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Overvalued RBs

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Ryan Mathews - SD ADP: 37 overall, RB 17 7 votes

Sigmund Bloom - Mathews got hurt in week 2 last year and never really got back up to speed until week 17. In the meantime, the Chargers discovered that they have another strong all-around running back in Mike Tolbert. Tolbert is back and will force a committee approach, with the bowling ball-like former fullback getting the money carries inside the five. Mathews has already been dinged in camp and had conditioning issues, so it is hard to justify taking him in the 3rd or even 4th round until he proves he can be a durable back over an entire NFL season.

Mike Brown - Mathews is being drafted in the late third round as a RB2, but the fact is that he might not even score the most fantasy points amongst running backs on his own real life team. Mike Tolbert showed a penchant for finding the end zone with frequency a year ago, and Mathews did not. What's more, he spent a lot of time in the trainer's room dealing with various maladies. And he was so dedicated to improvement this season that he came into camp and...failed his conditioning test. Yikes. It's still early in his career, but Mathews has all of the early warning signs of a draft bust. He'll need to make quite an impression early on to justify the team giving him the lion's share of the workload. At this price, there are too many "ifs" for me to spend that high of a pick.

Ryan Hester - After being the rookie with the most hype last year, Ryan Mathews is just looking to play more than half the season this year. While his potential is clearly the reason for his solid RB2 ranking, his situation is very cloudy. Mathews was injured most of last season -- allowing Mike Tolbert to emerge -- and has been nicked up in camp. Those factors are going to keep Tolbert heavily involved in the offense, limiting Mathews' potential and lowering his ceiling.

Jeff Pasquino - Ryan Mathews is getting selected in the third or fourth rounds of most drafts, which is way too high a price to pay for a back that was banged up last year and is now in a full blown running back by committee approach in San Diego. Mike Tolbert will get well over 100 touches -- probably 150 or more -- leaving Mathews barely enough room to get 200 if that. Philip Rivers also has a big arm and is unafraid to use it, making the Chargers more likely to throw it to Vincent Jackson or Antonio Gates rather than to rely on a ground game.

Greg Russell - Matthews has talent and ability, but last year's injury-plagued season gave Mike Tolbert the opportunity to show he can be a solid contributor as well. Matthews is at risk of losing enough carries and touchdowns to Tolbert that other players available at the end of the third round like Jahvid Best, Mark Ingram and LeGarrette Blount may be better picks.

Mark Wimer - Two words: Mike Tolbert. Tolbert will be the inside/goal-line back, and also see a significant amount of work between the 20's as well. Mathews' scoring opportunities will be limited, and he may see a near 50/50 split outside of the red zone. No thanks.

Jason Wood - I'm doing a bit of a 180 on Mathews. In my first set of projections I had Mathews even higher than RB17, thinking that last year's injuries were a misleading indicator and that he would be given every chance to be the workhorse in SD. But since then Mathews continues to be nicked up, failed his physical at the start of camp, and hasn't been able to distance himself from Mike Tolbert. This is shaping up to be a true time share, and that means Mathews is overpriced as a mid-level fantasy RB2.

BenJarvus Green-Ellis - NE ADP: 65 overall, RB 27 6 votes

Sigmund Bloom - Lawfirm was one of the surprises of 2010 with a 1,000 yard season and double-digit TDs even though he wasn't a prominent member of the backfield when the season started. With the Patriots adding two rookie backs in the first three rounds of the draft, including one that is very similar to Green-Ellis in his style in Stevan Ridley, it is hard to expect Green-Ellis to get as much work as he did last year. Ridley also got off to a scalding-hot start in the preseason with over 100 total yards and three touchdowns, so all the momentum here at this moment is going against Green-Ellis. Look elsewhere when it is time to draft an RB in 6th/7th.

Anthony Borbely - BJGE broke out last year and finished the year with over 1000 rushing yards and 13 TDs. So how did the Patriots reward him? They drafted not one but two RBs in the first three rounds in the 2011 draft. They also have third down specialist Danny Woodhead. With so many mouths to feed, it is going to be virtually impossible to predict anything about the Patriots' running game this year. There are just too many unknowns to draft BJGE at his ADP of 67. I think that is a good three or four rounds too high.

David Dodds - He started last year as New England's 4th best RB, but saw action because of the multitude of injuries to the other backs. He did well with those carries, but the team moved up in the NFL draft to get their guy Shane Vereen. I suspect by the season's mid-way point (and maybe sooner), Vereen will be the primary RB. The Patriots also look like a team that may want to throw it 70% of the time after the success Brady had in 2010 with worse personnel.

