5 RBs That Will Kill Your Fantasy Team
On Tuesday, we wrote about the 5 QBs that will put you at an immediate disadvantage of the gate. It was bound to stir up some controversy, and stir it up it did - so much so that it prompted me to extend it to RBs, arguably the most important position of them all when it comes to fantasy football.
Like the previous article, it's worth mentioning up front that my comments aren't a condemnation of the athletes individually. They're instead a counterpoint to inflated ADPs, thus making the idea of "killing your fantasy team" less a function of individual fault on their part and more a function of a disaster in relation to better, smarter picks you could have made in the same slot.
Oh, and because we're mathematicians and not just random "I like sports and here's my opinion!"-style content regurgitators, all of our analysis is done with historical analysis and data modeling as the guide.
This one hurts a little bit because I've always defended Steven Jackson. He was criminally overworked in his tenure with the Rams and his only rival is David Carr when it comes to taking abuse for a singular franchise. The problem is, of course, that all of this abuse has so much wear and tear on his treads that he's a lot more Tito than Michael.
Of the 22 backs with over 200 carries last year, Jackson finished #17 in RNEP, behind Reggie Bush, Vick Ballard, and Isaac Redman. This follows a trend of decreasing efficiency as Jackson fell from the top 10 in 2009 and hasn't regained his form since. That kind of NEP is fine if you're looking at him as a low RB2 with almost no real upside; however his current ADP has him in the bottom RB1 category, which is downright foolish and can straight up destroy you out of the gates.
Whether or not you want to take the gamble that an older veteran can do well on a team that is finally good is up to you, but also note that his top comparables right now are 2001 Charlie Garner and 2002 Duce Staley, neither of whom had a particularly great season. Not a good look at all.
We think: #15 RB
One of the most inexplicable pre-draft rankings I've seen all year has to be the ranking of Maurice Jones-Drew as #14 overall on Yahoo!. Based on that, you'd expect the ghost of Red Grange to be #20, right?
Like Steven Jackson above, MJD isn't what he used to be and what he used to be isn't as scintillating as you remember. He was downright awful last year, racking just a 34.85% effective rush rate and costing his team 0.03 points every time he rushed the ball - and that's only in a few, sparing instances in which he played.
A low-end RB2 feels much more accurate for someone with his statistical profile (top comparable: Larry Johnson 2008, who gained just 948 yards from scrimmage) and given how terrible Blaine Gabbert was and looks to still be, only draft him with the most stable of options at RB1.
We think: #18 RB
The reports about him are glowing. Miami hasn't been this on fire since Don Johnson still had a TV career but sadly, the numbers say it's all for naught.
The comparables aren't kind: a washed up Priest Holmes 2005, and a duo of never-weres in Tashard Choice 2011 and Derrick Ward 2007. The inclusion of Reggie Bush 2009 and C.J. Spiller 2011 leave some hope but even in their cases, the riches are at least one year away. He's a great RB3/FLEX with upside, but nothing more. Drafting him as an RB2 is a mistake; consider David Wilson, Eddie Lacy, or even Darren McFadden instead.
I'm not the only one cold on Lamar Miller. Check out what Mike D'Ecclesis had to say about him:
If he's not statistically better than his own backup in Daniel Thomas - a player that was very below-average to start with - where is all of the hype coming from? Pass.
We think: #26 RB
Outside of Lamar Miller, there's a bit of a theme going here. Washed up player masquerading as a "veteran with leadership", on a new team that inexplicably chose him and him alone as the answer to all of their problems. Free advice to GMs everywhere: when the Beatles were breaking up, it wasn't like Paul McCartney was like, "Well, John is leaving, but hey - let's go get Charlie Chaplin to come on board! He'll solve everything." Stop it.
No. They broke up and moved on. The Colts could have drafted anyone from Le'Veon Bell to Montee Ball to rock out with a strong core of Andrew Luck, Reggie Wayne, and T.Y. Hilton but instead they overpaid for someone who no one else wanted.
And why would any other team want him? If he was so good, would the Giants have entrusted a team with assets like Eli Manning, Victor Cruz, Hakeem Nicks, and Pierre-Paul to a question mark like David Wilson? Of course not. The Giants saw his declining productivity, his terrible metrics (#18 in RNEP), and his advancing contract, all of which forced their hand in telling Ahmad to hit the bricks. Oh, and I saved the best part for last. His top comparable? Kevan Barlow, 2003.
Don't be the Colts. Be the Giants. Draft Wilson instead. Or Eddie Lacy. Or Giovani Bernard. Or draft a WR. Anything.
We think: #29 RB
How many times do we have to go through this with DeAngelo Williams? He's like the hot girl that you see at your college in September, playing frisbee on the quad, only to disappear completely and never be seen again. Why must you tease us with the thoughts of what might be?
He's been average/below-average longer than Nickelback (not a single season in the RNEP top 20 since 2008) and he's the definition of winner by default: he is and has been the defacto starter in Carolina only because the other options are terrible and/or injured. Cam Newton clearly doesn't trust him, nor do the coaches - there's a reason why Cam himself (or worse, Mike Tolbert) gets all of the rushing calls in the red zone.
Don't listen to just me though. Check out what JJ Zachariason said about it:
It used to be and still sometimes is a decent strategy to fill your bench with anyone with a legitimate stake as the #1 RB on his team's depth chart. With DeAngelo, it's just a wasted spot.
We think: #30 RB