Avoid These 5 NFL Running Backs in 2019

Avoid These 5 NFL Running Backs in 2019

Last week we identified 5 running backs that you have to target in your fantasy league this season. As a counterpart to that article, here are 5 running backs that you need to avoid at their current ADP.

These articles always tend to fire up our readers. Whether you are already invested in one of these backs, are just a fan of the player or team, or flat out disagree with our take… the comment section is wide open and can be found below the article.

Nick Chubb

RB ADP: 12 / Overall: 19
Boom. Right off the bat, people are pissed. Let me clarify, I like the player, like the situation, hate that Kareem Hunt will be back in 8 weeks. It would be different if it was just about any other back in the league, Kareem Hunt is a cheat code, and the Browns got a glimpse of that this offseason.

Hunt has 3,000 yards and 25 touchdowns in 27 career games and has fumbled only once. He will at worst get 40% of the work once he returns, and will certainly be on the field for third downs and in passing situations.

This is in addition to the fact that the team added Odell Beckham Jr this offseason, and he will likely get to 150 targets this season. Jarvis Landry saw 149 targets in 2018, and Rashard Higgins was extremely efficient putting up 39/572/4 on just 53 targets in 13 games. Oh yeah, and the team refuses to trade Duke Johnson, a guy that has averaged 150 touches per season over the last 4.

Kevin Zeitler was probably the best player on the offensive line for the Browns last season, so trading him will hurt, but the group should be fine as it returns the other four starters. Adding Beckham on the outside should help to keep defenses more honest, it will likely be rare to see opponents put 8 in the box against this offense.

Chubb is still the man. He is a plug and play guy for the first 8 games of the season, will likely be a top 10 back over that stretch, and will probably be a popular target in our DraftKings articles. The problem is when it matters most, down the stretch of your fantasy season, it looks like Chubb may become a headache for fantasy owners. At his current ADP I would rather have any of the four backs going after him: Todd Gurley, Damien Williams, Marlon Mack, or Derrick Henry.

Leonard Fournette

Leonard Fournette was one of the more dominate CFB running backs we have ever seen. He ran a 4.51 40 at 6’0/230 at his pro day, and looked ready to take over the league.

I would argue he is still one of the more talented running backs in football… it just hasn’t worked out. It isn’t for a lack of trying. He’s 3rd in the NFL in attempts/game over his first two seasons, but there has just been no production with those attempts. His career YPC is 3.7 and last season it was just 3.3.

In addition to that, he is constantly hurt and has never had a major role in the Jags passing attack. He has put up 58/487/2 over 2 NFL seasons, about the equivalent to what James Conner did in 13 games last year. Maybe his role in the passing game can grow with Yeldon leaving. While we love Ryquell Armstead, he is even less of a pass-catching threat, and neither Alfred Blue, Thomas Rawls or Benny Cunningham are locks to earn that role.

The injuries have been maddening. It seems like he has been on the injury report every week since midway through his junior season at LSU. If you have owned Leonard Fournette over the past two seasons, you have likely spent every Sunday morning trying to decipher if he is going to play or not.

Another thing to consider with Fournette is the system. How are people still excited to see John DeFilippo hired as the OC? How did he get hired as the OC? He took a bad Browns offense in 2015 and made it worse, moving a 7-9 Cleveland team (27th in scoring) to 3-13 (30th in scoring). He was then hired as the QB coach under a great offensive HC in Philly, and parlayed that into another opportunity as OC in Minnesota. He took the 10th overall Vikings offense and managed to drop them to 23rd overall before being fired in week 14. In every instance, the rushing numbers decreased dramatically, including dropping from 8th to 30th in Minnesota last season.

In the end, if Fournette is racking up 3.5 YPC will DeFilippo have the stubbornness that the old Jags staff had? Can we expect 24 carries for 53 yards and a touchdown like we saw him put up in week 10 last season? Or will he let Foles and that sneaky-good group of receivers dictate the offense? If you draft Fournette over Marlon Mack, Derrick Henry, and Aaron Jones you had better hope for the former.


