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Running Back Committees to Avoid in 2019


The list of running back committees seemingly grows larger every year. As more NFL teams embrace analytics and the modern game, they understand the replaceability of running backs. With fewer teams rostering a truly elite three-down back, a greater number of them deploy multiple backs, each bringing something different to the table.

As someone who began playing fantasy football in the early 2000s, I have fond memories of the days of multiple 300-carry backs and more than half the league having a workhorse. Those days are never coming back and we must adapt with the times in fantasy football as well.

Just because a team employs a committee doesn't mean there isn't fantasy value. However, we must target the right backfields. Today, the focus is on what backfields not to target. Here are a handful of teams with committees to just stay away from.

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Chicago Bears

The Bears entered the 2019 offseason with dynamic satellite back, Tarik Cohen. Since then, they've added Mike Davis via free agency and David Montgomery via the draft. I'm not suggesting there aren't fantasy relevant players here. The problem is the cost.

I know everyone loves them some rookies, but Montgomery is currently going at the top of the fourth round. That is just way too high. There are too many concerns. Montgomery really struggled to create yards running between the tackles in college. Everyone is also assuming Montgomery is going to take over the entirety of Jordan Howard's 270 touches. It's not going to happen.

Davis is not going to simply do nothing. Davis will see enough work to sap Montgomery's value, but not enough to maintain his own. Montgomery looks like more of an RB3 that is being drafted as an RB2 with a ceiling way lower than most expect. Granted, if Cohen or Davis were to get hurt, Montgomery will have tremendous value, but that's the case for any committee.

Montgomery also excels as a receiver out of the backfield. The problem is that as good as Montgomery may be as a pass catcher, he is nowhere near as adept or explosive as Cohen. Montgomery is not taking Cohen's work. Unfortunately, Cohen's late fifth-round ADP is also too high.

Cohen relies on two things to produce: heavy targeting and splash plays. Cohen had five RB1 weeks in 2018 (I cheated to include an RB13 finish). Here are his target counts in those games: 8, 9, 12, 8, 14. Three of those games were high scoring defeats. One game was a blowout win. One game was a touchdown win. There was no predicting when Cohen would erupt. Cohen had six games outside the top 30 with a couple of those games not even close to the top 30. He's erratic and unpredictable and not a guy you want to rely on. His ceiling is what we saw in 2018. He's a great player, but without vertical upside in fantasy, you should look elsewhere in the fifth round.

Finally, there's Davis. He doesn't even have an ADP and rightfully so. The Bears are not an explosive enough offense where three running backs should be drafted. If Montgomery goes down, Davis has value. Otherwise, he can be safely ignored.

The problem with the Bears trio of RBs is not their ability. It is not a question of whether they will be fantasy relevant. It is cost based. Cohen and Montgomery are just too expensive and Davis currently has no relevance.

 

Washington Redskins

The Redskins entered the 2019 offseason with Adrian Peterson as their only healthy running back. By the time the season starts, it is expected that Derrius Guice will be ready to go. Chris Thompson will return as their satellite back. And the team added Bryce Love in the draft. Love probably won't play this year due to his torn ACL, but the other three should all be involved.

AP is 34 years old, but did have 1,250 yards last season. He is currently the favorite for lead back duties, but he's 34 years old! Guice is going to play at some point, but he may be eased back into action. The dream of Thompson ever being more than an occasional flash in the pan is over. He cannot handle more than a handful of touches. He does not have fantasy value, but he will play on passing downs, limiting the upside of Guice and Peterson.

Peterson and Guice will form some sort of committee on early downs, but what is their realistic upside? The Redskins project as one of the worst teams in the league. Their offense is devoid of talent. While I expect Dwayne Haskins to beat out Case Keenum to start Week 1, who is he throwing to? This team is going to struggle to move the ball through the air, which means their offense will generate fewer first downs, leading to fewer overall plays run and fewer scoring opportunities. Their offensive line has been decimated by injuries for two straight years.

Guice is currently going early sixth round and I expect his ADP to rise over the summer. AP is going to start Week 1, yet Guice is being drafted as if it's a foregone conclusion he will be playing relevant snaps. Peterson could be a value in the 10th round, but he won't see the volume he did last season with Guice and Thompson around. The latter two will take enough of Peterson's work to limit his upside and combined with the team being bad, this is not just a backfield, but an entire team with players you should avoid (except maybe Trey Quinn, but that's another article).

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