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Staff Post: Running backs to target in 2019

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Here are the running backs you should target in your fantasy drafts.

Pete Rogers Illustrations

I’ll be honest, there are a lot of running backs out there. I’ve often found myself in drafts just sifting through the names of backs wondering: what truly is the difference between a Phillip Lindsay or a Sony Michel? Is Peyton Barber really that much worse than Latavius Murray? If you’re finding yourself in the same draft day crisis, worry no longer. Let us here at Fake Teams guide your mouse and help you draft the right running backs this year.

With RB Week nearing its end, it’s time to hear which men of the backfield the staff here is targeting in their fantasy drafts. (ADP from Fantasy Football Calculator in non-PPR league.)

Kerryon Johnson

Current FFC ADP: 3.04

Paddi Cooper: The current RB14 feels undervalued on a team that is increasingly committed to the run and has recently cut it primary pass catching back (Theo Riddick), which will mean Johnson is in line to increase his 32 catches from 2018. A healthy season projects Johnson as having a chance to crack the top-10 running backs. He has a surer workload than Todd Gurley and is running behind a better line than Joe Mixon, both of whom are being drafted five or more places ahead of Johnson.

Mark Ingram

Current FFC ADP: 4.02

Pete Rogers: You may feel this is a little rich for Ingram but I can’t help myself this year. The thought of Mark Ingram—whom (I should be upfront about this) I have loved since he entered the league—in an offense with no running back clearly ahead of him in the pecking order on an offense that’s looking to bring football back to the 50’s gets me so excited I don’t know what to do with myself. We’ve seen Ingram be a top 15 fantasy back in New Orleans offense, what will he look like in a run-first offense? I can’t wait to find out.

Phillip Lindsay

Current FFC ADP: 4.06

Mark Abell: I don’t think last year was a fluke. Their line has improved with a healthy squad, he averaged over 1,000 yards and 10 touchdowns for two consecutive years in college. He averaged over 5 yards per carry last year, at a fourth round value he is well worth the potential upside.

Lamar Miller

Current FFC ADP: 5.09

Heath Capps: With D’Onta Foreman now jettisoned to Indianapolis, Lamar Miller is a screaming value in fantasy football. You can live on some forward fear that the Texans might bring in more competition for Miller (Jay Ajayi?) or you can live in the right now and draft the clear top runner on what will be one of the best offenses in the NFL. I drafted Miller at 7.12 in my RazzBowl league, ahead of guys like Austin Ekeler and Jordan Howard—neither of whom has the guaranteed workload of Miller. We can’t continuously talk about volume in fantasy football and not acknowledge that Miller is about as safe as running backs come right now.

Carlos Hyde

Current FFC ADP: 9.11

Clark Barnes: I’m recommending someone who is practically free. I know we’re all excited about what Damien Williams, and why wouldn’t we be stoked about a dynamic running back playing in the most explosive offense in the league? My concern here is that Williams’ track record is the 5 games we saw last year, which were fantastic, is the only gold star on the resume. Before that, Williams was an undrafted free agent (reportedly for knuckle-head concern) and then couldn’t break through the depth chart in Miami for the previous 4 seasons. I think it is reasonable to have some reluctance to take Williams at his current ADP of middle-to-late 2nd round.

Carlos Hyde is the dependable but no longer spectacular option lurking just off-stage. I can understand a world where an offensive guru like Andy Reid will sacrifice a little flash from his running back if it means that back will be where he is when he is supposed to be there. The Chiefs don’t need the best running back in the league, they need someone who will not get Mahomes killed and someone to keep defenses just honest enough for the passing game to work. Hyde is that reliable option.

Hyde’s ADP is the end of the 9th round right now, you should feel comfortable taking him as your first bench guy in the 7th or 8th.

Matt Breida

Current FFC ADP: 12.03

Barnes: The Niners backfield is Patriots-esque this offseason. Kyle Shanahan’s offenses are appropriately renowned for producing stud fantasy backs, but, for now, the pecking order in San Fran is muddled. When we have a da Vinci code depth chart situation, and all the players have NFL tape, I go back and watch the tape.

Jerick McKinnon is a talented, but limited back. We’ve never seen him get the lion’s share of carries in a backfield, and his tape exposes why. He is just too light in the britches to threaten running inside. Tevin Coleman meanwhile has flashed on some big plays in the past, but when he’s had the opportunity to be the man, he didn’t take advantage of it. Coleman is stiff, fast but not quick, and he doesn’t appear especially decisive in that he can’t seem to hit the hole when he needs to.

Breida on the other hand, looked the part of a budding star at RB last year, but he was then slowed by injury. We shouldn’t write off these injuries as a fluke, since Breida is listed as smaller than Jerick McKinnon. As a smaller back, though, he played like a big back. He stuck his nose in the pile on runs up the middle and never shied from contact. Now, the completely legitimate argument there is that he will again, not hold up.

The cost is real kicker here. Breida’s ADP is currently the beginning of the 12th round. Overpay for Breida and take him in the 10th.

Duke Johnson

Current FFC ADP: It’s gonna change real soon

Duke Johnson to the Texans. BUY BUY BUY BUY!