Late Round Running Backs
by Alan Seslowsky – Twitter: @Alanseslowsky
Running backs are the most coveted players in fantasy football. With the exception of 2015, where the paradigm shifted to wide receivers, the first round of your draft will likely see 10-12 runners get picked. It could be optimal to “zag” away from running backs if you are drafting late in the first round. It will be tempting to draft two to three elite WRs and then start looking for running backs later in the draft. Below are running backs that you could target in each of the later rounds if you can’t resist the temptation to draft WRs early.
Mike Davis, RB Falcons
There is market hesitation and skepticism about Mike Davis. Davis was proactively signed by Atlanta this off-season, sits atop Atlanta’s RB depth chart, and the team did not add an RB with significant draft capital. Davis is still going outside of the top 50 picks. Last year Todd Gurley was in a similar situation with Atlanta, and he was routinely getting drafted around the two-three turn. Mike Davis showed well in Carolina last year filling in for Christian McCaffrey. Of course, there is still a risk that a “street” free agent can be added, but the price is right on Davis. Try not to overthink it. Davis is the RB1 on a team that projects to have a good offense. New Head Coach, Arthur Smith, leaned heavily on the running game during his time in Tennessee. Mike Davis is not going to give you Derrick Henry production, but if you draft WRs early, Davis is the perfect “late-round RB” in rounds four-six.
Gus Edwards, RB Ravens
RosterWatch believes Edwards is an obvious pick if you get stuck in the later rounds of the draft. The market is not yet keen on Edwards and his upside. The Ravens did not let him go as a restricted free agent. Edwards should be getting drafted where Mark Ingram was going in 2020. If you recall, the market was drafting Ingram as the “Thunder” part of the Ravens one-two punch at RB. Gus Edwards has been efficient the last few years, firmly over 5.0 yards per carry. Gus won’t catch a ton of passes but it is reasonable to project him for seven TDs. If you need a runner with a secure role and weekly upside in a good offense, Gus Edwards should be targeted in the eighth round.
When you are in the final rounds of your draft, it is optimal to identify players that are “one-injury” away from being top 15 RB the following week. RosterWatch suggests you take players like that versus players with immediate roles and lack upside. Below is a shortlist of high upside, one injury away players to consider in the last few rounds.
Darrel Williams, Chiefs: Currently the clear RB2 behind CEH
Chuba Hubbard, Panthers: Look no further than Mike Davis’ 2020 season. Davis was an RB1 filling in for CMC.
Devontae Booker, Giants: Barkley has missed significant time the last two seasons. It is not certain Barkley will be ready for week one.