Don't have an account?
Join the Best Live Fantasy Chat Community!

Lost password? [X]

Receive free daily analysis:


Already have an account? Log in here.


Forgot Password


Must-Own Breakout Running Backs with Late ADP

As fantasy football drafts get later and later, it gets more and more difficult to figure out who you should pick. Some people respond to this by saying "ehh, I'll just do whatever and figure things out on the waiver wire." And, well...yes, you're going to need to figure things out on the waiver wire at some point if you plan on winning a fantasy football championship, but you can get a head start on things by identifying promising players late in your draft.

Today, let's look at some breakout running backs who you need to own this season. These are guys who might start a little slow as they work their way up depth charts, but who have the potential to be incredibly important players.

Using Fantasy Football Calculator's PPR ADP tool, these are all guys who are going in the 10th round or later in 12-team leagues, as well as a guy who'll go undrafted but should be on your watch list.

Editor's Note: Get any full-season NFL Premium Pass for 50% off. Our exclusive In-Season Lineup Tools, Lineup Optimizer and over 150 days of Premium DFS Research. Sign Up Now!


Justice Hill, Baltimore Ravens

Current ADP: 11.12

Last year, the Ravens run game was unlocked once Lamar Jackson took over as quarterback, with Gus Edwards rushing for 654 yards and a pair of touchdowns over the final seven games.

Edwards was highly productive over that stretch, but there's a reason he finds himself virtually locked out of the discussion in the Ravens backfield this year: his production was much more about Jackson and the team's offensive scheme than it was about Edwards.

Baltimore's added two backs to the mix this year. Veteran Mark Ingram is likely to fill the role Edwards held as the pure runner. During that whole stretch where Edwards was running for a lot of yards, he was also a non-factor in the passing game, catching just one pass for 13 yards. The Ravens essentially ran an offense where Jackson and Edwards both served as running backs for a good chunk of the time, with Jackson's speed making the defense have to shift the way they defended the run. That worked fine until the playoffs, when the Chargers brought played a quarter defense that got more speed on the field, which helped negate Jackson's rushing advantage and allowed the front of the defense to shut down Edwards, who had eight carries for 23 yards.

Enter Ingram, who is by all accounts a far superior back to Edwards and can make defenses pay for using this defensive back heavy defensive scheme. Ingram will be able to bully teams inside better than Edwards could, which will help the Ravens move the ball down the field.

But wait! This is supposed to be about rookie Justice Hill!


With Ingram forcing defenses to really account for the running back up the middle, room opens up for Hill to be the team's change-of-pace back. Last year, Jackson wasn't quite where he needed to be as a passer to make use of a receiving back, though we saw Kenneth Dixon start to fill that void at the end of the year. But this year, you get the more versatile Hill to fill that role, plus Hill's able to sub in for Ingram on rushing downs too, getting more speed on the field. I'm not saying Ingram/Hill looks like Ingram/Kamara did in New Orleans, because Lamar Jackson will take up a few too many of the carries for Hill to come close to a Kamara-style breakout, but what Hill will do is provide a springy option beside Jackson. Hill can catch passes out of the backfield and can be useful in read option plays with Jackson.

And if the offense they ran last year that was predicated on having that big inside back doesn't work and they need to run something that features a more agile runner, it'll be Hill who steps into that role.


Devin Singletary, Buffalo Bills

Current ADP: 12.10

Buffalo's backfield is a mess. LeSean McCoy. Frank Gore. T.J. Yeldon. Devin Singletary. How will you ever figure out who'll be the best of them?

Well, training camp can be a partial guide for us. Singletary has been getting reps with the first-team offense already, which suggests that he's ahead of where he was expected to be. Frank Gore is nothing but a possible goal-line vulture. T.J. Yeldon is a third-down back. LeSean McCoy has been rumored to be on his way out of Buffalo for months now and I wouldn't be surprised to see him not make the final roster.

