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Late-Round Running Backs Who Will Outperform ADP


We are receiving encouraging signs that a safe and timely return of regular-season matchups will take place as scheduled beginning September 10. Training camps are in progress, and many of you are participating in drafts as Week 1 kickoffs approach. You will develop a strategy before you begin building each roster. But it is recommended that you remain flexible in your decision-making based upon the flow of each draft.

Your treatment of the running back position will be critical since your backs will play an integral role in determining the success of your teams. Some of you have adopted the "Robust RB" approach, and are aggressively pursuing backs during the early rounds. Other fantasy GMs might decide to select only one back during the initial rounds (Modified-Zero RB), while some of you might ignore the position completely during the first five rounds (Zero RB).

But regardless of how you construct your rosters during the early and middle rounds, the decisions that you make in the late rounds will also determine your prospects of capturing a league championship. This article will examine running backs that are being selected in Round 10 or later that should outperform their current ADPs.

Editor's Note: Love the strategy of season-long fantasy sports? Live for the short term gratification of DFS? Try Weekly Fantasy Sports on OwnersBox - a new weekly DFS platform. Sign up today for a FREE $50 Deposit Match. Sign Up Now!

 

Chase Edmonds, Arizona Cardinals

ADP 126/RB48

Edmonds was cemented as the top recommendation in this article even before news emerged that Kenyan Drake was wearing a walking boot. Now questions surrounding Drake's health have created the potential for Edmonds’ value to ignite. He is an instinctive runner who can locate space, and generate yards after contact. He also performs in an environment that can maximize his strengths, whenever he is deployed in the backfield. This provides some homerun potential for the Cardinals while elevating Edmonds among the most viable targets once your drafts have proceeded into Round 10.

Edmonds operated in a spread formation when he performed collegiately at Fordham and accumulated 6,767 total yards during his four seasons. He also supplied glimpses of his ability to operate effectively with an expanded workload during two matchups in 2019. Edmonds burst for 68 yards on eight attempts (8.5 yards per attempt) in week 5, then exploded for 126 yards and three touchdowns in week 7.

David Johnson was contending with an ankle injury, which could have propelled Edmonds into Arizona’s RB1 responsibilities for an extended period. But Edmonds experienced his own health issue (hamstring) in week 8, while the Cardinals also acquired Kenyan Drake from Miami in late October. The arrival of Drake created a formidable obstacle that has kept Edmonds from attaining a loftier ADP.

Drake's career resurrection has been well-documented. He averaged 19 touches and 102 total yards per game while generating eight touchdowns from weeks 9-17. He has unquestionably earned Arizona’s lead back role entering week 1. But Drake has yet to exceed 170 carries during his first four seasons and is entering uncharted territory. He must now operate with enormous expectations that include sustaining high-quality production during an entire 16-game season.

If Drake’s current situation evolves into a significant injury, then Edmonds will quickly launch from backup status into a valuable resource. This is also the case if Drake sustains any future health issues, or if he performs ineffectively during the season. Edmonds is also a versatile weapon, which could inspire Kliff Kingsbury to use him with greater frequency than what has been projected regardless of Drake’s status.

This would supply Edmonds with more opportunities to erupt for sizable yardage in a rushing attack that averaged a franchise record 5.03 yards per attempt - which ranked second only to the Ravens.

Team Rushing Leaders Yards Per Attempt 
Baltimore Ravens 5.5
Arizona Cardinals 5.0
Tennessee Titans 5.0
Cleveland Browns 4.8
Dallas Cowboys 4.8
Carolina Panthers 4.7
New York Giants 4.7
Houston Texans 4.6
Seattle Seahawks 4.6
San Francisco 49ers 4.6
Indianapolis Colts 4.5
Minnesota Vikings 4.5

The Cardinals’ ground game ranked second in Football Outsiders’ offensive efficiency ratings (14.7%). Kingsbury also created space for Arizona’s backs by using four-receiver sets on a league-high 331 plays last season – which was 246 more than any other unit according to Football Outsiders. This underscores the advantage of selecting Edmonds as an insurance policy if Drake is on your roster. It also enhances Edmonds’ immense upside for anyone who seizes him at his ADP.

 

Damien Harris, New England Patriots

ADP 119/RB45

Harris generated over 3,000 rushing yards and 23 touchdowns during his four seasons with Alabama while assembling a 6.4 yards-per-carry average. He was also entrusted with more attempts than Josh Jacobs during his final season (150/120) while also leading the Crimson Tide in yardage (876). Harris displayed the ability to accrue yardage as an inside runner, generate yards after contact, and function effectively as a receiver. New England was compelled to invest a third-round pick on the 5’11”, 215-pound Harris which made him the sixth back to be selected during the 2019 NFL draft.

