What does it mean to make a tier jump? Well to understand what a tier is, check out Fantasy Football: Understanding Tier-Based Drafting. You can access The Fantasy Footballers’ Tiered Rankings in the Ultimate Draft Kit, updated all offseason. So the objective of this article is finding running backs who will jump a tier thus making them a value in drafts. What can influence a tier jump? Talent, situation, motivation are some that come to mind, this sentence may be foreshadowing what’s to come. I consider myself the Michael Scott of surprises so I don’t want to spoil the surprise which means you should probably jump to the article! The following running backs will leap past expectations and make a tier jump pole vaulting you to a fantasy championship in 2017.
Melvin Gordon – Chargers
Wow, did you see that? It’s Flash Gordon! My love for Gordon was strong last year but it is full blown man crush status and I’m confident that you will feel the same after reading this. Gordon was a total work horse for the Chargers last season and I expect that to continue. The only negative statistic Gordon had last year was a 3.9 YPC but the low YPC was due to a large amount of runs inside the 10-yard line. He had a total of 29 runs inside the 10 which will bring down any players YPC. Don’t believe me? What if I said he averaged 4.4 YPC from his one yard line to the opponent’s 20? Sounds better I know.
The real reason why I have a man crush on Gordon, is that he has an upgraded offensive line with rookies Forrest Lamp and Dan Feeney combined with veteran Russell Okung. Combine that with new Chargers head coach, Anthony Lynn. Lynn has been the offensive coordinator and assistant head coach the last two season with the Bills. That’s important because the last two seasons Lynn led a dominate running game in Buffalo.
- Bills 2016: ranked 2nd in rush attempts (492) / 1st in rushing yards (2,630)/ 1st in rushing touchdowns (29)
- Bills 2015: ranked 2nd in rush attempts (509) / 1st in rushing yards (2,432) / tied for 1st in rushing touchdowns (19)
Gordon averaged 19.5 carries and 3.15 catches a game in 2016. That being said, with the upgraded offensive line he should have more quality runs which will result in more fantasy points. Since 2003, every year at least one of the top three consensus running backs have finished outside the top 10. I’m not sure which it will be among David Johnson, Le’Veon Bell, and Ezekiel Elliott but I think Gordon could finish as a top three running back in 2017.
Lamar Miller – Texans
Have you ever watched something really gross on YouTube but can’t take your eyes off of it? That’s how I felt owning Miller last season but the grossness wasn’t because of him. It was because of the quarterback and poor offensive line play that wasted away what could have been an incredible fantasy season for Miller. He averaged 21.4 touches a game in 2016 and with that type of workload, fantasy owners expect more. He finished as RB20 in PPR leagues which sounds much worse than it actually was. He scored on average 13.7 PPR points a game and if he would have played the final two games, he finishes as RB11. That’s my attempt at kissing your fantasy “booboos”.
The Texans have to be at least a little better offensively right? Right?! The Texans had only 15 passing touchdowns which was tied for 31st in the league plus the Texans quarterbacks had more interceptions than touchdowns in 2016. Only the Browns and the Jets can also say that. They ranked 29th in total yards and tied for 28th in total touchdowns with 25. Those 25 touchdowns were the fewest in NFL history for a team that made the playoffs.
Miller will be the focal point of an offense with a defense that ranked first in total yards given up. Not to mention that defense will get back J.J. Watt this season which should help I’d imagine. So I present you the focal point of an offense that will be slightly better and in favorable game scripts. That’s hard to find in today’s NFL. If it was a YouTube channel, Miller’s 2017 season would be worth subscribing to.
Doug Martin – Buccaneers
Martin doesn’t like to be called the Muscle Hamster but after last season I’m sure he won’t mind since I’m sure he was called much worse. But this is a new season and I’m hopeful he turns it around. Whether it’s fantasy football or life in general, history needs to be recognized and it’s important to learn from the past. See, I paid attention in high school despite what those horrible standardize tests say.
All reports out of camp are that Martin is focused and ready to dominate in 2017. He is suspended the first three games of the season which will hurt his fantasy value but I’d rather have a motivated Martin for the rest of the season and fantasy playoffs.
The reason I think it’s important we learn from the past is because during Martin’s five year career, there were two years where he was motivated and reports out of camp were nothing but glowing reviews. Those seasons were 2012 (Rookie Year) and 2015 (Contract Year)
- 2012: 319 carries – 1,454 yards – 11 TDs & 49 receptions – 472 yards – 1 TD
- 2015: 288 carries – 1,402 yards – 6 TDs & 33 receptions – 271 yards – 1TD
The Buccaneers are set to have an offensive explosion this season with all their talented playmakers. The passing attack the Buccaneers have will open up plenty of running lanes for Martin. We can all agree that we would rather have our players play better at the end of the season rather than the beginning. I am willing to bet Martins ending of the season is better than his beginning. I know call me crazy. But seriously remember this statement, Martin will be a player that will be a common name on championship rosters in 2017.
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