Jake Ciely

You Want The Training Camp Battle Loser In Fantasy

Created on Jul. 03, 2014 6:00 AM EST

Every offseason, we see camp battle reports, insights, predictions, etc. For the early drafters, and sometimes even the late ones, if the competition lasts until Week 3 of the preseason, the camp battle situations are key to drafting properly. You don’t want to draft Johnny Manziel in Round 9 or 10 only to see Brian Hoyer as the starting quarterback Week 1.

Now, the Manziel situation is another topic altogether, but I’m here to tell you about one battle where you want the loser. Yes, you should draft the player that ends up as the team’s backup!

We have two running backs on our hands. Both have a shot at the starting gig. One is the incumbent, the other is an offseason signing. Before we mention them by name, let's do a blind comparison.

Player A: 67 games, 3,713 rushing yards, 4.0 YPC, 1,557 receiving yards, 8.0 YPR, 28 TDs (5 receiving).

Player B: 114 games, 8,071 rushing yards, 4.0 YPC, 2,873 receiving yards, 8.0 YPR, 79 TDs (11 receiving).

Those are very similar numbers when you look solely at the yards per carry and reception. Okay, actually, they're identical. Let's add another important stat though.

Player A: 29 missed games.

Player B: 14 missed games.

Not only does Player A have a lower per game output – he'd have just 6,318 rushing and 2,649 receiving yards in 114 games – he's missed over twice as many games in just 59 percent of games played. Now, Player A is three years younger, and you could make the argument for fresher legs, but it is easier to have those legs when you miss so much time. Additionally, Player B is only 29, albeit an old 29 by NFL standards with 2,139 career touches (1,058 for Player A).

Sounds as though you might slightly prefer Player B, or Maurice Jones-Drew, to Player A, Darren McFadden. But again, we're not here to debate who deserves the staring gig because that's not who you want.

Jones-Drew missed 10 games in 2012 and just one last year, but it wasn't exactly a healthy 15 games played for MJD. McFadden has missed 10 games over the last two years, and he's more of a lock than Jones-Drew is to miss time. That "missed time" factor is why you want to draft the loser of the camp battle.

No matter who wins the lead role for the Raiders, we all know that he will end up missing games. In fact, if I gave an over/under of Week 8 as the first missed game for the No. 1 option, I guarantee most everyone would take the under.

Currently, the favorite for the No. 1 role is MJD, and his ADP is 114th overall and the 36th running back. McFadden is 130th and 44th. Once the official starter announcement is made, that ADP is going to jump. It's going to crack the Top 30 for running backs, and that is too expensive for what you're getting. Instead of wasting your seventh or eighth rounder on the winner, wait and draft the loser in Round 12, 13 or 14. As mentioned, it's extremely likely that the one taken late will see time as the top option in Oakland, and that carries Flex value, even with the Raiders. The time for that value will be limited though, as the loser will likely get hurt too, but even if he does or somehow never starts, you didn't lose much value at all. You took a flier on a potential few-week Flex option instead of spending a valuable mid-round pick on the same thing.

Let the other owners waste their pick on the Raiders starting running back. You'll be thrilled not to worry about your RB3's status every week and when you suddenly have another Flex option on your team. Hey, you could even take the loser and Latavius Murray with your last two picks and really laugh all the way to cheap Flex value.

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