Fantasy Football Lottery Tickets: RBs

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Time to continue our dive into the depths of your fantasy draft. We’ve previously gone over some candidates for super late-round QB lottery tickets, now we tackle the RBs, with WRs and TEs to follow soon. Earlier this summer, I wrote a draft strategy article about how you should target potential lottery tickets at the end of your draft but if you missed that…

Just a quick summary of what I will be looking for:

  1. To start, the guy has to be available in the 13th Round or later (Based on a 12-team league, so an overall ADP of 145 or higher). These are truly guys that you are taking a flyer on at the end of your draft.
  2. There has to be a reason to believe they can outplay their ADP. Every late-round guy isn’t a lottery ticket. These players, or their coaches, have proven their fantasy success in the past. Sometimes, it may even the addition, or subtraction, of another player or coach that is going to elevate the games of those around them.
  3. They need to be in a position to prove themselves right away. If you cut them before they perform, it doesn’t matter that you were right about them.

The issue with RB being one of the most important positions in fantasy football is that it is also the scarcest. People load up on RBs early, so when you hit the last three rounds of your draft, the pickings are slim. There are some potential big winners here, they just need some things to break their way.

My colleague Ben Cummins beat me to the punch on Damien Harris, another lottery ticket definitely worth your consideration.

Nyheim Hines (Current ADP: RB56, Pick 147)

Before the NFL draft, Hines was working his way onto every fantasy football sleeper list in existence. He had caught 107 balls over the last two seasons and now had Philip Rivers, a QB that targets RBs at an absurd rate. Then, the Colts added Jonathan Taylor and chopped liver is looking more appetizing than adding Hines to your fantasy team. The fact of the matter is that if a rookie is going to struggle anywhere, it’s pass blocking and Hines has already been keeping Marlon Mack off the field on passing downs for two years. It’s truly his job to lose right now. Over the last two seasons, Hines has out-targeted Marlon Mack 139-43 and actually out-targets all other Colts RBs combined (including Mack) 139-79. His .5 PPR finish of RB49 last year was down 16 spots from his 2018 finish, but both are ahead of his current ADP. There is no denying that Hines will eventually cede targets to the much more talented Taylor, but early on in the season, he may provide an excellent return on investment.

Joshua Kelley (Current ADP: RB58, Pick 153)

The long and short of it is: Someone has to fill Melvin Gordon‘s role in this offense. Rob Wilson wrote a great piece on Kelley earlier this summer, and I will be echoing a good portion of that work. While he has been electric the last couple of seasons, it’s unlikely that Austin Ekeler is going to play a three-down role for the Chargers. He operates best as a complementary or change of pace back and is not going to take all of Melvin Gordon’s 162 vacated carries. Enter Joshua Kelley. The Chargers drafted Kelley in the 4th Round, though some had him graded as a potential 2nd Round pick, and he will immediately compete with Justin Jackson to be the 1b to Ekeler’s 1a. Jackson has turned 79 carries in 406 yards over the past two seasons but that still averages out to fewer than five carries per game, he has no claim to the job. Kelley has the build to be a goal-line back and, at the very least, that should put him a position to score some TDs his rookie year. If he takes the early-down work as well? Melvin Gordon was the RB23 in that role last year.

David Dennis/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Bryce Love (Current ADP: RB61, Pick 156)

The Washington backfield had a ton of questions before they cut Derrius Guice and only becomes murkier after his release. They signed Peyton Barber and JD McKissic this offseason, re-signed Adrian Peterson, and after all of that drafted Antonio Gibson, all while having Guice and Bryce Love on the roster. While this backfield is an absolute mess, Love showed in college that he as the talent to make some noise in the NFL. The only questions around him are about his knee and overall health, never his talent. The hype around Love starts (and ends) with his amazing Junior year at Stanford. Love rushed for 2118 yards and 19 TDs. The yardage total is the 16th best in NCAA history. He could’ve been a very high draft pick had he entered that year but he returned for his senior year. In ten games, he had only amassed 739 yards and then tore his ACL. He’s had multiple surgeries to repair that right knee and is basically an unknown commodity at this point. The good news is that you can land him with your last draft pick and should know relatively quickly whether or not he will be a contributor to the Washington Football Team.

Malcolm Brown (Current ADP: RB78, Pick 224)

Anyone not named Sean McVay that tells you that they know how the Rams’ backfield will play out is either over-confident or a liar. Todd Gurley has been a mainstay here for McVay’s entire tenor and his departure likely means a whole new look to this offense. Not one player in this backfield can do what Gurley did, but Brown showed his worth in 2019 as a potential goal-line back. In 2019, Gurley handled 67% of the Rams RB carries, basically the same amount handled in 2018 but less than what he saw in 2017. During that three year period, Brown was given 175 carries, that’s 50 more carries than all other Rams backup RBs combined. Perhaps more importantly, he scored seven total TDs during that span, five of which occurred in 2019, and all of them came in the red-zone. Gurley vacated a ton of work, carries, and targets, and neither Brown nor Darrell Henderson showed anything in the passing game last year. Rookie Cam Akers will eventually push both of these guys to the side, but early on in the season, Brown’s familiarity with the system may get him on the field more than both of his younger, unproven counterparts. Being the main guy in this offense has proven very useful in fantasy football and even if he ends up as just a goal-line back, Brown should have no trouble outplaying his ADP early on in 2020.

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