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Four potential running back busts in fantasy football this year

Or PLAPs as I call them. That’s right, I invented a new word.

NFL: Oakland Raiders at Philadelphia Eagles Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Everytime I write a fantasy bust article, I cringe at the word “bust”.

I think it comes from how “bust” is used in talking about actual football draft picks. Jamarcus Russell deserves his title of “draft bust” because he went number one overall in 2007 and sucked from the moment he stepped onto the field. (If you ever find yourself with a lot of free time and wonder what to do with it, just look at the 2007 NFL draft class and remind yourself that Jamarcus freaking Russell went number one overall. It might be one of the most talented drafts of the past decade and the Raiders just whiffed completely.)

In the fantasy football world that we, the masses, operate in—because we seriously lack the physical gifts and the overwhelming will power to be in the actual football world—it’s rare that the busts we write about have as catastrophic a fall as the busts in actual football.

This is all just a long winded way of saying I’ve created a new word that I feel better encapsulates what we, the fantasy community, mean when we describe a player as a bust, and that word is PLAP: Projected Less than AdP (PLTAP doesn’t have the same ring to it so I scrunched the “than”).

With that established, here are four running backs who have the potential to be PLAPs this year.

(See? Isn’t that just so much better/more fun to say?)

Jerick McKinnon (ADP: 3.02, RB16)

I talked about McKinnon on this week’s RB1 podcast and I still am not sure how I feel about him. While Kyle Shanahan does know how to create RB1s in fantasy, I’m not sure McKinnon is going to live up to his high billing.

He experienced success in Minnesota primarily as a pass catcher/change of back guy who came in to throw the defense off. Last season he averaged 3.8 yards per carry on 150 carries and has never broken 600 yards on the ground in his career. I wouldn’t expect that yards per carry to drastically increase this season either as McKinnon doesn’t get a real O-line upgrade from Minnesota to San Francisco. He’ll be productive and will have a few good games I’m sure, but I don’t think he’s going to finish in the top 15 of fantasy running backs.

Alex Collins (ADP: 3.06, RB18)

Collins is a great example of why I created the PLAP term instead of using bust. I would draft Collins in a second of he was going in the backend of the fourth or early fifth round. But middle of the third? That’s pricey for a back that has a few things working against him.

First off, the Ravens’ passing attack has now at least a few more weapons than it did last year and more than that, Joe Flacco has seemingly come out of his five year hibernation to show us all that yes, he was once a Super Bowl winning quarterback who can throw the ball accurately. Mix in a shaky offensive line—Marshal Yanda is 34 years old and coming off an ankle injury—and competition in the backfield—NEVER FORGET ABOUT KENNETH DIXON—it’s easy to see a world where Collins doesn’t live up to his ADP.

Jay Ajayi (ADP: 3.09, RB19)

Man, stay away from running backs in the third round. YIKES! And I didn’t even include LeSean McCoy on this list who I do think is a prime PLAP candidate.

Ajayi makes the list because what makes the Eagles’ offense so effective is their ever changing backfield. Last year with Philly, Ajayi carried the ball 70 times for 408 yards and one touchdown and did practically nothing in the passing game. He’s set to share a backfield with Corey Clement and Darren Sproles and given that many mouths to feed, I don’t trust his production will be consistent enough to get him to top 20 RB status. Also, let the record show that Clement got more redzone carries and targets then Ajayi last year. Ajayi isn’t even a lock to be the Eagles’ goal line back. No thank you.

Saquon Barkley (ADP: 1.06, RB5)

I saved my best for last (and yet another perfect example of using PLAP instead of bust). I have no doubt that Barkley will come in and be a force in New York, generate plenty of buzz and highlight reel plays and be all around a difference maker on that team. But you mean to tell me that before he’s taken a single snap in a meaningful game, y’all willing to take him in the top five picks? You think he’ll score more fantasy points than the likes of Leonard Fournette, Melvin Gordon and Kareem Hunt?

The Giants aren’t the Jaguars or the Cowboys; they’re not just going to give the rock to Barkley 250 times and pass here and there. Despite not having Odell Beckham or Sterling Shepard last year, the Giants still led the NFL in pass attempts. That number will change but the message is still there. It also doesn’t help that the Giants have an offensive line that can’t run block (29th in power runs per DOVA) and a head coach who hasn’t produced a top 10 fantasy running back since 2013 (take that for whatever it’s worth).

I’ll happily admit I could be eating crow at the end of the season, but Barkley going at the number five pick is too rich for my tastes.


Which running back are you staying away from?

This poll is closed

  • 36%
    Jerick McKinnon
    (123 votes)
  • 10%
    Alex Collins
    (34 votes)
  • 42%
    Jay Ajayi
    (145 votes)
  • 10%
    Saquon Barkley
    (37 votes)
339 votes total Vote Now