Fantasy Football Preview: Top 5 Breakout RBs
In the same way that Joey Lawrence lived and died by his ability to say "whoa!", fantasy teams live and die by their running backs. Pick a loser and you're the fantasy version of the Astros; pick a winner like AP was last year and you're smiling all the way to the top.
There'll be plenty of time to get into which RBs you should avoid like day-old Domino's Pizza; in this article, we'll look into options you should consider late in your draft. Some will have true superstar potential, some will have a great chance of stealing the starting role, and some are just too good to be drafted where they're currently being drafted.
Of course, because we're numberFire and not one of the millions of sites who make recommendations based solely on opinion, we'll back everything up with statistics and metrics so you can feel confident in your decision making. Remember kids: opinions without numbers is like chicken wings without bones - an abomination that should be wiped off the face of the Earth.
LeSean McCoy, Eagles
"Hold up!" you're thinking. "Way to really go out on a limb here, guys. McCoy? He's already a top-10 back!".
We know you think he's a top-10 back. He's more than that though. He's a top-3 back, and he's massively underrated. Let's start with his comparables.
|James Allen||2000||89.28%||1,411 total yards, 3 TDs|
|Marshall Faulk||2002||87.73%||1,490 total yards, 10 TDs|
|Ray Rice||2009||87.53%||2,041 total yards, 8 TDs|
|Joseph Addai||2009||87.27%||1,164 total yards, 13 TDs|
|Ricky Williams||2009||86.79%||1,385 total yards, 13 TDs|
Yeah, not bad, right?
Not to mention the fact that he'll be playing in a Chip Kelly offense that is almost perfectly designed for him, one that is also missing a key cog in Jeremy Maclin. All signs point to go for Shady; scoop him before you lose him.
We think: #3 RB, 225.11 fantasy points
Reggie Bush, Lions
We've already covered this one a little bit, but let's get into it again. As our man Zach Warren wrote in a column a month ago:
To put it another way, Bush was much better than his statistics might lead you to believe. Now he's on a much better team, one with plenty of opportunities available in the passing game and plenty of space opened up by the likes of Megatron keeping opposing defenses honest. He's a risky pick, but he offers significant upside, particularly when paired with a stable, less risky option like Ray Rice or LeSean McCoy. Oh, he's also a total PPR monster. Just saying.
We think: #16 RB, 174.71 fantasy points
Stevan Ridley, Patriots
Everyone is talking about Shane Vereen - and it's true that the potential for Vereen is indeed intriguing - but you'd be a fool to sleep on Ridley based on his incredibly strong rookie campaign in New England.
First, let's stop with the argument that Vereen will cannibalize carries from Ridley. That didn't happen last year with Woodhead, and Vereen is a lot more similar to Woodhead than he is Ridley. For once, Belichick has a workhorse back he can work with - no more ineffective clones of Laurence Maroney!
Ridley's top comparable is Alfred Morris 2012; we all know how that one turned out. Beyond that, he's got Corey Dillon 2004, Ryan Grant 2009, Brandon Jacobs 2008, and Jerome Bettis 2000: all very capable, competent workhorse backs on very efficient and talented offensive teams.
Ridley also looked spectacular in the preseason opener against the Eagles, putting up a 62-yard gain on the very first play from scrimmage. He's on his way to becoming a star in this league and if that's not enough, check this out: New England has 14 more rushing attempts from inside an opponent's 10 than any other NFL franchise over the past three seasons. Considering how often they're in the red zone, this only points to Ridley's stock going up. Way up.
We think: #14 RB, 180.05 fantasy points
Daryl Richardson, Rams
Consider this less a remarkable defense of Richardson's abilities, and more a simple reminder that someone has to do it.
A lot of people are quick to point out Isaiah Pead's many skills, but unfortunately some of those skills simply don't translate into the NFL. More particularly, they don't translate to Jeff Fisher's preferences. Fisher likes a stronger back - remember Eddie George? - and he certainly prefers his backs to be on the field; Pead is missing Week 1 for a drug suspension.
Let's not forget Richardson's ability in the receiving game either, a fact noted by Mike D'Ecclessis in this article:
On top of that, Pead has shown a bit of the fumble-itis in practice and in preseason tilts, a huge no-no for running backs in any system. Add all of these factors up and we've got a solid case of winning-by-default for Daryl Richardson, making him much more valuable than his current ADP position. Our official prediction for him feels really low; he's got a great chance to be a consistent flex play for your team, and perhaps more in a PPR setup.
We think: #38 RB, 86.87 fantasy points
Daniel Thomas, Dolphins
Sooner or later, you're going to have to start choosing backups on the basis of their handcuff situation or on the basis of the incumbent, presumed starter not being very good. You've got a few options to choose from here, but Thomas should stand out strongly. He's got the metrics to support it, he's got a unproven starter ahead of him, and he's got something that the Dolphins are going to need when Tannehill-to-Wallace isn't happening the way they think it will: experience. Our projection comes in low; it's going to be higher if and when he takes significant carries from Miller.
We think: #40 RB, 81.27 fantasy points