Overvalued RBs Based on Current ADP (2019 Fantasy Football)
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One of the main points I’ve been preaching this offseason is avoiding risk when it comes to running backs. The first few rounds are as stacked as they’ve ever been since only a few players have major red flags. Healthy starters are scarce as the season progresses, so trading for RB replacements isn’t a viable option to lean on. The early guys who are overvalued could undeniably have big seasons, but large risks aren’t necessary in the first several rounds. In terms of the middle round guys, there are several players who specifically stand out as a waste of a pick. Here are overvalued running backs based on their current average draft position (ADP), using our consensus ADP rankings for half PPR.
Early Round RBs Too Risky to Be RB1s
Todd Gurley (LAR): RB10, OVR16
The knee is a problem that I’m avoiding in the late first or early second. Even if he stays healthy, Sean McVay will make an effort to limit his usage this season to keep him ready for the playoffs. I’m a huge proponent of drafting Darrell Henderson regardless of his independent value, at some point Gurley owners will cave and be forced to flood your inbox with trade offers.
Damien Williams (KC): RB13, OVR23
A few of us writers at FantasyPros have faced some backlash for fading Williams in drafts. It’s not that I don’t see a realistic situation in which he performs, but it’s far from a guarantee considering that his backup, Carlos Hyde, has far outproduced Williams in their five-year tenures. Even Williams’ supporters will have to agree that he is nowhere near the talent Kareem Hunt was, and the guys behind Williams are in beneficial situations as well. RBs 15 through 20 carry no risk of completely busting other than injury. Devonta Freeman, Aaron Jones, Kerryon Johnson, Marlon Mack, and Derrick Henry all produced strong season-ending numbers last year, and each one of them is in line for a greater workload this year. I get the allure behind an Andy Reid RB, but the reason I’m fading Williams is for the greater certainty with the players who follow.
Mid-Round RBs to Avoid as RB2s or Flex Options
Tarik Cohen (CHI): RB27, OVR63
The Bears traded away Jordan Howard to Philadelphia and proceeded to use their third-round pick on Iowa State RB David Montgomery. Montgomery has a similar height, weight, and speed combination to Howard, and figures to fill the early-down, between-the-tackles role that belonged to Howard. The difference between the two is that Montgomery is the more skilled overall player, as he graduated college with three times the amount of career receptions and over twice the receiving yards. They have a similar physical profile, but Howard uses his weight and strength to his advantage as a north-south power runner, while Montgomery chooses to sidestep and elude defenders in space. He led the NCAA in missed tackles forced over the last two seasons.
His potential as a three-down back is there. He was projected as a first-round pick for much of the college season, so he’s the real deal and will cut into Cohen’s receiving numbers more than Howard ever did. Howard hasn’t topped 150 receiving yards in the last two years, so a minor receiving role from Montgomery will eat into Cohen’s 725 receiving yards.
Cohen’s role was already in danger, after totaling just 36 receiving yards and 42 receiving yards over his last three games. This includes the playoffs, when they obviously needed him the most, losing in the first round with only 15 points. He fumbled seven times last year, more than any other non-QB in the league, so that’s a possible explanation for his declining workload. We’ve seen Cohen’s ceiling and it isn’t very reliable on a week-to-week basis. 2019 is the year Cohen takes a step back, not forward.
Kenyan Drake (MIA): RB26, OVR54
This is the second year in a row analysts are clueless on where to rank Kenyan Drake heading into 2019. I’m a bit indecisive on where Drake ranks myself, but I know for sure that I do not want him at his current ADP of RB26. I respect Drake’s talent as a player, but I can’t make the case for a runner in a possible timeshare on one of the worst offenses in the league, if not the worst, over peers such as Sony Michel, James White, David Montgomery, and Chris Carson. This is especially true given the fact that Drake couldn’t beat out a 35-year-old Frank Gore, and even took a back seat to rookie fourth-rounder Kalen Ballage once Gore went down.
From Week 14 to the end of the season, Ballage carried the rock 28 times for 180 yards on 6.43 YPC, while Drake only ran for 72 yards on 18 carries. In the first game that Gore was hurt, Ballage topped Drake’s career-high in rushing with 123 yards on 12 carries. This cold streak wasn’t exclusive to the last few games. Over the second half of the season, Drake rushed for just 195 yards on 3.9 YPC.
The Dolphins’ run game is anchored by arguably the league’s worst O-line and passing game. The team was 31st in yards last year and will be around the same spot unless Josh Rosen takes a miraculous step forward because these receivers aren’t talented enough to carry a young QB. Gore’s departure leaves the Dolphins with over 700 yards to replace, but Ballage should absorb a decent portion of those as his invested capital, physical profile, and impressive production point toward an increased role.
Drake is a good receiving back, but he’s not going to swing the pendulum one way or another as a game-changing weapon. He topped five receptions just one time last year while James White, Tarik Cohen, and even Ezekiel Elliott all had at least six such games. An interesting tidbit I uncovered while researching these players is that Ballage has shown flashes of receiving ability before, on several occasions. Over his last four games in his junior season, Ballage exploded out of nowhere for over 311 receiving yards. As a junior at ASU, Ballage was eight yards short of Drake’s 477-receiving yard total last season.
If Ballage ends up earning any substantial receiving role Drake’s numbers will be affected. He was only six targets away from leading the team last season, so there’s not much room for growth. As much as I’ve been making the case for Ballage, I’m not sure he’s worth a pick this year either. Owning the running back on the worst offense in the league is never a great feeling, and that’s where Miami could be heading this season.
Latavius Murray (OAK): RB34, OVR86
Some are expecting Latavius Murray to come in and seamlessly fill the shoes left by former Heisman winner Mark Ingram. Ingram is tops in the NFL in YPC over the last six seasons, Murray’s career average is just 4.1 yards. Even if he blames his lack of efficiency on the Minnesota o-line, he has explaining to do regarding his time running behind the stacked Oakland offensive line that made Derek Carr look like an MVP candidate. Murray backers claim that his strengths are power and short-yardage situations.
Murray’s red zone stats last year were 22 carries for 50 yards and four TDs, Kamara was second in the league with 174 yards on 51 carries for 13 TDs. Ingram was one of the best power backs in the league for years and still saw Kamara take a bulk of the red zone work.
Ingram also quietly developed into a quality receiving back in New Orleans, while Murray has never been depended on through the air. Drafting Murray as an injury handcuff is justifiable, but as the RB34 on FantasyPros, you will be forced to depend upon him as a flex player. Murray will only be worth playing if Kamara goes down, otherwise, he just has a really good seat to the Alvin Kamara show.