If you haven’t read my last post: Running Backs to Target in Your Fantasy Football Draft, feel free to read it before or after reading this post. In my opinion, the running back position is the most important position in fantasy football. So, when you pick one, it’s important that you get it right. It seems like there’s an abnormal amount of overvalued running backs this year. There are several things I consider when trying to find running backs that will perform below their value (where they were drafted). A few of those things are the offensive line, their YPC, expected usage, schedule, consistency and many others. With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the running backs that are being overvalued this year.
DeMarco Murray: Murray had a great season last year averaging 18.2 fantasy PPG. I think he’ll be good again this year but not as good as many people are expecting when they draft him early in the second round. There’s one big problem that will impact DeMarco Murray’s production this season and that problem is… you guessed it, Derrick Henry. Murray was especially good in the first 10 games when he was getting almost all the touches. However, Derrick Henry started eating into Murray’s workload toward the end of the season and Murray’s fantasy PPG decreased as a result. Let’s look at the stats for Murray. In the first 10 games, DeMarco Murray averaged 21.94 fantasy points, 22.8 touches and 1 touchdown a game (10 total). In the last six games, he averaged 12.62 fantasy points, 19.67 touches and 0.33 touchdowns a game (2 total). Now, let’s look at the stats for Derrick Henry. In the first 10 games, he averaged 5.66 fantasy points, 7.1 touches and 0.1 touchdowns a game (1 total). In the last six games, he averaged 10.96 fantasy points, 10.4 touches and 0.8 touchdowns a game (4 total). Obviously wear and tear was probably a big factor in Murray’s production decrease in the last six games. However, you can’t argue that Derrick Henry getting all the goal line work didn’t hurt DeMarco Murray’s production. I believe that Derrick Henry’s usage will increase this season and DeMarco Murray will average around 15 fantasy PPG.
Jay Ajayi: Jay Ajayi is currently ranked as the 8th best running back on most fantasy football websites and he’s being drafted in the middle of the second round. Ajayi’s stats last season look great on paper but I found them very misleading after digging further into them. Ajayi averaged 16.65 fantasy points in the last 11 weeks of the season. After removing his first three games (because he didn’t start in those games), he had 193.4 total fantasy points. However, he earned 112.2 of those fantasy points in just four games against horrible run defenses. In the other eight games, he averaged only 10.15 fantasy points. Ajayi also averaged 4.89 YPC last season which is great. However, outside of those four games I mentioned, he averaged only 3.56 YPC. Another reason to avoid Jay Ajayi is that he is rarely used in the passing game and that decreases his ceiling a lot in PPR leagues.
Lamar Miller: Lamar Miller is currently ranked as the 10th best running back on most fantasy football websites and he’s being drafted late in the second round. I think Miller is a good running back but I’m avoiding him in the second round because he has a horrible offensive line. I believe that’s why he averaged only 13.8 fantasy points last season when he was drafted in the first round. Don’t make the same mistake this year. I have no reason to believe his production will increase because the Texans have done nothing to improve their offensive line during the offseason. Additionally, poor quarterback performance last season allowed defenses to mostly focus on stopping Miller and currently, the Texans don’t even have a quarterback. I believe Miller will have similar production to last season (13 to 14 PPG).
Eddie Lacy: Eddie Lacy simply won’t get enough carries this season to be a good starting fantasy running back with C.J. Prosise and Thomas Rawls also in the mix. I see him getting around 12 carries a game and goal line duties. Additionally, Lacy’s YPC and touchdowns will most likely suffer due to Seattle’s terrible offensive line. I project around 11 or 12 fantasy PPG for Eddie Lacy this season.
Dion Lewis / James White / Rex Burkhead: This is a similar situation to the one I just mentioned with Eddie Lacy but much worse. Three third down running backs on one team? I think I’ll pass. As much as I love drafting receiving running backs in PPR leagues, there just won’t be enough work to go around to make them productive fantasy players. Additionally, they just brought in Mike Gillislee to fill LeGarrette Blount’s role and of the four running backs, he is the one you should own.
C.J. Anderson: Anderson will lose some carries to Devontae Booker this season and it’s possible that the Broncos get another running back in the NFL draft too. I think C.J. Anderson is good enough to be a starting running back but the Bronco’s need to improve their offensive line for that to happen.
Others: Latavius Murray, Danny Woodhead, Adrian Peterson and Marshawn Lynch