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9 Running Backs to Target at ADP (2019 Fantasy Football)

Jun 13, 2019

We initially asked our writers for wide receivers and running backs to avoid at their current average draft position or ADP. Next, we turned our attention to wide receivers to target based on current ADP. To conclude the series, we’ve asked our writers for running backs they are targeting the most based on where they are currently being drafted.

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Which running back presents the most value based on our consensus ADP?

Ronald Jones (TB): RB39
Jones was as disappointing as any rookie in the 2018 NFL Draft. He was the 38th pick but managed to tally only 23 rushing attempts for 44 yards, seven receptions for 33 yards, and one rushing touchdown. That meant that RB Peyton Barber was the bell-cow back with 234 rushing attempts for 871 yards and five rushing touchdowns. Barber also had 20 receptions for 92 yards and another touchdown. Tampa Bay was the least productive backfield in the NFL last year, averaging just 16.5 fantasy points per game (PPR). Yet, when it came to the offseason they added nobody of note other than a new coaching staff. They re-signed Barber to a one-year, $2.125 million contract. They also signed RB Andre Ellington in free agency, who has 99 rushing attempts in the last four years and is primarily a receiving back that was out of the league in 2018. The only reason the Buccaneers would have that little activity at the running back this offseason is if new head coach Bruce Arians had faith in a running back that was already on the roster. That is good news for Jones. There is no denying that his 2018 season was a flop, but the fact that the new coaching staff did not feel the need to draft two running backs and sign two more in free agency means they must believe in his upside. GM Jason Licht said that Jones was the player that impressed the coaching staff the most this offseason and QB Jameis Winston has also been impressed with Jones in OTAs. Jones still has to prove that he was worth a second-round pick, but the good news for fantasy owners is that he is really cheap in fantasy football drafts and Barber is his only real competition for the starting job. Jones is only the 39st ranked fantasy running back and his ADP is around 105, despite the fact that Barber is the lower option with an ADP of 142. It is incredible that a starting running back in Bruce Arians’ offense will likely be available in the 11th or 12 round. That is an incredible value for a potential starting running back in an RB-friendly system. If his ADP remains 105, he has the potential to be one of the best fantasy running back bargains in the league this year.
– Derek Lofland (@DerekLofland)

Royce Freeman (DEN): RB37
Freeman is currently RB37, putting him in the sweet spot as either a low-cost, high-upside breakout pick or a properly priced secondary option. I see him as the former for a number of reasons. The second-year third-round pick is primed for additional work in 2019, especially with Denver’s tweaked offensive staff. Offensive coordinator Rich Scangarello, who hails from the Kyle Shanahan coaching tree where the zone-blocking scheme has made heroes out of both starters and back-ups, has spoken about Freeman receiving additional touches this offseason while incumbent starter Philip Lindsay is still recovering from a wrist injury. More important, Freeman actually out-played Lindsay in several aspects last year, including missed tackles forced and yards after contact. Regression is coming for Lindsay, especially in the TD department where the rookie notched nine scores on the ground. With more consistent blocking-Denver added tackle Ja’Wuan James in free agency and Dalton Risner in the second round of the NFL Draft after Freeman faced the third-most eight-plus man boxes in the NFL last year-the sophomore should assume early-down work as the better bruiser in the backfield. Lindsay will likely continue to dominate pass-catching work, but Freeman put up eye-popping numbers at Oregon (more than 5,600 yards and 60 touchdowns over four seasons) and boasts the stronger pedigree. It wouldn’t surprise me to see him eventually usurp the starting gig and take on the bigger chunk of a 65-35ish split. Even if he doesn’t assume the top spot, he’s still in line for more work behind an improved offensive line which should translate to a reliable flex-worthy floor.
– Brandon Katz (@great_katzby)

