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Three Overvalued Running Backs - Potential ADP Busts


Running backs are the rocks of fantasy football teams, but they are not without risk. One of the most volatile positions due to injuries and teams using a committee approach, avoiding a bust at the position has become paramount to drafters.

While you can't control your stud running back getting hurt, or getting benched for fumbling, you can control the risks you take when drafting early round backs.

Here are three that should be avoided unless you want to end up with a bust on your team.

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Running Back Busts

LeSean McCoy, Buffalo Bills

McCoy has been almost a yearly RB1 since entering the league back in 2009, but that will end in 2018. In the last two seasons in Buffalo, he has totaled over 3,000 yards, 109 receptions and 22 touchdowns. So why should drafters be concerned? Let’s find out.

First, there is the issue of the Bills’ offense. With Tyrod Taylor at quarterback, the Bills at least had a good signal caller. Now they will be rolling with Nathan Peterman or rookie Josh Allen. Peterman has played one half of NFL football and has five interceptions versus zero touchdowns. Allen is a gun-slinging rookie who lacks accuracy. Neither offer a lot of hope for moving the ball up and down the field. Then there is the issue with the offensive line which took a step back last season, and will likely be even worse this season. Their best lineman, left tackle Dion Dawkins played well and graded out eighth among tackles (according to Pro Football Focus), but the rest of the line graded very poorly. Likely facing stacked boxes, and running behind one of the league’s worst lines, won’t help McCoy’s cause.

Secondly, we have to factor in age and usage. McCoy is 30 years old, has 2,185 carries and over 2,500 touches in his career. There’s not a very long list of 30-year-old running backs who had that kind of mileage and were still successful. While it's never smart to predict injuries, McCoy seems like he has a high chance of missing games. Even if he doesn't, you have to wonder how much gas is left in the tank. McCoy had his lowest yards per carry of his career in 2017, and 2018 might be even worse.

Third and lastly, there is still a chance McCoy gets suspended for an alleged domestic violence incident. While news on it has cooled of late, remember Ezekiel Elliott a year ago? That drug out most of the season before he was finally suspended for six of the final seven games. Add all that up and McCoy is a real risk at his RB14 ADP.

Derrick Henry, Tennessee Titans

Why, oh why, do drafters continue to overvalue Derrick Henry? After spending his rookie year playing behind DeMarco Murray, many thought 2017 would be the year he became the Titans lead back. Instead he again played behind Murray, despite the fact that Murray was basically playing on one leg and looked like a shell of himself. After the Titans released Murray in the offseason it was finally Henry’s time, right? Nope. The Titans went out and signed former Patriots running back Dion Lewis. In the preseason Lewis out-snapped Henry with the starters 22 to 19, but more importantly out-snapped him eight to two on third downs. Murray was the preferred option in the passing game a year ago, and it appears Lewis will be the preferred option this year. That means Henry is nothing more than an early down back who will likely split with Lewis. Drafting a back that is only going to play roughly 50% of the early down snaps at an RB18 ADP is a recipe for a bust. Oh, and he is going six spots ahead of Lewis to boot. Just like a season ago, Henry will need an injury to Lewis to pay off, and if that doesn’t happen you’re drafting a bench player in the fourth round. Ouch.

Royce Freeman, Denver Broncos

Let me start by saying I love Freeman. Once he was drafted by the Broncos he immediately jumped up my rookie rankings. I figured all he had to do was beat out Devontae Booker and De'Angelo Henderson, and had a relatively clear path to a three down role. Well, I was wrong. Despite Freeman ripping off impressive runs in the preseason, head coach Vance Joseph seems to really like Booker and will use him in a timeshare despite Freeman recently being named the RB1.

Then there is undrafted rookie Phillip Lindsay who also impressed and made the 53-man roster (Henderson did not). Lindsay appears to have worked himself into a role in the passing game. So now we’re looking at a three-man RBBC with Freeman offering little value in the passing game. Could Freeman eventually take over lead-back duties and supply steady value? Sure, he is certainly good enough. Will he? No one knows. But drafting a player at RB20 and hoping it happens is not a winning strategy. And if it doesn’t, Freeman will be one of 2018’s biggest busts at the running back position based on the hope that he explodes as a rookie.

 

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