The time to make dynasty buy sell decisions on certain running back groups is about to pass as leagues finish up last-minute drafts with just two weeks until actual football! You don’t want to be left in the dark in arguably the thinnest position in fantasy football. The most overvalued and undervalued position in football, both real and fantasy, in 2020 is the running back. It has been this way for years as they remain the most valuable position in fantasy drafts going heavily in the first and second rounds because the talent drops off immensely after the fact.
What about the zero running back draft strategy? The repercussions of taking this approach seem to be troublesome on the top layer. Like any cake, however, the frosting is just fluff. Once you cut yourself a corner piece (yes, I am a monster) and dig in you find what you truly want and the same goes for running backs.
The problem is most of the running backs I will be mentioning below will be the ones you have to dig through to find your starters. Some situations have some gold, some have some silver, and some have absolutely nothing despite how much you swirl your mining pan around.
Let’s sift through the dirt and see if we can find some gold!
New England Patriots
Roster: Sony Michel, Damien Harris, James White, Rex Burkhead, and Lamar Miller
This isn’t just cloudy, this is a smoke grenade the size of an atomic bomb.
Without Tom Brady in New England, it is tough to say how much either Cam Newton or Jarrett Stidham will rely on these running backs. Even if they are heavily utilized, how many fantasy starter-worthy weeks will there be from one of these backs? Newton is the leader in the clubhouse and we have seen what he can do with Christian McCaffrey, but this is New England. Things have always been murky and despite the glowing reports on Damien Harris, we have no idea what’s to come after Sony Michel and Lamar Miller are able to practice.
This may be a group to completely avoid outside of those of you who partake in DFS unless the situation clears up due to injury and/or trade.
Decision: Sell Everyone
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Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Roster: Ronald Jones, KeShawn Vaughn, and LeSean McCoy
This is a team that in Bruce Arians’ first year saw the team run the ball 409 times. With Brady now in the Bay, they may be running it even more with the expectation of leading more, or at least being in striking distance, late in games.
With Winston, they would blindly, literally we discovered, throw the ball nonstop when they were trailing. 172 carries went to Ronald Jones and I expect that number to rise north of 200. I can also see McCoy taking over 100 and Vaughn picking up the scraps. Arians prefers veterans and with Jones and McCoy taking that title, it may leave Vaughn out in the cold until the right opportunity arrives. I would grab Ronald Jones now with his ADP being in round seven territory.
Decision: Buy Jones, Sell McCoy and Vaughn
Roster: Leonard Fournette and Chris Thompson
Leonard Fournette is coming off a career-high in targets and receptions with new “franchise” quarterback Gardner Minshew at the helm. Minshew targeted Fournette often as the Jags were playing from behind and the offensive line play was lackluster at best – resulting in a ton of dump-offs to Fournette. Last year could have been much bigger for Fournette had he found the endzone more than three times, but with the supporting cast improved around him, I can see those increasing in 2020. Chris Thompson has been active for 16 games just one time in his seven-year NFL career, so I wouldn’t be worried about him at all.
Decision: Buy Fournette and pay no attention to Thompson
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Las Vegas Raiders
Roster: Josh Jacobs, Jalen Richard, and Theo Riddick
This will be a tough pill to swallow and while I don’t understand it, it seems as though John Gruden and Mike Mayock do not want to make Josh Jacobs a bellcow back.
Jacobs came out of Alabama with fresh legs that they just don’t want to use in the passing game. With the signing of Theo Riddick this week it just seems they are hell-bent on using Jacobs primarily in the run game. With his ADP where it is at the end of round one, I just can’t make that type of investment in an early-down running back in the PPR world we live in. Sell Jacobs, get a king’s ransom from the right guy, and prosper with the multiple assets you get in return. This may not be a popular opinion but this is the ultimate buy or sell running back group that can make your team exponentially more talented.
Decision: Sell Jacobs and Avoid the Rest of the Group