Dynasty Bust RBs (Fantasy Football)
Continuing our series on dynasty busts (check out QB bust candidates here), we move to the running back position. When talking bust, I’m not just looking for players that will underperform, but rather players whose actual value will be drastically lower than their perceived value. Think 2014 Zac Stacy or Andre Ellington. This year’s draft contained a considerable amount of RBs poised to make an immediate impact. But as history has shown, they will not all work out. Here’s a look into a few names that you’ll want to avoid. Spoiler alert: they aren’t all rookies.
Dalvin Cook (RB – MIN)
I’ll be honest. I couldn’t type his name fast enough. Let’s recap. The Minnesota Vikings roster Jerick McKinnon, who has a SPARQ ranking in the 99th percentile (more on this in a moment), and has proven to be a highly effective running back when given the opportunity. Since McKinnon, despite his immense talent, is admittedly not built to be a feature back, the Vikings go out and sign Latavius Murray, another very talented back. Great! The team is set at running back. Now all they have to do is build some semblance of an offensive line. So what do they do? They go out and trade up to draft another running back! Are you kidding me? In what world does this make any sense? According to Pro Football Focus, the Vikings offensive line ranked 29th in 2016. In the 2017 draft, they possessed a whopping 11 draft picks…and used exactly two of them on offensive linemen (picks 70 and 180). The Vikings ranked dead last in the NFL in team rushing last season at 3.2 yards per carry. They ranked dead last in rushing yards per game as well at 75.3 yards. Throughout the entire season, no one on the team had a rush longer than 36 yards. These numbers are downright deplorable and they are a direct result of the calamity that is the offensive line.
So enter Dalvin Cook – the third banana in the act. Yes. Third. Because that is where he currently ranks in terms of talent on the Vikings. Remember that SPARQ score I mentioned earlier and how Jerick McKinnon ranked in the 99th percentile? Dalvin Cook ranked in the ninth percentile. No running back in the NFL’s history has ever scored this poorly in SPARQ and gone on to perform at a high level. I’ve seen comparisons made to Clinton Portis and Edgerrin James. According to Cook’s SPARQ performance, try Travis Greene and Marshaun Coprich. Who? Exactly. I’m going to just say it bluntly: Dalvin Cook is terrible. He will be the third or fourth rookie running back taken this season. Not only is he not particularly talented, but it’s hard to imagine him falling in a worse spot.
Rob Kelley (RB – WAS)
Rob Kelley was a nice surprise last year after taking over for the completely useless Matt Jones. The thing with Kelley is it was really more of a right place, right time kind of thing. Matt Jones was terrible and Chris Thompson is a passing down specialist. Kelley was there and he did a decent job. But that’s all it was: decent. The Redskins have no intention of building their running game around Fat Rob.
Dynasty owners should not get too excited about having this 24-year-old starting running back on their hands. Kelley averaged 4.19 yards per carry in 2016 and only had one game with over 100 yards rushing. The Redskins are a pass first, pass second offense and just drafted Samaje Perine, who is better at just about everything than Rob Kelley. With Chris Thompson locked into the passing back role and Perine poised to overtake Kelley, there’s little to be excited about. Kelley will fade away as quickly as he appeared.
Giovani Bernard and Jeremy Hill (RB – CIN)
This one is short and sweet. The Bengals drafted Joe Mixon, who very well may have been the second running back off the board if not for his off the field issues (on a serious note: what Mixon did was unacceptable and if it ended up derailing his career, it wouldn’t have been undeserved). However, he was drafted and relatively high for someone with his character issues (Tyreek Hill fell all the way to pick 165 last year). From a football standpoint, the guy is incredibly talented. This isn’t a unique take, but teams don’t draft players like Mixon without the intent to use them. Bernard has proven he can’t handle a full workload and Hill has proven to not be particularly good at running the football in general. Hill will get hit more as I still expect Bernard to be out there catching passes, but the reality is Mixon does both of their jobs better than either of them. The long term value here is in Mixon. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Bernard reduced to a backup flex player in fantasy and Hill a free agent.
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