Overvalued RBs Based on ADP (2018 Fantasy Football)
While the “Zero RB” strategy was once the hottest draft strategy in fantasy, this year may be the time to let go finally. Wide receiver depth is at an all-time high, and grabbing two starting running backs right away can put any fantasy team in a good position to win. However, this running back push has led to an overvaluation of many backs who are being drafted too high.
Here are four guys who I think are being taken too early in drafts, according to FantasyPros’ average draft position rankings. I’ll also provide a few alternatives to these backs who are being taken in later rounds.
In Minnesota, [McKinnon] twice had the chance to rip away the starting job. In 2016, when Adrian Peterson tore his meniscus in Week 2, McKinnon was just barely the featured back for the Vikings ahead of Matt Asiata. Asiata, I will remind you, only averaged 3.5 yards per carry over the course of his career and was mainly used in short-yardage situations during his time in Minnesota.
To sum things up, I don’t trust McKinnon’s history. When he had the chance to win the job with the Vikings, he let Asiata (in 2016) and Latavius Murray (in 2017) win the starting jobs week in and week out, despite injuries to the presumptive starting back both years. I also think the narrative that he’s going to be the featured back in San Francisco is overblown. Watch out for Matt Breida.
Alternative: Derrick Henry (TEN) – RB #17, Ovr. #35
Joe Mixon (CIN) – RB #15, Ovr. #25
I don’t get where this notion that Mixon is going to be “the guy” in Cincinnati came from. Jeremy Hill was a total non-factor last year for the Bengals, so it still comes down to Mixon and Giovani Bernard.
But it was Bernard who was more productive than Mixon in 2017, averaging 5.7 yards per touch, compared to 4.4 for Mixon, according to Pro-Football-Reference. Despite finishing the year 24th among all running backs in carries, Mixon was the 31st-ranked back in fantasy points per game, according to our scoring rankings. I haven’t read or seen anything that would convince me that Mixon is going to be more featured than he was last year. Assuming Bernard is healthy, I still expect him to be heavily featured in the passing game, as well. Mixon is undoubtedly worth drafting, but he shouldn’t be considered in the third round, either.
Alternative: Derrius Guice (WAS) – RB #19, Ovr. #38
Kenyan Drake (MIA) – RB #18, Ovr. #37
It’s not Drake’s skill that I’m worried about; it’s the potential timeshare in Miami. Drake is obviously much younger than Frank Gore, but I think this is too high to be taking Drake before we know how Gore is going to fit into the offense.
This is a well-documented stat, but it bears repeating that Gore has rushed for 1,000 or more yards in nine out of his 13 years in the league. That’s not to say that he’ll surpass that mark again, but he’s still no slouch. I could see Gore getting a lot of goal-line work, meaning he’d take away touchdowns from Drake. Dolphins coach Adam Gase has already been talking up Gore in camp, too, saying he “doesn’t look different than he did 10 years ago,” according to NFL.com.
There’s also Kalen Ballage, a rookie out of Arizona State the Dolphins drafted in the fourth round. I don’t expect for him to compete for the starting job, but he could start taking more carries away from Drake as the season goes on. There are guys you can grab later on who have a better path to the lion’s share of the touches than Drake.
Alternative: Ronald Jones II (TB) – RB #26, Ovr. #58
Rashaad Penny (SEA) – RB #21, Ovr. #42
Again, it’s not the player here that I’m knocking; it’s the situation. I have Penny currently ranked as my No. 28 running back, so I think there are better values to be had later on than where Penny is going right now.
Let’s look at the last few seasons of Seahawks running backs. Since Marshawn Lynch left in 2015, the Seahawks have had three running backs on the roster who have averaged more than four yards per carry. They are C.J. Prosise (only had one game that year when he had more than four carries), Chris Carson (still on the roster and has positive feedback from camp so far), and J.D. McKissic (only started one game in his career). The Seahawks can’t seem to stick with one guy in the backfield.
A lot of that has had to do with injuries. These guys seem to have one breakout game and then get hurt. But McKissic, Prosise, and Carson are all still on the roster – with Carson getting particularly good reviews in training camp. I don’t foresee the Seahawks rostering four backs at the start of the season, but these guys have all flashed in some way or another over the past two years. If they are all healthy, I don’t see Penny being the definitive No. 1 guy on a week-by-week basis. The Seahawks also have the 11th-most difficult schedule for running backs, according to our Strength of Schedule rankings, which doesn’t bode well for an offensive line that has struggled over the past few years.
Alternative: Dion Lewis (TEN) – RB #27, Ovr. #64