Must Own Running Backs in 2019 Fantasy Football
We wanted to update this video, because in it we had nick chubb, marlon mack, rashaad penny among a few others. Chubb is still very much on my list and was number 10 overall in my rankings from my video that came out on Saturday. Mack, however, becomes a lot less appealing due to the uncertainty of Andrew Luck's health, etc, etc. And penny, is looking like the CLEAR number 2 behind Chris Carson. Carson played on 14 of the 17 snaps with Wilson under center on Sunday nght, Carson saw 7 opps (5 carries, 2 targets) it was completely his backfield, and although Penny still has a touch-floor, he won't come close to a ceiling without Carson getting hurt. You can get all of those types of preseason recap writeups in the BDGE Draft Guide available on bigdogsdraftguide.com!
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For this week's draft guide giveaway which will be announced next Wednesday, drop an answer to this:
Which team that made the playoffs last year, won't make it this year and why?
Aaron Jones - Green Bay Packers
So, Jones is a guy I admittedly didn’t love going into the summer. When I initially started looking at this Green Bay backfield, I thought RBBC, stay away. And then I started to think – wait, maybe this is a good thing. I’m stating to think of Aaron Jones as Alvin Kamara. He will benefit over the long-run by being used less frequently, given his size and injury history. He already dealt with a hamstring tweak this summer, but returned to practice this week (8/12). The next couple of weeks will be HUGE to determine his health for the season. He was immediately back working with the ones at practice and If he can make it through the rest of August/early September without a setback, I’d be feeling good about Jones.
Matt LaFleur comes over from Tennessee to Head Coach this Green Bay team. We know the background of LaFleur – under Kyle Shanahan in Atlanta then under McVay in LAR. Last year was not good at all for LaFleur in TEN. Say what you want about the QB situation – but the offense was bottom of the league in most offensive categories that would suggest a forward-thinking philosophy – pace, snaps/game, etc. What I do find extremely encouraging is the running back usage in the passing game, which we’ve heard time and again this summer from Green Bay camp and from LaFleur.
Last year, Dion Lewis caught 59 passes. That’s a huge number. I think we can all agree that at worst – Aaron Jones is the best pass-catcher in this backfield – it’s not close. What we also know is that he’s far and away the best runner, too. He led the entire NFL in yards per carry last year (5.47), while ranking 8th in tackles evaded/attempt. Unlike Dion Lewis, Jones is not competing with Derrick Henry. I don’t think he’s particularly good, but as runners Jamaal Williams and Dexter Williams are shite to Derrick Henry’s shit.
The problem is, we don’t know what the coaches in Green Bay prefer. Maybe they’re a bunch of drunk college kids and they want Dominos at 2am. We can all objectively agree that L&B is better than Dominos, but that doesn’t always mean that you’re fading Dominos. Unfortunately, they’ve enjoyed greasy ass Jamaal Williams for too long.
What’s going on in GB though. Jamaal Williams has been dealing with a hamstring injury and has been out. Aaron Jones has been soaking up the majority of the first-team reps, mixing in with rookie Dexter Williams. This is great, new coach will have the chance to see exactly what Aaron Jones is up close.
I’m completely fine letting one of the fat boy Williams bro’s take the grinder carries, so that leads to less injury risk for Aaron Jones – if he has a large % of his touches in this high-powered offense come by way or receptions, I’d love that. 12-14 carries a game + 5 targets? Fuck yeah give me 17-18 touches/game Aaron Jones with less injury risk than 5 games of 23+ touch Aaron Jones. Jones reportedly came into camp in great shape, I’m not going to go on a rant about his 5.3% body fat, no one needs me yelling on a Monday morning – but it’s better he comes in, in good shape than out of shape, the last preseason it was the suspension and him getting injured in the preseason i believe it was a hamstring he was dealing with last August – so he’s getting a nice fresh start in 2019.
