Fantasy football season is upon us. Perhaps the most valuable position in all of fantasy is the running back — especially in PPR leagues. Every year, backs seem to overplay and underplay their ADP. Here are some that will overplay theirs. ADP values are from FantasyPros.com (standard).
5. Derrius Guice – Washington Redskins
ADP: 82 (PPR: 79)
If Derrius Guice is sketchy. That’s in large part because he’s coming off an ACL tear — and suffered infection — and hasn’t yet played a regular-season game. He’s also sharing a backfield with Adrian Peterson.
But, don’t get it twisted. Guice can be the Redskins’ bell-cow back and then some. Washington drafted him out of LSU to do so, as his blend of vision, power, and athleticism can shred defenses. He did just that on Thursday night, as he recorded an impressive 11 carries for 44 yards in his first live game action in a year.
4. Justin Jackson – Los Angeles Chargers
ADP: 158 (PPR: 155)
This is all about Melvin Gordon’s contract negotiations. If he comes back, scratch Justin Jackson, if not, he’d be an excellent pick later on in the draft. Though Austin Ekeler is the more popular pick, he’s more of a complimentary back than a bell-cow; Jackson is the opposite.
Jackson’s performance when the Chargers were without both Gordon and Ekeler gave an indication of what he can be as a starter. Throughout four games, the then-rookie recorded three 55+ yard games and two touchdowns. He’s an electric back that can also make an impact as a pass-catcher.
3. Latavius Murray – New Orleans Saints
ADP: 79 (PPR: 88)
Alvin Kamara is a top-five pick and could lead the NFL in scrimmage yards in 2019. But let’s not forget Sean Payton loves to pair his star with a powerful back; as New Orleans is one of the NFL’s true run-heavy teams. They got Kamara’s pairing mate, after Mark Ingram’s departure, in Latavius Murray.
Murray has a penchant for getting into the end zone; he’s recorded 32 scores in the last four seasons alone. But, he’s also more than capable of extending long drives with powerful runs — supplemented by some wiggle. He could be Ingram 2.0 in New Orleans, production-wise.
2. Duke Johnson – Houston Texans
ADP: 128 (PPR: 115)
This is all about PPR because Duke Johnson is one of the greatest receiving threats out of the backfield in the NFL. Now on the Houston Texans, Bill O’Brien will use Johnson accordingly as Deshaun Watson’s safety valve and the lead back following Lamar Miller’s likely ACL injury.
Johnson’s time in Cleveland was inconsistent, as he was often held down by starting backs. Nevertheless, he tallied 235 catches for 2,170 yards and eight touchdowns in four seasons as a receiver. In Houston, Johnson will enjoy a much bigger workload as the starting back. Expect him to hover around 100 targets.
1. Derrick Henry – Tennessee Titans
ADP: 39 (PPR: 37)
Towards the end of 2018, we saw the Derrick Henry that we know and love. The former Heisman Trophy winner went on a tear in the fourth quarter of the season, and single handily won many a fantasy football championship.
Between Week 13 and 16, Henry amassed 585 yards and seven touchdowns on the ground. Though he’s currently dealing with a hamstring injury, he should be available Week 1. The big back figures to be a focal point in the Titans’ offense that may opt to slow teams down rather than win via the air.
Honorable mentions: Ito Smith, Devin Singletary, Benny Snell, Miles Sanders, Adrian Peterson