Can Buck Allen Guide You to a Fantasy Football Championship?

Buck Allen has a big opportunity, but is it ideal enough to help you win your league?

In the fantasy football world, it's becoming more and more common to draft running backs lightly and, in turn, focus on other positions -- for better or for worse.

The use of this strategy, commonly referred to as "Zero RB," is primarily based on running back fragility.

This year, no matter what your draft strategy was, you most likely are relying on late-round and waiver-wire running backs, as backs continue to drop to injury one by one.

With the playoffs starting, it is necessary to have the right running backs in order to win the championship.

One back who has stepped into a big role as a result of injury is Javorius Allen. Will he maintain his recent production to bring you a fantasy championship?

Every-Down Opportunity

For running backs, opportunity is often the difference-maker between a week-destroying floor and a week-winning ceiling. 

In the three games during which Allen has had the lead role, he has 51 carries and 21 receptions. This comes out to 24 opportunities per game. For a perspective on that, Adrian Peterson averages 22.6 touches per game between carries and receptions; 24 touches per game is a huge opportunity!

However, Allen has amassed only 175 rushing yards with no touchdowns on his 51 carries over the past three games. Admittedly, Allen is not the best runner as his 3.43 yards per carry show.

Looking into our  Net Expected Points (NEP) metric, it does not appear that Allen will all of a sudden turn his disappointing running performance around.

Out of 42 running backs with at least 80 carries, Allen is 24th in Rushing NEP per play (-0.05), which is the same as James Starks and Matt Forte. Having a Rushing NEP per play at a Forte-like level provides some hope for rushing improvement, but that is not the case for Allen.

Forte has a 42.44% Rushing Success Rate that is ranked 14th while Allen has a 38.71% Rushing Success Rate that ranks 24th. This is tied with Melvin Gordon who has the second worst Rushing NEP per play (-0.17) among the 42 running backs. If anything, there is a greater chance that Allen's running gets weaker to end the year rather than getting better.

While Allen's running woes paint a bleak picture, he is a prime example of opportunity trumping talent.

For the year, 46 running backs have at least 25 targets.

Among this group, Allen ranks 19th in Reception NEP (15.17) and Reception NEP per target (0.41). However, most of his work in this area has come over the past three weeks. In this time, Allen has caught 24 of 27 targets for 184 yards and 2 touchdowns. Before becoming the starter, he only had 13 targets resulting in 5 catches for 58 yards.

The difference in Allen's receiving production since taking over as the starter in Week 11 is staggering. 

Allen Rec NEP per target Catch Rate Rec Success Rate
Before Week 11 0.21 61.54% 50.00%
Since Week 11 0.52 87.50% 66.67%

If Allen were to only use his metrics since Week 11, he would rank eighth in Reception NEP per target, right ahead of Dion Lewis, tied for third in Catch Rate, and first in Reception Success Rate. Needless to say, his work in the passing game since becoming the starter is very impressive.

Allen's improvement in the passing game should instill confidence in his owners for the remainder of the season, as he is fully capable in this role.

Although he ends the fantasy slate with tough matchups against the Seahawks, Chiefs, and Steelers, Allen has an ideal floor in PPR leagues that can propel owners to fantasy glory.

He projects as our 11th ranked running back over the fantasy season's final three weeks.