RBs are the backbone of any contending Fantasy Team, even in an age where throwing the ball is the easiest it’s ever been in the history of the National Football League. If anything this has made RBs even more valuable because there are fewer and fewer RBs out there who you can trust. As such, here are a few guys at the RB position I feel you should be avoiding altogether, and not set yourself up for failure.
Now as a preface, I’m using NFL.com Standard Scoring Rules in a 12 Team draft. For those unfamiliar, that’s 1 Point per 10 Yards from Scrimmage(Rushing and Receiving), or 0.1 Points per total yard, with 6 Points for TDs, and -2 Points for each Fumble. As such bear this in mind while reading this article.
The 4 RBs I will be discussing in this column are all generally ranked in the Top 15 RBs for 2016. As such, there will be reasons whyyou may think that you would want these guys. But I’m here to inform you of why you should do your best to avoid them this season.
“But Freeman was the #1 Running Back last season!” I hear you cry. “He only slowed down because he was injured in the 2nd half of the season! He scored 10 TDs in the first 6 games of the year!”
Yes, yes, that’s all well and good. But let me point out a few things for you. Going back to 2009, as far as NFL.com keeps track of Fantasy Numbers, Freeman was by far the lowest scoring #1 Overall RB in said timespan, and it wasn’t even close. From 09-14, the #1 RB averaged 312.54 points, with the lowest output being DeMarco Murray’s 2014 campaign where he put up 294.1 points per season. Freeman had just 243.4 points last season. That’s a difference of over 50 points. This should be a red flag.
I know, I know. Freeman did get hurt last year, which did hurt his numbers. But they have a much better between the tackles RB in Tevin Coleman just waiting in the wings, waiting to steal carries right from underneath Freeman. In this day and age of running back by committee (RBBC), and considering that the Falcons have a more than capable 2nd RB on their roster in Coleman, expecting Freeman’s carries to free fall from the 265 he had in 2015, to closer to 200 in 2016, isn’t that far outside the realm of possibility. The Falcons saw what happened when they loaded up Freeman with a true workhorse RB’s load, and that backfired on them big time, as the moment he got hurt, he was significantly far less effective, even though he was indeed healthy enough to play. So what’s a simple solution to the problem? Lighten his workload and decrease the chance of injury to your top RB by utilizing your 2nd RB. That’s a good way to try to keep him healthy for a full 16 game slate, but a bad choice for your RB1.
2. Doug Martin
This one is a lot more obvious. Martin has a history of injuries throughout his career, and in 2 of his 4 total seasons has been a major bust. The other 2 he ran for 1400+ Yards and averaged 8.5 Rushing TDs. A 50/50 shot at a Top 3 RB(he was the #2 RB in 2012, #3 in 15) or a complete bust(he finished 54th and 48th respectively in ’13 and ’14) is one heck of a gamble to take with your your late Round 2 or early Round 3 pick (current ADP of 23 on Fantasy Football Calculator). Some people are gambling men, and that’s fine. But if you give me the choice between Martin or say Eddie Lacy(ADP of 18) or Matt Forte(ADP of 29), I’m taking Lacy and/or Forte in a heartbeat.
3. Thomas Rawls
Ankle injuries are tricky. Particularly for a running back who’s perhaps best known for his aggressive and physical play style like Rawls is. Not to mention that the Seahawks have a bevy of RBs behind Rawls who all seem to have some solid potential of their own. Do I think Rawls is the best of the bunch? Definitely. Do I think the Seahawks would be wise to take a RBBC approach at least early on in the year which could potentially hurt Rawls in terms of Fantasy production? Absolutely.
4. Mark Ingram
There isn’t really a lot to say about this guy beyond that he is injury-prone. Maybe I’m being a bit harsh on the guy. When he’s on the field he’s actually put up very respectable totals the past 2 seasons, averaging 91.3 total yards per game, and adding 15 total TDs in 25 games. The problem is, he is not consistently healthy. Ingram has already been in the league for 5 seasons, but has only ever played a full 16 games in 1 of them. Of the 4 RBs I’ve listed here, I’d say Ingram is the safest bet to average 90+ total yards per game and score you 7-9 TDs, especially in a revamped Saints offense. Just be sure to get yourself a reliable backup for if (when) Ingram gets hurt.