But he was a non-entity within the Patriots’ backfield rotation last season while being limited to a minuscule 12 yards on four carries. Sony Michel operated as the primary rusher while finishing ninth overall in attempts (247). James White commandeered responsibilities as the team’s receiving back for the fourth consecutive year (95 targets/72 receptions/645 yards), while Rex Burkhead was also involved in the touch distribution (65 carries/27 receptions).

Michel largely provided disappointment during his second season, while experiencing a decline in both yards per attempt (4.5/3.7) and yards per game (71.6/57). He finished just 17th in rushing despite the favorable number of attempts and ranked a lowly 26th in PFF’s ranking of the 32 starting backs. Michel’s inefficiency appeared to supply Harris with a path toward fantasy relevance this season, while his ongoing recovery from foot surgery had enlarged it considerably.

Michel is no longer on the PUP list and has returned to practice. But his ability to regain his previous role remains uncertain. Michel's absence had allowed Harris to procure a massive workload during camp. His performance had been labeled as impressive, which could propel Harris to an expanded role. The Patriots have also signed Lamar Miller, although the former Texan is still recovering from the torn ACL that he encountered last August.

Harris is currently available until Round 12 of most drafts. You may be skeptical that Harris can retain a sizable workload after Michel regains his health. But Michel’s performances have been consistently underwhelming. This improves Harris’ prospects for obtaining an ongoing role while elevating him among the most enticing late-round targets.

 

A.J. Dillon, Green Bay Packers

ADP 136/RB50

Arguably the most shocking development during last April’s NFL Draft occurred when Green Bay decision-makers Matt LaFleur and Brian Gutekunst eschewed the selection of a wide receiver.  The ramifications for Aaron Rodgers and the continued shortage of enticing weaponry (beyond Davante Adams) have been widely discussed. The Packers’ eventual draft results also provided a clear indication that the team is shifting its strategic approach.

Gutekunst and LaFleur secured Dillon with the 62nd overall pick, which has injected the 6’0”, 250-pound rookie into a backfield blend that also includes Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams. The tandem of fourth-year backs combined for over 98% of the attempts that were designated to the position last season. But the addition of Dillon will alter the touch distribution, and his role will prevent Jones and Williams from matching last year's touch totals.

Jones entered 2019 with 214 career carries. But he was allotted a career-high 236 and responded by eclipsing 1,000 yards for the first time during his four seasons. Jones also established new career bests in targets (68), receptions (49), and receiving yards (474), tied for the NFL lead in rushing touchdowns (16) and finished third in point per game scoring. But none of these numbers deterred LaFleur and Gutekunst from making the Round 2 investment in Dillon.

He accumulated 845 rushing attempts during his three seasons at Boston College, while also accruing 4,382 rushing yards, and generating 38 touchdowns. Dillon was third overall in attempts during 2019 (318) and also finished fifth in rushing yardage (1,685/129.6 per game).

2019 CFB    Attempts YPC Rushing Yards Receiving Yards  Scrimmage Yards TD
Chubba Hubbard 328 6.4 2,094 198 2,292 21
J.K. Dobbins 301 6.7 2,003 247 2,050 23
Jonathan Taylor 320 6.3 2,003 252 2,255 26
Jaret Patterson 312 5.8 1,799 209 2,008 20
A.J. Dillon 318 5.3 1,685 195 1,880 15
Travis Etienne 207 7.8 1,614 432 2,046 15
Javian Hawkins 264 5.8 1,525 58 1,583 9
Darrynton Evans 255 5.8 1,480 198 1,678 23
Levante Bellamy 266 5.5 1,472 55 1,527 23
Lynn Bowden 185 7.9 1,468 348 1,816 14

Dillon's arrival has impacted Jones’ ADP during the past four months, although Dillon looms as a greater threat to Jamaal Williams’ workload. His size might create the misconception that he is slow. But he does combine adequate speed (4-53 in the 40) with his ability to produce yardage both inside and after contact. Dillon is not a candidate to function in a three-down capacity, but he should minimally earn short-yardage and goal-line responsibilities - even if he shares red zone carries with Jones. This should motivate you to include him among your targets in Round 12.