This is also quietly a very good offensive line in Green Bay. They were Football Outsider’s 7th ranked run-blocking line and PFF’s 5th best run-blocking line. They drafted a kid named Elgton Jenkins from Miss St. 4th overall to sure up that interior – love that. They signed Billy Turner from Denver in FA to a 4-year $28M contract, hired former 49ers O-Line coach Adam Stenavich so LaFleur + Stenavich wil be on the same Kyle Shanahan esq page.
This is going to be a great offensive unit in Green Bay, on all cylinders. The scoring opportunities should be plentiful. Jones is a terrific GL/RZ rusher, even dating back to his days in college – a guy who ran for 33 rushing scores in 35 games. Last year, he handled 67% of the Packers GL carries and was absolutely dominant inside-the-10 yard line.
Miles Sanders - Philadelphia Eagles
The Eagles current RB depth chart reads: Miles Sanders, Jordan Howard, Wendell Smallwood, Corey Clement, Josh Adams, Donnel Pumphrey, Boston Scott and newly signed Darren Sproles, but almost none of them are getting runs with the 1's outside of Jordan Howard and Miles Sanders. Over the coming weeks, a bunch of them will get cut.
Let’s look at Sanders as a player: Sanders was the second RB off the board in the 2019 NFL Draft to Philadelphia: 53rd overall, and the only other back besides Josh Jacobs to go within the draft’s first two rounds. Howie Roseman: “Reminds us of other guys we’ve had around here.” Philly’s drafted three running backs inside the first three rounds of an NFL Draft since 2002:
- Miles Sanders (2019)
- LeSean McCoy (2009)
- Brian Westbrook (2002)
We didn’t get to see much of Sanders at Penn State during his freshman or sophomore season (combined 56 carries and 8 receptions) due to Sagawd Barkley being a fixture in the Happy Valley backfield. But, in 2018, during Sanders’ final season at State, the Eagles 2nd rounder took hold of the featured job and put up some serious numbers.
Over 1,400 total yards from scrimmage and 24 receptions. 24 is a good enough number for me to believe he can catch passes at the next level, plus Barkley only caught 20 passes during his inaugural college season followed by a 28-catch campaign in his sophomore year. And it’s not like this is Ohio State or Wisconsin, where you can just project the “next guy up” at running back to pop off for 1,400 yards – this is Penn State, where the offensive line ain’t shit. These are impressive numbers not to be taken lightly. So, we have the college production, let’s look at Sanders from an athletic standpoint – is he fast, big, quick enough relative to NFL athletes?
Survey says……… fuck yeah. He blew away the combine, coming in with enough size to be considered a starting NFL back who can operate on any and all 3 downs, plus 75th+ percentile athleticism in nearly every category. Relative to other NFL backs, he’s a phenomenal athlete.
So, where does this leave us for 2019? It’s a tricky spot. I wish he was a late 7th rounder instead of 6th, to be honest, but the fact that the Chris Carson news is pushing Penny’s ADP down so rapidly gives your roster the option to grab both of these backs in the mid-to-later rounds who both have top-15 fantasy RB upside.
The Eagles rookie missed OTAs and a bit of camp with a hamstring injury, but has since returned to the field with no setbacks so it looks to be in the past thankfully. Early reports out of camp had negatively shined light on Sanders’ pass-blocking ability. But since those surfaced, it’s only been rave reviews from Eagles camp and most importantly the heart and soul of Philly’s beat reporting crew: Jimmy Kempski of The Philly Voice, among basically every person from Eagles practices.
Sanders is the most talented, all-around running back the Eagles have had on their roster since LeSean McCoy, no questions about it. The Eagles told us this when they traded a 6th round pick for Jordan Howard, but used a 2nd rounder on Sanders. The big facts don’t lie.
