Fading Running Back Inflation: Damien Harris Todd Gurley, Mark Ingram
by Alan Seslowsky
Running back has always been the most coveted position in fantasy football. Fantasy players have a long history of taking their workhorse runners very early in drafts. Twenty years ago nearly every team in your league started their draft RB-RB. Around 2014, it was the WRs who dominated the first round. The trend is back to a heavy RB first round, but once you enter the second round, RB prices inflate. ADP shows that fantasy players are taking RBs over some of the elite WRs. “RB inflation,” has been a popular topic, for good reason, this off-season. If you want to fade the price gouging on RBs and get the elite WRS early, there are RBs that may be safer than the market thinks who can be had in the later rounds. Below are a few of the RBs RosterWatch is paying attention to, when we want to fade the RB inflation.
Damien Harris (RB52)
In the past, it has been hard to trust any one New England RB week in and week out. Harris, who was a third-round pick in the real NFL draft in 2019, was a healthy scratch on gamedays for the majority of his rookie season. Things are breaking right for Harris in 2020, though. Starter Sony Michel is recovering from an off-season foot injury and early practice reports on Harris have been very good. The draft cost of Harris is still dirt cheap. He can routinely be rostered in the double-digit rounds without having to fight the room for him. It is entirely possible that Harris is useful for the short term only, but his cost is in line with what we can expect from him. If you want to fade RB inflation; Harris makes for a low-risk, potential short-term solution.
Todd Gurley (RB18)
The Atlanta Falcons signed Todd Gurley as a free agent this offseason to be the lead runner on the team. It is well documented that Gurley’s troublesome knees have slowed his career trajectory. Todd Gurley’s ADP of RB18 is in a tier of other RBs that have obvious flaws. The market may be overreacting to the downside of Gurley, as evident by his recent drop in drafts to the 47th player overall. This makes Gurley a late fourth-round pick according to recent ADP pulled over the last 10 days on sharp bestball sites. With no obvious backup threatening Gurley’s touch share, he is shaping up to be an appealing value for those fading the RB inflation in the first three rounds. Falcons OC Dirk Koetter recently predicted a 15-25 touch-per-game role for Gurley, which bodes well for the team’s perception of his overall health.
Mark Ingram (RB25)
In 2019, Mark Ingram finished as an RB1. His output was inflated by his five receiving TDs, which is highly unlikely to repeat this season. The draft market is understandably excited about Baltimore’s elite rookie RB prospect, JK Dobbins, which is further depressing Ingram’s ADP. Mark Ingram can be drafted as late as the fifth round in drafts and sometimes in the sixth. On RosterWatch podcast #278, guest Justin Boone made a point that Mark Ingram is one of the emotional leaders of this team. Boone thought it is unlikely that the team tosses Ingram to the side in favor of the rookie anytime soon. When Mike Wright of the Fantasy Footballers joined the podcast, he said that a sixth-round ADP for a player with Ingram’s upside was the most egregious and cockamamie price in 2020 fantasy football drafts. Mark Ingram projects to be the lead running back on one of the best running teams in the NFL. He is an ideal pick, at cost, for those fading the RB inflation in drafts.