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Great!  Another “Players to Avoid” article to skim through and dismiss the second I see a player that I like.  That’s not what this is.  Yes, today I am going to give you three RBs to avoid, but they aren’t ones to completely dismiss.  In fact, I love certain aspects of each of these players.  Actually, if they drop to a certain point in your rookie draft it would be foolish not to take them.

What I hope you take from this piece is that given the current picks that these three RBs are going to cost, they may be RBs to avoid in your dynasty league’s rookie draft.  However, before I just jump right into it, I’d like to frame the mindset behind the reasons for avoiding any specific player in dynasty rookie drafts.

Many team owners/managers – whatever you want to call them – in the dynasty community claim to hold to a “Best Player Available” (or BPA) drafting strategy when it comes to startup or rookie drafts.  For example, if I’m sitting at 1.02 this year, Ezekiel Elliott goes at 1.01, I’m not going to reach for Derrick Henry just because my team desperately needs RBs.  I’m a huge believer in drafting the best player available, no matter what.  If I believe there’s a better wide receiver there (talent-wise) that’s the pick I make.  That’s the pick that the majority of the dynasty league claims to make.

However, here’s the problem.  After the NFL draft, many owners will throw that out the window and reach for guys who have some sexy opportunity for touches right away even though they may not be the best player available, talent-wise.  That leads people to make huge mistakes like Bishop Sankey with the Titans.  He was an early-mid 1st round pick that year in rookie drafts.  Now where is he?  He’s probably burning a hole in someone’s bench or on your league’s waiver wire.

Here’s where I hope this article is especially helpful.  Remember these RBs to avoid after the NFL draft.  If they land somewhere with opportunity, don’t go reaching for them.  Take them where they belong or not at all.  As always, if you have questions or comments feel free to reach out to me on Twitter @FF_TravisM.

 

Derrick Henry

Derrick Henry & his stiff arm.

Henry is a RB to avoid for a few reasons, but mostly one big one: the draft capital required to acquire him.  This off-season I’ve participated in at least a dozen rookie mocks.  Henry has gone as high as 1.02, and as low as 1.10.  Most of the time Henry goes in the 1.05 to 1.07 range.  If you’re not familiar with rookie pick values, that’s basically the equivalent of one arm & two or three toes off your left foot this time of year.

That’s quite a premium to a pay for a running back that had just a measly 17 receptions in three years of college football experience.  It’s also quite a lot for a running back coming off a 395 carry season, in just 15 games.  That’s some ridiculous wear and tear for any RB.  Maybe you don’t like your arms and middle three toes on your left foot as much as I do.

Don’t get me wrong.  I love the potential that comes with Henry.  The guy put up 28 TDs & averaged 5.6 yards per carry all the way to 2219 yards, in just one season!  Not only that, but Henry wasn’t playing cupcakes.  He was facing SEC defenses every week.  He was a guy that you could gorge full of carries for four quarters and he’d still look hungry as time expired.  That’s impressive.

Here’s the bad news, though.  If you turn on his tape against anyone you’ll see a few things that make you wonder how he’ll do on the next level.  He takes a long time to reach full speed (although once he gets going he has 4.54-speed).  He cannot avoid contact very well unless he’s going off-tackle and someone takes a bad angle (horrible agility scores, even though they aren’t terrible “for his size”).  Also, even though he is massive he doesn’t actually use his apparent leg strength to push through contact.  He’ll remember every once in a while, but sometimes it’s like he just forgets he’s bigger than the linebacker he’s attempting to flatten.  That won’t be the case in the NFL.

He is an absolute freak, size-speed wise.  He really compares pretty closely to Brandon Jacobs (massive, yet still fast, also never caught passes).  If he has a career arc like Brandon Jacobs it’s not the end of the world, but it’s also not worth a first round rookie pick.  There are just too many other options in the first round at wide receiver, and honestly I’d rather have Kenneth Dixon (who, by the way, can catch the ball in a passing league).

It’s not that I hate Henry, but safely inside the first round, even if he lands somewhere with opportunity, I’m not taking him.

Jordan Howard

Jordan Howard powering through contact.

As a former Purdue Boilermaker myself, I don’t actually hate IU running backs, I promise.  I wasn’t completely against Tevin Coleman last year.  This year, however, I must say I nearly vomit when I see Jordan Howard go at 2.01 in a rookie mock.

That may be the earliest I have seen him, but even if he goes mid to late 2nd I’d rather have a few other RBs or WRs in that spot.  What’s not to like?  He broke tackles at a higher rate than just about any other RB in this class.  He put up nearly 150 yards in all games he played the whole way.

