This is going to be my most unique article of the season and we’re going to help make some tough decisions for you. This article will pin two players against one another and we’ll analyze who the better choice is based on ADP. Making the correct decisions in these circumstances can be the difference between winning it all and wearing a dress for punishment. With that in mind, let’s get into some of the toughest running back ADP battles for the quickly approaching season.
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Running Back ADP Battles
Aaron Jones vs. Leonard Fournette
This is a tricky one because you need to ask yourself what type of player you believe in? Do you want the proven guy or the one with more upside? That’s the dilemma we face here between Fournette and Jones, as one of these guys could easily be a league-winner for you. While both of them are expected to be the bell-cow back for their respective teams, only one of them has actually done that. It happens to be Fournette and he’s the guy I’m leaning towards ADP battle.
Let’s take a look at these guys’ Fantrax ADP. Jones is currently the 14th running back off the board at pick 31.5 while Fournette is the 15th back off the board at 31.8. That’s about as close as it gets and this will be a real predicament come draft time.
What fascinates me about Fournette is that he could actually lead the league in carries. How often can you say that about a guy who’s being drafted in the third round? In 21 career games, Fournette has 401 carries for 1,479 yards. That equates to Fournette generating a 55.4 percent of snaps with a touch rate, which is simply one of the best marks in the game. That doesn’t even take into consideration that both T.J. Yeldon and Carlos Hyde are out of the picture, thus giving Fournette even more responsibility.
While the injuries are a major concern with Fournette, his workhorse nature is simply dwarfing the reliability of Aaron Jones. The Packers have been unbelievably fickle with Jones’ usage and it’s simply impossible to trust him. The simple fact is, these two guys had the exact same amount of carries last season but Fournette did that in four fewer games. Jones was the much more productive back but I trust volume more than talent. These offenses cater to Fournette being the better choice too, with Jacksonville ranked second in total carries since 2017 while Green Bay has the second-fewest carries in that same span. Jones very well may be the better running back but this is fantasy, which means volume and opportunity are way more important to this running back ADP battle.
DeVonta Freeman vs. Derrick Henry
If you read my RB busts article, you probably know where this is headed. Freeman is currently the 17th RB and 35th player off the board while Henry is the 19th back and 37th player drafted according to Fantrax ADP. This small difference should be much wider in my opinion and Freeman is definitely the superior option.
Let’s begin with the Atlanta RB, as he should be in for a big year. The main reason is that Tevin Coleman is out of the picture and that’s a huge boost for Freeman. These guys have been killing each other’s fantasy values for years now and it’s Freeman’s time to shine.
Before missing 14 games last season, Freeman had played at least 14 games in each of his three previous years. He actually averaged 229 carries, 1,000 rushing yards and 9.3 TDs in those three seasons, which is amazing considering how much work Coleman was taking. Freeman also added 54.3 catches per year in that span. This is simply one of the most talented backs in the NFL. Amazingly, Freeman actually led all RBs in fantasy points between 2015-17. I had to double-check that statistic, as he beat out Todd Gurley by about 12 fantasy points. Many people think Freeman is way over the hill but we’re talking about a 27-year-old, guys! This dude is a year younger than me! Am I done too?
Now that we got the Freeman love out of the way, let’s discuss Henry a bit. I love watching this dude run people over as much as the next guy but there’s just too much risk here. Many people don’t remember this but Henry was well on his way to being the bust of the year in the first 12 games last season. In fact, Hemry collected 474 rushing yards on 128 carries over his first 12 games which equates to a 3.7 YPC. Those are dreadful numbers and his 12 receptions on 15 targets only added to his downfall. That doesn’t even take into consideration that Dion Lewis actually out-snapped Henry, 599-403 last season, which is a truly scary number. If all of that doesn’t worry you, the fact that Henry is currently in a walking boot with a calf injury should raise a huge red flag!
Chris Carson vs. Tarik Cohen
This is one of the most interesting debates out there. What makes this one fascinating is the styles of these players. Even though I prefer to play in PPR formats, I believe that Carson is the easy choice here. According to Fantrax ADP, Cohen is the 23rd RB off the board at 52.4 while Carson is the 25th back off the board at pick 54.7. My mouth was watering when I saw this because I truly believe that Carson should be a round ahead of Cohen. Are people forgetting just how beastly this dude was last season? I didn’t, because Carson carried me to a couple of fantasy championships.
After establishing himself in Week 3 as the go-to back, Carson ran for 1,096 yards and nine TDs on 247 rushing attempts over his final 13 games. Those are simply some of the best numbers in the league, as they regularly gave him 20-plus carries. A major reason for that is because of this offense, with the Seahawks recording the second-most rush attempts per game last season. That’s only going to continue with Pete Carroll running the show and Doug Baldwin out of the picture.
While Cohen is a heck of a talent, it’s hard to pin him against a workhorse back like Carson. The simple fact is, Cohen may only see a quarter of the carries that Carson does this season. The speedy scatback had 99 carries last year and there are reports that that number will only decrease with the additions of David Montgomery and Mike Davis. It’s very possible that Cohen will get 60-70 catches this season but once again, we have to go with volume over talent. That report that Cohen may see fewer carries is even more worrisome because there are reports that Carson is running away with the starting job in Seattle.
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Running Back ADP Quick Hits (Fantrax ADP)
Mark Ingram (54.4 ADP) Over James White (56.5 ADP)
Ingram looks to be the go-to back for a Ravens offense that led the league in carries last season while White saw a major drop off at the end of last season with the Sony Michel breakout.
Sony Michel (68.1 ADP) Over Derrius Guice (68.3 ADP)
Michel should see all of the early-down work for a dominant Patriots offense while an injury-riddled Guice will compete with Adrian Peterson for carries in a weak Redskins offense.
Latavius Murray (102.9 ADP) Over LeSean Mccoy (105.1 ADP)
These guys should be more than a round apart, as Murray will step into the Mark Ingram role while McCoy has a legitimate chance of not even making the Bills roster.
Any other running back ADP battles you’d like to see? Let us know in the comments below! For more great analysis check out the 2019 Fantrax Fantasy Football Draft Kit.
Joel Bartilotta is a fantasy addict who gets paid to write about his addiction. He writes for FantasyPros, RotoWire, Razzball and now Fantrax. Joel is a basketball lifer but he also covers MLB and NFL.
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