Three Bounce-Back Running Backs for 2018 (Fantasy Football)

A revamped offensive line improves Joe Mixon’s outlook

RBs are vital to a successful fantasy team, but it is always challenging trying to find those right guys that breakout. Sometimes you can find that diamond in the rough such as Alvin Kamara last year, but other times RBs that you were high on ended up not producing how you were expecting. Those RBs are sometimes written off too early by the fantasy community.

Sometimes outside situations created the poor statistical season, and other times those players who have different situations now can bounce back into that relevant RB tier. Here are some of the players that I believe will bounce back this year.

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Joe Mixon (CIN)
Mixon struggled his first year due to his offense placing 26th in the league in scoring. Many people are extremely high on him due to his three-down ability, which he flashed at points during the season. After Jeremy Hill went down with injury and the reigns were given to Mixon, he only ran for 3.5 YPC last year behind a horrid offensive line, putting together many frustrating performances along the way.

That is why they went out and drafted Billy Price in the first round and began to reinforce the line. I believe Mixon has RB1 ability and see him as a potential value for where he is going. He carries a massive amount of risk since he hasn’t proven himself after one year, but look at Melvin Gordon’s transition into his sophomore season. The upside we saw there with Gordon after his rookie season is similar to what many see with Mixon now.

Giovani Bernard is still there, but the Bengals don’t see him as a feature back. Look for an increase in all categories for Mixon because of the better o-line and the offense getting back on track to its averages under Lewis.

Isaiah Crowell (NYJ)
Crowell has always been a polarizing player in fantasy; you either love him or hate him. This year, though, I believe that he displays great value as the starting running back as the Jets. His current ranking from FantasyPros Expert Consensus rankings has him as the RB33 in PPR, which places him right outside the top 100 players. That is great value for someone who has eclipsed the 4.0 YPC mark in three out of their four years.

Efficiency was never an issue for Crowell, but rather the weekly inconsistency in touches. Even with the weekly headaches, he still managed to garner over 1,000 total yards, but that still was not enough to make up for his very high draft price last year.

The Jets announced that they don’t see Bilal Powell as the every-down rusher and there have been rumors circulating he may not make the team. Elijah McGuire is there as well, but he was inconsistent and may take another year to take over the backfield since it is Crowell’s job to lose right now. Crowell can be had at an RB4 value, but can contribute consistent RB2 value.

Jay Ajayi (PHI)
Going into last year, Ajayi was seen as a locked-in RB1. A year later, we are all wondering where exactly Ajayi fits on the spectrum. Being stuck on a lowly Dolphins team that lowered his stats and then being traded mid-season to the Eagles didn’t help either.

He finished as an inconsistent RB2, which hurt a lot of owners who placed a lot of draft capital in him. The Eagles liked their RB corps enough to let LeGarrette Blount walk, and he was Ajayi’s biggest competition for touches. Corey Clement and Darren Sproles should take the pass-catching roles.

The Eagles have said that they are ready to make Ajayi the workhorse for the team, which would raise not only Ajayi’s ceiling, but his floor as well. He has proven to be an RB1 before with the Dolphins, but now he will have the chance to get a workhorse role for one of the best teams in the entire league. He will look to maximize his scoring opportunity and redeem his RB1 title.

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Matthew Fleisher is a correspondent at FantasyPros. For more from Matthew, check out his archive and follow him @FFMattFleisher.

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