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Late-Round Running Backs To Outperform ADP

Training camps are in progress, and many of you are participating in drafts as Week 1 kickoffs approach. You will develop a strategy before you begin building each roster. But it is recommended that you remain flexible in your decision-making based upon the flow of each draft.

Your treatment of the running back position will be critical since your backs will play an integral role in determining the success of your teams. Some of you have adopted the "Robust RB" approach, and are aggressively pursuing backs during the early rounds. Other fantasy GMs might decide to select only one back during the initial rounds (Modified-Zero RB), while some of you might ignore the position completely during the first five rounds (Zero RB).

But regardless of how you construct your rosters during the early and middle rounds, the decisions that you make in the late rounds will also determine your prospects of capturing a league championship. This article will examine running backs that are being selected in Round 10 or later that should outperform their current ADPs.

Editor's Note: Our incredible team of writers won two writing awards and received 12 award nominations by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association. A big congrats to our very own Byron Lindeque (Golf) and Jordan McAbee (NASCAR) for both winning Writer Of The Year awards! Be sure to follow RotoBaller's analysis and advice all year long, and win more. Win More With RotoBaller!


James White, New England Patriots

ADP: 202, RB57

The man, the myth, the legend. James White came to the world just to become the bright light leading those slotted in the running back position that wanted to broaden the horizons of the position. And so he did by becoming the ultimate pass-catching RB of the last few seasons. That might be too poetic for what White truly is as a fantasy asset, I know, but I hope you get where I come from and how valuable of a player White has always been for his often-cheap price.

White's ADP only kind of caught up to his exploits in the past two campaigns, the lone two of his seven-year career in which it topped 128 (!). Makes sense, considering he had overperformed his ADP in all four prior seasons with averages of 11.4 FPPG and an incredible 2018 season in which he put up career-year numbers to the tune of 276 PPR points, an RB7 finish, and a monster 17.3 fantasy points per game average. Obviously, he went on to regress in 2019 and 2020, but he was still very valuable as a high-end RB2 and then almost-RB3 last season.

The presence of Cam Newton in New England turned White into a less-used player out of the backfield, and that might stay the same in 2021, or maybe not depending on how much time it takes for Mac Jones to get the starting role. Even on a lesser usage profile, though, White still got 97 opportunities in 2020 and that would only go up to his prior levels (162 and 217 opps. in the prior two seasons) the minute Jones take the reigns of the offense.

PFF projects White to a much higher finish (RB38) than his ADP would make you believe (RB57), which makes the pass-catching tailback one of the biggest steals at this point through the 2021 draft season and a top-three in terms of potential ROI only behind Tevin Coleman and Cordarrelle Patterson. Draft White while you can before fantasy GMs realize the opportunity they're letting slip through their fingers.


Tevin Coleman, New York Jets

ADP: 204, RB59

The fact that the Jets drafted an RB in Michael Carter this past draft--with a fourth-round pick--had us thinking about a great opportunity for the rook heading into 2021. The Jets, though, also feature Ty Johnson (they traded for him last year) and Tevin Coleman on their roster after signing the latter as a free agent this very summer. No news related to Carter has come out of training camp, but Coleman's ADP has been murdered by his drafting this offseason. Coleman's ADP has gone up steadily, though, as fantasy GMs have come back to their senses and are starting to realize (again) that he could be the real deal of this backfield and quite a value play all things considered.

Coleman's upside isn't at the level of a league-winning rusher, of course, but the Jets' backfield is still as open as it's ever gotten. Coleman was always a bargain to my eyes and even with his recent ADP surge, I still have him as a very valuable pick for those trying to fill their RB corps late in drafts. I don't think I need to mention that fading Michael Carter at his stupid 103 ADP is the thing to do here while getting shares of Coleman, of course.

PFF has a projection of 139+ PPR points for Coleman in 2021. That would have Coleman finishing the season as the RB34, a low-end RB3 and weekly FLEX play for those who get him. That's absolutely insane considering Coleman's ADP of RB59. Only one other RB has a higher ROI projection right now while slotted as the RB1/RB2 in his team's depth chart (Cordarrelle Patterson) but I'm pretty sure we'd agree Coleman has the higher floor/ceiling of the two.


Kenyan Drake, Las Vegas Raiders

ADP: 129, RB40

It looks like having Josh Jacobs in tow isn't enough for the Raiders, who went on and signed RB Kenyan Drake to (seemingly) back Jacobs up in 2021. Not the most expensive of deals they signed him to, but not a peanuts-cheap one either. Anyway, for our fantasy purposes, Drake might be the ultimate league-winning play. As a sort of insurance callup were Jacobs to suffer an injury, Drake is a great option for the Raiders. Drake had a rough start to his career but he's found himself in the past three seasons, ranking inside the top-17 RBs in all of them while playing for both the Dolphins and Cardinals.

Drake is a virtual lock to average 10+ FPPG if we look at his resume and factor his new role into the equation. The opportunities will be cut down from those he's gotten in his prior three seasons, obviously, but PFF is giving him a projection of 177 opportunities in 2021 that rank fourth among non-RB1 players.

At his current 129 ADP (yes, available in the 10th round and later in most 12-team-league drafts), I don't think there are many backups as good as Drake for the upcoming season. Drake projects to finish as the RB29 while he's getting off draft boards as a super-low RB40. Must pounce on the Matrix glitch while it remains unfixed, folks.

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