Fantasy Football Draft 2014: Running Back Busts
Taking a Look at Some of the Overvalued Players at Running Back
August 18, 2014
The fantasy football draft season is in full swing, and over the past few weeks we’ve been taking some in-depth examinations of each position in an effort to better acquaint ourselves with the ins and outs of the 2014 fantasy campaign. Today it’s time to visit the downside of the expectations, as we’ll be checking out some running backs who may not necessarily live up to the hype they’re receiving in the early rankings.
Though some of these guys may not end up as full-on “busts,” we feel there’s enough evidence to support the fact that they might not live up to their draft stock, and you should at least mark them with a red flag. Let’s take a closer look and see what we can come up with.
Le’Veon Bell, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers: Let’s get one thing straight right up front: We like Bell. He’s extremely talented and has the tools to carry the Steelers’ running game on his own. The big drawback here is the fact that he’ll be sharing carries with new Pittsburgh RB LeGarrette Blount.
Though the exact workload numbers haven’t been determined, the early indications aren’t good for either player in fantasy. Bell himself admitted that Blount will likely get short-yardage and goal-line work, which further complicates the pair’s timeshare situation.
As far as fantasy goes, we’d call Bell a marginal RB2 and Blount a possible flex play. That said, if you’ve got an optimist or a Steeler fan in your league both will get scooped up long before they’re really viable as picks.
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Marshawn Lynch, RB, Seattle Seahawks: For most owners, Lynch is a lock for a top-shelf RB pickup, and will likely go in the top echelon of your draft. That said, we can’t really buy into his stock that highly this season. Here’s why.
Lynch played a lot last year, logging 301 carries for 1,257 yards and 12 touchdowns. That was his second consecutive season of 300-plus rushes, and he posted 285 the year before that. For that reason, a lot of people are going to be shying away from him this year in fantasy as the workload will likely tilt away from Lynch and start swinging toward Christine Michael a little more.
We’re not saying Lynch will be a bad fantasy play, but he simply might not give a return on value considering how highly he’s going in drafts right now.
Chris Johnson, RB, New York Jets: We’ll get this out of the way right up front: We like Johnson as a flex guy, but we just don’t expect to get much more out of him in fantasy this year. The reasoning is pretty clear. Even though the Jets are a run-first (and second, and third) team, they’ve also got a trio of capable backs who will get work when it’s time for a handoff.
Both Chris Ivory and Bilal Powell will be pushing Johnson for touches, and though CJ2K will see some work as a pass-catcher, Ivory will probably be the man on the goal line.
That said, if Johnson is still sitting there when you’re drafting your flex spot, by all means have at it. Just don’t get suckered into believing he’ll make a good RB2 for your roster. There’s simply too much risk involved.
Ryan Mathews, RB, San Diego Chargers: Mathews is another relatively popular pick for “bust” status, and there are a few pretty obvious reasons everyone is clinging to as well.
First off, there’s the dreaded committee approach in San Diego: Mathews will split time this season not only with fellow RB Danny Woodhead, but with Donald Brown as well. Mathews is still listed as the lead dog here, but his deficiencies in the passing game will lose him touches. Keep that in mind when you’re on the clock.
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