Carlos Hyde (KC): RB46
A lost season last year shuffling between two teams has helped push Carlos Hyde way down the ranks. Currently being drafted as the RB46 based on our consensus ADP, Hyde is being drafted 29.3 spots lower than his three-year average predraft rank of RB19.7. It is basically being assumed that Hyde will play nothing more than a bit role in his new home with the Kansas City Chiefs while last year’s stretch-run hero Damien Williams will handle all the heavy lifting in a featured-back role. I, for one, am not buying this completely and won’t be touching Williams at his current ADP of RB13. While Williams did show well at the end of last season, I don’t think Hyde is washed up just yet and has a proven track record as a featured back while Williams has primarily served as a backup in his career. Hyde averaged 14.7 PPG in PPR leagues between 2016 and 2017 securing final ranks of RB18 and RB8 respectively during that span while averaging 271.5 touches per season. During the first six games of last season, while handling lead back duties for the Browns, Hyde was ranked as the RB16 averaging 12.9 PPG. His 114 carries during those six weeks ranked third most in the league behind only Todd Gurley and Ezekiel Elliott. Hyde also had a dominant role in the red zone with the Browns scoring five TDs in the first four games while seeing 51.7% of the Browns RZ opportunities which also ranked third in the league. We know Andy Reid likes to ride a single back in his offenses which has led to gold in fantasy football. Reid has given us a top-12 RB in four-of-six seasons with the Chiefs and in 11 of his last 15 seasons overall. Carlos Hyde should be given the opportunity to compete for that spot at the very least against Damien Williams this preseason. If Hyde wins, you could get top-12 upside incredibly cheap.
– John Ferguson (@FantasyFerguson)

Phillip Lindsay (DEN): RB22
Lindsay’s current ADP of RB22 is mind-boggling given that he finished as the RB12 on just 227 touches as a rookie. Since 2013, 12 rookie running backs have finished inside the top 15. Here’s how they followed it up in their second season: five top-five finishes, nine top-15, and all but one finished as the RB17 or better. The outlier was Leonard Fournette, who turtled his way to an RB41 season in 2018. Lindsay’s case is helped by the fact that the Broncos invested a significant amount of capital in their offensive line this offseason. New offensive coordinator Rich Scangarello, who spent the last two seasons with Kyle Shanahan, could have Lindsay primed for a big season. Unless his wrist injury turns out to be more than it seems, getting Lindsay at his current ADP is highway robbery.
– Elisha Twerski (@ElishaTwerski)

Mark Ingram (BAL): RB24
The Ravens finished the 2018 season ranked first in rushing attempts, second in rushing yards, and third in rushing TDs. Those rankings are enough to support this argument on their own, but they’re only telling part of the story. With Joe Flacco starting last year the Ravens averaged under 93 rushing yards per game, once Lamar Jackson took over that number skyrocketed to an otherworldly 229 yards per game. Yes, a great portion of this drastic improvement was Lamar’s rushing yards, but the threat of Jackson to keep the ball on most of their run plays creates significantly wider holes for the running backs. In the seven games that Gus Edwards started alongside Jackson, he put up a 1,495-yard 16-game pace on nearly 5.4 YPC. Over the last five games, Edwards and Kenneth Dixon combined for 25.8 carries and 142 yards per game. Baltimore just dished out a three-year $15 million contract to one of the top free agent RBs on the market in Mark Ingram. Ingram is now the highest paid, most accomplished, and most talented RB playing on the team that was on a record-setting 3,673-rushing yard 16-game pace through seven games of option offense. Ingram’s one cut, north-south style of running will mesh perfectly alongside Jackson. The Ravens used two early picks in this year’s draft on two of the fastest WRs in the class, Marquise Brown and Miles Boykin. If Jackson can nail an occasional deep throw, defenses will have to respect their speed, which is a double-edged sword because all 11 defenders are needed to stop the read-option. Ingram in the fifth or sixth round is the ideal RB/WR flex player that owners should be targeting, and if the Ravens use him as the every-down back he’s proven he can be, he could win leagues.
– James Esposito (@PropZillaa)

Lamar Miller (HOU): RB31
Miller is once again being underdrafted. This year, he’s going around 76 overall as the RB31, which means he’ll be a safe RB3 play or a good target for Zero RB drafters. Miller managed to finish as the RB23 with 12.3 points per game last season despite the Texans’ putrid offensive line play. Fortunately for Miller, the Texans spent two early-round draft picks on tackles, Tytus Howard and Max Scharping. Both linemen are entering the league relatively raw, but they’ll be welcome additions to an offensive line that ranked dead last in pass protection and 27th in adjusted line yards. The Texans also declined to add another rusher to their lineup, leaving them with just D’Onta Foreman to assist Miller after Alfred Blue’s departure. Although Foreman’s draft stock has benefited from perennial offseason hype, he has logged just one performance with more than Miller’s steady 12.3 points per game. Foreman’s impressive 10-65-2 stat line came in a 2017 Week 10 duel between a struggling Texans team led by Tom Savage and Blaine Gabbert’s Arizona Cardinals, so Foreman is entirely unproven in high-pressure situations. While Miller is entering his age-28 season, the Texans have done nothing to suggest a reduction in the running back’s 14 rushes and two targets per game. It’s unlikely that head coach Bill O’Brien’s decision to promote tight-ends coach Tim Kelly to offensive coordinator will affect the team’s offensive scheme, as O’Brien has emphasized Kelly’s knowledge of his scheme to the media. Miller’s 1,136 all-purpose yards and six touchdowns last season may not have set the world on fire, but he has been remarkably consistent since joining the Texans. The running back notched 1,215 yards and six scores in 2017, and 1,261 yards and six scores the year before. Miller is a solid floor play at RB2, as he’s a safe bet to log at least 1,000 yards and six touchdowns next season. If the Texans’ new blockers can perform well, he could even top those numbers.
– Isaiah Sirois (@is_sirois)

