Do NOT Draft These Running Backs in 2019 Fantasy Football

by Nick Ercolano May 28, 2019

Do NOT Draft These Running Backs in 2019 Fantasy Football

Don't hate the player, hate the game. A more relevant phrase would be don't hate the player, hate the ADP. That's what I've gathered you all here today to do. Hate on ADPs. ADPs of 2019 fantasy football running backs. Here are a few running backs you CAN NOT draft, to avoid at their current price in 2019 fantasy football drafts according to DRAFT.com.

Devonta Freeman - Atlanta Falcons

Current ADP: RB13, 25 Overall

HE KEEPS MOVING UP!!!!

Freeman has taken a beating in the last couple of years. After those couple of dominant years, I think we've seen that his powerful running style has caught up to his 5-8, 205lb frame. You can only run like that against guys who are bigger than you for so long. The Falcons run game was abysmal without him last year, but their offensive line took a big dip. We had Dr. Jesse Morse on the channel a month or two back and we talked about all of the injured RBs from 2018 and what their outlooks were - he advised to stay away from Freeman as well.devonta freeman 2019 fantasy football I could've sided with the Freeman bounce-backers earlier in the offseason when his ADP was bordering the 4th/5th round, but at pick 30, that's far too rich for me.

Running back units under Falcons head coach Dan Quinn hasn't eclipsed a 17 percent target share since 2016, and backs under new Falcons offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter haven't eclipsed a 16 percent share since 2015. Devonta Freeman's 10 percent target share back in 2017 (his last full season) is what we should anticipate in 2019, with Ito Smith near the 6 percent mark he soaked up in 2018. Both could be limited a bit in PPR, with Atlanta focused on getting the ball to its strong wide receiver trio." (Per Mike Clay)  We also saw Freeman with Dirk Koetter already during his rookie year. He was bad. His lowest touch, yards per carry and yards per reception total. He used a split between 31-year old Steven Jackson, Freeman and Jaquizz Rodgers. None of them were above 3.8 YPC and none above 7.5 YPR.

Speaking of Ito Smith - Coach Dan Quinn said he expects Ito Smith to see a "significant increase" in offensive looks this season. Smith was an excellent pass-catcher in college:

ito smith 2019 fantasy football

Freeman is still the superior runner and if he's healthy that'll be his role, but I think there's a big chance Freeman finishes the year as another one of those early-mid round fantasy RBs that busts simply because he's one dimensional, a grinder at this point in his career.

Admittedly, Freeman is a winner coming out of the NFL draft, in theory. They took an OG (Chris Lindstrom - Boston College) with the 14th overall pick, and traded back into the end of the first to take an OT - Kaleb McGary (U of Wash). Lindstrom will be a big upgrade to the interior of ATL's disappointing line, but he's a far superior pass-blocker, allowing just 4 pressures in 2018 - he was PFF's 3rd overall graded OG in the draft and 2nd in PBing - but 21st in RBing. Kaleb McGary was their other 1st rounder - good all-around lineman, great athlete, but ranked 54th in run-block success per PFF last year and allowed just 1 QB hit last year - seems like these picks were for the pass game. They also didn't take a running back until the 5th round - Qadree Ollison - but I'm telling you - I kind of like this kid - out of the U of Pittsburgh! 

The guy is massive, 6-1, 228lbs, there’s no worry about handling a workload and those in-between-the-tackles carries, but he can also catch the ball. Ollison definitely isn't a receiving back, but he caught 50 passes during his time at Pitt, including a 23-catch junior season, averaging 8.4 yards per reception. Both Ollison and Freeman ran a 4.58 40-yard dash at the combine. Ollison is 228lbs (74th percentile weight-adjust speed score).... Freeman is 206lbs. Y'all do the math. For someone his size, Ollison has a surprising second gear and has great foot movement in between the tackles.

There's no scenario where Freeman is getting the 22 touches/game he saw in 2015. And probably not even the 17.5 touches/game in 2016. Or the 16.5/game in 2017. It's been a complete downward trajectory for Freeman over the last few years. I keep hearing of this imaginary RB1 upside Freeman has and the value is so good where it is in drafts - but Freeman doesn't have the upside people think and he's one of the more injury risky players in fantasy drafts this year, so from my angle, there's no way I'm using a 3rd round pick on him. I probably wouldn't consider him unless he dropped into the 5th. He's somehow going ahead of Marlon Mack, Aaron Jones, Kerryon Johnson, Derrius Guice --- nawww fam.