Will Grant - The New England backfield is a crowded mess right now, and 'The Law Firm' is just one of several backs that might emerge as the starter. Danny Woodhead, rookie Shane Vereen, and pre-season standout Stevan Ridley could all see playing time this season. Don't spend a high draft pick on any of them.

Dave Larkin - Too many cooks spoil the broth. The New England backfield is a crowded one, with rookies Stevan Ridley and Shane Vereen poised to steal carries from last season's battering ram in the backfield, "The Law Firm", BenJarvus Green-Ellis. Danny Woodhead, although primarily thought of a pass catching back, has deceptive skill running between the tackles that belie his frame. Bill Belichick plugs running backs in on a whim and it is this constant fluctuation that worries me about Green-Ellis' fantasy prospects.

Jeff Pasquino - To say New England's backfield is crowded is like saying that Boston traffic is heavy -- both are major understatements. Green-Ellis led the Patriots in touchdowns on the ground last year, but the Patriots drafted both Shane Vereen and Stevan Ridley last April and also have Danny Woodhead in the mix. That leaves four mouths to potentially feed in a ground game that might only be a 50-50 compliment to Tom Brady and the aerial game. Drafting Green-Ellis in the sixth round and expecting a repeat of 2010 numbers is just asking for trouble.

Maurice Jones-Drew - JAX ADP: 9 overall, RB 7 5 votes

Jene Bramel - I love watching Jones-Drew play and I'll be pleased to see him prove me wrong for arguing that he's overvalued. There's an argument that he'll finish inside the top ten this year. He kept his ypc average in the mid 4s last year despite his knee troubles and his offensive line was a better run blocking unit than it might get credit for being. But offseason knee surgery, a questionable passing offense and the possible emergence of Rashad Jennings as an option to siphon 75-100 touches makes drafting him as the first back outside the consensus elite tier a very risky proposition. The second tier of running backs is deep, let someone else reach for MJD at this price.

Mike Brown - This one's easy. Jones-Drew still isn't fully recovered from his knee woes, has a fantastic backup in Rashad Jennings, and the Jacksonville passing game isn't going to do him any favors. They lost arguably their most productive receiver in Mike Sims-Walker and there's a good chance defenses will be able to stack the box to stuff the running game. And that's a lot of bad news before really going into detail on Jones-Drew's knee, which has behaved lately as if it is significantly older than Jones-Drew himself. It wouldn't be shocking to see more of a time-sharing situation in the running game as the Jags try to preserve Jones-Drew's season and to a lesser extent, career.

Jeff Haseley - This much we know - Jones-Drew is coming off knee surgery for a partially torn meniscus and he has had issues in the past with his knees. He also has had quite a workload in his five years in the league. Combine that with the presence of a very capable Rashad Jennings taking away some of his carries and it's a recipe for falling out of the Top 10.

Steve Holloway - Factor number one to consider is that he is coming off knee surgery. Factor number two is that he has almost 700 touches over the past two seasons. Factor number three is that the Jaguars offense should be less efficient this year with an already injured Garrard and a potential shift to the first round rookie QB.

Jeff Pasquino - Maurice Jones-Drew's overvaluation status goes beyond just the concerns over his knee. The injury risk is very real as he is not even playing in the preseason and we know he had it worked on during the offseason, and Jacksonville was already planning on getting Rashad Jennings more involved in the offense. Add in that you will have to pay either a later first or an early second round pick and the risk escalates. The Jaguars also have major issues at quarterback and with the passing attack in general, putting MJD in the "do not draft" category for me.

Cedric Benson - CIN ADP: 56 overall, RB 23 4 votes

Sigmund Bloom - Benson was brought back by the Bengals to be their feature back, but how often will their power running game get on track with a rookie QB at the helm? Benson was also subpar against all but the weakest NFL run defenses last year, and his skills don't translate well to the west coast style offense Jay Gruden is installing this year. Expect the Bengals to move on from Benson during the season and leave his owners holding a worthless player. He's worth nowhere near a 5th or 6th round pick.

Mike Brown - I've been a fan of Benson for awhile now, but I just can't get on board with him this season. I realize that his ADP of 55 already has the Cincinnati offensive woes built into his sluggish draft slot to an extent. However, this situation is even more dire than that. The team is running with either a rookie quarterback or Bruce Gradkowski, neither of whom inspires much confidence. They lost their two biggest playmakers in Chad Ochocinco and Terrell Owens. And Bernard Scott is breathing down Benson's back for more playing time. Considering Benson doesn't contribute much of anything in the passing game, there are likely going to be more than a few games where the Bengals fall behind and abandon the run very early. All of that adds up to an extremely disappointing year for Benson.

