Fantasy owners will have a lot of RBBC
decisions to make including Henry or Lewis in Tennessee.
What’s the hardest decision to make on Draft Day? No, it’s not
choosing between Todd
Gurley and Le’Veon
Bell. It’s not Aaron
Rodgers or Tom
Brady. You can’t go wrong either way. No, the hardest decision
in fantasy is deciding which back in a running-back-by-committee
situation to choose.
Choose correctly and if your guy emerges from the pack to dominate,
you could come away with a huge bargain that will carry you to
a title. Choose wrong and you could be beating yourself up for
the next 17 weeks.
That’s where I come in. I’m here to help you make
the tough choices. Let’s get right to it.
Freeman is still the No. 1 guy here, both in salary and opportunity,
but the trend is heading in the wrong direction. Freeman’s
touches the past three seasons were: 337, 281 and 232. Meanwhile
Coleman’s have increased from 89 to 149 to 183. Freeman’s
FPts/G is also trending down (16.5, 14.5 and 11.9). Freeman is
still the back to own first, but it’s getting closer. Coleman
is a viable RB2 in larger leagues and a perfect handcuff.
Collins came out of nowhere last season (actually he came from
Seattle after he was cut) and he’s become the back to have
for 2018. He averaged 16.7 rushing attempts over the final nine
games last season and barring a return from the ashes of troubled
Kenneth Dixon, Collins should be a solid RB2.
Throw out struggling rookie Chubb, who as a second-round pick,
will certainly make the roster, but is clearly third on the depth
chart. Johnson should get the majority of the backfield receptions
(though Hyde did catch 59 balls last season in San Francisco),
but doesn’t run more than a couple times a game which leaves
Hyde the early down work and goal line and is the only viable
fantasy option, though not more than a low-level RB2.
As the veteran, Booker has been getting the starts in preseason,
though both guys have run with the first team. Freeman has been
the choice of fantasy owners due to his likely being the better
red-zone option at 238 lbs., but he’s not a big part of
the passing game. Both guys should be low-end RB2 options with
Freeman getting the slight edge here.
The Lions traded up to get Johnson and he’s the one guy
on their roster who can both run the ball and catch the ball.
He’s limited, however, by Riddick’s catching ability
and Blount’s red-zone prowess. Still, I like Johnson to
rack up the yards “between the 20s” and is the only
Williams averaged almost 18 carries a game over the final eight
of 2017, but averaged less than 4.0 ypc in seven of them. With
Jones suspended for the first two games, Williams could be viable
to start the season, but Montgomery should be the third-down and
two-minute drill guy. Barring injuries, Williams is the only back
to roster here.
Mack is dealing with a hamstring issue, but long-term, he gets
the first shot at being the starter ahead of the two rookies Hines
and Wilkins. Hines has shown fumbling issues in preseason (four
times in two games) which will quickly get you in the coach’s
doghouse, so Wilkins should end up as the backup for Mack.
Drake flashed big-time in the second half of last season and
while 35-year-old Gore should see a decent percentage of the workload,
the youngster is the future and the one to have on your roster.
In Indianapolis last season, Gore saw the eighth-most rushing
attempts (261), yet still couldn’t produce a double-digit
fantasy average (9.0) and ranked 26th among running backs. He’ll
see half that many carries in 2018.
Cook is obviously the guy with the most talent and PPR league
owners should love him now that he will see all of Jerick McKinnon’s
targets and receptions. However, coming off an ACL injury, the
Vikings will likely give Murray a decent rushing workload to protect
their second-year star and possibly the goal line work. Cook is
an RB1 and make Murray an RB3.
The horror and confusion that is the Patriots backfield every
season should continue. My first suggestion is to stay away, stay
far away and let someone else deal with the headache. But if you
must, Burkhead showed last season he can be part of the passing
game and with the team’s issues at wideout that could be
an important factor. Still, he’s a RB3.
Yes, Kamara should come out of the gate quickly given the four-game
suspension to Ingram, but you should expect some regression from
his 6.1 ypc of last season and 13 touchdowns on 202 touches and
that’s worrisome. He’ll cost you a high price as he’s
being selected in the mid-first round (ADP 6.4 overall) which
is too high for a guy who shared the backfield last season and
will again when Ingram returns in Week 5.
Both Powell and Crowell showed some flashes in 2016, but neither
did enough in 2017 to make fantasy owners happy. They should see
similar workloads this season as both can run and catch the ball,
but neither has grabbed control of the situation. The offensive
line in front of them is one of the worst in the league. This
is likely a “go with the hot hand” situation and so
avoid it at all costs.
It took about half the season before Lynch looked like a running
back again after missing all of 2016. Still, the Raiders brought
in Doug Martin, who Coach Gruden seems to hold in high regard.
I’m not sure why, since he’s averaged 2.9 ypc over
the past two seasons. Stick with Lynch.
With the rookie Penny sidelined after hand surgery, Carson has
grabbed the opportunity and become the primary running back in
Seattle. Of course, given the fact that they haven’t produced
a viable fantasy option at that position since 2014 (Lynch) is
concerning. The Seahawks OL is still a mess and ranked 30th by
Pro Football Focus. Another situation to stay away from unless
The Bucs jettisoned Martin and spent a high draft choice on Jones,
but Barber has emerged as the starter, at least for now. A below
average line and the likelihood that Jones will get a 40-50% of
the workload by the end of the season makes it tough to expect
much from either back. To start the season, however, Barber is
Henry was a boom or bust guy last season and that could continue
this season. He’ll be the lead back, but it’s possible
the talented Lewis could lead the backfield in yards from scrimmage
because of his excellent pass-receiving skills. Both players should
end up as viable RB2 backs, though Lewis might be the better value
considering he is being selected two rounds below Henry.
The just-signed Peterson likely still has a little bit left in
the tank, but Thompson is the guy to own here. “AP”
was always a physical specimen and might have a few moments, if
the OL can stay healthy, but he can’t do it week-in and
week-out anymore. Thompson is an elite receiver for a running
back and coach Jay Gruden figures to use him often.
Steve Schwarz served as the fantasy sports editor of The Sports Network and is the 2014 FSWA Football Writer of the Year.