That puts us in a spot where Singletary has a pretty decent shot at earning early-down work in Buffalo. Yes, the Bills suffer from a similar issue to the Ravens, which is that some of the available carries wind up going to the quarterback, but Singletary still has a chance to see double-digit touches per game.

I've had my eye on Singletary for a few years because he was so productive at FAU, where he rushed for 66 touchdowns in three seasons, including 32 of them in 2017. Singletary wasn't really use as a receiver, but he has a proven college track record of racking up yards and scores on the ground. A poor NFL Combine showing decreased his value for awhile, but everything we're hearing out of Buffalo is encouraging. Even if McCoy is on the final roster, we have a couple of seasons of him declining that we can look at as evidence that he won't have a firm grip on the bulk of the carries. Singletary's going to lead this backfield at some point in 2019.


Kalen Ballage, Miami Dolphins

Current ADP: 13.01

I do expect this ADP to rise significantly as we get closer and closer to draft season since Ballage has been practicing with the starters in Miami, but I believe Kenyan Drake is still going to start the year as the starter. Once that becomes clear, Ballage's ADP will probably stabilize somewhere around the 10th round, probably?

I still like Ballage at that point, because I believe he's definitely going to make an impact on this team. Even if we don't get a full-on committee between Ballage and Drake, we're going to get significant snaps for the second-year back.

The biggest reason? Because look, we've all collectively bought into some Kenyan Drake hype that doesn't need to exist. He's a fine back, but there were weeks last year where Frank Gore was getting triple the carries. He didn't have 50 rushing yards in any game after October. He was involved in the passing game, but Ballage had more rushing attempts than him in two of the three December games where Ballage was playing significant snaps. Ballage looks primed to be a 10-12 carry guy this year for the Dolphins and against the Vikings he showed that he has the ability to break off long carries.

I'm also interested in the fact that Drake started getting used as a kick returner at the end of the year. The Dolphins have a new coaching staff, but that doesn't necessarily mean Drake won't be used on special teams. He's been a returner off and on in the NFL and in college, and if he winds up in that role, there's going to be more early-down work for Ballage to take.


Benny Snell Jr., Pittsburgh Steelers

Current ADP: N/A

Here's where things start to get more speculative. The path for Snell to be the top back in Pittsburgh is blocked by James Conner. Barring injury, Snell ain't getting there.

But everyone seems to be sold on the idea of Jaylen Samuels having an unassailable grip on the backup job. But why? Are we basing everything off one game from his rookie year, when he had 19 carries for 142 yards against the Patriots? Samuels was only 142nd among running backs in yards created per carry. He's not really able to create much more than his offensive line creates for him.

Snell, meanwhile, showed himself to be a patient, strong runner at Kentucky. He's slower than Samuels, but he can be an effective piece in the red zone. Snell is built more for an early-down role than Samuels is, which would come in handy if anything happens to Conner.

More Fantasy Football Analysis

More Recent Articles


Week 12 Fantasy Football Staff Rankings

Below you will find all of RotoBaller's fantasy football weekly rankings, tiers, player news and stats for the 2019 NFL season. Our Ranking Wizard displays our staff's rankings for various league formats, all in one easy place. Here's what you'll find: Weekly PPR Rankings Weekly Half-PPR Rankings Weekly Standard Rankings Dynasty League Rankings     Fantasy... Read More

Colts Conundrum: What To Do With Marlon Mack Hurt

Hello, my name is Eric Samulski, and I spent all my FAAB on Brian Hill last week. Phew! I’m glad we got that out of the way. Now that that’s on the table, we can talk honestly about this week's biggest running back decision: How the Colts will replace Marlon Mack, who just underwent surgery on... Read More

NFL Survivor Pool Picks (Week 12) - Targets and Avoids

Sunday was one of the worst Sunday's Vegas has had all season and remaining entrants in survivor pools nearly had the same fate. However, the Vikings rallied from a 20-0 halftime deficit, the 49ers scored late, and the Cowboys win was much narrower than it should have been. The Saints, Bills, and Ravens took care... Read More

