Dec 8, 2013; San Diego, CA, USA; San Diego Chargers running back Ryan Mathews (24) before the Chargers game against the New York Giants at Qualcomm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports
We’ve only played one preseason game and a lot is sure to change, but nevertheless, fantasy football drafts are in full swing around the country.
As always, people are taking gambles based on history and avoiding risks based on the unknown. I’m here to tell you, as far as running backs are concerned, fantasy owners in 2014 are making some “interesting” choices.
I’ve singled out six running backs, based on their current ADPs, who are going too high or too low in fantasy drafts this season.
Arian Foster, Houston Texans — Foster missed over half of the 2013 season due to a back injury that almost caused him to retire. He’ll be 28 when the season starts and is expected to again be the primary back in an offense that many are not expecting to be playing with a lead very often. None of this has prevented the collective fantasy football nation from drafting him as the 8th overall running back — ahead of guys like LeVeon Bell, DeMarco Murray and Zac Stacy.
Alfred Morris, Washington Redskins — Morris had another solid year in 2013, but nothing like his breakout rookie campaign in 2012. It looks like Robert Griffin III might be back to his old self in 2014 healthwise. Griffin will look down the field this year and notice a new toy in DeSean Jackson. Nobody is really sure how Jackson’s addition is going to impact the flow and chemistry of the Redskin offense — including Morris’ performance. I personally think it’s a gamble to take him ahead of guys like Doug Martin and Ryan Mathews, but that’s what happening right now.
Andre Ellington, Arizona Cardinals — After one season of 118 carries and not a single game where he toted it more than 15 times, Andre Ellington has somehow vaulted into the Top 15 in terms of fantasy running backs drafted. Ellington, who is a sandwich away from being a run-of-the-mill scatback, will play six games against three of the most physical and dominant defenses in the league — and that’s just in his own division. There’s no way I’m taking him before any of the three running backs listed below.
Toby Gerhart, Jacksonville Jaguars — Gerhart is one of a handful of backs in the league who will get most of the carries between the 20s as well as inside the five for his team. The Jaguars are on record saying they want him to be their workhorse. When talking about a guy who has accumulated only a season’s worth of carries during his four-year career backing up Adrian Peterson at 4.7 yards a touch, I love the potential Gerhart has. He’s a steal right now, being taken behind guys like Ellington, Reggie Bush and C.J. Spiller.
Bishop Sankey, Tennessee Titans — His only competition for touches in the offense is Dexter McCluster and Shonn Green. I like the chances of Sankey being the main man in Nashville immediately. He reminds me of a hybrid of Matt Forte and Doug Martin and will have the luxury of running behind a solid run-blocking line. He’s going 20th among running backs right now, making him a low-end RB2. Personally, I think that’s the floor of his value.
Ryan Mathews, San Diego Chargers — Did we not watch any football last year? San Diego had a top-5 offense under Mike McCoy and Frank Reich’s guidance and Mathews was a huge part of that. 2013 was what we have been waiting for from Mathews since he came into the league. He finally lasted a complete season and established himself as a workhorse. Having Danny Woodhead around for a change of pace didn’t hurt either. I have a feeling Mathews and the Charger offense are in for a repeat performance in 2014. Unless I’m in a PPR league, I’m not taking Giovani Bernard ahead of Mathews.