VALUES N’ SHOTS
PART 2: RUNNING BACKS
“VALUES N’ SHOTS” is about evaluating current ADP and finding value in players relevant to where they are being drafted.
- Positional “VALUES” is in reference to solid players, generally veterans, with relatively stable floors who offer value at their current ADP. Most of these guys are weekly starters or flex plays but are being drafted later than other players who they could or should very easily outperform.
- Positional “SHOTS” is exactly what it sounds like, guys you take a shot on. These are guys who generally have low floors for various reasons (i.e. – they are unproven, have an unclear role, buried on the depth chart, etc.). However, these guys offer high ceilings relative to ADP and/or they have the potential to break out and can be game-changers (e.g. Allen Robinson last season).
*ADPs are presented as an average range from FPC, FF Calculator and MFL.
RUNNING BACK VALUES:
Eddie Lacy: Current ADP: 26-31
Last year, Lacy had a 1st round ADP in every format and was a top 3 dynasty RB. Overweight and out of shape, Lacy burned many fantasy owners, finishing 32nd at RB in PPR formats. At only 26 years old, the former 2013 offensive rookie of the year appears to have lost weight and is listed at the #1 RB on the Packers official depth chart.
Lacy may not ever regain 1st round draft status, but he was a top 6 RB his first two seasons in the NFL. Now, back in shape, in a contract year and playing on one of the best offenses in the NFL, Lacy is a good bet to score double digit TDs and turn in another 1,000 yard rushing season. With a current 3rd round ADP, grab Lacy with confidence that he will once again be a RB-1 in 2016.
LeSean McCoy: Current ADP: 38-41
McCoy was riddled with injuries to start the 2015 season and it showed. After being rested in weeks 4 and 5, McCoy returned in week 6 and was healthy over the next 9 before he was shut down for the last couple games of the season. While healthy (weeks 6 – 14), McCoy totaled over 100 yards in every game but 1 in and was the #4 RB in PPR during that span despite only rushing for 3 TDs.
By all accounts, McCoy is healthy and had a great offseason. He has shed some weight and is reportedly in great shape. With Karlos Williams reporting to camp 20 pounds overweight and starting the year on a 4 game suspension, it’s safe to bet that McCoy punches the ball in the end-zone more frequently this season. Buffalo led the NFL in rushing last year, leading the league in rushing yards and TDs while finishing 2nd in rushing attempts. That’s not likely to change this season. Unless McCoy comes completely unhinged or gets hurt, it looks like he could be in for a monster season. McCoy can be a difference maker on your fantasy team and warrants consideration as a top 20 overall pick in redraft leagues.
CJ Anderson: Current ADP: 41-46
Anderson was a huge disappointment last season, in part due to injuries and in part due to lack of opportunity. While the Broncos seemed to favor Hillman early in the season, that slowly started to change after their week 7 bye, only it didn’t change fast enough.
Even though Denver limited Anderson’s touches, it didn’t stop him from averaging almost 6.5 yards per carry from week 8 through the end of the season. It looks like the Broncos have figured out who their #1 RB is and have made a major commitment to CJ Anderson this off-season. Having lost both their #1 and #2 QBs from 2015, Denver should lean on the running game and their defense this year. This should mean good things for Anderson if he can stay healthy in 2016. Anderson offers good value right now, and much like McCoy, Anderson can be a major difference maker at his current 4TH round price tag.
Latavius Murray: Current ADP: 54-58
While I’m not a fan of Murray’s, I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t point out that he offers value at his current ADP. Oakland is and up and coming team with a young offense that should improve yet again this season with talent at every position and a much improved offensive line.
In spite of Murray appearing very unimpressive, he was still a top 10 RB last season. Unless 5th round rookie DeAndre Washington unseats him, it’s hard to imagine Murray not finishing in the top 10 at RB in 2016, especially considering he will be running behind one of the best offensive lines in the NFL. Murray doesn’t look like anything more than “just a guy” at RB and I question his long-term value, but he offers very good value at his current ADP in redraft leagues and should be a rock solid, week to week contributor as a low-end RB-1 this season.
