Crowded Running Back Committees: Patriots, Redskins, Rams

Running Backs to Avoid In 2020 Drafts
by Alan Seslowsky

Every season there are new fantasy football strategies and roster construction theories that emerge and claim to be the secret to winning your league. Some have merit, other theories prove to be fads. When you boil it all down, having a strong running-back core that you can start reliably each week is traditionally a proven path to fantasy success. This doesn’t necessarily mean you need to attack RB early in drafts or even need to strike gold in the middle rounds. Often it means avoiding the landmines that are placed throughout the draft board. Injury is difficult to predict, but there are other factors like team situation and coaching philosophy that can be predictive. Below are a few RBs RosterWatch is currently considering avoiding at current ADP.

Washington RBs: Guice, Peterson, Barber, Gibson, McKissic, Love

Most fantasy players want to see Derrius Guice take a hold of this backfield. Guice’s 7th round ADP is proof that the market is not optimistic it will happen. This situation is shaping up to be a nightmare for fantasy production. Other than Guice, the other RBs are going in the last few rounds of most drafts and are ok to speculate on, but likely will be your first drop. We still love (and always will) the talent of Derius Guice, but The Redskins backfield is a situation to avoid in most drafts unless you can get Guice at extreme value. Outside of Guice, the only back of any interest to us is stud rookie Antonio Gibson, but only in dynasty and super-deep 16-team-type redraft leagues. 


The Rams RBs: Cam Akers, Darrell Henderson, Malcolm Brown

Most of you are probably scratching your head saying to yourself, “why should I avoid The Rams?” They drafted an exciting prospect like Cam Akers in the second round. We acknowledge the upside of Cam Akers but so does the market. Currently, he is being drafted in the late 5th round. The argument to fade The Rams RBs is that we saw how the Rams treated their rookie RB, Henderson last season. In 2019 The Rams traded away assets to acquire Henderson, then barely played him. The question we need to ask is; did the Rams not like Henderson or do they favor the veterans over the rookies? We know the Rams also like to use Malcolm Brown in short-yardage spots. We can survive committees of two, but if this is a committee of three, it may be a tough obstacle to overcome. We expect Akers’ ADP to climb, and we may consider fading until we know more about the projected touch distribution. It should be noted that RosterWatch co-founder, Alex Dunlap, thinks Cam Akers will take control of this backfield in short order and prove to be a fine value. 


The New England RBs: Sony Michel, Damien Harris, James White

The Patriots’ backfield has long been known as one of the most unpredictable backfields over the last decade. We have drafted runners from that team like Laurence Maroney, Stevan Ridley, BenJarvus Green-Ellis, and some even chased Jonas Gray’s four-TD mega-throbber many years ago. More recently, many bought into Sony Michel as a reliable fantasy starter in 2019 and once again it did not pay entirely off. Enter 2020; the price on the Patriots backfield is lower but the unpredictability is steering us clear at this point. Michel is routinely going off the board in the eighth round. Damien Harris a few rounds later. James White does have a decent PPR floor and profiles as a “Zero RB” type of player. These players will have weeks of significant production but we aim for predictable volume in our RBs.

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