2018 Target-Avoid Fantasy Football Running Backs - Footballguys

Outlining the running backs to target and avoid in fantasy football drafts in 2018

The NFL Draft is two months old and the 2018 fantasy football season is right around the corner. One of the big advantages of Footballguys.com is a large database of staff rankings. This series looks at the difference between the collaborative Footballguys staff rankings and myfantasyleague.com positional ADP (Average Draft Position) at the skill positions. In this edition: running backs.

Running Backs to Target

Melvin Gordon III

  • RB6 Ranking
  • RB9 ADP
  • Why: Gordon is one of the few plug-and-play feature running backs in the NFL. Austin Ekeler was a surprise performer as an undrafted rookie last season and projects in the same role in 2018. However, Gordon has dominated the snaps and, outside of durability, shows no signs of a different usage in 2018.

Lamar Miller

  • RB20 Ranking
  • RB30 ADP
  • Why: Miller was a different player with Deshaun Watson in the lineup compared to without. D’Onta Foreman challenged for Miller’s touches by late in the season, but Foreman is a question mark to open the season after an Achilles injury. Miller outside the top-25 running backs in positional ADP is one of the best overall values in early fantasy drafts.

Giovani Bernard

  • RB41 Ranking
  • RB49 ADP
  • Why: Bernard has seen time as a lead back and pass-centric No.2 over the course of his NFL career. Joe Mixon is slated to take a step forward in his second season, but Bernard had seven games of at least 11 PPR points a year ago, while Mixon logged six such games. Bernard is also a Mixon injury away from auto-start weekly fantasy status.

Bilal Powell

  • RB47 Ranking
  • RB58 ADP
  • Why: The Jets are one of the projected weakest teams in the NFL. As a result, the game script tilts to catch-up mode and a pass-centric approach later in games. Isaiah Crowell was the notable addition to the depth chart in the offseason but yielded to Duke Johnson Jr in such settings in Cleveland. Powell, who has the risk factor of being a cut candidate in the months leading up to the season, is the preferred PPR option of the two considering game script. If Powell were to get cut, Elijah McGuire is the name to know as a late value play.

Running Backs to Avoid

Saquon Barkley

  • RB7 Ranking
  • RB4 ADP
  • Why: Barkley was arguably the best prospect in this year’s draft. However, a top-five positional ADP leaves little wiggle room to ramp up to elite production. The Giants also have a strong surrounding cast including Odell Beckham Jr Jr., Evan Engram, and Sterling Shepard to split production and soften Barkley’s upside spectrum.

Joe Mixon

  • RB16 Ranking
  • RB12 ADP
  • Why: Mixon is a trendy breakout candidate for 2018, but the Bengals has recently struggled as a run game, plus Giovani Bernard is a highly-capable secondary option with strong receiving ability. With an ADP on the RB1 fringe, even improvement from 2017 can be a disappointment compared to Mixon’s early positional ADP.

Derrius Guice

  • RB22 Ranking
  • RB16 ADP
  • Why: In addition to being an incoming rookie and all the attached variables, Chris Thompson presents a legitimate third down and hurry-up role threat to Guice’s high volume hopes through the air.

Rashaad Penny

  • RB26 Ranking
  • RB18 ADP
  • Why: The Seahawks are revamping their franchise and as a result game script is at risk for an offense more commonly ahead than behind in previous seasons. Penny was a one-year wonder in terms of being a lead back in college (behind Donnel Pumphrey before 2017 at San Diego State) and Seattle’s offensive line has been a notable weak link for their offense.

Sony Michel

  • RB28 Ranking
  • RB19 ADP
  • Why: Another rookie on the avoid list compared to ADP is Sony Michel. The Patriots are a highly productive PPR backfield annually, but the rotation has been a week-to-week proposition. The most glaring vacancy on the depth chart from previous iterations is the hammering power back role (LeGarrette Blount is one example). However, Michel profiles closer to the space-thriving and receiving-centric mold which is inhabited by James White.

Nick Chubb

  • RB44 Ranking
  • RB25 ADP
  • Why: The Browns have arguably the most talented running back trio on their depth chart in the NFL. While top-50 draft picks with a prototypical build get a shot at a strong volume at some point in their rookie season, Chubb has to contend with Duke Johnson Jr as the receiving maven and Carlos Hyde as a fully-capable early-down option. Chubb’s ADP on the fringe of RB2 is rich compared to the consensus Footballguys staff ranking.