Matt Jones: Current ADP: 55-64
Jay Gruden made it clear that Matt Jones will be the guy in Washington this season, even though Jones was unimpressive as a rookie. The Redskins let Alfred Morris escape to Dallas and are saying all the right things where Jones is concerned. Even though I have some doubts, Jones did flash at times as a rookie and the Redskins did little to replace Morris, pushing Jones into a full-time role.
In a Gruden offense, RBs generally perform well, particularly in PPR leagues. Considering Washington carried the ball 42% of the time in 2015 and Cousins and the Redskins offense was solid down the stretch, Jones is being presented with a tremendous opportunity. Even if he isn’t overly impressive, Jones should do well enough to warrant being drafted at his current ADP with the upside to be a huge value and difference maker.
Jeremy Hill: Current ADP: 70-77
Much like Lacy and Anderson, Hill was a huge bust last year. He had a 2nd round ADP in re-draft leagues and was ranked higher in dynasty formats going into 2015. Much like David Johnson did last season, Jeremy Hill was let loose during the 2nd half of his 2014 rookie campaign and finished as a top 6 fantasy RB over the final 8 weeks. Hill likely led many fantasy owners to a championship, rushing for 300 yards and 3 TDs in weeks 15-16 of the 2014 season.
In spite of a major let down last season, Hill tied for the league lead with 11 rushing TDs and added 1 receiving TD. Hill finished 14th in standard formats and 20th in PPR formats. There’s reason to be concerned with Hill’s disappointing sophomore campaign, but it could have just been a sophomore slump. Hard to say for sure which Jeremy Hill we will see, but the upside is still there in a strong offense and TDs should give him a solid floor. With a current 7th round ADP, Hill offers value to those looking for help at RB after the first 5 or 6 rounds.
Ryan Mathews: Current ADP: 61-69
The one knock on Ryan Mathews is that he can’t stay healthy for an entire 16 game season. Still, he has managed to play in 12+ games each season with the exception of 2014 (10 games). When healthy, Mathews has been more than solid, and in 2013 (his only 16 game season), he totaled over 1400 yards and finished as the #12 RB in standard formats. Last year, Mathews took a back seat to D Murray, but when he got his touches, Mathews was much more productive averaging over 1 point per touch in PPR formats.
With Doug Pederson taking over as the Eagles head coach, Mathews will be the #1 RB in an offense that features the RB. Mathews averaged 5 yards per carry last season and scored 6 rushing TDs despite only carrying the ball 108 times. Mathews could earn 20+ touches per game when healthy and has a good chance to crack 1,000 yards rushing and approach double digit TDs. The value is definitely there with Mathews as he has a high-end RB2 floor when healthy with upside for more. At his current ADP, Mathews can be a difference maker in 2016.
Danny Woodhead: Current ADP: 55-68
As you can see, Woodhead has a pretty big range when it comes to his ADP going as soon as the early 5th round and as late as the end of the 6th round. Regardless, he is a value anywhere in that range. In PPR formats, Woodhead finished as the #3 RB last season, missed most of 2014 but finished as the #12 RB in 2013. Woodhead received 20 redzone carries in 2013 and 2015 and is averaging 20 redzone targets per year as well. Woodhead should not only be looked at as the 3rd down RB, but as the redzone RB as well.
I don’t expect much to change this season, though with Allen healthy it’s possible Woodhead loses some targets. Still, with 20 less targets in 2013 Woodhead scored 21 less points in PPR formats than he did last year. Look for Woodhead to be a low-end RB1 in PPR formats this season and he is a steal in the 5th or 6th round.