 

Joshua Kelly, Los Angeles Chargers

ADP 187/RB60

The offseason conversation regarding LA's backfield has focused primarily on Austin Ekeler’s workload, due to an impending transformation of the Chargers' offense. He remains entrenched as the team’s primary back after finishing at RB4 in PPR scoring while leading all runners in receiving touchdowns (8), yards per reception (10.8), and yards per target (9.2) during 2019. He also finished second in targets (108), receptions (92), receiving yards (993), and yards after catch (940).

He should sustain his responsibilities as LA’s pass-catching weapon from the backfield. But the Chargers will be distributing rushing attempts between multiple backs. Kelly and former seventh-round pick Justin Jackson are both candidates to garner carries that are not designated for Ekeler. However, uncertainty currently exists regarding which backup will ultimately confiscate the most sizable role within LA’s backfield.

Jackson joined Ekeler in commandeering first-team reps at the onset of training camp. However, Kelly is overcoming the constraints of a limited offseason and has quickly ascended into his own involvement with the starters. Kelly ran for 2,303 yards and 24 touchdowns in two years at UCLA while becoming the eighth Bruin to register consecutive 1,000-yard rushing seasons. He also provides a physical presence that should eventually launch him above Jackson on LA's depth chart.

Jackson was involved in 29.6% of the Chargers’ offensive snaps from weeks 1-3 while averaging six attempts per game. However, he also missed nine contests with multiple issues (calf/hamstring). Melvin Gordon also reemerged from his ill-fated holdout to perform on 66% of the snaps and average 13.5 attempts per game.

Weeks 1-4 Attempts Atts/Game Yards Yards/Game
Austin Ekeler 56 14 220 55
Justin Jackson 18 6 142 47.3
Weeks 5-17 Attempts Atts/Game Yards Yards/Game
Melvin Gordon 162 13.5 612 51
Austin Ekeler 76 6.3 337 28.1
Justin Jackson 11 2.8 58 14.5

The Chargers increased their emphasis on the ground game from 20 attempts per game to 26 per game after offensive coordinator Shane Steichen replaced Ken Whisenhunt as the play-caller from weeks 9-17. The Chargers can be expected to continue that increased reliance on the ground game, which bodes well for Kelly.

L.A. opted to deploy a fourth-round pick on the 5’11”, 215-pound rookie, who appears destined to capture a weekly role as the team’s power back. This could include responsibilities in short-yardage and red zone carries, which should eventually result in a respectable workload. That presents you with the opportunity to capitalize on his Round 16 ADP.

 

Darrel Williams / DeAndre Washington, Kansas City Chiefs

ADP 246/RB 72 - ADP 163/RB54 

While Clyde Edwards-Helaire has commandeered lead back duties with the Chiefs, the touch distribution for Kansas City's other backs could fluctuate during the season,  But that should not discourage you from using a late-round selection on Williams or Washington.

Washington and Jalen Richard both joined the Raiders in 2016, as Washington was selected 143rd overall, while Richard was signed as an undrafted free agent. Both backs accumulated similar usage and overall production during their four seasons with the team. Washington accrued more rushing attempts (282/233). But Richard generated more rushing yardage (1.170/1,122), and led the tandem in targets (199/110), receptions (160/88), and receiving yards (1,380/613).

Washington did establish new career highs in receptions (36) and receiving yards (292) during 2019. He also assembled 215 rushing yards (71.6 per game), averaged 6.3 targets per game, and amassed 119 yards as a receiver during the three games that Josh Jacobs missed in December. However, Jon Gruden and Mike Mayock opted to extend Richard’s contract for an additional two years in February, while Washington was released.

This Raiders’ decision to keep Richard rather than Washington could have a significant impact on Washington’s career. When Kansas City signed Washington in April, he was joining a highly congested backfield that already included Damien Williams, Darrel Williams, and Darwin Thompson. When the Chiefs selected Edwards-Helaire in Round 1 of the NFL Draft, that pushed Washington even further from relevancy. But when Damien Williams elected to opt-out of the 2020 season, the landscape of KC’s backfield was altered.

Washington’s versatility should keep him involved in Andy Reid’s attack. He also collected 124 receptions for 1,091 yards during four seasons at Texas Tech. That includes the 20 games in which he was operating with  Patrick Mahomes under center.

However, Williams appears primed to begin the season as the direct backup to Edwards-Helaire. He performed on 267 snaps last season (25%) while accruing 141 yards on 41 carries (3.4 yards per attempt). That did include a career-high 62 yards on nine carries in Week 3. Williams has generated 185 yards on the ground in two seasons with Kansas City while collecting 18 receptions for 194 yards. He is familiar with Reid's offense, and the Chiefs' offensive decision-makers are comfortable with his abilities as a runner, receiver, and pass-blocker.

