By Pasha Hashemzadeh
The following is analysis of bad running game situations and players to avoid come draft time:
Dolphins – Jay Ajayi showed some flashes last season as Lamar Miller’s backup though Miami’s offense is shady and their line is subpar. Mike Pouncey leads a young corps that looks to create space for the backs in Miami and protect Tannehill. Ajayi isn’t established as the starter. It’s rumored that the Dolphins are interested in signing Arian Foster once he’s fully healthy in a month or so. This is a situation to monitor.
Ravens – Between Justin Forsett, Buck Allen, and, rookie Kenneth Dixon, there is no clarity as to who will be the lead ball carrier for the Ravens this year. Forsett is a year older and coming off injury, Buck Allen is limited in talent, and enter rookie question mark Kenneth Dixon. Dixon has the most upside among this group, and should be monitored during camp, though it is likely that the Ravens taken a committee approach this year.
Bengals – Jeremy Hill was predicted to breakout last year by many fantasy pundits, something that absolutely did not happen. He had a bust of a year while Gio Bernard maintained his role as a change of pace back. Hill has TD upside while Bernard can be a valuable flex play in PPR formats, though this is certainly a situation to avoid.
Browns – The Browns don’t know who their starting quarterback is yet and have the duo of Isaiah Crowell and Duke Johnson at running back. They will duke it out in camp for the lion’s share of carries going into the season. Poor quarterback play will be an issue as boxes will be stacked against the running backs, though a positive for the Browns offense is their above average offensive line.
Colts – Frank Gore will be 33 this season and is expected to be the starting running back for the Colts. No running back that old has rushed for 1,000 yards since the early ’80s. With the Colts’ up tempo offense, Gore will see a lot of goal line work, though this just might be the year he runs out of gas. Josh Robinson is in the rearview mirror.
Jaguars – T.J. Yeldon had a nice rookie year and figured to be the workhorse going into the 2016 season. That all changed when the Jags brought in another workhorse – Chris Ivory – this offseason. The duo looks to split carries, and the Jags figure to be down a lot at times, leading to a pass-happy offense. Neither back is great in the passing game either.
Chargers – The Chargers OC recently said they have three capable backs and will likely form a committee approach going into the year, given Melvin Gordon is healthy enough and fully recovered from his microfracture surgery. The other backs include Danny Woodhead and Branden Oliver. Woodhead has some PPR flex appeal, though it is recommended to steer clear of this running back corps.
Giants – Many pundits believe Rashad Jennings to be a steal come draft time this year. I am not one of them. Between injuries and playcalling, Jennings simply isn’t fit to be an ideal RB2 in fantasy. His forecast for carries might be in the 10-12 range with rookie Paul Perkins on the team and Andre Williams still in town. That, and the fact that Ben McAdoo enjoys a pass-happy approach, and with OBJ he has one of the best weapons in the league at his disposal.
Redskins – Matt Jones is currently the starter with Alfred Morris out of town. Last year he proved to have fumbling and health issues despite a few standout performances. Speedy rookie Keith Marshall has arrived as the fastest running back in his class and will battle Jones in camp for carries. Washington figures to be a pass-heavy offense with all the weapons they have, so the running game is a situation to be avoided come draft time.
Bears – Jeremy Langford had a poor rookie showing and is one of the bigger question marks heading into this year’s draft. He will certainly be a player to monitor during camp and preseason. Bruising rookie back Jordan Howard will challenge Langford for the starting gig, though the Bears offense does not project to be anything special making this a bad situation for the running backs.
Seahawks – Despite their 2015 success, much in part due to Russell Wilson and the defense, the Seahawks boast a poor offensive line. Thomas Rawls figures to be the starting back, though is coming off a gruesome ankle injury and is going to miss most, if not all, of preseason. Christine Michael is a talented back that can’t seem to get his head in the game. The Seahawks drafted three running backs this year, highlighted by C.J. Prosise of Notre Dame. A timeshare could be in the works here.