As we get deeper and deeper into the rankings, the value which players offer will drop off considerably. Many of these running backs only offer value in PPR leagues as they catch balls out of the backfield, but many won’t exceed 100 carries on the season, making them almost worthless in standard scoring leagues. Although many of these running backs may not make an immediate impact in week 1, these guys are the most likely to contribute to your fantasy lineup should your RB1 or RB2 go down to injury. Taking these guys in the back end of the draft or snagging them off the waiver wire may make or break your season. In 2017, Latavius Murray went undrafted in many leagues, but if you drafted him as Dalvin Cook’s handcuff or snagged him off the waiver wire, there were certain weeks he saved you.
41 – Duke Johnson – Last year Duke Johnson was a PPR machine because the Browns had a mediocre receiving corps. However, in 2018, the Browns could arguably have one of the best receiving corps in the NFL. Jarvis Landry figures to start on the outside in 2 wide sets and bump to the slot in 3 wide sets and his presence is likely to siphon much of Johnson’s target share which he enjoyed a year ago. Duke has never had more than 104 carries in a season, and with the presence of Nick Chubb and Carlos Hyde, he surely won’t eclipse that number. Stay tuned, because his value may rise if there’s an injury to Chubb, Hyde or one of the wide receivers, but for now, Johnson will remain depressed in my rankings.
42 – Royce Freeman – When you use a 3rd round pick to take a running back in the draft, that’s almost like using a 1st rounder to draft a quarterback, that means you drafted the kid to play, and that’s exactly what the Broncos did with Royce Freeman. Devontae Booker isn’t good at football, he can’t create on his own. Royce Freeman has the size and speed to be an every down back at the next level, and given the competition he has in Denver, he’s a good bet to come through.
43 – Gio Bernard – Gio Bernard has a 4.2 career yards per carry and catches 71.7% of balls thrown his way. If you draft Joe Mixon, you should definitely target Bernard later in drafts because he would be an automatic RB2 should Mixon go down. In week 16 of the 2017 season, Bernard went over 100 yards rushing and scored in Mixon’s absence. Don’t expect more than 10 touches a game for Bernard unless Mixon goes down. Gio has about 3.5 grabs a game and 10 carries a game for his career, and that shouldn’t change this year as he looks to be the primary backup for Mixon and get some passing down work from time to time.
44 – Rex Burkhead – Rex Burkhead can do it all and if there’s an injury to Sony Michel or James White he could see some an increase in snap share. However, absent an injury, his role will vary greatly on a week to week basis and it won’t be easy to predict when he will come through.
45 – Peyton Barber – Peyton Barber is not an exciting player to watch, but he is 5’11” 225 pounds and the owner of a 4.0 career yards per carry rate. Given the running back competition on the Bucs between Barber and Ronald Jones, Barber could see heavy volume, especially on early downs. I don’t pay much attention to Barber in my drafts because I view him as just another guy, but I may start to pay more attention after digging into the numbers a little bit. In 2017, Barber ran for 2.66 yards per rush after initial contact. That number matches that of Devonta Freeman, and was better than Le’Veon Bell, Melvin Gordon and Jordan Howard, albeit those guys had a larger sample size to work off of. The statistics show that Barber can create for himself and if he’s given volume in Tampa, he should come through.
46 – Theo Riddick – Theo Riddick averages 3.4 yards per carry on his career and has never had more than 92 carries in a season. To put it plainly, Theo Riddick cannot handle early down work, he’s nothing more than a pass catching running back. Riddick is worthless in standard leagues and should only be considered in PPR leagues as a flex play. Riddick should not be drafted as a handcuff for LeGarrette Blount.
47 – Doug Martin – In 2015, the last time Doug Martin played in 16 games, he carried the ball 288 times for 1,402 yards which was good for 4.9 yards a pop. Martin followed that up with two consecutive 2.9 yards per carry campaigns, starting only 16 of a possible 32 games over that span. Doug Martin broke only 6 tackles in 2017 and had a modest 2.2 yards after initial contact which doesn’t excite. It’s hard to envision Martin blowing up this year given his performance over the last two seasons, but if Marshawn Lynch goes down, maybe the lack of work over the last 2 seasons has rejuvenated him.
48 – Jordan Wilkins – I will be watching Nyheim Hines this preseason because he’s extremely athletic and could come out of the gate on fire. Although Hines was the first of two running backs drafted by the Colts this season, he stands 5’9” and weighs 198, meaning he doesn’t have the body type to hold up to every down pounding between the tackles. Marlon Mack bounced everything outside at UCF and he does the same thing in the NFL. If Marlon Mack underwhelms early, Wilkins could be the guy to step in and handle the early down work.
The Old 49 – Elijah Mcguire – Broke his foot in Jets camp – snag him off the waiver wire if he’s placed on IR and returns later in the season.