Rashad Jennings: Current ADP: 96-108
I am looking at Jennings as a high-end RB3 or strong flex play with RB2 upside, meaning a round 6 or 7 target at the latest rather than his round 9 or 10 ADP. The Giants struggled to get any kind of run game going last season, and it wasn’t until week 14 that they committed to getting Jennings the ball.
Over the last 4 weeks of the 2015 season, Jennings averaged about 20 carries and 22 touches per game, and finished as the #5 RB in PPR formats over those 4 weeks. The Giants have said that Jennings will get the ball more this season, and I’m inclined to believe them. Still, Jennings is currently on most draft boards in the 9th round, so if you miss out on a strong RB2 or a RB3, Jennings should be able to fill the void. Jennings should offer great value this late and will likely be a week to week flex start at least, with a real shot to be your RB2.
RUNNING BACK SHOTS:
Ameer Abdullah: Current ADP: 80-88
The Lions are expecting big things from Abdullah this season and rightfully so. Abdullah stepped in last year and put up 94 total yards and 1 TD on 11 touches in week 1, scoring double digit fantasy points in his first NFL game. I think everyone was a bit surprised that he only crossed double digit fantasy points one other time last season in standard formats (two more times in PPR).
Abdullah struggled to stay on the field last season and was never really given much of a chance to string touches together, but with Bell gone and Calvin Johnson retired, that should change this year as he develops. Abdullah was given more carries once Jim Bob Cooter took over the play calling and I expect that to continue. He also averaged an impressive 4.7 yards per carry in the 2nd half of the season. Keep in mind, the floor here could be low, but the ceiling is sky high…hence the “shot” designation. Abdullah is still on most draft boards in the 7th round right now and is a player worth taking a shot on at that price.
Charles Sims: Current ADP: 95-100
Despite the comeback season from Doug Martin last year, Charles Sims may have been the better running back in TB…he was certainly more efficient. Both players averaged an impressive 4.9 ypc, but Sims caught 51 passes (7th most among RBs) for 561 yards (4th most among RBs) and averaged an impressive 11 ypr (2nd among RBs with 25+ receptions). In PPR formats, Sims averaged 1.15 points per touch (Martin averaged .73 points per touch).
The only thing standing between Sims and RB1 status is Doug Martin. Charles Sims looks like a complete RB and while he may not be a 300 carry per year player, he can certainly handle his fair share. In fact, even at only 158 touches, he finished as the #17 RB in PPR formats last season and quietly totaled almost 1,100 yards. At his current ADP, Sims is worth a shot, particularly in PPR formats.
Isaiah Crowell: Current ADP: 121-130
Crowell has been a fantasy tease for a couple of seasons now, showing flashes at times and looking terrible at others. With Hue Jackson in town, the running game in Cleveland should get a major bump, and Crowell looks to take hold of the early down back role with Duke Johnson as the 3rd down back in Hue Jackson’s offense (think Jeremy Hill and G Bernard).
Cleveland doesn’t have the talent on offense that the Bengals had when Jackson was there, but I’m not sure that it matters. Jackson breathed life into Darren McFadden in Oakland, turned Jeremy Hill from just a guy into a 2nd half RB1 his rookie year, and now has a QB that is a major threat to run the ball, which should open things up for the Browns RBs. With a current 11th round price tag, Crowell is definitely worth a shot for those needing help at RB.
Terrance West: Current ADP: N/A
The buzz in Baltimore right now is that Terrance West has significantly outplayed all BALT RBs thus far. It’s early, and West has been a major tease for a couple of years now, but he has reportedly lost 15 pounds and looks great. With a new attitude and an apparent off-season commitment to his craft, maybe West is starting to realize his potential.
At only 25 years old, it’s possible that West carves out a significant role in the Baltimore ground game if he keeps turning heads in practice and into the pre-season. I suspect if he keeps this up, his ADP will jump and he could potentially become too rich to invest in, but as long as he can be had late, you really have nothing to lose and everything to gain taking a shot on West in the back of the draft.