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by Nick Ercolano
July 09, 2018
We byke with another #InTheMuckMonday, we're breaking down another pair of rookie running backs, who have each received their fair share of both criticisms and praise this offseason.
Before we begin, as usual, I like to get a gage for who my audience likes. Straight up, you taking Guice or Penny in a draft right now, 0.5 ppr?
Right now their current ADPs:
Guice - 38, RB18
Penny - 39, RB19
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Current ADP: 38 Overall, RB18
There really isn't a single part of Guice's game I don't like. If you go back on my Instagram, Guice was one of my first Stay Woke Saturday Sleepers, going back far before the NFL draft even happened.
Here's the thing about Guice. If you know nothing about him, you would turn on the tape and watch some of his runs and be like, wow, ok, that guy has really good wiggle, elusive within the tackles, jukes, makes guys miss. But you know what a lot of running backs that have come and gone have done the same thing. But then you look at his size. 5'11 - 224lbs. That is big. Very big. Then you're like, holy shit. This guy is that big, and moves this well. You don't realize he's that big when you watch him move like that. And then you start seeing him use his power, being compared to Marshawn Lynch, and I think that's a great comparison, PlayerProfiler's best comp is Ezekiel Elliott which I think is another good one.
He's a guy that jumps off on tape to me. Not a ton of guys do that, but he does. Going back to his college days, he was stuck behind Leonard Fournette during his freshman season but averaged 8.5 ypc in his limited 51 carries. His sophomore season, Fournette was banged up, only playing in 7 games, Guice completely took over the backfield and carried the team for 1,387 rushing yards and 15 rushing scores on 183 carries, adding 105 yards and a score on 9 catches. That 1,387 yards on 183 carries is an insane 7.6 yards per carry. That's incredible in the SEC. It ranked 1st in the SEC but a half-yard. His junior season, his last year at LSU, Guice's production fell off a little bit while he dealt with a deep bruise in his leg. He still ran for 1,251 yards and 11 scores and caught 18 passes for 124 yards and two tuddys, but had he been healthy he would of went bonkers as the full-time starter. Oh, and I forgot to mention, per Graham Barfield's Yards Created column, which I highly, highly recommend you all check out to get a better feel for rookie running backs, Guice faced stacked boxes on 73% of his runs people. 73%. That was 13% higher than the next highest running back. And guess what, Guice was the 3rd best RB among all graded backs in yards created against stacked boxes, 5.88 yards created per carry against stacked boxes.
What I also love was the fact that he was their kick returner during his freshman year, displaying some versatile athleticism, especially for someone this big. He's the same weight as Zeke and 9lbs heavier than Beast Mode. At the combine, he ran a 4.49 40-yard dash. That put him in the 91st percentile for weight-adjusted speed score. I'll talk more about this speed score later.
Let's look at his situation after getting drafted to the Redskins in the 2nd round, 59th overall. Not gonna get into why he fell. The Skins have Rob Kelley and Samaje Perine on the roster, neither of which will be even the slightest competition to Guice in 2018. If you think so, then you're in a minority of 1 and Idk maybe my channel just ain't cut out for you.
When we look back at last year, Washington was about average in terms of play calling. They ranked 16th in % of plays that were run and given that Kelley and Perine were their backs, that has room to grow with more success from a guy like Guice. Kelley and Perine combined for 271 touches in 2017, and neither of them played a full season, Perine only 14 games and Kelley 13. They're a team that's ranked in the top half of the league in scoring in each of the last two years so he'll get his chances to score. Last year, Kelley and Perine combined for 22 carries in the 10-zone, inside the 10. If you combine that to one back, that's top-5 in the NFL last year. Of course, he won't get everyone single one but sprinkle a few off, it's still likely top-10.
This offensive line was killed with injuries last year, per PFF, they had 11 different lineman play at least 140 or more snaps in 2017 because of injuries. Their two elite linemen, Brandon Scherff and Trent Williams both struggled to stay healthy. Both guys will be 100% healthy entering 2018, this is a very good line when at full strength. More reminiscent of 2016 when they were the 6th best run blocking team per Football Outsiders.
The issue when it comes to Guice, and the reason we're not seeing him drafted where the Jordan Howard is going is obviously because of people's concern for his involvement in the passing game. This is a real concern, with Chris Thompson back here, who definitely isn't going anywhere. He was incredible last year. Too incredible actually. I wanted to see, though, if we're overvaluing Thompson's value or opportunity in the passing games. I'm not arguing how good he is as a receiver, he's great, but should we write Guice off as a low-volume receiver? Thompson played in all 16 games in 2016, he saw 59 targets which was about 3.7/game. Last year that number jumped up from 3.7/game to 5.1/game. However, I'm wondering how much Rob Kelley/Samaje Perine being hurt boosted these numbers. I looked at games where both Kelley and Perine played together fully last year, and in those games, Thompson averaged 4.33 target/game, so not a huge drop off from 5.1 to 4.3, but noteworthy, closer to his 2016 average than 2017.
