What a week it has been in the fantasy football world. As the grueling preseason wears on and injuries mount at an alarming rate, some middle round running backs have shot up the draft board. These events show that the running back position can be a fickle one and players could see their value rise or fall at a second’s notice. These recent events mean that people who valued Kareem Hunt and others like him as mid-round running backs will probably be forced to select them in the third or fourth round. A savvy fantasy player can use this to their advantage by grabbing some falling WRs and finding running back gems later on.
Here you will find an analysis of some mid-round running backs who could keep their ADP low and could give your team that critical boost as a value running back.
PPR Value Picks
Bilal Powell- ADP 5.06
I know that some will read this name and immediately scroll down but please, hear me out. I understand that the Jets offense has the potential to be historically bad. The defense is putrid as well and won’t help a running game, but Powell offers as much receiving upside as any running back not named Bell or Johnson.
Powell has amassed 776 yards on 105 receptions over the last two seasons while missing 5 games in 2015. At this price, he is a PPR dynamite. The Jets also have aging veteran runner Matt Forte slated to be the starter. Forte has already ceded third down work to Powell but Forte’s propensity for getting injured suggests more work for Powell. Over the last 4 games of 2016, while Forte was out, Powell averaged 20 carries and 5 receptions per contest. FantasyPros.com projects the Jets to face the 2nd easiest schedule for running backs in the league. Bilal Powell could be a great value running back even if everyone thinks the Jets tank this season.
Danny Woodhead- ADP 5.08
No one really knows what to make of the Baltimore Ravens offense this year. Over 200 targets (roughly 56%) from the 2016 passing game have left the team via free agency or injury. The Ravens also lost last year’s 4th round pick Kenneth Dixon for the season over the summer. With no one left to challenge him in the backfield, Danny Woodhead has huge value in Baltimore. Woodhead does present some injury risk but when he plays, he scores. In PPR formats he finished 3rd among running backs just two seasons ago. FantasyPros.com gives Baltimore the 12th easiest schedule for running backs.
The Ravens led the NFL in total pass attempts last year and targeted their running backs 4th most in the NFL at 23.1 percent. Add these numbers in with what will often likely be a negative game script and you will get an outstanding value from Woodhead in round 5 or 6.
Theo Riddick- ADP 7.09
The Lions backfield has been a mess ever since the days of Barry Sanders. He left us all too soon and the Lions simply have failed to rebound. They have thrown some high draft picks at the position but haven’t had much to show for it. The Lions throw the ball an average of 37 times per game over the last 3 seasons and that won’t change. Theo Riddick averaged 66 receptions over the past two seasons and scored an average 14.7 ppg in his 10 games last year. If we project that out to 16 games he becomes an RB1!
Theo will not see many carries as he only took 92 after Ameer Abdullah’s early season injury, but in the 7th round, it will be inconceivable to find another running back with as much value and upside as Riddick.
Standard Values Picks
CJ Anderson- ADP 4.08
Every year there is a guy who two years prior was viewed as a potential first round selection who went bust but is still in position to succeed. Such is the case with CJ Anderson. Anderson arrived on the scene late in 2014 and if you were fortunate enough to add him from waivers, you probably held up the league championship trophy at season’s end. He scored 10 touchdowns in the final 10 games of the regular season. In2015, Anderson shared the backfield and still managed 5 touchdowns on only 152 attempts. 2016 ended early for Anderson due to a torn meniscus, but he was off to a strong start with 4 touchdowns in 6 full games. Unlike in previous years, Anderson did not have the luxury of respectable quarterback play or a decent offensive line.
John Elway did his part to ensure the latter issue is resolved. He spent his first round pick on the consensus top OT Garett Bolles. He also went out and signed road-grader OG Ronald Leary, formerly of the Great Wall of Dallas. Lastly, he acquired Menelik Watson, a former offensive tackle from Oakland. These acquisitions combined with a young quarterback should equal plenty touches for Anderson.
Ameer Abdullah – ADP 5.03
Abdullah may have the widest variety of potential outcomes of anyone on this list. He should be the starter and had an impressive dress rehearsal performance. Against a good Patriots defense, Abdullah amassed 60 yards on 13 carries and hauled in 3 passes for 39 yards. Coach Caldwell praised the third year back stating, “He’ll make a guy miss here or there, and I think that he’s been just coming along. And you can see he’s got his quickness and those things, his elusiveness back. So we’re pleased with where he is.”
Abdullah will most likely cede passing down duties to Theo Riddick but figures to receive at least 200 carries for an offense that will still spread out the defense with Matt Stafford’s aerial ability. If Abdullah stays healthy he could turn out to be a steal.
The conversation between Ameer Abdullah and Theo Riddick is an interesting one, so if you want more information about this backfield, check out Zack Marmer’s article comparing the two Lions running backs.
Rob Kelley- ADP 7.03
This one comes at a bit of a surprise to this writer.”Fat Rob” Kelley was on a tear to end 2016. Since becoming the starter in week 8, Kelley finished as RB12. He handled 495 of all the Redskin rushing attempts and forced 39 missed tackles. I would say they trust Mr. Kelley. He showed us upside with a 3 touchdown, 137-yard game and figures to be more involved this year.
The Washington Redskins scored a ton of points in 2016. They will find that a bit more of a challenge in 2017 after having to replace Pierre Garcon and DeSean Jackson. Even though they acquired Terrelle Pryor they will take time to gel as a group and that surely means Kelley is set to be the heartbeat of the offense. After managing 57 yards on just 10 carries vs the Bengals in the dress rehearsal, Kelley makes the case to be your RB2.
Doug Martin- ADP 4.10
The word is out on this one, folks. Doug Martin has received some very positive reviews this offseason and figures to reclaim his starting job as soon as he is eligible in week 4. He is just two years removed from a 1600 yard season and an RB3 finish. In some ESPN leagues, I have drafted this stud in the 6th round of a 12-team league. I will tell you that should not be your expectation. Round 4 is a good place for him given the amount running lanes he should find in an offense featuring Mike Evans and DeSean Jackson on the outside.