Ryan Hester - After a resurgence two seasons ago, Cedric Benson disappointed last year. He's an aging player on a low-skill team that is part of a terrible organization. This whole offense should struggle with a rookie quarterback slated to start and two new starting wide receivers (including a rookie). There's also a little Benson-related problem in backup Bernard Scott. Typically, drafting the second-best running back on a team isn't an overly successful strategy. That's what people who draft Benson will be doing -- except they'll be counting on him as a starter.

Mark Wimer - The Bungles are starting a rookie QB with a rookie #1 wide receiver and they brought back Benson (who has averaged 3.5 or less yards per carry during three of his six NFL seasons, including last year) to grind out yards for their learning-on-the-job offense. Trips to the red-zone are going to be rare in Cincinnati this year - I'd be shocked to see Benson score more than six rushing TDs this year.

Ryan Torain - WAS ADP: 92 overall, RB 36 4 votes

Will Grant - The Washington backfield is a mess this season. It was bad enough for Torain when Washington added rookie RBS Roy Helu and Evan Royster. Now they added former Cardinal RB Tim Hightower? Torain will be lucky to get any carries this season and might not make the final roster of 53.

Chris Smith - Torain is an interesting fantasy player. He has the potential to put up nice statistics but has a terrible time staying healthy. He had some good moments last year and will have some again this year but with him sharing the field with Tim Hightower and his lack of durability,there are better options to target.

Mark Wimer - Torain's broken hand has opened the door to free agent signee Tim Hightower - and Hightower is excelling in his chance so far. This looks like Hightower's job to lose as of mid-August, relegating Torain to spot duty at best.

Jason Wood - Ryan Torain played reasonably well in Washington last year, and Coach Shanahan has always been enamored with the former Sun Devil. But Torain has been a walking injury report for years, and just had four screws put into his hand. In the meantime, the Redskins acquired Tim Hightower, who has looked like a great fit in Shanny's one-cut and go running scheme. As if that weren't enough, the Redskins have two rookie RBs vying for carries, as well as a number of other backups in camp. The idea of Torain being much more than a bench fantasy player this year is aggressive, and not worth the risk.

LeGarrette Blount - TB ADP: 34 overall, RB 16 2 votes

Aaron Rudnicki - What makes Blount such an appealing fantasy RB this year is the perceived lack of competition that he has for playing time in the Tampa backfield. As a result, it seems likely that he'll see plenty of touches each week and wind up as a productive starter even if he's not all that effective with his touches. He did average an impressive 5 yards per carry last year, but I'm expecting a dropoff there as he regresses and teams start to pay more attention to stopping him. Blount is a power back who doesn't contribute in the passing game or on third downs so that limits his upside considerably. I think he's most likely to be a 15 to 20 carry per game guy who gets you a touchdown every other week or so. You can likely a similar value at RB later on with a player like Cedric Benson, Joseph Addai, or Marshawn Lynch.

Jeff Tefertiller - Blount finished as the RB24 as a rookie last year in only 13 games. He looked very good. But, there is a big leap from that season to a third round fantasy pick. Blount is a good ball carrier with little competition for carries. The question is whether you would take the risk on Blount so early in the draft. A third round pick is a big gamble.

Ahmad Bradshaw - NYG ADP: 32 overall, RB 15 2 votes

Chris Smith - I like Bradshaw a lot and think he does good things but I'm scared of his fantasy worth this season. I look at the Giants offense and see a ton of passes getting tossed this season with the elite receiving core in place. Add in a re-focused Brandon Jacobs and Bradshaw is going a little higher than I like for this season.

Matt Waldman - I think he's a round or two overvalued this year. Tom Coughlin has made it known that he expects Brandon Jacobs to see more carries than 2010 and this will cut into Bradshaw's time. I still think Bradshaw has borderline RB1 upside, but his situation makes him a better fifth- or sixth-round pick than a third-rounder.

Darren McFadden - OAK ADP: 14 overall, RB 9 2 votes

Ryan Hester - Many rode Darren McFadden to fantasy playoff or Super Bowl appearances last year. While those people might be taking him early this year out of blind allegiance, they should be warned of a few things first. Former head coach Tom Cable was a run first coach. He is now the offensive line coach in Seattle. Also, the Raiders only return two of their five offensive linemen from last year. Among those missing is punishing run blocker Robert Gallery, who also went to Seattle (hello, Marshawn Lynch). Throw in the presence of a very talented backup running back in Michael Bush -- who should be starting somewhere in the league -- and the Raiders won't be using McFadden as much as he was used last year. His skills are still present, but fewer opportunities make him overvalued at his ranking.

