Undervalued RBs According to ADP (2019 Fantasy Football)
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Running back is such an interesting position for fantasy. Most leagues require you to start two and the ones who both receive carries on the ground and targets through the air are worth their weight in gold. So if you made the appropriate sacrifices to the gods necessary to end up with a top-five pick this year (side note: this is why auction drafts are the best), then you are in a good position. With that said, the injury rate for running backs is high, many teams have swapped to RBBCs (running back by committee), and most years a fantasy RB1 surfaces from the depths of the waiver wire. As a result, many eschew the position in favor of investing in top-end wide receivers, as they tend to be safer from an injury perspective, and because a WR1 is more difficult to find on the wire.
Regardless of how you open your draft, building a stable of running backs is vital for fantasy success. In the ensuing article, I will highlight running backs that are undervalued according to FantasyPros’ average ADP data for PPR leagues. Hopefully, one or all of my recommendations will propel you to fantasy glory this season.
Latavius Murray (NO): RB39, 102nd Overall
Murray replaces Mark Ingram as the primary backup to Alvin Kamara. As a result, many are elevating Kamara while dismissing Murray. Am I living in Bizarro World? First things first, the Saints were fifth in the NFL last season with 471 rushing attempts. That breaks down to 29.43 carries per game. After Ingram returned in Week 5 last year, Kamara averaged 13.2 carries per game. For comparison, Ingram received 11.5 carries per game over that stretch. Sean Payton has shown that he doesn’t want to give Kamara a full load, which was further confirmed in the preseason week one snap counts: Kamara 10, Murray eight. Murray will likely get at least double-digit carries in most games. Yes, if the Saints are trailing then Murray will be relegated to the bench, but the game scripts should mostly be positive for the Saints this season. New Orleans led the league with 26 rushing touchdowns last season. Touchdowns are difficult to predict, so regression could be coming in that department. But from a macro sense, the Saints should have plenty of opportunities in the red/green zone. So the floor is high for Murray, and what happens if Kamara misses games? His ceiling reaches RB1 territory.
Justice Hill (BAL): RB57, 170th Overall
Guess who led the league in rushing last season? That’s right, the Ravens with 547 attempts. Ok, that number is misleading because Lamar Jackson ran 147 times, but the basic premise remains: the Ravens want to run the ball. The volume may not be as juicy as initially thought, but the seams should be wide as the back-side linebacker will always have to account for Lamar. Now, Mark Ingram is THE guy, and he should do well in this system (Gus Edwards averaged 5.2 YPC last season, for goodness’ sake), but Ingram has carried more than 20 times in a game just 12 times in his career, a stretch that’s spanned 106 games. Hill is 5′ 10″ and 198 pounds with 4.4 jets. He looked comfortable in his lone preseason game to date and the Ravens are excited about his ability to catch the ball. Justice will be served.
Tony Pollard (DAL): RB59, 185th Overall
This recommendation isn’t just because of the Ezekiel Elliott holdout, although that provides some ceiling for Pollard. No, this recommendation is due to the physical skill combined with scheme and opportunity. Pollard is 6′ 0″, 210 pounds, and runs a 4.52 40-yard dash. He’s a good pass catcher and has wiggle, as he’s returned multiple kickoffs for touchdowns. Per NFL.com, Pollard averaged a touchdown every 13.5 touches in college. Back in May, the Cowboys were saying that Pollard could play a role that keeps Elliott fresh and that they envisioned him as their Alvin Kamara. The final piece of the puzzle is Kellen Moore, the new offensive coordinator of the Cowboys. Moore will likely spread out defenses with different formations and utilize motion to identify weaknesses. Coming from Boise State, where he quarterbacked innovative and creative offenses, Moore should lend some creativity to what has been a bland and predictable offense in the past.
Darwin Thompson (KC): RB63, 204th Overall
The three running backs mentioned above have stand-alone value. Thompson may or may not, which puts him into a more risky class than the others, but the price is so cheap and the upside is league winning. I’m not buying the RBBC chatter in Kansas City, as Damien Williams is THE guy when healthy. At least that’s my belief. Before he injured his hamstring, that was the tune being sung. Regardless, the fact that there’s a chance Andy Reid uses a committee gives Thompson a chance to also garner stand-alone value. Thompson is 5′ 8″, 200 pounds, and runs a 4.5 40-yard dash. He’s a powerful runner, has excellent agility, is a nightmare in the open field, and catches the ball well. It’s within the range of outcomes that Thompson becomes THE guy in Kansas City. If so, he becomes a league winner due to his skill set, the offense that he’s in, and the low cost to acquire him.
Malcolm Brown (LAR): RB69, 254th Overall
Do I think Brown is a great player? Nope. This is purely a situation play. We all know about Todd Gurley’s physical issues, which will provide opportunities for Brown. Remember that C.J. Anderson guy? He rumbled and stumbled on 43 carries for 299 yards in the final two games of the regular season last year. The Rams offense is potent and Gurley’s load will likely be capped. There’s also upside if Gurley misses games. Now, Darrell Henderson has been all the rage this offseason, and for good reason, as he’s an explosive runner. But he’s having difficulties this preseason, though, and his role may be secure whether Gurley plays or not. Brown seems to be the direct backup for the Gurley role.
Chase Edmonds (ARI): RB72, 259th Overall
Edmonds is 5′ 9″, 205 pounds, and runs a 4.55 40-yard dash. His 6.79 3-cone drill number shows that he has excellent agility. He’s the backup to David Johnson, but he could be on the field with him at times, especially when DJ is split out wide. That means he carries stand-alone value and would likely be the guy if DJ were to succumb to injury. What’s most promising for Edmonds is the situation, as the offense should run well north of the 56.4 plays Arizona ran last season. There’s been talk of 80-90 plays, which probably won’t happen, but anything close to 70 would be a boon for all of their skill position players.