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2016 RB Do Not Draft List (Fantasy Football)

Jul 14, 2016

A very tough schedule isn't the only thing that's concerning about drafting Devonta Freeman

A very tough schedule isn’t the only thing that’s concerning about drafting Devonta Freeman

Running back used to be the end-all and be-all for fantasy football. If you didn’t have a top-tier RB on your fantasy team, you had a very slim chance to win a fantasy championship. Nowadays, we have articles written about the “zero RB” strategy; needless to say, times have changed.

Despite their diminished value in the modern era of fantasy football, they are still a vital part of a championship caliber team, and drafting a dud RB1 could prove fatal to your chances at winning your league. Some of their lost value can be attributed to NFL teams no longer relying on one RB to do everything.

In the past, you had a starter and a backup, with the backup holding very little fantasy value unless the starter was injured. Now you have disagreements from experts about who should be ranked higher between two fantasy viable running backs on the same team!

While not landing a stud back isn’t as important as it once was, completely whiffing on RBs could be a fantasy death sentence. Today I’m going to call-out a few running backs that you should not only be avoiding but, at their current ADP, should not be drafting at all.

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C.J. Anderson (DEN)
I don’t understand why fantasy owners are falling back in love with Anderson? Anyone who owned him last year (yours truly) was never treated to anything resembling the guy we expected when we spent a high pick on him.

So what changed? Your guess is as good as mine. If anything, his situation has gotten worse.

Defenses will not have to respect the passing game no matter which of the three QBs wins the starting gig in 2016. Peyton Manning, despite his terrible season in 2015, at least threatened to beat you with his arm because he had done it before. It will become a harsh reality for Anderson, but he will see a ton of eight-man fronts, and I didn’t see anything from him last year that would give me confidence that he can overcome that.

Ameer Abdullah (DET)
Here is another baffling love affair I do not understand. Abdullah showed us that preseason hype rarely equates to regular season success. I’ve heard all the arguments for taking Abdullah as a nice late round pick, but thus far I have been unwilling to buy the hype.

They claim he will be more involved in the passing game more now that Calvin Johnson is gone. What gives them that impression? Is it his paltry 25 receptions from 2015 or the fact that his backfield mate Theo Riddick tied for the league lead in receptions for a running back? Neither of those things works in his favor.

He had 10 games last year in which he had single digit carries, and while his season average of 4.2 yards per carry (YPC) is respectable, he had nine games in which he averaged under 4.0 YPC. That tells me that he wasn’t all that effective on a consistent enough basis.

Instead of benefitting from the loss of Calvin Johnson, he may struggle. Without Megatron threatening the defense deep down the field, he will see more eight-man fronts and less room to run.

If you are in a PPR league, and you want to draft a Lions RB, I would be looking at Riddick over Abdullah. In fact, I have Riddick currently ranked over Abdullah in my early rankings.

Frank Gore (IND)
As a 49ers fan, I love Gore as a player, but as a fantasy owner, I would not draft him in anything but the latest of late rounds. Gore had a career low in yards per carry in 2015 with 3.7 and had his lowest yardage total for a season in which he played at least 12 games dating back to his rookie season.

I know, I’ve heard the arguments, “He didn’t have Andrew Luck for most of the season, and that will take the pressure off of him and open up some more holes.” That is entirely possible, but it is also possible that Gore has reached that time in his career in which he can no longer make up his lost step by being a savvy, intelligent player. History tells us the latter is more likely, and I for one won’t be wasting a pick on a low-upside, aging running back in a pass-first offense.

Devonta Freeman (ATL)
Freeman is the highest consensus RB on my list of “do not draft” players. If you have been reading any of my articles either on this site or, you will know that I’m down on all Falcons this year and Freeman is no exception.

The list of great defenses the Falcons face this year is brutal. They have a three-game stretch early in the season in which the face the Panthers, Broncos and Seahawks, then, coming out of their bye week they get the Cardinals and the Chiefs.

If that wasn’t enough, Week 16 (championship week for most leagues) they face the Panthers again. Normally I don’t put much stock into the schedule when drafting players, but in this circumstance, I think a little caution is warranted.

Even if we were to take out the scheduling concerns, some rumors suggest the Falcons want to lower the number of touches Freeman will get and give some more opportunities to promising second-year running back Tevin Coleman. Coleman beat out Freeman for the starting job last year in the preseason, and after a good start to the season went down with a season-ending injury — giving Freeman the chance to seize the job.

When you take into account both factors, I feel Freeman is in for a down year and will leave a lot of fantasy owners out in the cold. Don’t be one of them. Unless Freeman slips to the late second round, I won’t touch him.

2016 QB Do Not Draft List

Geoff Lambert is a correspondent at FantasyPros. You can read more from Geoff by visiting his site or follow him on Twitter @GeoffLambert77.

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