If Antonio Brown, Odell Beckham, and Julio Jones all play 16 games, there is no way to deny their value. Fantasy football has experienced a changing of the guard, and now the receivers reign supreme. There is no such thing as a safe running back anymore. Last year we saw just how fragile the position really is. Don’t throw that info away, because it is not an outlier. Quarterbacks and wide receivers are the only “safe” positions in fantasy. I can make an argument against each top running back, even if they were to play all 16 games.
Todd Gurley: The Rams offense is terrible. They are going to feed Gurley until he throws up, and then feed him some more. To say there is no injury risk is to 22-year old kid expected to get the ball 300+ times would be inaccurate. It would also be inaccurate to guarantee production from Gurley. TG is not a prominent part of the passing game. Depending on what format you play, this could knock him down your rankings. He only caught 21 passes last year, meanwhile a guy like Devonta Freeman caught 73. In PPR formats, Gurley would need to run for 520 more yards to make up for those points.
He also offers a lower floor than you might expect. Through weeks 12 and 13, Gurley had a combined 18 carries for 60 yards. If the Rams are trailing as often as I envision, it’s going to be tough for Gurley to get you a stable week-to-week floor. He also gets to play the Seahawks twice, Cardinals twice (one in week 17), Panthers and Jets. All those defenses will be ready for Gurley. Not to mention in some of his good matchups like the Giants, Patriots, Saints and Lions, the games figure to be high-scoring. A shootout, or large deficit for the Rams, means less Gurley for you. Give me Brandon Marshall’s weekly floor over Gurley’s, all day.
Adrian Peterson: I will admit that this is the hardest back to poke holes in, mainly for the fact he was created in a lab by scientists. However, like I mentioned on the Skyscraper Fantasy Spotlight Podcast, when Peterson gets to that cliff, he’s going to fall far. Peterson will be 31 this season, and has over 2,500 touches on his resume. That is a ridiculous amount of work, and even aliens have to break down some time. Let’s take a look at some RB stats from guys you might recognize, at age 31.
Marshall Faulk: 195 carries, 774 yards, 3 touchdowns
Jerome Bettis: 246 carries, 811 yards, 7 touchdowns
Ladanian Tomlinson: 219 carries, 914 yards, 6 touchdowns
Eric Dickerson: 167 carries, 536 yards, 2 touchdowns
OJ Simpson: 161 carries, 593 yards, 1 touchdown
If anyone can break this trend it’s Adrian Peterson. That being said, are you willing to take that risk in the first round? Give me an ascending Allen Robinson over a declining AD, all day.
David Johnson: CJ Anderson? Jeremy Hill? Doug Martin? Will we ever learn? Granted DJ is a better pass-catcher than all those guys, but the point of the first round is to avoid risk. You can’t win your league in the first but you can lose it. How many times must I tell you this?
Chris Johnson showed he was more than deserving of touches out of the backfield. Andre Ellington is a big-time playmaker who just hasn’t been available. Bruce Arians has said he wants to keep DJ fresh and “be smart with his workloads.” Can DJ be the best fantasy player ever and completely go off? Sure he can. I’m not saying none of these guys will reach their potential. I’m just making sure you’re aware that you are taking a huge risk with any back you draft. Give me the safety of AJ Green over DJ, all day.
Ezekiel Elliot: Bruh. Do I even need to tell you how risky this is? Yes, he has a great line. Yes, he was drafted fourth overall. You know who else had a great line and was drafted third overall? Trent Richardson. And as a hardcore draft junkie, I got news for you. Trent was a better college player.
There are no guarantees that Zeke is just going to come right in and dominate. In fact, I’d argue that it’s more likely he doesn’t. His body is already trying to get used to the speed and physically-demanding nature of the NFL. He is already dealing with a hamstring injury. Also, rookies tend to break down towards the end of the year due to the longer, more physical NFL season. He also has to fend off two proven backups in Alfred Morris and Darren McFadden. Give me Deandre Hopkins over an unknown, all day.
Lamar Miller: Miller is on a new team after never being trusted to handle a full-workload. Whether you think Miami was to blame or not, professional football coaches didn’t trust him to handle a full workload.
We aren’t sure what the new-look Texan offense will look like. Lamar Miller figures to get a bulk of the work, but we aren’t sure he can handle it. We also do not know if we will be the goal-line guy, or if they will bring in someone else. What we do know is Mike Evans will go over 1,000 yards receiving. Give me Evans over Miller, all day.
Devonta Freeman: I love Devonta Freeman. He blew up last year and is still an underrated football player. With that being said, I remember when Jeremy Hill and CJ Anderson blew up too. Tevin Coleman is expected to be more involved this season. That doesn’t mean Freeman won’t maintain his effectiveness, but it doesn’t mean he will, either. If Freeman’s touchdowns go down, which I assume they will, he’s more of an RB2 than an RB1 anyway.
Freeman is another young guy who broke down towards the end of the year. That’s something you David Johnson, Todd Gurley, and Ezekiel Elliot owners can look forward to. Freeman is in danger of becoming a member of a committee. You know who isn’t in a committee? Keenan Allen. Give me Keenan over Devonta, all day.
Leveon Bell: Bell is set to miss four games of the fantasy season. Add in the bye week and you’re hoping for eight games before the playoffs start. That’s the first issue. The second issue is that he’s hurt more times than not. He’s also going in the second round. If you want a guy with injury concerns, who has at least proven to be reliable before, take Jordy Nelson. That’s right, give me Jordy Nelson, a guy who is a true pro, over the kid who thinks weed is more important than football…all day.