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Biggest Busts of 2018 - Running Backs


Running backs are the worst position to go bust in fantasy. Most likely, they cost you an early pick and busting on such a high draft pick usually leads to a long and dreadful season for your team.

Did you draft Le’Veon Bell at number one or two only to watch him sit at home all season? Did you draft Kareem Hunt in the first round, only to have the rug pulled out from under you before the fantasy playoffs? Are you or have you ever been a Leonard Fournette owner?

If you answered yes to any of these then you know the heartache and pain which can be felt by having a bust on your team. Let us take a look here at some of the biggest of these players at the running back position for 2018. Oh, and the diva himself, Le’Veon Bell, will not be listed here as he didn’t play. He belongs in a different category which I won't mention here as it is rather NSFW.

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Leonard Fournette, Jacksonville Jaguars

Although he only played in eight games and I don’t like putting a player on the bust list primarily due to injury, Fournette has earned his place this season. Not just because he finished as the RB40 despite being a first-round fantasy pick, but also because he probably did not have to miss as many games as he did. If you believe rumors around the Jaguars, Fournette missed many games in which anyone else could have played. Not to mention his missed game due to a suspension for fighting.

In the eight games he did suit up, he managed 15.1 points per game in PPR leagues, leading to my conclusion of looking at more than the numbers. Everyone loves the points per game number as the end-all-be-all and forget to look at the number of games played in. He had 133 rushes for 439 yards and five touchdowns in what was just as bad a season for the Jaguars as it was for Fournette.

Looking ahead to 2019, if Fournette can put the injuries behind him which have hampered him since high school and he decides to fully commit himself, he could have a good season and he could be a value at the end of the second round or early in the third round. But if you decide to take a chance on him earlier, you could be extremely disappointed that you passed up on other players with more upside. A player like Nick Chubb or Joe Mixon provides much more in the form of ceiling and floor than the unpredictable Fournette. And they won’t actually gain weight during the season. I mean who does that? Other than those of us watching on TV and eating junk food every Sunday.

 

David Johnson, Arizona Cardinals

Finishing as the ninth-ranked running back on the season might not seem like a bust year for David Johnson. When you look at the entirety of the season though, along with the fact he was drafted as a top-five back, the bust comes more into spectrum.

With the Cardinals being so bad this past season, it was likely you would have been better off avoiding all of the Arizona Cardinals possible. This went from Sam Bradford and Josh Rosen to Larry Fitzgerald and David Johnson. 2018 started off with mediocre-at-best Offensive Coordinator Mike McCoy doing everything in his power not to get David Johnson involved in the offense - a move which ultimately led to his firing.

With 940 rushing yards and seven touchdowns on 258 carries, this was in fact a bad season for the running back. Just last year he was the consensus number one draft pick in many leagues coming off a 2016 season in which he totaled over 2,000 all-purpose yards and accounted for 21 touchdowns. A major contributor to this decline, one which should be short-lived with offensive-minded Kliff Kingsbury now in as head coach, was his lack of usage in the passing game. In his monster 2016, Johnson had 80 receptions for 879 yards on 120 targets out of the backfield. In 2018, these numbers fell to 476 yards on 50 receptions on only 76 targets. Having a talented pass catcher like Johnson and only giving him 76 targets over an entire 16-game season is not only embarrassing but clearly the major reason for his one-year hiatus from the top tier of running back rankings.

I do say one-year because the new coaching staff will use his to his fullest in 2019 if they want to stay in the desert. Even a bad team, and the Cardinals are just this, needs to use their best player. With all respect to the great Larry Fitz (I am glad he will be back for another season), his torch has passed to Johnson as the best on the team making it more than likely Johnson returns to that top tier.

 

Alex Collins, Baltimore Ravens

Something smells in the city of Baltimore and it is not the remnants of crabs after a mid-summer picnic on the Inner Harbor. It is the season put up by a lot of people's preseason darling, Alex Collins. Many fantasy players were taking the running back in the fourth or even third round in drafts, thinking he was going to have a miraculous season for the Ravens despite being cut by the Seahawks just a season prior and never being a solid NFL back. Well, this came back to bite those people hard. I am just glad I avoided the trap of taking him to high in my own leagues. Believe me, I made enough other mistakes. David Johnson and Carson Wentz, I am looking at you.

In 10 games before going on Injured Reserve, Collins amassed only 114 carries for 411 yards and seven touchdowns. He was unable to outdo Javorius Allen, Kenneth Dixon and eventually Gus Edwards to control the backfield. There is a good chance he will not be back in Baltimore in 2019 as the Ravens will likely head into the new season with Edwards and Dixon leading the way behind Lamar Jackson.

The time has passed for Collins to do anything in Baltimore. If he goes to another team, there is a chance of a solid season, but nothing to the level of what was expected from him in 2018. At this point, he is at best a fantasy RB3 and maybe a low-end RB2 in the right scenario.

 

LeSean McCoy, Buffalo Bills

Shady is getting old. He looked old in 2018 and despite being the only offensive weapon in Buffalo, he still could not do anything this season to help your fantasy team.

161 rushes for 514 yards and three touchdowns is not even good for a committee back, let alone for a player who is supposed to be one of the last bell cow backs in the NFL. Add to this the surprising running ability of Josh Allen and the end looks to be near for McCoy. The Bills have a ton of cap space to play with and you can expect them to spend some of it on a younger running back which more fits their future.

Buffalo says they want to keep McCoy for another season, but at $9 million, why would they? Even if the price was not a deterrent for the team, the 3.2 yards per carry average from this season should be, as it is a full yard lower than his career average of 4.5 and the injuries seem to be catching up to him as he only played in 14 games.

Look for the Bills to make a run at a running back like Tevin Coleman or T.J. Yeldon, making McCoy at best a fantasy RB3, which is only slightly higher than he finished this past season when he finished as the overall RB39 behind players like Jalen Richard and Latavius Murray.

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