Fantasy Football Running Backs What is a Name Worth?

By JJ Buck
JJ Buck A theme of my early fantasy articles has been depth. The players you need to know in case of injury or standout camp performance. Hit the waiver wire and win the weekend. Veteran running backs are the ultimate gamble, in real life and fantasy football. There are known names this year that will slide down the board. Father time is undefeated in sports. In most cases you’ll gladly let someone take a risk with a veteran running back and laugh as you grab the future starter a round later. Here are some veterans who are solid roster fillers and could save you for a week or two.

Beast Mode

31-year-old Marshawn Lynch returns and his touchdown potential is real. A year away and refreshed back home in California, Lynch is currently the 20th RB selected according to Football Diehards ADP (10-team standard). Drafters are locking in Lynch as a weekly RB2. Latavius Murray scored 12-times last year – nine of those scores came inside the 10-yard line – where he received 25 carries. Lynch will be fed those chances early and often. I’m buying a big bag of Skittles and taking one last ride.

Backups: Jalen Richard, DeAndre Washington
PFF 2017 Offensive Line Projected Ranking: 7th

AP Half-Day

Mark Ingram found his groove the last three years in New Orleans. The incumbent starter isn’t at risk of losing too many carries to Adrian Peterson, but his 36 RZ attempts could be in doubt. Peterson is eager to show that he can be a factor in the passing game. A reduced role for the 32-year-old is the best thing for his career. Fantasy football wise, A.P. could sprinkle in flex-worthy performances and as your RB3/4, you’ll feel OK. Don’t be the one who takes A.P. before Ingram or other NFL starters.

Backups: Alvin Kamara
PFF O-Line: 16th

Green Mess

Matt Forte and Bilal Powell are the only two members of the New York Jets offense that I would think of drafting this year. Forte will turn 32 in December and is coming off 218 rushing attempts last season. Some still think he’s in line to be the teams work horse, but this figures to be a 1A and 1B situation similar to last season. If you end up with one, Powell is the player you want. His value was boosted with 58 receptions last year and he averaged 5.5 yards-per-carry to Forte’s 3.3. If you pick up Forte late in your draft, the best bet to squeeze value out of him will be as a flex for the first few weeks of the season. Both RB’s figure to factor into the passing game given the revolving door that is the Jets quarterback position.

Backups: Elijah McGuire, Brandon Wilds
PFF O-Line: 26th

Luck’s Blanket

There are not many running backs that have the job stability of Frank Gore. He should be done and off the fantasy football radar. Instead he carried the ball 263 times last year for 1,025 yards and four touchdowns. Indianapolis brought in Christian Michael who has already landed on injured reserve. Robert Turbin was the Colts most successful RB in the red zone last year (18 att., 7 TD’s – Gore 29 att., 4 TD’s). Despite the RZ success Turbin only managed 47 carries the entire season. At 34-years-old, Frank Gore will be littered across fantasy rosters because somehow, someway, he just keeps chugging along as an RB3 dream.

Backups: Turbin, Marlon Mack
PFF O-Line: 22nd

Revenge in the West

Finally, we get to a veteran that even I would be reluctant to roster, Jamaal Charles. This is where the name holds more value than the performance. Charles is rehabbing another knee injury after signing a one-year deal in Denver. That’s what separates him from the veterans above, along with not being the number one option (C.J. Anderson) or a candidate for the spot. He’s confident and you know he wants a shot to run against Kansas City. There’s a lot of work to be done on the Broncos offense and Charles has his work ahead of him to make the 53-man roster.

Backups: Devontae Booker
PFF O-Line: 25th