Fantasy Football Notebook

 

RUNNING BACKS

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Green Bay Packers

 

If Aaron Jones or A.J. Dillion received the lionshare of work in the Packers offense, they would rank inside of the Top 15 Fantasy Football Running Backs coming into this season, but a Running Back committee inevitably seems to be on hand. Jones came into last season at #8 on my Preseason Fantasy Board. After racking up 1,104 rushing yards and 11 Total Touchdowns in 2020, Jones was set to explode in 2021 as the unquestioned starter in the high-powered Green Bay offense but an early season derailed that plan and opened the door for Dillion to step into a more significant role. In the last seven games of 2021, Jones never received more than 13 carries in a single game and only recorded one rushing Touchdown. On the other hand, Dillion had 14+ carries in six out of the last 10 games, including two games with 20 or more rushes, while Jones failed to notch 20+ carries in a single game all season long. So, which Running Back has more upside? Jones is currently listed as the starter on the Depth Chart but what does that really mean?

 

Denver Broncos

 

You want to talk about splitting hairs? That's exactly what happened in the Broncos backfield last year with Javonte Williams and Melvin Gordon. They both accumulated over 900 yards on the ground, but Gordon had 8 rushing Touchdowns, which was twice as much as Williams, who edged out Gordon in Fantasy Points scored by recording 15 more catches and 103 more receiving yards. The committee approach seemed to be effective for Denver but made it difficult for Fantasy owners to trust either or when both were healthy and getting equal playing time. Should fantasy owners expect a similar time share or will the younger, more invested Williams see a featured or expanded role?

 

Kansas City Chiefs

 

Clyde Edwards Helaire begins the season listed as the Chiefs starter, but he's missed 10 games in his first two years making him very unreliable and trustworthy especially since he only notched one game last season with more than 15 carries. If Edwards Helaire can hold up, he should see most of the work, but veteran Jerrick McKinnon and Rookie Isiah Pacheco will most certainly factor in and could assume larger roles if C.E.H. is unable to put a stronghold on his position. 

Miami Dolphins

 

The last time a Miami Running Back had a major impact on Fantasy Football was back in 2016 when Jay Ajayi ran for 1,272 and 8 TDs. Since that time, there's been a revolving door of ball carriers, who've had short term success but none of them have been dependable for an entire season. Miami acquired Chase Edmonds (Arizona) and Raheem Mostert (San Francisco) in the Offseason. To start the year off, those two are expected to carry most of the load but last year's starter Myles Gaskin looms in the shadows. The Dolphins offense is expected to be much better this season but can owners trust Edmonds or Mostert in their Line Ups Weekly?

 

Baltimore Ravens

 

After gaining 805 rushing yards with 9 TDs as a Rookie in 2020, J.K. Dobbins was ranked inside of my Preseason Top 10 Fantasy Running Backs coming into last season. After averaging 6.0 yards per carry, Dobbins was the unquestioned bell cow for an offense that had a run first mentality and Top 10 Offensive Line. He also improved his hands and was going to be much more involved in the passing game. (18 receptions in 2020) Unfortunately he suffered a season ending injury before the season even started and missed all of last year. Dobbins is set to lead the Ravens backfield again but there are question marks about how his workload will be managed, does he have the same explosion and is he mentally past the injury. With backup Gus Edwards still out (ACL injury, 2021 Preseason) veteran Mike Davis is expected to carry the load behind Dobbins.

 

Philadelphia Eagles

 

We've seen this story play out before in Philadelphia, so I feel confident when giving owners advice. Ever since the Eagles drafted Miles Sanders back in 2019, the expectations were for him to become the teams unquestioned starter, who dominated the workload. Things got off to a great start as he gained 818 rushing yards with 3 TDs. But it was his 50 receptions for 509 yards and 3 TDs that got fantasy owners excited because it showed his ability to be every down Back. Unfortunately injuries have played a major role in Sanders' dip in production, as his numbers have declined in each of the last two seasons, including last year when he failed to reach 1,000 all-purpose yards and didn't score a Touchdown all season long. Sanders is expected to lead the Eagles backfield again this season but a hamstring injury currently has his Week 1 status in jeopardy, leaving the door open for backups Kenneth Gainwell and Boston Scott to cease the opportunity. 

 

 

Joshua Kelly, LAC

If starter Austin Ekeler were to miss time, Kelly would get first dibs and is the player that owners want to target but with promising Rookie in Isaiah Spiller and veteran Sony Michel on the roster, Kelly could split work with one or both players depending on how things play out.

