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Veteran Running Backs Set to Lose Touches in 2019


Running backs these days have a shelf life about as long as raw chicken.

Once running backs play several seasons in the NFL, the wear and tear of having linemen, linebackers and strong safeties tackling them bruises their bodies and slows their speed. That is why later in their careers they go from being fantasy football forces to being role players to being out of the league, and it happens faster at the running back position than other positions.

There are several running backs who have been fantastic for fantasy players over the years who are not going to be having the ball in their hands as much as they have in the past. Here are three veteran running backs set to lose touches (and fantasy value) in 2019.

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LeSean McCoy, Buffalo Bills

2018 Stats:  514 rushing yards, 238 receiving yards, 3 TD

Fantasy owners who double as action-movie fans were as upset at “Shady” for spoiling the ending of Avengers: Endgame as my wife gets when I spoil the ending of a Love It or List It episode (they're going to list it every time). Maybe they would not have been so mad at McCoy if he posted better numbers in 2018. He was ineffective and injury-prone as he had the worst year of his career, rushing for a personal-low 513 yards while only scoring three touchdowns and being of very little help to the fantasy players who took him in the early rounds of their drafts.

All signs point to McCoy still being Buffalo’s top tailback in 2019, but the free-agent signings of fellow veterans Frank Gore and T.J. Yeldon mean that McCoy will have the best backups behind him he has ever had since becoming a Bill. The Buffalo backfield became even more crowded with the addition of Florida Atlantic product Devin Singletary via the draft. If McCoy stays with the Bills there is no way his touch total cannot go down, and if the Bills release him during the summer he will likely be signed by a team where he would have to share carries with other backs.

 

Mark Ingram, Baltimore Ravens

2018 Stats:  645 rushing yards, 170 receiving yards, 7 TD

Ingram was one of the most sought-after running backs on the free-agent market this offseason and was able to command a three-year, $15 million deal from a Baltimore Ravens team that had only possible one-year wonder Gus Edwards in its backfield. No other team rushed the ball more in 2018 than Baltimore did, and with scrambler Lamar Jackson locked in as the starting signal caller for 2019, on paper it looks like Ingram’s number will be called early and often.

But fantasy players have to ask themselves a question – is Ingram really better off without Drew Brees as his quarterback, Alvin Kamara as his running mate and Sean Payton as his head coach and offensive choreographer? That trio set Ingram up for tons of scoring opportunities, and New Orleans has always been known for producing more fantasy assets than Baltimore has, that’s for sure.

Now Ingram not only has to fight Edwards, who averaged 93 rushing yards per game over the last seven weeks of the season, for touches, but rookie Justice Hill. Oh, and he also has to fight Jackson, who tucks the ball and runs more than any other quarterback in the NFL. You would think a conservative, run-first offense would be perfect for Ingram’s bruising, between-the-tackles style, but since he will be battling two other guys for rushing attempts it probably will not be all it’s cracked up to be.

 

Jordan Howard, Philadelphia Eagles

2018 Stats:  935 rushing yards, 145 receiving yards, 9 TD

Howard might only be 24 years old, but after three seasons and 778 rushing attempts, the man is a bonafide veteran. He has averaged 1,126 rushing yards and eight touchdowns per year since entering the NFL, yet fantasy owners griped last year that Chicago’s coaching staff did not utilize Howard properly, and who could blame them? His rushing attempts and receptions went down as Chicago’s offense was built more around Mitchell Trubisky’s throwing and Tarik Cohen’s playmaking than Howard’s sturdy downhill running.

Second-round pick Miles Sanders has been receiving more praise since being drafted last month than my mother-in-law gets for her meatloaf. He is the biggest threat to Howard in the backfield. Then Howard also has the returning Wendall Smallwood, Josh Adams and Corey Clement to deal with, so it should be a battle royal for touches. If you think Howard is going to have 250 carries in 2019, think again. Philadelphia has not had a running back with 200 rushing attempts in a season since 2014, and it is doubtful it will happen this upcoming year with all the bodies in the backfield.

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