Last year, the Skins threw to their RBs on 21% of their passes, which was the NFL avg. Over the last four years, in the time frame of Jay Gruden being the HC, the Skins have averaged 563 pass attempts/season. No outlier year so it's a safe bet to project again 2018. At 21%, about 119 targets go the running back. Let's safe Thompson sees 4.5 targets/game in 2018, and he stays healthy for a full 16 games, that's 72 targets on the season, which I think is reasonable, it would've been more than other pass-catching specialist's in 2017, James White, Tarik Cohen, Theo Riddick, Gio Bernard. So, say Thompson gets 72, we'll say 75 for you fuckboys that want to argue. That leaves, assuming we see the NFL average again, 21% of passes go to the running back, that leaves 45 targets up for grabs at the RB position, again, assuming Thompson stays healthy for a full 16 games, which he's only stayed healthy for more than 13 games once. I really think Guice will end up seeing between 40 and 50 targets this year as the full-time 1st and 2nd down back. He's not a bad pass-catcher, he's definitely capable, Gruden's been praising him at camp, he ran out of the slot during the senior bowl. Again, going back to that athleticism, when he was a kick returner, he's a very good athlete. Imagine seeing Jordan Howard returning kicks lol, he'd fumble every ball. So, I think realistically, Guice can catch 35 or more passes. And guys, don't weigh too much on the fact that another back that you're deciding to draft instead of Guice might catch 50 passes compared to his 35, at the end of the day, that's 7.5 fantasy points total in a 0.5 ppr league for the entire season. Don't overvalue receptions. What he'll lack in catches and receiving yards he'll make up for in overall rushing volume and GL carries.
The last thing I want to point out, that I was referencing when I was talking about his speed score. Guice has sneaky upside, that I don't think people realize. He has the breakaway home run ability, something that Perine and Kelley both absolutely did not have... Of the 5 combined touchdowns them two had in 2017.... the longest came from 3 yards out.... Over his last two seasons at LSU, Guice has 10, 10 touchdowns of 20 yards or more, 8 of those 30 yards or more, 5 of them 40 yards or more. The upside is real here.
Current ADP: 39 Overall, RB19
There's a ton to talk about with Penny as well. The Hawks shockingly thought that it was a good idea to take an RB in the first round with the 27th overall pick. They did so by taking Penny, from SDSU. Zamn. This was semi-unbelievable given their other needs but ok. It happened and talking about that shit does nothing for fantasy football.
Standing at 5-11, 220lbs, Penny ran a 4.46 40-yard dash, putting him in the 86th percentile for WASS. So, a really good 3-down build.
Penny was a 4-year player out of SDSU, however, he wasn't their starter until his senior year, the reason I'll explain in a bit. His junior year is when he broke onto the scene, rushing for over 1,000 yards and 11 touchdowns, averaging 7.5 YPC, adding 224 yards ad 3 tuddys on 15 receptions. But in 2017, his senior year, that's when he exploded, leading the NCAA with 2,248 rushing yards, 2nd 23 rushing TDs on 289 carries, adding another 135 yards and 2 tuddys on 19 receptions. So, a senior year concluding with almost 2,400 total yards and 25 tuddys on 308 touches, averaging 7.8 ypc, unsurprisingly made him a consensus All-American while earning him the MWC OFF POY. His 7.5 career YPC ranks 5thall-time in NCAA. The four guys ahead of him, Felix Jones, Devon Johnson from Marshall whoever tf that is, Melvin Gordon, and Chuck Weatherspoon. Good ol' Chucky Dubs. Penny was also a great returner, taking 8 returns back to the cribbo throughout his career at SDSU, like Guice, speaking to his athleticism and versatility.
So, back to why he was never the starter prior to his senior year. There was another running back that was in this program. A back that is currently the NCAA's all-time leading rusher. He goes by the name of Donnel Pumphrey. Pumphrey was drafted by the Eagles last year but tore his hamstring last summer and was placed on the I.R. and now supposedly faces an uphill battle to even make the team, which kind of begs the question, why couldn't Penny beat him out, at 5-8, 175. And was Penny a product of the system at SDSU and the lesser opponents? Although SDSU's o-line demolished opponents in the MWC, most signs still point to no.