Offensive Line Rankings Analysis: Week 12

Apologies for not making it out last week. I welcomed my daughter into the world, and while I would have loved the distraction of looking at the ability of offensive lines, that wasn't going to happen. Moving onto Week 12, the outcome of your season-long leagues is now taking shape and you know if you... Read More

Fantasy Football Disaster Recovery: Kenny Golladay

Welcome to Disaster Recovery, where each week I'll examine why your studs played like duds. This isn't a place to find out why you should have sat a player for somebody else on your bench. Disaster Recovery is here to examine the guys who you didn't think twice about starting and to help you decide if you should... Read More

Wide Receiver Leaderboards Entering the Final Stretch - NFL Next Gen Stats

We've consumed our first "double-digit week" set of games. That means we've entered the final part of the season and, in fact, the fantasy football playoffs are closer than you may realize. There are just three more weeks to go until we hit Week 14 and celebrate our presence in the run for the chip,... Read More

Fantasy Football Risers and Fallers - Jeff Driskel, Deebo Samuel, Kenyan Drake

Whether due to their own play, the play of others, or injuries, players' stock increases and decreases on a weekly basis. Perhaps more than any other, the NFL is a league that experiences ups and downs at a rapid pace. With only 16 games, there’s little room for error and seemingly endless opportunities for improvement.... Read More

Deeper League Free Agent Pickups for Week 12

Rotoballers, if you're not active on the waiver wire this time of year, there are only two reasonable explanations: 1) You're sitting at 3-8 (or worse) and don't find it enjoyable to play spoiler to your league mates, or 2) You're 8-3 (or better) and have nothing but matchup-proof studs on your starting lineup and... Read More

FAAB Bidding - Week 12 Waiver Wire Targets

Assisting our famous waiver wire pickups list, and our weekly waiver wire columns by position, this column focuses on suggested waiver wire bidding percentages for fantasy football owners in leagues using a Free Agent Acquisition Budget (FAAB). As a caveat, these prices do not by any means indicate how much these free agent players will... Read More

Week 12 Waiver Wire Pickups & Adds

This could be the most exciting installment of waiver wire adds in a while. Not that any of these choices are necessarily league-winners but at least we have a bunch of new names to ponder. Bye weeks are nearly over but this one will be particularly tough with the high-scoring Chiefs, Vikings, Chargers, and Cardinals... Read More

Week 12 Defense (DEF) Streamers and Starts - 2019 Fantasy Tiers, Rankings

Almost out of time to make that last push for the playoffs--no time like the present to squeak out a win because you picked the right defense. Below are RotoBaller's Week 12 defense tiers and rankings, or which defenses to stream, start and target off the waiver wire for Week 12 of the NFL and... Read More

Week 12 Kicker Streamers and Starts - 2019 Fantasy Tiers, Rankings

It's Week 12, and the fantasy football playoffs are just around the corner. Teams are jostling for playoff position both in the real world and the fantasy world. You gotta have the right kicker at the right time in the right matchup, and it matters now more than ever. The margin for error in these... Read More

Running Back Waiver Wire Pickups - Week 12

The regular season continues to advance at a relentless pace as we have now entered the planning process for Week 12. Some of you are concentrating on building lineups that will commandeer a spot in the fantasy playoffs, while others are making slight adjustments to teams that have already secured their place in the postseason.... Read More

Wide Receiver Waiver Wire Pickups - Week 12

Week 11 is behind us and we're getting closer and closer to the end of the fantasy regular season. For some of us, Week 12 represents the final chance to get into the postseason, while for others we have another week or two left. Here, to help you get ready for the playoffs, is a... Read More

Week 12 Tight End Waiver Wire Picks and Streamers

With fantasy football leagues only a couple weeks away from their playoffs, this is not the time for teams to be short a tight end. Not only do fantasy footballers have no Travis Kelce or Hunter Henry during this crucial week in their fantasy seasons, they do not get to take advantage of using a... Read More