Fantasy football rankings: Eric Karabell's running back tiers

David Rosenblum/Icon Sportswire

Virtually anyone can rank fantasy football players, from your favorite ESPN analysts to your grandma to your neighborhood plumber, but without context, the rankings really do not tell much of a story, especially in the heightened rush of a draft. Seconds are swiftly ticking down, and perhaps some would simply choose our highest-ranked option available at a position of need. But so often, that is not really the way to go. A tiered system -- your own, preferably -- provides better information, and importantly, more clarity.

Say you are on the clock in Round 4, confused and struggling to decide between players, and then the incessant beeping starts, the nerve-racking signal of an unwelcome deadline for this important decision. With a tiered system, the wise fantasy manager can simply glance off screen to see there is one running back left far ahead of the others in value, while four or five wide receivers of similar statistical consequence remain. Easy decision. Go running back.

After all, there are always drop-offs in value regardless of position -- well, perhaps not kicker -- or fantasy sport, and a tiered system not only reduces stress in the aim of efficiency, but it makes your team better. It makes the experience better, and is that not what we all yearn for these days?

We start this annual exercise with a closer look at running backs, one analyst's thoughts on how he groups the position as of mid-August (we do this for wide receivers as well). It should not be entirely consistent with how you separate the players. We all think differently. These are your teams, so take the time to decide in advance how you view the options. My opinions change, of course, due to various information but also gut feelings on any given day. We will update these lists later in August.

Tier 1: Top of Round 1

Christian McCaffrey, Panthers
Dalvin Cook, Vikings
Alvin Kamara, Saints