The New 49 – Nyheim Hines – In 2015, Frank Reich was the offensive coordinator for the San Diego Chargers. That season, Melvin Gordon led the way for the Chargers carrying the ball a team high 184 times for 641 yards. Danny Woodhead was also on that roster, carrying the ball only 98 times, but added an impressive 80 grabs for 755 yards. If Hines is used similar to the way Danny Woodhead was used in 2015, he could be a PPR machine.
50 – Joe Williams – Jerrick McKinnon cannot hold up, he’s always banged up, and he hasn’t run for over 4.0 yards per carry since 2015. For all of those reasons, I like Joe Williams and I don’t like Jerrick McKinnon. I am not saying that Joe Williams will be an RB1 on the year, but if McKinnon misses a few games throughout the season, Williams could offer RB1 numbers on a week to week basis while filling in.
51 – Kenneth Dixon – Alex Collins was a machine last year, but the body of work simply isn’t there. Kenneth Dixon is extremely talented and if Collins gets hurt, Dixon may take the job and run with it.
52 – Bilal Powell – Powell can catch the ball out of the backfield but he cannot sustain as an every down back. If Elijah McGuire misses a significant amount of time with his foot injury, Powell offers value in PPR leagues. The Jets don’t look like they will be a contender this year, so Powell should get a lot of work late in games if the Jets fall behind.
53 – John Kelly – Todd Gurley is the man for the Rams, and if he goes down, John Kelly could step in and be an automatic RB2. If you draft Todd Gurley, you should really consider taking Kelly with one of your last picks in the draft.
54 – James White – James White should receive somewhere between 70 and 90 passing targets on the year making him a viable option in PPR leagues. The presence of Sony Michel is a little concerning, but the Patriots don’t have Brandin Cooks or Danny Amendola anymore and are without Julian Edelman for the first four games of the regular season. Based on the offseason subtractions from the Patriots roster, White should have a role regardless of his competition in the backfield.
55 – Aaron Jones – Aaron Jones impressed in 2017, carrying the ball 81 times for 448 yards which was good for 5.5 yards per attempt. Jones added 4 rushing TD’s and 9 catches for 22 yards. Jones only caught 9 of 18 targets which isn’t good, and although he averaged over 5 yards per carry, the body of work is very small. When you factor his 3 game suspension into the equation, it’s possible Jamaal Williams takes it and never looks back.
56 – D’Onta Foreman – Everybody wants to hate on Lamar Miller because he’s underwhelmed since coming to Houston, but the fact is that Lamar Miller ran for 2.45 yards after initial contact in 2017 compared to D’Onta Foreman’s 2.55 mark. Foreman’s yards after contact mark wasn’t significantly better than Miller’s and should not cause you to consider drafting Foreman ahead of Miller, especially since Foreman is coming off a torn achilles and still isn’t practicing. Foreman is nothing more than a Lamar Miller handcuff at this time.
57 – Devontae Booker – Booker isn’t that good, averaging only 3.6 yards per carry on his career, but if he’s named the starter in Denver, he will get decent volume and put up some decent stats, making him relevant.
58 – James Conner – Le’Veon Bell handcuff, that’s all.
59 – TJ Yeldon – Leonard Fournette is the guy in Jacksonville, leaving little to no work for TJ Yeldon. However, if something were to happen to Fournette who has lingering lower body injuries dating back to his time at LSU, Yeldon could be elevated to RB2 status.
60 – Kerryon Johnson – LeGarrette Blount figures to be the guy early on in Detroit, but if he looks old and slow early on, or gets hurt, Kerryon Johnson could take the job and roll with it. Johnson’s value is somewhat capped due to Theo Riddick’s presence in the passing game, but the Lions will look to pound the ball with the defensive minded Matt Patricia running the show.
Follow me on Twitter @coachriggall if you care about winning.
Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio Show: Join host Brian Roach, Jr, and Cole Freel live on Sunday July 29th, 2018 from 8-9:30pm EST for episode #131 of Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio. We are a live broadcast that will take callers at 323-870-4395. Press 1 to speak with the host. We will discuss the latest information in the world of fantasy baseball.
Our guest this week is Joe Iannone. Joe is a writer with majorleaguefantasysports.com. His articles publish every Sunday and he focuses on spot starting pitchers for the coming week.
Major League Fantasy Football Radio Show: Join host Corey D Roberts and James Wilk live Thursday July 26th, 2018 from 8-9:30pm EST for episode #86 of Major League Fantasy Football Radio. Call in number is 323-870-4395 press 1 to speak with the host. We will hit free agents, rookies, and fantasy football as a whole for each team for 2018. This week we will discuss everything NFC North!
Major League Fantasy Baseball Show Episode #167, 6/23/2019 Host Brian Roach, Jr., Co-Host Cole Freel, Guest Kevin Bzdek
Major League Fantasy Baseball Show Episode #169, 8/4/2019 Host Cole Freel, Guest Joe Iannone
@brandonziman You are more than welcome Brandon. You were a fantastic writer and a joy to work with. As we move through a very big transition for us hopefully we can continue to work with one anither.