High Floor Running Backs
by Alan Seslowsky
One of the most overused terms in fantasy football is “high upside.” Even those who adopt a mostly pessimistic view in everyday life tend to see only the “upside” with fantasy players. We often convince ourselves that only the best possible fantasy outcomes will occur. Reality sets in after the first couple weeks of the NFL season. We are brought back down to earth with our once overly optimistic projections. One of the most underrated strategies in fantasy football is “high floor” players or “safe” players in the later rounds. Below is a shortlist of bargain-basement players that project to have safe, high floors. They may not win you a league, but they can stabilize a starting roster slot for you, especially in formats that require multiple flex spots.
Jordan Howard (Miami):
One interesting move this offseason was when The Miami Dolphins signed free agent RB Jordan Howard. Heading into the NFL draft, most thought that Miami would add a premium RB prospect with one of their three first-round picks. Or at least at some point. As it turned out, Miami traded a 5th round pick to acquire Matt Brieda formerly of the 49ers. Jordan Howard’s ADP as of mid-June is stuck in the mud right at the end of the 9th round. Howard projects to lead Miami in rushes and profiles to be the goal-line hammer. Though Howard can’t be counted on to catch the ball, he still should manage to match his career average of 20 receptions this season. It is reasonable to project Howard for 750 yards and 7 TDs, which is an average of his last two seasons. That is a rock-solid, high-floor draft pick given ADP. Jordan Howard is a player where all of the risks are more than priced in.
Ronald Jones (Tampa Bay)
Ronald Jones has not met the expectations most had of him since entering the league two years ago as a 20-year-old rookie. He hasn’t been as bad as the other side thinks, either. He finished his miserable rookie season as the RB100 but became a usable fantasy player in 2019 finishing as the RB26 (albeit only through a few usable fantasy outings). Entering his third season, the 22-year-old Jones will have to compete with rookie Ke’Shawn Vaughn who is actually older than Jones at 23. This article is not about taking a side in the social media debate over which Tampa RB is the one to own. Rather, it is underlining that Jones’ draft price (7th round, RB36) represents value as a high-floor play. Ronald Jones has displayed game-breaking talent to outperform his draft position even if Vaughn plays a significant role, making Ronald Jones a safe, high-floor fantasy pick.
David Montgomery (Chicago)
He is not a fantasy pick that you are overly excited to make. Your lack of enthusiasm is a good thing for the purposes of this article. David Montgomery represents a high-floor, safe pick, mostly because he will not have a significant challenge to his rushing and short-yardage workload. Teammate Tarik Cohen will limit Montgomery’s pass-catching upside, which is why you are able to get a starting RB, who can be reasonably projected for 220 rushes, in the middle of the 5th round. Montgomery is an ideal RB draft pick for teams who have loaded up on WR and TE early. If your team drafted RB heavy in the first few rounds, the WRs in this range (Terry McLaurin, DJ Chark, and Tyler Lockett) are more optimal for your roster construction. As always, refer to the Ultimate Draft Cheat Sheet for any final decisions while drafting.