 

Darrell Williams, ARI

James Conner is the workhorse for Arizona's backfield but if he were to miss anytime, Williams is more than capable of picking up the slack. Williams had 1,010 total yards that included 47 catches and 8 Total TDs last season with Kansas City, when starter Clyde Edwards Helaire missed significant time with an injury.

 

Alexander Mattison, MIN

Starter Dalvin Cook is one of the best in the business and is expected to get the Lionshare of work, but he's never played an entire season, missing at least 2 games in each of the last three seasons. (3 in 2021) The Vikings have one the most talented offenses in the NFL, which has made Mattison one of the top handcuffs and waiver wire pickups the past years.

 

Jeff Wilson Jr., SF

Wilson is a very familiar name around the Fantasy Football circuit. He never comes into the season as the 49ers starter but he has favor with Head Coach Kyle Shannahan, who will use Wilson at any random time. Most importantly, San Francisco Running Backs seem to struggle with injuries and if Wilson isn't injured himself, he makes for a trustworthy and reliable option if starter Elijah Mitchell were to miss anytime.

 

Jamaal Williams, DET

D'Andre Swift will lead the Lions backfield this season but Williams is still involved in the offense and will be in prime position to make major contributions to Fantasy owners lineups, if Swift is out of the lineup. Last year Williams had 758 total yards that included 26 receptions and 3 TDs.

James Cook, BUF

Anyone with common sense or good eyes can see the potential in the Rookie from Georgia. Starter Devin Singletary has a stronghold on the position but Cooks' combination of speed, vision, elusiveness and pass catching skills will allow for him to make contributions from Day 1. 

 

Rhamondre Stevenson, NE

The second-year player had an impressive Rookie campaign, showing the ability to be productive not only as a runner but also receiving out of the backfield. Damien Harris will lead the Patriots ground attack, but Head Coach Bill Belichick is very unpredictable when it comes to weekly gameplans, which could allow Stevenson some unexpected opportunities.

 

Mark Ingram II, NO

At 32 years old, the veteran still has some left in the tank. He's not every down Back, with elite pass catching skills. But his role is well defined in the Saints offense, as an effective change of pace runner behind starter Alvin Kamara, who could miss time during the season if he's suspended for an off the field incident from earlier this year.

 

Darrell Henderson, LAR

Starter Cam Akers has struggled with injuries early in his career missing more than half of the games in his first two seasons. Henderson has his own track record, missing eight games in his first three seasons. But we can look back to last season and see why he's a must have, as he gained 864 all-purpose yards, with 29 receptions and 8 Total TDs, in Cam Akers absence.

 

Kareem Hunt, CLE

Hunt is already a staple in the Browns offense, accounting for any production that doesn't come from starter Nick Chubb. Obviously if Chubb misses time, Hunt is a great option but with backup Quarterback Jacoby Brissett starting for most of the season, Hunt could see increased volume as the Browns will look to lean on their ground and short passing game a lot.

Khalil Herbert, CHI

Herbert is seated behind starter David Montgomery for the foreseeable future but like any Running Back who gets as much volume as Montgomery, injuries have and will happen. Last season when it did (Montgomery missed 3 games) Herbert filled in nicely and finished the season with 433 rushing yards and 2 TDs.

 

Tony Pollard, DAL

Ezekiel Elliott is still the Cowboys featured Running Back but Pollard could see his most expanded role since entering the NFL in 2019. Dallas lost two of its best Wide Receivers (Amari Cooper and Cedrick Wilson Jr.), plus will start the season without starting Wide Receiver Michael Gallup. They also will be without two of their starting Offensive Lineman from a year ago. (Connor Williams signed with Miami, Tyron Smith out indefinitely with hamstring injury) Those changes could afford Pollard a chance to build on his 719 rushing yards and 39 receptions from last season. Very impressive numbers for backup.

 

Kenneth Walker III, SEA

Starter Rashaad Penny has only played in ten or more games once in his four-year career, so to say that he's injury prone is an understatement. If this trend continues, Walker III, should be in position to take over the lead role but veterans Dee Jay Dallas and Travis Homer will likely be in the mix.

 

James Robinson, JAC

With second year Running Back Travis Etienne expected to be the workhorse for the Jaguars offense, Robinson is expected to see a meaningful reduction in playing time. He still will be in position to make contributions, but his biggest impact will be made as a starter if Etienne misses anytime.

 

Micheal Carter, NYJ

Rookie Breece Hall has taken over as the teams starting Running Back but Carter still should see playing time, picking up whatever work Hall can't handle. Prior to an injury, Carter was picking up steam last season as a Rookie, not only as an effective runner but also as a pass catcher. (639 rushing yards, 36 receptions and 4 Touchdowns)

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