close. It's not that he's had an awful season, but now that Terrelle Pryor is entrenched as the Raiders signal-caller, McFadden's rushing opportunities are slowly decreasing. He hasn't had more than 20 carries in a game yet, and he's being outgained by Pryor on the ground 229 yards to 215 yards so far in 2013. The arrow is firmly pointing downward next to McFadden's name as his role in the offense isn't what it used to be. I can't see it going back up.
Start'Em, Sit 'Em: Jay is okay
3: The number of running backs you'll start the rest of the season when your player's team faces the Jets. Under. No matter how well or poorly Geno Smith plays, one thing is for certain: you can't run on the Jets. Their defensive front is so incredibly impressive you want to look towards other players on your bench if your guy is playing New York. For the season, the Jets are giving up an average of 2.97 yards-per-carry, the best in the league. They're also giving up just over 75 yards per game, which is second-best overall. Look at the remaining schedule for the Jets. The only back you're definitely going to play is Ray Rice, and possibly Giovani Bernard, but you're not expecting a good day. And that's really it. So good luck if you want to start Stevan Ridley, C.J. Spiller, Lamar Miller or others against the Jets the rest of the season.
5: The number of people who told me this week they were disappointed in the movie "Gravity." Under. My response to each of them was the same: Just what else do you want in a film experience? Visually it's more stunning than anything we've seen in history until this point (and that includes "Avatar"). I couldn't get over how phenomenal the audio experience was as well. The filmmakers utilized simple things like silence and breathing to perfection. My stomach was jittery and I was on edge for the entire 90 minutes. That's what "Gravity" is -- an experience. It's not the best film of all time, and no one's ever said it was. George Clooney is the same swashbuckling wisecracking character we've seen him portray a hundred times and the writing/plot was somewhat cliché. But what happens to your senses during it is indescribable. You positively have to see it in 3D. I'm not the biggest 3D movie fan, because for the most part I think it's gratuitous. But "Gravity" is why 3D was invented in the first place. For all the money Hollywood makes every year, there should be more vehicles like this that push the boundaries of filmmaking instead of relying on reboots and sequels. In fact, soon we'll be seeing reboots of sequels and sequels of reboots. But I'll always remember where I saw "Gravity," who I saw it with and what I felt like during, and after -- when I thought if I just threw my head backwards I would start slowly tumbling head over feet through the air. Those are incredible gifts a movie can give you. And as a bonus, if you're upset that Sandra Bullock won her Oscar for "The Blind Side," just pretend she won for this, because she was spectacular.
10: The number of fantasy points by a starting running back he needs to get in order to say he had a "good" fantasy day. Push. If I had a dollar for every time I've said the phrase "Times are tough in these fantasy streets" over the last three weeks, I'd have enough to buy lunch. Not just any lunch, but a full sandwich with chips and a drink combo meal. Don't think you're alone when you look at your running backs and say "Wow, my guys aren't getting it done." That's because NO running backs are getting it done. Once you get outside of the top 12 running backs, almost no one is averaging 10 fantasy points per game. So if your backs are consistently near 10 points per game, you're doing OK. Stop killing yourself in trying to trade for a running back. Load up elsewhere. And by all means if you have a great running back do not even listen when other teams come calling and say "I'll trade you any four guys on my team for Arian Foster!"
50: The number of tweets I've gotten this week asking if Chris Johnson was still a viable fantasy starter. Over. Sadly, he needs to call Darren McFadden and set up a weekly "Meeting of the Disappointing and Disappearing Running Backs." It could take place every Sunday night at midnight ET when everyone looks at their final scores for the day and bangs their fist on the table. Let's be honest. We've seen the best of CJ2K. He's not going to get any faster or any better. The last three weeks, he's carried the ball 37 times for 71 yards. Ryan Fitzpatrick led the Titans in rushing against the Seahawks. Yes, it was a bad matchup, but Johnson's not even an automatic flex play anymore. His only touchdown this season was on a broken play shovel pass. What always made him special was his ability to break an 80-yard touchdown run at any time, but slowly that's no longer a trick he has in his arsenal. There are plenty of wide receivers I'd rather play at my flex than endure another three or four point week from CJ2K. In fact, Michael Fabiano has said that any trade he makes in our Experts League, has to include Chris Johnson as part of it. I'm expecting to see Fabs with a sandwich board on the street corner sometime this week trying to give him away.
Jason Smith writes fantasy and other pith for nfl.com. You can see him as the host of NFL Fantasy Live that airs Sunday through Friday on NFL Network at 5pmET/2pmPT and also at 1amET/10pmPT. Listen to him on the NFL Fantasy Live podcast available at nfl.com and on itunes. Reach out to him on Google plus or Twitter @howaboutafresca, and listen to his Fantasy Podcast with Michael Fabiano and Elliot Harrison every week on nfl.com. He only asks you never bring up when the Jets play poorly.