In looking down the current ADP lists, some names definitely jump out at their current positions, while others jump out and then fade again to the background. I used the current ADP rankings at MyFantasyLeague.com and ESPN.com to pick out my ADP steals at running back. The largest difference in ADP rank I found was for Kareem Hunt, but most of the others were in a similar range. Duke Johnson and Paul Perkins made my initial list, but Cleveland’s young QB is not targeting their running backs in pre-season games and Orleans Darkwa has been stealing short yardage work and goal line carries for the Giants, though Perkins did have a nice game in Week 3 of the pre-season. Nonetheless, here are my ADP steals for 2017…
- Carlos Hyde, San Francisco 49’ers (MFL – 48.16/ESPN – 46.0) – In San Francisco Hyde is clearly the #1 running back. Over the summer we heard Hyde is not a fit for Kyle Shanahan’s system, but now things have changed and Hyde is the workhorse on this team. In Shanahan’s outside zone scheme, Hyde should easily set a career high in yards and receptions this year. He has shown he has good hands and he has always run hard; he should love playing in Shanahan’s offense this season.
- Kareem Hunt, Kansas City Chiefs (MFL – 69.06/ESPN – 39.2) – Hunt has flown up draft boards after the news of Spencer Ware’s season ending injury. He was arguably the better back even with a healthy Ware. He is a perfect fit for Andy Reid’s system and is sure to have a big role from the start. He has good vision and patience while running and he is an asset to the passing game. In Pro-Drafts he is being drafted in the 2nd and 3rd rounds, which is more closely reflected in ESPN’s ADP rankings, but I am still seeing draft boards posted where he is taken as late as the 7th round.
- Bilal Powell, New York Jets (MFL – 74.52/ESPN – 57.1) – The Jets showcased Matt Forte early in Pre-Season Week 3’s game against the Giants, but as early as the next day news came out that the Jets were shopping Forte for a trade. With a 4 million dollar salary and the team in full rebuild mode, he is a cut candidate. Powell has been drafted earlier than Forte all summer, and now clearly looking like the Jets’ workhorse, and with a 5th-7th round ADP he continues to be a steal, especially in PPR leagues where he will still be involved in the passing game when the Jets are behind.
- Doug Martin, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (MFL – 76.26/ESPN – 99.6) – Martin’s ADP is this low because he is suspended for the first three games of the season, but three games can easily be covered and Martin is too good to pass on this late in drafts. With an improved passing game with the additions of DeSean Jackson, Chris Godwin and O.J. Howard, more running room should be available. Martin gets a lot of touches in Dirk Koetter’s offense, even while averaging only 2.9 yards per carry in 2016. This season Tampa returns the same offensive line, but the coaches believe their young line will improve. If the pre-season is any indication, Martin will roll once again this year.
- Danny Woodhead, Baltimore Ravens (MFL – 83.85/ESPN – 65.9) – The Baltimore Ravens offense has looked like a mess all pre-season with Ryan Mallet at QB. But Joe Flacco is finally throwing and is expected to be ready for Week 1. Terrance West has been an early “ADP Darling”, but looks slow and out of shape. Danny Woodhead on the other hand has looked great in pre-season, until injuring his hamstring. Woodhead’s value is purely in PPR leagues where he has finished as a top 10 fantasy running back twice in the past four years. With the Ravens he could get additional touches on running downs if West continues to struggle.
- Rob Kelley, Washington Redskins (MFL – 104.01/ESPN – 87.7) – All summer, Washington rookie running back Samaje Perine was being drafted ahead of Rob Kelley, but Kelley has won the job. He has clearly been the better running back during the pre-season and with the starting role in Week 1, this year he could eclipse the 1,000 yard mark. Perine may be the running back of the future, but I don’t expect him to replace Kelley as the starter this season.
- Rex Burkhead, New England Patriots (MFL – 154.87/ESPN – 142.3) – I know a lot of owners want nothing to do with the Patriots backfield but with a 12th to 13th round ADP, Rex Burkhead is a steal, especially compared to a 5th round ADP for Mike Gillislee. Burkhead appears to be the better receiver of the two, and could play first and second down giving the Patriots the option to use him as a runner or a receiver, and then using White or Lewis in the same fashion on third down. We won’t know until the season starts what the exact roles will turn out to be, but if adding the risk of a Patriots running back, Burkhead should be the clear choice.
- DeAndre Washington, Oakland Raiders (MFL – 178.95/ESPN – 170.00) – DeAndre Washington is clearly the backup for Marshawn Lynch, but Lynch is 31 years old and hasn’t played in a year and a half. If Lynch’s body is able to hold up he should find success behind this Raiders offensive line, as Washington did last year at 5.4 yards per carry. However, if Lynch’s body is not able to hold up then Washington would be a #1 running back drafted around the 18th round. I’ll gladly make a spot for him on my bench and see what happens.
If these guys aren’t currently on your radar you should definitely add them. I have a share in most of them and can only hope their ADP doesn’t rise through the Labor Day Weekend! Look for me at majorleaguefantasysports.com for fantasy articles throughout the upcoming fantasy season, and Good Luck!!!