Running Back By Committee (RBBC) is the leading cause of neck pain and sleepless nights according to WebMD. RBBCs can be the biggest pain for a fantasy owner to deal with and figure out on draft day and in-season. To be honest, you probably have an easier time reading your significant other’s mind. Now I may not be able to read minds but I will try and help you find the most important RBs to own in the RBBCs.
Mike Gillislee – New England Patriots
Even though Gillislee is stepping into what looks like a four-headed monster of an RBBC, I am confident in saying he will grab a hold of the most important role for the Patriots running backs. That role is the goal line back, first down back, and run the clock out back. This is a very important role considering LeGarrette Blount had 299 carries for 1,161 yards and 18 touchdowns last season in this role.
This is also the perfect role for a running back like Gillislee, who’s NFL film study by fellow writer Ben Cummins was quite compelling. Last season Gillislee led the NFL in yards per carry (5.7) and ran for 39 first downs. He had the NFL’s highest percentage of first down runs last season at 38.6 percent. I have a strong feeling the Patriots will be scoring plenty of touchdowns and getting a ton of first downs this season.
The last reason for the optimism is the Patriots are famous for taking a division rival and turning him into something special. In the two games against the Patriots, last season Gillislee had 18 carries for 115 yards (6.4 YPC) and one touchdown. Belichick has shown in the past when he trusts a guy he isn’t afraid to give him the rock a ton.
Samaje Perine – Washington Redskins
I can go on record now and say that I believe Perine could be this year’s Jordan Howard. A running back not selected in the first two rounds, who isn’t handed the starting job right away, but is clearly the best running back on the team, usually wins the job. Perine has to beat out Rob Kelley and Matt Jones, whose on-the-field play is more boring than their names.
Even though he was drafted in the fourth round of this year’s NFL Draft, Perine is the real deal. He is the all-time leading rusher at Oklahoma with 4,122 career yards. He also has the most rushing yards in a single game when he rushed for 427 yards on 34 carries with five touchdowns in 2014 against Kansas.
Perine is a great fit for a Redskins offense that ranked 27th in the NFL in rush attempts with 379 but finished tied for 6th in rushing touchdowns with 17. Perine is 5’10” 235 pounds with thighs the size of redwood trees. A great NFL comparison for Perine is Michael Turner, who finished his career with five straight seasons with 10+ rushing TDs.
Joe Mixon – Cincinnati Bengals
Regardless of what you think of Mixon off the field, Mixon is arguably the most talented running back in this rookie running back class. In his last season at Oklahoma, he had 187 carries for 1,274 yards and 10 touchdowns on the ground and 37 catches for 538 yards and five touchdowns through the air. He showed he can be a do-it-all running back; a true “bell cow”.
The players standing in his way are Jeremy Hill and Giovani Bernard. Hill has been trending downward since his rookie season, averaging 3.6 YPC in 2015 and 3.8 YPC in 2016. If you look at Hill’s YPC last season against every team not named the Browns it’s only 3.0 YPC. That’s just gross. Bernard is coming off an ACL injury plus a season where he only managed to average 3.7 YPC.
Mixon is clearly the most talented running back and even though the Bengals offensive line is nothing to brag about, Bengals RBs have finished with at least 17 rushing touchdowns the last three seasons. Mixon will quickly show that he is the best running and receiving back on the Bengals and get the playing time he deserves. His off the field issues are ugly, but there’s a reason why the Bengals were willing to take the heat from the media by drafting Mixon in the 2nd Round.
Ameer Abdullah – Detroit Lions
The Abdullah Express is full steam ahead! The third year is the charm and even though he was on the cover of RBs Who Can Emerge From Committees in 2016, this will be the season Abdullah breaks out. Although Abdullah played in only one game last season, he had 12 carries for 63 yards and five receptions for 57 yards and a touchdown. If he is getting around 17 touches a game in 2017, sign me up for that all day.
Think about this: last season the Lions had zero running backs with over 100 carries and their three main running backs (Theo Riddick, Dwayne Washington, and Zach Zenner) were all under 4.0 YPC. On top of that, the Lions ranked dead last in rush attempts, with only 350 attempts in 2016. The cherry on top for me is despite the extremely deep and talented running back draft class, the Lions drafted zero running backs. They have faith in Abdullah. I’m buying my Abdullah Express ticket now and I suggest you do the same.
Bilal Powell – New York Jets
Besides having the most entertaining name to say for the Ballers, Powell is also a very talented running back. He gets the label as being a pass catching running back but I think he is more than that. Not only did he tie for a team-high 58 receptions in 2016 but he also averaged 5.5 YPC on 131 carries. That was good for second-best in the NFL. On those 131 carries he ran for 45 first downs, or 34.4 percent of his runs resulted in first downs, which was the second-best percentage in the NFL.
Powell will be the third down back right away, and will be on the field when the Jets are losing at the end of games trying to play catch up. I think we can all agree that will be a common occurrence for the Jets in 2017. The only player standing in his way is the aging Matt Forte, who is currently 31 years old.
Forte has shown signs of slowing down the past two seasons. He averaged 3.7 YPC in 2016, and for the first time in his career had two consecutive seasons with under 900 rushing yards. We know how he has been a great pass catcher; heck, he has the single season record for receptions for a running back with 102 in 2014. Since that heavy workload, his numbers have drastically decreased and even had a career low 30 receptions last year.
At this point in his career, Powell is the better running back, who is an exceptional pass catcher on a team that will be losing most games. In fact, it wouldn’t surprise me if the Jets didn’t win a game in 2017. What won’t surprise me is Powell leading fantasy owners to championships in 2017.