3 Bounce-Back Running Backs (Fantasy Football)

by Mitchell Renz | @mitchellrenz365 | Featured Writer
Jul 13, 2017

Look for Ameer Abdullah to bounce back in 2017

What is a bounce-back player? A player who has a bad season the previous year but the stars are aligning for them to shine in the upcoming season. A player that made you “sigh” last year, but you are confident they will have a good following season. Nothing is 100 percent guaranteed in fantasy football, but I am confident in saying these running backs will not be mediocre and will bounce back in 2017.

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Todd Gurley (LAR)

Arguably the biggest bust in 2016, Gurley had zero games over 100 rushing yards in 2016. He had only two games last season with a YPC over 4.0. He was a consensus top-three running back who finished as RB20 in standard leagues and RB15 in PPR leagues. Those are only some of the ugly stats from Gurley’s nightmare of a season.

How much of it is to blame on Gurley, though? Consider the Rams’ offense ranked 31st in passing yards, last in passing touchdowns, and third in interceptions. Only the Jets had a worse TD/INT (14/20) ratio than the Rams did last year. I am hoping the Rams passing game improves in Jared Goff’s second year. They also added receivers in the draft and free agency.

The Rams offense in general, though, needs to improve since they ranked dead last in total yards with 4,203 in 2016. How bad is that exactly? Well, the second-worst offense in terms of total yards was the 49ers who had 4,930 yards of total offense. The Rams scored only 14 points per game on average which is the worst since the 2012 Chiefs. So yeah, I expect them to be better.

Why am I so optimistic about Gurley? For starters no more Jeff Fisher and that terribly stale offense. If Fisher walked down the cereal aisle at a store he’d choose Bran Flakes over Captain Crunch every time. Gurley is a workhorse running back who is talented and should be the focal point of an offense which is rare and hard to find, much like the end zone for the Rams last year.

Yes, the offense is nothing to brag about, but finding a running back who will get the work that Gurley will this season is not easy. Personally, I project Gurley’s carries to increase and be around the 290 mark and his receptions to drop a little to 31 with the addition of Lance Dunbar. Gurley is too talented to be at a 3.2 YPC which is why projecting him for his career average of 3.9 YPC is more than fair in my opinion. When I crunched his numbers they came out to 189 standard points and 220 PPR points which would have made him RB10 in standard and PPR in 2016.

I understand he burned you last year, but he doesn’t cost a first-round pick anymore and there is no denying his opportunity this year. Gurley will be a bounce-back running back who finishes as an RB1 in all formats.

Lamar Miller (HOU)

Miller finished as RB18 in standard leagues and RB20 in PPR leagues. When it came to owning Miller in 2016 the best way to describe it is something my dad would say to me growing up. I’m not mad, but I’m disappointed. How many of you got hit with that growing up? The reason I felt this was fitting is that I wasn’t mad at myself for drafting Miller because I believe in the talent. I was disappointed that he was on a poor offensive team led by pathetic quarterback play. I could make an argument that the quarterback play for the Texans was the worst in the NFL, considering the team around them. The Texans ranked 29th in total yards and tied for 28th in total touchdowns with 25. The last time a playoff team scored 25 touchdowns or less was, well, never.

Bill O’Brien wants to run the football, and the numbers back that up. Since he became the head coach of the Texans in 2014 they have ranked sixth (2016), fifth (2015), and first ( 2014) in rush attempts. Miller ranked fourth among running backs in rush attempts a game in 2016. The Texans did draft D’Onta Foreman from Texas, but the news coming out of camp has not been positive. O’Brien has stated that he believes Foreman looks out of shape and even Foreman himself has said he wants and needs to lose a few pounds. Even if Foreman gives Miller a rest once in awhile, this will keep Miller fresh and thus a prime example of quality over quantity. In this case, though, it will be quality and quantity.

The Texans will lean on controlling games with their running game and defense who gave up the least amount of yards in 2016 and is now getting J.J. Watt back. So, my advice on Miller is to lean with it and rock with it to a championship.

Ameer Abdullah (DET)

Ah! Ameer Abdullah, we meet again. Three straight years of being one of my favorite running backs to draft. The third year will be the charm, and I am confident in saying this because he is a talented running back who knows that he needs to play well this year. Running backs come and go in this league, and if you fail to prove that you are worth an investment after three years many teams kick you to the curb.

The Lions believe in Abdullah since they didn’t draft a single running back in an extremely deep running back class. You would think maybe a team who had the least amount of rush attempts in the league (350) and didn’t have a single running back with 100 carries or over a 4.0 YPC would invest in a running back in a deep draft class. Not the Lions. The reason is Abdullah.

Did you know that in Abdullah’s six-year NFL and college career last season was the first time he missed a game? If you like that stat I have another 99 just like it.

In the one full game Abdullah played last year he had 17 touches and played in over 60% of the snaps which I believe was the plan for the 2016 season. Abdullah is not only a bounce-back candidate but also a breakout candidate in 2017.

Believe me, I understand that it is hard to trust a player who burned you last season. I understand that it may be easier blocking them from your memory or draft board, but that is just childish and won’t get you anywhere. Draft these running backs confidently in 2017 as they are prime bounce-back candidates.


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Mitchell Renz is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Mitchell, check out his archive and follow him @mitchellrenz365.

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