Fantasy football mock drafts are upon us! Here are 5 running backs I feel are being undervalued compared to their early ADP.
Coach Arrington has mentioned he wants Ellington to be their bell cow this year, and he showed he can be a fantasy asset when he got targets and touches in the latter part of the year. In games where he had 10+ rushes, he averaged anywhere from 4.2 to 10.3 Y/C, not to mention being a pretty consistent option in the passing game. He holds onto the ball and didn’t lose a fumble the entire in over 150 touches. He’s currently being selected in the middle of the 3rd round on average, which feels like good value considering he has the upside to perform as a top 10 option in an offense that should put up lots of points this coming year.
The saying is pretty well-known in fantasy football circles – the dreaded “30+ year old running back”. Well, Gore was 30 all of last year and just turned 31 in May. He’s been a very strong runner in San Francisco for a number of years, and I think there’s a good chunk of value there in his legs this year. The 49ers have a great offensive line and they just happened to lose Kendall Hunter for the year, making their reliance on the veteran even more important to start the year. They drafted Carlos Hyde (and how smart is that pick looking right now) to pair with Marcus Lattimore as the compliments to Gore in the early going. Both of these guys are nice players and should be good fantasy options down the road, but Gore is clearly their guy this year. They’ll ride him into the ground, and rightfully so. This makes for a nice value pick in drafts as late as the 6th round, which is where I’ve seen him go in recent drafts.
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I don’t feel great about recommending a player like Rice who’s coming off a poor year as both a human being and football player. He was nowhere to be seen for the Ravens, averaging a measly 3.1 yards per carry over 214 attempts. Compare that to 2012 where he averaged 4.4 Y/C and 2011 when that number was 4.7. Fun fact: he had only 1 run last season over 20 yards. One! With all this being said, I still think his current draft position is a bit lower than it should be. He’s averaging a late 5th round selection, slipping all the way into the 8th round on some occasions. He’s slotted to miss the first 2 games of the year due to suspension (the main factor of him having a “bad human” year) but we know what he’s been able to do on the field and could very well see the pre-2013 Ray Rice when he gets back to doing what he does best. I wouldn’t want him as my RB2, but there is upside as RB3/RB4 and is worth rolling the dice if he falls in your draft past the 5th or 6th round.
More of a breakout guy than under-valued, Robinson has a chance to play a much bigger role in New Orleans next season than many seem to think. He didn’t get much of a chance to show what he could do until late last year, but he made a pretty big splash once the opportunity presented itself. The Saints leaned on him at the end of the year, particularly in the playoffs once Pierre Thomas went down to an injury, and saw him run to a 4.6 Y/C average over 33 carries (final 3 games). He has the physical build (6’0”, 220 lbs) and is in a situation to succeed with only Thomas and Mark Ingram his major competition. Stash him on your bench in the 9th or 10th round and see how things play out to start the year.
and lastly, my personal favorite undervalued RB for 2014...
Toby is creeping up draft boards quickly, and for good reason. Having finally emerged from Adrian Peterson’s shadow, there’s a great opportunity for him in Jacksonville to break out in a big way. He should be an every down back in 2014, push for 300+ touches and 23+ per game from the get-go. I love his running style and his attitude as a teammate. He’s entering the prime years of his career as an athlete, and unlike many other 27-year-old running back in the NFL, doesn’t have a lot of mileage thanks to playing behind the league’s best since being drafted in 2010. With all the uncertainty around guys like C.J. Spiller, Zac Stacy and Doug Martin – the fact Gerhart is being taken after them is something I’m going to pounce on come draft day. He makes for a great value target as a RB2 with the ability and opportunity to produce as a borderline RB1.