Even if Williams secures a larger role than Washington to begin the season, the belief from here is that Washington will ultimately secure the most sizable workload. However, both backs are viable late-round fliers. They are components in KC’s high-octane attack and will be schematically placed in a position to generate huge gains whenever they are on the field.



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Clyde Edwards-Helaire or Jonathan Taylor? Coming into the season this was the biggest question for fantasy GMs, both dynasty managers who were thinking long-term and redraft managers who wanted to know who would be better for this season. There were many different theories and believe me when I say, both sides thought they were 100%... Read More


NextGen Stats - Quarterback Breakdowns and Takeaways

It's been a month since the last time we took a look at our beloved quarterbacks. Numbers are numbers, and numbers don't lie. You can twist them, but looking at them objectively, numbers say that no matter what, rushing the ball is almost always a worse option than passing it in today's game. That's why... Read More


Fantasy Football Risers and Fallers - Week 7

Whether due to their own play, the play of others, or injuries, players' stock increases and decreases on a weekly basis. Perhaps more than any other, the NFL is a league that experiences ups and downs at a rapid pace. With only 16 games, there’s little room for error and seemingly endless opportunities for improvement.... Read More


Coaching Matters: Offenses That Will Improve From Week 6

This series continues into its sixth week of where I dive into offensive areas that will improve or decline based on coaching in order to glean insight as to fantasy football value. In Week 6, we saw performances such as Ryan Tannehill throwing for 364 passing yards, the Houston Texans running backs combining for 66 rushing yards, and the New... Read More


Tape Tells All: D'Andre Swift's Week 6 Performance

Welcome to another edition of Tape Tells All. I've been thinking of rebranding as just TAPE. All-Caps like that. Probably wouldn't be a good idea for SEO purposes, right? Anyways, this week we'll be discussing Detroit Lions rookie running back D'Andre Swift. Swift set a lot of career highs this week, with bests in carries... Read More


Week 7 Waiver Wire Pickups & Adds

Week 6 was like the 2020 of fantasy football weeks. All those great matchups meant nothing, those studs let you down, and your bench likely went crazy. The good news is that we didn't have any season-ending injuries to running backs or games canceled due to COVID, so in retrospect maybe we shouldn't complain. The... Read More


FAB Bidding - Week 7 Waiver Wire Targets

Whether it's injuries, bye-week blues, or simply poor performance, we've got the waiver-wire cure...but it just might cost you! Alongside our famous waiver wire pickups list and our weekly waiver wire columns by position, this column focuses on suggested waiver wire bidding percentages for fantasy football owners in leagues using a Free Agent Budget (FAB). In... Read More


Waiver Wire Express - Week 7 Lightning Round

Week 6 was relatively healthy and had no coronavirus delays, so let's just take a moment to bask in that. That said, we still saw Miles Sanders (knee) and Zach Ertz (ankle) go down, while Mark Ingram (ankle) has a bye to get healthy. Week 7 byes are Baltimore, Indianapolis, Miami, and Minnesota. Let's get... Read More


Running Back Waiver Wire Pickups - Week 7

Fantasy GMs are to be commended for rising to the unique challenges that have unfolded during this regular season. Injuries to critical players is an unwelcome reality that occurs every year. This is also the case for backs that were expected to operate as RB1s, but have been relegated to committees. However, this season has... Read More


Wide Receiver Waiver Wire Pickups - Week 7

Six weeks of NFL football are behind us, aside from a pair of Monday games, including a late afternoon game between the Bills and the Chiefs. In terms of wide receiver production this week, we didn't have the huge breakouts like we had in Week 5. Chase Claypool didn't score four touchdowns. In fact, only... Read More


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Dissecting Contact Quality In Search Of Fantasy Bargains

Of the 1,015 hitters sampled(1) between 2015 and 2019, there were only 14 instances of hitters making more productive contact against pitches outside of the strike zone than against pitches inside of the strike zone based on xwOBAcon. Based on the same sample, the average hitter was a whopping .116 points better against pitches inside... Read More


Daily MLB Injury Roundup for October 23rd, 2020

RotoBaller has assembled a list of daily MLB injury updates to help you prepare both your seasonal and daily fantasy baseball (DFS) lineups, every day of the MLB season. Below is our updated list of injured MLB players for October 23rd, 2020. Only players on teams that are scheduled to play today will appear below... Read More