Matt Waldman - I promise you, I even laugh every time I talk about McFadden in this light. I'm so predictable when it comes to giving this back short shrift. It's not that I don't want to be wrong about the guy. I was wrong about Chris Johnson, but I accept he's a great runner. I think McFadden is becoming a good runner, but the offensive line was a big reason. Now that Tom Cable, Robert Gallery, and Zach Miller have left for Seattle, I'm very skeptical the line will be able to open the kind of holes McFadden saw last year. Big play threats of McFadden's running style need nice creases to hit the line hard. Bruce Campbell is an unproven commodity and I'm not convinced he's going to transition seamlessly. This is going to hurt McFadden's value because good guard play is responsible for so many basic double teams and adjustments that make the interior ground game work.

Jonathan Stewart - CAR ADP: 81 overall, RB 31 2 votes

Steve Holloway - A season ago, DeAngelo Williams played in only six games and yet Stewart averaged only 12.7 rushes per game, less than he had in 2009. Williams returns, Goodson is still there, and with rookie Cam Newton leading them at QB, suspicions are high that he will also share in the distribution of rushes. This may be another season for dynasty owners to be disappointed as additional carries do not come Stewart's way.

Jason Wood - Stewart could be a top 10 fantasy back if he was the workhorse. But Carolina gave DeAngelo Williams a 5-year, $43mm contract with $21 million in guarantees. A rebuilding team doesn't do that if they plan on having him share touches 50/50 with a younger, far less expensive runner. Williams will be the bell cow, the offensive focal point. Remember, this is a new coaching staff and they have no reason to commit to a committee approach just because John Fox insisted on it. Stewart may be the best backup RB in the NFL, but he's a backup and paying fantasy RB2 numbers makes zero sense.

Michael Turner - ATL ADP: 15 overall, RB 10 2 votes

Will Grant - Turner had a top 10 fantasy finish last season, and the Falcons rewarded him by drafting Jacquizz Rodgers. Rodgers is an excellent 'change of pace' guy that the Falcons can switch out with Turner. Resigning Jason Snelling almost guaranteed that Turner won't repeat last season's performance.

Jeff Haseley - This is coming out of left field, but it makes sense if you look deep enough. If the Falcons passing game improves with the presence of Roddy White and Julio Jones complimenting each other, one stands to believe the running game will see a decline, even if just a little. Plus Atlanta re-signed Jason Snelling and drafted Jacquizz Rogers. Turner's performance may not drop, but his production could take a hit, which would lower his numbers.

Joseph Addai - IND ADP: 72 overall, RB 30 1 vote

Chris Smith - I am not an Addai fan and think there is a real chance he loses the starting job to rookie Delone Carter this season. He has been a mediocre option at running back for the Colts since entering the NFL five seasons ago and has averaged less than 4.0 yards per carry in two of the last three years. He has decent statistics thanks to playing in an offense with Peyton Manning but he is not that talented and isn't getting younger. I am avoiding him this season.

Donald Brown - IND ADP: 163 overall, RB 55 1 vote

David Dodds - The team drafted RB Delone Carter and resigned Joseph Addai. Both are above the inconsistent Donald Brown on the depth chart. He is not worth drafting at all and especially not worth a pick near his ADP.

Frank Gore - SF ADP: 16 overall, RB 11 1 vote

Clayton Gray - I do like Frank Gore's talent, but there are a few reasons to dislike him this year. First, there are a couple of young backs on the roster in Anthony Dixon and Kendall Hunter, who each should get some touches. Plus, there seems to always be a nagging injury with Gore. Overall, I don't like the overall situation in San Francisco. With Alex Smith and Colin Kaepernick in a competition, I'm not thrilled with either being the winner. Also, there is the worry with Michael Crabtree still not completely healthy. If the 49ers can't provide a legitimate passing threat, Gore will find the running lanes shut down. Finally, there is a worry that the entire offense will struggle to assimilate the new offense. All things considered, there are safer options where Gore is going.