David Montgomery (CHI): RB29
Somebody has to sip the rookie Kool-Aid, right? Chicago said good-bye to Jordan Howard and traded up in the draft to snag Iowa State’s David Montgomery. Those around the Bears organization are excited for Montgomery’s abilities as a back who uses his athleticism just as much as his physical traits, and while Montgomery isn’t expected to hoard targets from Tarik Cohen, his abilities in the passing game have drawn comparisons to former Bears running back Matt Forte. We’ve seen a wave of youthful running backs who are two-dimensional take over the league, and Montgomery may very well be next in line in Matt Nagy’s creative offense. If you were to use Jordan Howard’s 2018 campaign as a base for Montgomery, David would be in line for an average of 15.6 carries per game with only one contest where he was held under double-digit carries. With reasonable assumptions of Montgomery passing Howard’s 1.7 targets per game through the air, Montgomery is set to accrue a firm line of volume in 2019. Montgomery’s current ADP (ranks as RB29 with an overall ADP of 62) is entirely deserving, considering the lack of statistical data as we have yet to see him in NFL action. However, with the tools Montgomery possesses and the opportunity to take on a stellar workload while playing in Nagy’s system, I’m more than excited taking Montgomery as RB29 given the upside he has.
– Donnie Druin (@DonnieDruin)

James White (NE): RB27
Patriots running back James White is currently being drafted 54th overall in PPR formats which comes in at 27th among all ballcarriers. Even in a Patriots’ offense that uses multiple RBs, getting White at 54th overall is an absolute steal. Last year he finished as the seventh highest scoring RB in all of fantasy. I’m expecting another big season from him in 2019 as well. He may be listed as an RB, but everyone knows that when it comes to White, his value really lies in the passing game. In 16 games last season, White averaged over 7.5 targets per game, finishing second behind only Christian McCaffrey among RBs. When you think about the fact that White plays considerably less than some of the other top backs, you see just how much this New England offense relies on him. While playing on only 53% of snaps, White still averaged more targets per game than wide receivers Julian Edelman, Amari Cooper, and Brandin Cooks. Having an RB with that kind of volume in the passing game is invaluable when it comes to PPR scoring. Looking at the rest of the New England backfield, not much has changed. There are still plenty of options with White, Sony Michel, Rex Burkhead, and rookie Damien Harris, but none possess the pass-catching ability of White. Tom Brady has shown time and time again that he trusts White in the biggest moments and Bill Belichick knows that. Earning the trust of his coach and quarterback is what’s going to keep White at the top of the pecking order in the backfield. Playing in the high-flying Patriots’ offense, there is no better flex option than a guy like James White. I’d look to target him in the fourth- to fifth-round range, giving him great RB2/Flex appeal.
– Eli Berkovits (@PTTF_Eli)

Rashaad Penny (SEA): RB33
At RB33 (PPR) I’m willing to roll the dice here. As impressive as Chris Carson was last year, you could say the same thing about Thomas Rawls a few years ago. Rawls could not stay on the field and Carson dropped late in the draft due in part to durability concerns, as he dealt with a few injuries in high school and college. At worst, I believe Penny will platoon this year and on this team that should be very solid RB3 production. The Seahawks were the only team to run the ball more than they passed last year and are stating that they will continue on in this fashion. This team is certainly built to run with an offensive line that has quietly become solid-to-good, a great young blocking TE in Will Dissly, and no true WR1 to demand a high-volume passing game. Also, as much as I study stats I also try to watch as many players as possible, and Penny passes the eye test. He appears fluid, with quick feet and excellent vision and also looks very natural catching the ball. Some of his runs were spectacular last year, and I think are the tip of the iceberg. Word on the street is he’s lost quite a bit of weight (which became a concern last year), and his coaches are raving about his offseason to date. I prefer him in best-ball formats but would not be surprised at all if he not only became the starter in Seattle but on many fantasy rosters this year.
– Sheldon Curtis (@sheldon_curtis)

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