For those of you who don't know me, I'm Brett O'Brien, and this is my first piece over here at We Talk Fantasy Sports. Most avid fantasy players agree that good running backs are a major key to victory and the Running Back Carousel was in full effect this offseason. Here are some of the key RB moves over the past few months and whether their stock is on the rise or on the way down, heading into Training Camp.
LeSean McCoy - Buffalo Bills
First off, let me disclaim now that I am a diehard Eagles fan. That being said, I'll try my best to be completely unbiased and look at this from an outside perspective (screw you, Tony Romo.) Shady is no doubt one of the best backs in the league and it raised a lot of eyebrows when Chip Kelly shipped him over to Buffalo in exchange for Kiko Alonso. How much will this trade help the Bills?
NFL IMPACT - STOCK UP
Expect their running game to be greatly improved next year. They were ranked 25th in the league with only 1482 rushing yards. Despite running behind the O-Line from The Little Giants next season, I expect LeSean to put up some top rushing numbers and really help Rex Ryan establish his Ground and Pound + Aggressive Defense philosophy over in Buffalo.
|This just looks weird - Imgur|
FANTASY IMPACT - STOCK DOWN
I think Shady is going to be one of the top fantasy running backs, once again, but how can you increase the stock on someone who went #1 in most leagues? Yes, his offense might be worse, but he's going to get the ball right around a billion times this season. Barring injury, there's no way a player of that caliber doesn't put up some great fantasy numbers. He might not be the #1 overall pick this year but I wouldn't let Shady slip too far in the first round. Top tier RB1.
DeMarco Murray & Ryan Mathews - Philadelphia Eagles
I was debating on whether or not to include Mathews as a starter, but after Sproles made the Pro-Bowl last year, I think it's fair to assume Mathews will have more than just a backup’s impact. After trading LeSeason McCoy a week before Free Agency started, many wondered how the Eagles were going to replace such a force in the backfield. It turned out, they had two answers.
NFL IMPACT - STOCK UP
The Eagles have one of the top offenses in the league and it seems that will always be the case as long as Chip Kelly is in charge. (All hail King Chip!) As talented as he was, LeSean McCoy's side to side running style would sometimes hurt the Eagles since the fast pace offense depends on picking up at least a few yards on every play. With the downhill running style of Murray and the change of pace Mathews can bring, I expect the Eagles to have their best rushing year ever. (As of now it was Chip's first season, two years ago.)
FANTASY IMPACT - MURRAY DOWN, MATHEWS UP
I expect Murray to have a great year, but to repeat the numbers he put up last year is just impossible. While the Eagle's offense might have better schemes, they have a worse offensive line and Murray will be splitting carries with both Ryan Mathews and Darren Sproles. Mathews has only managed to play 2 full seasons in 5 years, but in both of those years he eclipsed 1,000 yards. While I don't see him getting enough carries to reach that mark, I think he'll have a solid impact in both the rushing and receiving games. Murray is a top quality RB 1 and Mathews is a decent RB2 possibility (especially in larger leagues) if him and Murray can consistently share the field.
Darren McFadden - Dallas Cowboys
After letting reigning rushing champion, Demarco Murray, walk away from the team and sign with a division rival (let's go Eagles, baby. Sorry, won't happen again), the Cowboys were expected to bring in some help to bolster the running back position. That help came in the form of Darren McFadden.
NFL IMPACT - STOCK DOWN
I don't care how good your offensive line is, you can't just throw anyone back there and expect them to rush for 1,800 yards. That's not how football works. There's a reason certain running back are better than others. Darren McFadden has never played all 16 games in his (shitty) first 7 seasons and has only managed to surpass the 1,000 yard mark once (5 years ago, in 2010) and the 600 yard mark 3 times (2010-12). I think the Cowboys are going to sorely miss Demarco Murray.
FANTASY IMPACT - STOCK UP
McFadden and the Cowboy’s offensive line are on two opposite ends of the spectrum and I expect them to meet somewhere in the middle. I think Darren McFadden will have his best year since 2010 and he might even be able to break out another 1,000 yard season. He will most likely end up being an RB2 or a low-end RB1.
Frank Gore - Indianapolis Colts
Frank Gore pulled the only juke of his entire career this offseason when he signed with Colts only hours after reportedly singing with the Eagles. Did he make the right decision?
NFL IMPACT - STOCK UP
Since the arrival of Andrew Luck and his legendary neard (neck beard), the Colts running game has been lacking, or how some might put it, absolutely terrible. They thought they solved their issues when they traded for Trent Richardson (hilarious, right?) but instead they realized he can literally only run straight (downhill running is one thing, but this guy is like a windup toy) and now they're out a first round draft pick. Frank Gore is going to bring a much needed re-haul to this backfield and I expect the Colts to have a complete offense for the first time in Luck's NFL Career, which could end up resulting in a ring.
FANTASY IMPACT - STOCK UP
They don’t call him Old Faithful for nothing (no one calls him that but me). Frank Gore has been the epitome of consistency as far as running backs go, rushing for 1,000 yards in 8 of his 10 seasons. That being said, he has only ran for double digit touchdowns once in his career (2009) and I expect him to break that mark for a second time this year with Andrew Luck at the helm of his offense. No matter who's running the ball, Andrew Luck will get you into scoring position. Now that they have a big, strong back to pound it in, I expect them to take full advantage of it. Solid RB1, like always.
C.J. Spiller - New Orleans Saints
If I included Mathews I had to include Mr. CJ Spiller as well. The Saints picked him up to form a possible two headed monsters, as they resigned Mark Ingram as well.
NFL IMPACT – STOCK UP
New Orleans had pretty good success running the ball last year, despite having three primary backs throughout the season. Mark Ingram, Pierre Thomas, and Khiry Robinson all ran the ball effectively, which makes me think that the rest of the team has the schemes and blocking down pretty well. I expect Ingram and Spiller to both have better years than they had last year and New Orleans to be in the top 10 in rushing.
FANTASY IMPACT – STOCK UP
Like Murray and Mathews, the issue with these two is the number of carries to go around. I expect Ingram to surpass 1,000 yards if he is healthy and Spiller has a chance to be a few hundred behind him if he capitalizes on his opportunity. If Ingram goes down again, Spiller becomes an instant RB1 hot commodity. For now, Ingram is a lower end RB1 and Spiller is most likely an RB3, with possibly higher value. These last two RB situations are definitely something to keep an eye on during training camp.
- TJ Yeldon - Jacksonville Jaguars
- Melvin Gordon - San Diego Chargers
- Todd Gurley - St. Louis Rams
Rookies are always so hard to predict, so I'm not even going to break them down individually because, the bottom line is, we just don't know how they'll perform at this level. Now that I've said that, I'll say that I think all of these guys are going to kill it. Maybe not next year, but eventually. Next year I think we can count on these three to instantly improve their teams rushing attack (all three ranked in #20 or lower). If you don't reach up for them, drafting one of these guys as a RB2 could have a huge upside, as they all have the potential to be an RB1 and 1,000 yard rookies.
Brett O’Brien @iSTALKbrett
Editor-in-Chief of OfficialWritingWrongs.com