Well, he also avoided doing any of the speed or agility drills at the NFL Combine this year.  That was no mistake on his part.  Please do watch some of his tape for yourself.  Jordan Howard is in no way fast.  He also has the same juking style as the third running back on today’s list.  He simply side-steps to lessen the contact that he’s confident he will break.  He runs through the contact that he cannot avoid in any way incredibly well, yes.  However, one must wonder how long that will last in the NFL.

He honestly reminds me of Jeremy Hill in some ways. Both he and Hill have nothing to contribute on third downs.  They’re both not crazy fast or agile, but their vision gets them places.  They both are able to finish runs well, which I like.

The Mike Mayock’s of the world who are obsessed (rightly so) with RB vision love Howard.  He does have that going for him.  He just seems to make the right shuffle at the second level to finish runs nicely.  However, I’m not buying him inside the first 18 picks of rookie drafts this year.  If he lands somewhere where he’s buried on the depth chart I could see grabbing him later, but as of now, he’s a RB to avoid.

Alex Collins

Alex Collins keeps his pads low through contact.

I saved the easiest target for last.  First, though, I must say, his tape can be pretty impressive at times.  He made some big plays in some big games. He did just so happen to score 20 TDs on the ground last year.  He also has nearly the exact same build as one Marshawn Lynch (as you may have already heard).  Too bad that’s where the Lynch comparisons need to stop.

Yes, Alex Collins ran for over 1000 yards in each of his three college seasons.  Yes, he has a knack for falling forward quite a bit when tackled to get an extra gain.  Yes, he’s been incredibly consistent as a runner in the SEC.  That’s commendable.  I like some of what Alex Collins does.  However, once again I can’t spend a mid-second round pick on him.

Collins does not have a great ability to miss tackles (although he does break some), despite what he can do every once in a while on his highlight runs.  His lowlight runs accentuate his lack of true lateral ability.  It’s quite funny if you look at a lot of his tape.  He trucks along with his tiny little gate (short-stepper), sees that he needs to make a juke, stutters and side steps.  I tried to find any play where he actually made a stop & start juke.  It never really happens.

He’s also not a burner at 4.59 in the 40.  This is probably fueled by the fact that he’s skipped leg day a few times with a 28.5″ vert & 9’5″ broad at the combine.  To emphasize how horrible those measurements are, Daniel Lasco jumped at least, an entire foot more in both the vert and broad jumps.

Wait though, how does he manage to break tackles with horrible speed and leg strength?  He is technically sound.  I’ll give him that.  If he wasn’t he would be absolutely terrible.  He keeps his pad level down, makes decisive (if limited) cuts, & times his bursts adequately.  That’s the only reason I believe he will indeed be successful on at least maybe 1st & 2nd downs in the NFL.

Last but not least, his only real success came this year against UT Martin (5 TDs), UTEP, & Kansas State (106th ranked defense).  His LSU game looked good because of an 80-yard run the defense handed him, but then he only managed 61 yards on 15 other carries.  All I’m saying is that his gaudy numbers from this year were inflated against some bad teams.  He couldn’t even hit 3 yards per carry against Toledo.

I don’t see him as a real feature back, which is why I can’t grab him where I’ve seen him go (2.02 to 2.08 mostly).  This could change after the NFL draft.  He could drop slightly or go to a situation where he’s not quickly lined up for snaps.  I would jump on him at 2.12 or later, but where he is being drafted now he is simply another one of my RBs to avoid.

He’s married to his beautiful wife, Kelsey. Purdue University Class of 2011. Boiler Up! Lives in Nashville, TN. Titans fan (sympathetic gifts accepted). Works on music row by day. Writes about fantasy football by night. He plays club ultimate frisbee because it’s awesome. He longboards to work because he can. Find him on Twitter @FF_TravisM.

2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. T-Bone

    April 8, 2016 at 10:29 am

    Solid column but you sure did cherry-pick to prove your narrative on Collins.

    You’re telling me his Texas Tech, Texas A&M, Ole Miss, and Tennessee performances weren’t good? He was VERY good vs. Tennessee.

    • Travis May

      April 8, 2016 at 10:46 am

      Hey T-Bone, I appreciate the feedback. As a Tennessean myself, I’d have to agree. He did do very well against Tennessee. The other games he had quite a mixed bag of quality & bad touches. If you have other comments or questions just let me know, man. It’s always welcome.

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