Mark Ingram - Baltimore Ravens

Current ADP: RB21, 39 Overall

This is actually disgusting. Y'all have Ingram as a top-40 pick??? Why? Did y'all not learn your lesson from last year with Alex Collins - I certainly did. He was a guy I liked, 100% talent based, but I didn't own him in a single redraft league I had. The Ravens use an RBBC, they don't commit to one featured back, they use different guys on the GL, between the 20's, catching passes, and riding the hot hand. If it wasn't Alex Collins, it was Gus Edwards. This year it'll be a combination of Ingram, Gus Edwards, newly drafted Justice Hill <3 and Kenneth Dixon if he doesn't get cut.

I think Ingram is a solid NFL running back.... that benefited tremendously from running behind the Saints elite run-blocking offensive line. Do I think Ingram can be a good runner in Baltimore this year? I definitely do. With Lamar Jackson at QB the lanes should be pretty wide. I wouldn't even be surprised if he averaged, 4.7, 5.0 yards per carry, but how many touches can you really project him for? Not much in the passing game, maybe the GL work, but I'm not about to project him for anything more than 6 touchdowns, maybe 7. Yes, Jax should make him more efficient, but you also have to realize that Lamar Jackson is going to run the ball 10 times a game still, if not more - that kills clock, a lot of it. This isn't going to be a high-scoring offense, imo, they'll rely on their defense and taking time off of the clock. If you want 14 carries/game at 5.0 ypc with not much else, Ingram is your guy, but not inside the top 40 picks or as a top-20 RB.

The problem with people getting excited about a top-20 rb, like woo yeah he was an RB2, RB2's don't win you championships. They sound good, only because you base it off of how many teams are in your league, but if you're a contender, you need studs at the position and Ingram's ceiling is not high at all for 2019 imo. Draft Ingram, but not as your RB2.

Some other RBs that I won't touch at their current ADP:

  • Todd Gurley - Los Angeles Rams: RB6, Overall 7
    • Knee is a huge issue - the Rams told you this when they traded up into the early 3rd round to grab Darrell Henderson, who is a perfect fit for this offense. There are one of two ways I see 2019 playing out. Gurley stays healthy, or Gurley doesn't. The latter, of course, would ruin your fantasy team if you invested a first round pick on him. And it's likely given the arthritis in his knee. The former, Gurley stays healthy will likely only happen if they pull back on his workload - and try to keep him healthy for the playoffs. Obviously, you don't want your top 5 pick on a snap count.
  • James Conner - Pittsburgh Steelers: RB9, Overall 12
    • The offense is going to level out, not as many GL looks (15 - 3rd in NFL while missing two games).
    • We saw J. Samuels start to get more involved, I doubt Conner gets the same target totals from last year. 
    • I think he'll be more of a mid-low RB2 than an RB1 with a lot of bust weeks.
  • Leonard Fournette - Jacksonville Jaguars: RB14, Overall 27
    • Injury concern, say what you want but Dr. Morse literally told us it's not fluky, the injuries he suffered to his ankles are getting worse over time, not just healing and catching bad breaks. This is way too early for a guy we can almost pencil in for missing time.
  • Derrick Henry - Tennessee Titans: RB15, Overall 29
    • Y'all know I hate Derrick Henry. I just don't believe in him as a runner, nor that offense at all. He's one dimensional, literally never catches passes.
  • Phillip Lindsay - Denver Broncos: RB23, Overall 47
    • Coming back from injury, new coaching staff will have to re-earn that role. Can he handle full workload - probably not:phillip lindsay 2019 fantasy football
  • James White - New England Patriots: RB26, Overall 51
    • Hell no. We already know White's role. He's normally a 12th round pick. He went off because there were no other running backs in their backfield last year. Burkhead and Michel were hurt the whole year. This is absurd.

 



Nick Ercolano
Nick Ercolano

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