Ryan Grant - GB ADP: 60 overall, RB 25 1 vote

Aaron Rudnicki - After Grant suffered a season-ending injury in the opener, all the Packers did was go on to win the Super Bowl without him. I think his grasp on the starting job is tenuous at best and that James Starks is likely to see significant time in a RBBC at a minimum. This offense runs through Aaron Rodgers anyway, so it will probably difficult for Grant to see enough of a workload to make him worth his current ADP. He's a good player who will likely give you a strong start on occasion, but the days of him carrying the load and getting 300 carries are likely over.

Shonn Greene - NYJ ADP: 38 overall, RB 18 1 vote

Steve Holloway - Greene has been declared the starter and Tomlinson the third down specialist, but is anybody feeling déjà vu here? Greene garnered more carries a year ago than his rookie season, but averaged only 4.1 ypr, almost a yard per carry lower than he had in his rookie season and also less than Tomlinson gave the Jets last year. There are also another couple of young RBs that might steal some carries. As Sanchez is entering his third season, the Jets' passing game should continue to improve.

Peyton Hillis - CLE ADP: 23 overall, RB 14 1 vote

Anthony Borbely - Hillis had a huge 2010 season, but he wore down badly towards the end of the year and that is a big red flag to me. He averaged 4.8 yards per carry in the first half of the season and 3.9 in the second. I have to think his 330 touches will be reduced this year. Although Montario Hardesty just recently began to practice, it is not unreasonable to suggest that he will take some of the workload from Hillis. His ADP of 21 is a full round higher than his worth.

Fred Jackson - BUF ADP: 67 overall, RB 28 1 vote

Matt Waldman - Jackson is drafted ahead of backs like Ryan Grant and Joseph Addai -- runners with RB1 potential due to their skills and their offense. However Jackson is in my opinion an RB2, at best. There's little upside where he's going off the board. Plus, C.J. Spiller should put an actual dent into Jackson's carries this year now that he's had a year to acclimate to the league and Chan Gailey's system. Then there's Johnny White, who is impressing. White might be the best all-around talent at the position on their depth chart.

Steven Jackson - STL ADP: 17 overall, RB 12 1 vote

Jeff Tefertiller - Jackson has finished in the Top 10 at his position just once in the past four seasons and that was a RB10 campaign in 2009. He is a reach with a pick in the top half of the second round. Jackson has not eclipsed eight touchdowns in a season since WAYYYY back to 2006. The Rams brought in Cadillac Williams and Jerious Norwood to take the load off the stud back. Why risk the pick on Jackson over Matt Forte or Peyton Hillis or even a receiver like Hakeem Nicks or Greg Jennings? He just is not worth the pick used.

Felix Jones - DAL ADP: 59 overall, RB 24 1 vote

Dave Larkin - The former Arkansas tailback played a little over half of the Cowboys offensive snaps in 2010, but the good news is he will likely see an uptick in carries and receptions. Rookie DeMarco Murray is a dynamic talent himself, but Jones has the veteran edge. On paper, this is a good situation for Jones to flourish, but I have issues putting my faith in him. This backfield reeks of a timeshare and I can't justify drafting Jones if the situation pans out as I anticipate it will.

Knowshon Moreno - DEN ADP: 45 overall, RB 21 1 vote

Jene Bramel - I was willing to overlook Moreno's history of minor injuries, underwhelming ypc averages and Tim Tebow as a potential goal line vulture earlier in the offseason. But reports of Willis McGahee challenging for significant carries in the base offense and around the goal line have me concerned. I still think Moreno can overcome all those issues and push for 250 or more touches, but I'd much rather assume the risk with Moreno as my RB3 than RB2.

Daniel Thomas - MIA ADP: 63 overall, RB 26 1 vote

Aaron Rudnicki - Thomas certainly has a great opportunity in front of him with the Dolphins this year, but I'm not sure that he's a good enough back to become a workhorse as a rookie. The Dolphins did acquire Reggie Bush this offseason and I expect him to play a bigger role on offense than he did with the Saints. I also expect the Dolphins to be playing from behind rather often, and that also will mean additional snaps for Bush in the second half. Thomas certainly has a chance to have a LeGarrette Blount type of rookie season, but if Chad Henne and the passing game continue to struggle, I don't know if the yardage and touchdown totals will be there for him. Seems risky for an early 5th round pick.

DeAngelo Williams - CAR ADP: 39 overall, RB 19 1 vote

David Dodds - Of all the free agent signings, this one confused me the most. DeAngelo still has game, but so does his backup, Jonathan Stewart. In fact, RB Mike Goodson also is a pretty talented RB too (and will likely be the 3rd down back due to his receiving skills). Add in Cam Newton's ability to run and vulture TDs and this is too crowded a situation to get value in it.

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