PFF absolutely loved this guy. Among all draft-eligible running backs, he ranked 1st in elusive rating, yards per carry when contacted at or behind the LOS, broken tackles (by more than 20), broken tackle rate, runs of 15+ yards and I'm sure a bunch of other shit. A lot of the same, to a little bit lesser degree from Graham Barfield's Yards Created Column. A very good in-between the tackles runner, and against stacked boxes, ranked above average everywhere.
Where he ranked poorly by both systems was pass-blocking, 58th out of 60 per PFF and not good from GB either.
Which finally brings us to his fit in Seattle. Man, where do I begin?
They didn't have a single running back last year rush for more than 240 yards. Not one. You probably can't even guess who it was either lol. Mike Davis. Bruh, listen to this fucking stat. Last year, the Seahawks scored 38 offensive touchdowns. 34-of-38 (over 89%) of them were Russell Wilson's passing touchdowns. 3 of them were Russell Wilson rushing scores. The entire Seahawks backfield combined to score a single rushing touchdown. You probably couldn't guess who it was either. J.D. McKissic. Wilson scored three times as many rushing touchdowns as the entire Seattle RB group combined. What's crazy about that is Seahawks running backs, that combined group had 12 carries inside the 5 last year. 0 went for tuddys, the only score came from 30 yards out. So there is room for scoring to be had. My man's Eddie Lacy though!!!! LFG !!!! I loved people going off about Eddie Lacy last year, that shit was precious. Lacy with the big 2.1 YPC in 2017. What a time to be alive. Honestly, his orders placed at the Chinese restaurant may have eclipsed his rushing yards in 2017, 179, what you think? Anywho, yeah so they were fucking straight garbagio. But not Chris Carson, I would never speak ill on the gawd.
The backs weren't good, but the offensive line was worse:
Not much for the running backs to do there. But, instead of upgrading their line, they decided to grab a running back okay. There's a positive and a negative here. As I said, Penny ranked first in YPC on carries contacted @ or behind the LOS. He's gonna need that to translate into the NFL. Big time. But, the fact that he's a poor pass-blocker scares me, considering he's going to need that.
All reports out of the Seahawks side have been about Penny being the guy, him being a 3-down back, which makes sense given the draft capital. Both HC Pete Carroll and GM John Schneider went on record saying so. But idk if I trust anything they really say to be honest. Pete Carroll also talked about how good and comfortable Penny looked in pass-protection, despite everything pointing to the contrary. He also hasn't stopped talking about how good Chris Carson has looked, so idk mang.
We also look at the coaching changes here, they bring in Brian Schottenheimer, former Colts QB Coach, to run the offense. He's being super focused on establishing the run game and says that the team will keep about 70% of the same offense as they previously had, so I'm not diving too deep into anything here.
The 3rd down role is what gets me here with Penny. He's a poor pass blocker, and he hasn't been necessarily great in the passing game. Not saying he's not capable, but they have backs on the roster that certainly fit the role better. J.D. McKissic, C.J. Prosise if he makes the roster, but of course, health has been the issue for every RB, and I think that's party the reason they invested so heavily in Penny, they're sick of the guys they have. He caught 19 passes last year. That's just one more than Guice. That's 5 more than Rojo. It just wasn't a big part of his game. And, to be honest, I don't see Penny as the guy who's in on 2-minute drills, or the guy who's on the field when they're playing catch up or in a shootout, which may be often considering their defense is going to be BAD this year after losing all these players. And I can't sleep on Carson man. He was so fucking good last year before getting hurt.
Anywho, at some point, I gotta wrap this mf up. So, here is my parting piece. Straight up, at the end of the day, I'm going Guice over Penny. I don't trust Penny's situation. The offensive line is so bad. And I'm not sure 1. how many scoring opps will really be there for him and 2. that he'll be utilized as a 3-down player as much as they're saying he will. I think we might be overestimating the workload he'll be seeing overall. I really expect Guice to get 13-15 touches/game, if not more, and Penny, not a huge amount more, maybe 15-17, if that. I don't see the work in the receiving game is a huge difference, okay maybe Penny catches 10-15 more balls in 2018 than Guice, again, that's 5-7.5 fantasy points on the entire year. I like Guice as a running back much more. Behind a much better offensive line. So it's Guice for me, drop a comment below and let me know what you think.
This Wednesday my last breakout video is coming out, the QBs. So, also drop a comment what videos you want to see on the next few Wednesdays. Mondays will remain in the muck, like today, Fridays are mock drafts, Sundays are live streams. You know I'll be doing weekly news updates and subscriber Q&A's in my draft guide every week updated so go cop that fa show. Drop a thumbs up down below if you enjoyed, if you're listening on the podcast I'd love you if you left a rating and a review.
by Noah Pires
December 12, 2018
by Nick Ercolano
December 10, 2018
by Noah Pires
December 08, 2018