Am I nervous that this will be a committee, given Doug Pederson’s historic use of running backs. Definitely, but not for long. I could care less about Howard eating up early-down work. Let him throw his head into the backs of offensive lineman for 1, 2, 3, 4-yard gains. An RBBC might not be the worst thing for Sanders, because he’ll be seeing the passing-down work, and getting 8-10 carries behind one of the league’s best offensive lines will translate to efficiency at scale.
Admittedly, Sanders may not be startable as anything more than a desperate flex to begin the season, but by Week 6, he should be seeing a 16-18 touch workload. Do you remember that guy Josh Adams? The guy who’s slower, less agile, and worse in the passing game comparatively speaking to Sanders? Over the last six weeks of the Eagles season, Adams averaged nearly 16 touches/game. Adams came off the field constantly in passing situations because of his lack of versatility, which isn’t something that should hamper Sanders. Before Ajayi got hurt, he was seeing around 15+ touches/game. Jordan Howard is a grinder, Miles Sanders is a running back with a 3-down skillset. If Sanders sees even 15 touches/game in an offense like this, he can put up really efficient numbers and wind up as a top-15 even top-12 running back for you - similar to Kerryon Johnson down the stretch last year, before he got hurt, in a better offense. That will play itself out over the long run and Sanders will explode for you during the 2H of the season & into the fantasy playoffs.
***PLUG DRAFT GUIDE***
Matt Breida - San Francisco 49ers
Matt Breida, the 24-year-old running back who despite going undrafted, topped 1,050 total yards in his second season, catching 27-of-31 targets, averaging 5.3 yards per carry – the 2nd highest rate in the NFL among 33 backs that had at least 135 carries. He did this all on one ankle, let me remind you.
Everyone was concerned about the crowded backfield, well, it's no longer crowded. Jerick McKinnon is still not recovered from his ACL tear from over a year ago. There's a good chance he ends up on I.R. and can't return until at the earliest, halfway through the szn. No longer do we have a battle, we have two good running backs, that are going to be in a great offensive scheme with a ton of work to split between them... one going like 5 rounds after the other.
Last night we got to see Jimmy G out on the field for the first time, I mean, he looked terrible, but in regards to personnel, Coleman started obviously, but him and Breida split snaps near evenly, and what was most encouraging was how they were used, especially in the passing game. They were out wide, they were using pre-snap motion to put both backs into the slot, they were running wheel routes, it was great. Both of these backs are going to be heavily involved in the passing game as we've always seen in a Kyle Shanahan offense, and I don't personally think this team is going to be very good. Improved from last year? Of course, but still trailing plenty and having to throw a lot. Breida is gonna ball this year.
In my opinion, he's the most talented back on this roster and the most versatile. Last year, Breida ranked 7th among NFL running backs in yards per touch, had the 4th highest breakaway run rate (8.5% – the percentage of runs that went for 15+ yards), he had 0 drops while simultaneously having PFF’s single highest receiving grade among running backs. He was a cheat code on first and second downs through the air. Shanahan, one of the top, young offensive-minded coaches in the NFL understands that getting the ball to your running backs in space on early downs is also a cheat code.
Tevin Coleman will obviously be heavily involved in this offense. But, I’m a believer that McKinnon won’t be. And I think Breida is not only the most talented back of the group, but the cheapest in fantasy drafts.
Tony Pollard - Dallas Cowboys
If you were drafting James Conner last year because of Le'Veon Bell, then you probably realize how good of a draft pick Tony Pollard is in fantasy football. Not a single person on earth knows when, or if, these Zeke negotiations are going to be done. Have to take care of Dak, Cooper, Zeke, they might have a while, who knows if he holds out. Anyone saying the know, I think is full of shit - but where you have to draft Pollard right now, relative to what we know his role is going to be --- he's running exclusively with the ones fam!!!!
this is exactly what the preseason is for! information like this! he is zeke's direct backup. ask the james conner owners last year if that 14th round pick was worth the risk of Bell signing his extension.
Dion Lewis - Tennessee Titans