Darrell Henderson

Before we get too far into breaking down why Darrell Henderson is a guy to avoid this draft season, I want to start by saying that I am a Darrell Henderson guy. In fact, I called him the second best RB in the draft (behind David Montgomery) in our NFL Draft betting podcast. He was a machine at Memphis, averaging 8.9 YPC each of his last two years there, but to be fair that is what Memphis does. Patrick Taylor is already number four in our current fantasy CFB player rankings.

Let’s start with the obvious, Gurley is ahead of him and is arguably the best running back in football. Henderson will not come off your bench as long as Gurley is active, making him the definition of a handcuff.

However, he isn’t being drafted as a handcuff. His current ADP is just behind Tevin Coleman, who will be the number one back in Shanahan’s 49ers offense, and ahead of guys that are all but guaranteed day one roles in their systems. This list includes: Rashaad Penny, Lamar Miller, Derrius Guice, and Peyton Barber.

Let’s assume Gurley misses time. While no where near the talent that Henderson is, Malcolm Brown is entering his 5th year with the Rams, and is still listed ahead of Henderson on the depth chart. Additionally, the team is invested in both John Kelly and Justin Davis, both of whom could earn carries if Gurley misses time. Some sort of committee could limit Henderson’s value even if Gurley is out.

Ronald Jones

I don’t think there is a fantasy owner out there that watched Ronald Jones play last season and thinks he is worthy of his current ADP. He was horrible, never learned the system, and was the Bucs lowest grade skill player at 48.8.

Part of what makes Jones attractive is how unattractive the idea of starting Peyton Barber again this season looks to both Bucs fans and fantasy players. While Barber graded out considerably better than Jones in 2018 (nearly 20 points higher, including a rush grade of 70+) he lacks the flash that fans and fantasy owners gravitate to.

That being said, throughout each phase of this offseason, the Bucs staff has repeatedly said that Barber is going to be their primary back in 2019. Arians recently stated that the team plans to “build their offense around Barber’s power running style”.

Arians also stated that the team plans to throw the ball to Barber more this season, which is obviously intriguing to fantasy owners. Going back to this David Johnson/Andre Ellington days at Arizona, Arians has always involved the running back position in his passing attack.

The assumption that Ronald Jones fits this role better than Barber is a fallacy. He only caught 32 passes in 40 games at USC, and 7 for 33 yards with Tampa last season. Neither of theses guys are Christian McCaffrey and the 3rd down role will likely be an open competition throughout camp.

At this point, I think Barber should be the first Tampa RB off the board, and Ronald Jones should be nothing more than a late round dart. However, the two are flipped in the current ADP, with Jones coming off the board in the late 7th, early 8th and Barber coming off in the 11th. Given his current ADP, Barber recently made our RB sleepers article.

Ito Smith

This is another case where I just don’t think people actually watched this guy play last season. Ito Smith can not, and will not, replace Tevin Coleman in the Atlanta offense. Over 10% of Coleman’s touches went for more than 15 yards last season, Ito averaged less than 5 yards per receptions. The two guys are not on the same planet in terms of ability.

We think Freeman will be a three down, workhorse back for the Falcons this season, and Ito could potentially eat whatever scraps are left over. He wasn’t particularly effective in the same role, working behind Coleman in 2018. The majority of Smith’s fantasy production came in a flukey three game stretch that saw him score three rushing touchdowns, despite running for only 62 yards over that stretch.

Even if you are drafting him for his potential role in this offense, the backup job is far from his. Given even odds on all of the guys on the roster, I would take Brian Hill over Smith to earn the majority of work if Freeman misses any time this season. The team also signed Kenjon Barner, who would likely serve as a 3rd down back if Freeman goes down.

This is another back that is nothing more than a handcuff, but is being drafted way ahead of where he should be. At his current ADP, in round 11, I’d rather have Peyton Barber, Nyheim Hines, Dion Lewis, or Kalen Ballage. The last of that group isn’t coming off the board until late round 13/early round 14, which is the earliest Ito Smith should be going right now.

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