Lineup Order Risers and Fallers: AL West 2020 Review

It’s the offseason and there are about to be a bunch of moving parts. This allows for speculation in terms of players gaining or losing playing time, moving up or down a batting order and much more. The idea here is to highlight some lineup situations for each team and some potential winners or losers... Read More


2021 1st & 2nd Year Players with James Anderson - Benched with Bubba (Episode 317)

Bubba (@bdentrek) is joined by James Anderson (@RealJRAnderson) on episode 317. The guys will go over 30+ first and second-year players. They will discuss their current ADP's in the 2 Early Mocks, what to expect of the players in 2021, and much more. They also go over some listener questions, compare Juan Soto to Mike... Read More


Daily MLB Injury Roundup for October 21st, 2020

RotoBaller has assembled a list of daily MLB injury updates to help you prepare both your seasonal and daily fantasy baseball (DFS) lineups, every day of the MLB season. Below is our updated list of injured MLB players for October 21st, 2020. Only players on teams that are scheduled to play today will appear below... Read More


Daily MLB Injury Roundup for October 20th, 2020

RotoBaller has assembled a list of daily MLB injury updates to help you prepare both your seasonal and daily fantasy baseball (DFS) lineups, every day of the MLB season. Below is our updated list of injured MLB players for October 20th, 2020. Only players on teams that are scheduled to play today will appear below... Read More


Bubba and Bat Flip 54: 2 Early Mocks APD Player Debates - Benched with Bubba (Episode 316)

Bubba (@bdentrek) is joined by Bat Flip Crazy (@BatFlipCrazy) to take a deeper look at the 2 Early Mocks ADP. They go over some of the positions and look at players with similar ADPs and debate. Going around the diamond discussing some players people are high on and some they are down on with a... Read More


Daily MLB Injury Roundup for October 18th, 2020

RotoBaller has assembled a list of daily MLB injury updates to help you prepare both your seasonal and daily fantasy baseball (DFS) lineups, every day of the MLB season. Below is our updated list of injured MLB players for October 18th, 2020. Only players on teams that are scheduled to play today will appear below... Read More


Daily MLB Injury Roundup for October 17th, 2020

RotoBaller has assembled a list of daily MLB injury updates to help you prepare both your seasonal and daily fantasy baseball (DFS) lineups, every day of the MLB season. Below is our updated list of injured MLB players for October 17th, 2020. Only players on teams that are scheduled to play today will appear below... Read More


2021 Early Mock ADP Values & Reaches: WPC+ Videocast

Pierre Camus and Nicklaus Gaut prepare for the 2021 fantasy baseball season with a look at early mock draft results from the RotoBaller Expert mock. Like and subscribe to the RotoBaller channel on Youtube to get all our latest podcasts and catch us on iTunes and BlogTalkRadio as well! Be sure to also tune into RotoBaller... Read More


Statcast Season Review: 2020 Barrel Leaders (Hitters)

The 2020 MLB season will always be one for the record books, even if everything that took place will have multiple asterisks attached to it. Evaluating Statcast numbers is a nice way to find hot and cold hitters, as well as underachievers and overachievers. Now that the regular season is over, let's reflect on the... Read More


Daily MLB Injury Roundup for October 16th, 2020

RotoBaller has assembled a list of daily MLB injury updates to help you prepare both your seasonal and daily fantasy baseball (DFS) lineups, every day of the MLB season. Below is our updated list of injured MLB players for October 16th, 2020. Only players on teams that are scheduled to play today will appear below... Read More


Daily MLB Injury Roundup for October 15th, 2020

RotoBaller has assembled a list of daily MLB injury updates to help you prepare both your seasonal and daily fantasy baseball (DFS) lineups, every day of the MLB season. Below is our updated list of injured MLB players for October 15th, 2020. Only players on teams that are scheduled to play today will appear below... Read More


Daily MLB Injury Roundup for October 14th, 2020

RotoBaller has assembled a list of daily MLB injury updates to help you prepare both your seasonal and daily fantasy baseball (DFS) lineups, every day of the MLB season. Below is our updated list of injured MLB players for October 14th, 2020. Only players on teams that are scheduled to play today will appear below... Read More


Bubba and Bat Flip 53: 2 Early Mocks APD Trends & More - Benched with Bubba (Episode 315)

Bubba (@bdentrek) is joined by Bat Flip Crazy (@BatFlipCrazy) to take a deeper look at the 2 Early Mocks ADP. They dig into trends, some interesting risers/fallers, and much more. They also go over some listener questions at the end to keep the Fantasy Baseball information coming even in the offseason. Be sure to subscribe... Read More