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the problem is that there isn’t much evidence suggesting that the NFL doesn’t value running backs well.

To look past the economics and make the case that the Giants should draft Barkley at No. 2, one or more of the following three arguments would have to be true. And I’m not sure any is accurate.

Furthermore, teams haven’t really suffered when they’ve lost their star backs. The Cowboys weren’t the same without Elliott, but the Jaguars’ offense was better while Fournette was sidelined last season. In 2015, offenses around the league lost star backs such as Bell, Lynch and Arian Foster and actually improved.

The majority of big-money deals for running backs in recent years also haven’t worked out. Carolina spent years desperately restructuring the deals Marty Hurney gave Stewart and DeAngelo Williams. Chris Johnson failed to make it back to the Pro Bowl after signing his extension. DeMarco Murray’s deal in Philadelphia led him to be traded after one season. Even Adrian Peterson’s six-year deal (which was restructured along the way) mixed one MVP season with two lost seasons and a third marred by injury. Lynch and McCoy have had the best outcomes among veteran backs since the current CBA was signed.

That means the incentive to push the envelope beyond being a two-times-through-the-order guy remains strong. And owners know all too well the unique effect a superstar starter can have at the turnstile. (It’s Verlander day!)

The ace starter, the workhorse, the guy who can lift a team on his back and carry it across the finish line — one-name guys like Gibson, Unit, Rocket, Koufax, Verlander — these are the legends of the game. To have no more of them… is an unpleasant thought.

If analytic trends were followed to their logical conclusion, another such legend might never again come into being. But while patterns of usage may be a more efficient way to win games over the course of a long season, or even multiple seasons, that doesn’t mean magic will go out of the game. There are too many reasons for it not to.

Enjoy the aces. Relish those pitching duels, when they come. Thanks to generational talents and astute managers, they won’t go away completely. Will they?

That’s a good question, Verlander said. I don’t know the answer to that.

Not exactly reassuring.

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