For the newest installment of Fantrax’s fantasy running back depth charts series, we’re going to delve into the AFC South. I’ve already ranked the top 100 fantasy running backs in the NFL, but why not break this down by division? Between the Texans, Colts, Jags, and the Titans, the AFC South has plenty of backfield candidates to choose from.
A quality running back is a scarce fantasy asset. It’s for this reason that my favorite strategy is to draft a running back with my first 4 picks…regardless of league style (redraft, dynasty, etc.). I aim to find value at other positions like WR and QB because if I miss on a bet at those positions, I can always trade one of my RBs for a roster weakness during the season. When those RB injuries hit during the season (they always do), league-mates will be knocking down your door to get what you already have!!!
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AFC South RB Depth Chart
RB36: David Johnson
RB49: Phillip Lindsay
Let’s take inventory of the Houston Texans’ situation. Last year, they were horrible. They finished an abysmal 4-12, with one of the best QBs in the game. Since then, Watson has been embroiled in devastating sexual assault allegations, while also demanding a trade. Let’s say he rescinds that trade demand. I don’t even have him ranked in my QB ratings, because I don’t believe the league will allow him to play this year. That said, if you’re 4-12 with Watson, then I don’t anticipate much improvement with Tyrod Taylor at the helm.
A bad team means that the game script will favor the passing game. You’d be drafting a RB from this team that will only get carries for three-quarters of the game. Both Johnson and Lindsay have pass-catching chops, but their situation still scares me. DJ had 1000+ all-purpose yards last season, and I’m anticipating a similar workload this year. Further, I anticipate that Lindsay will be able to adjust to his new team easily, considering he’ll have the same role he had in Denver. If these players fell to me, I would draft them in the middle/late rounds, but DO NOT REACH!
RB7: Jonathan Taylor
RB48: Nyheim Hines
This is a no-brainer situation. The Colts are a very solid team offensively, so you don’t need to worry about game script. Further, Taylor is an every-down back, while Hines is used as a change-of-pace/receiving back. They have very defined roles, so there’s no second-guessing. Taylor rushed for over 1100 yards, with 11TDs, finishing as the RB4. Hines had just under 500 yards through the air, with 4TDs. Taylor is a first-round draft pick, and if you can get Hines as a handcuff, you’re sitting pretty. I wouldn’t draft Hines until the later rounds, because Taylor is a workhorse.
RB14: James Robinson
RB39: Travis Etienne
The Jags drafting an elite college running back after James Robinson finished the season as the RB7 last year was puzzling to say the least, but I respect it. Taking the best player available is always a solid strategy. However, the reason I have him slipping to RB14 is that I can’t deny that Travis will be cannibalizing some of Robinson’s carries. Robinson is still a late first-round pick/early second-round pick, and Etienne stays in the top 40 off of the strength that Urban Meyer has been quoted as using him as a receiver as well. The Jags have a chance to be an incredibly fun/competitive team this year.
RB2: Derrick Henry
Derrick Henry ran for over 2,000 yards and 17TDs last year. There’s not much to say. He’s incredible. The man is made of marble and runs like lighting. The only reason I have him as RB2 is that a certain player on the Panthers was injured last year, and will have a much higher share in the offense than Henry, now that the Titans have added Julio Jones to the mix. You can take Henry number one overall and nobody will bat an eye at you. He’s a no-brainer.
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