Fantasy Football: Three RBs You Can Trust in 2017
Trust is hard earned and easily lost…especially in fantasy football. Even after setting the world on fire in 2015, it seemed like the entire fantasy community was telling you not to trust Devonta Freeman last year (well, maybe not all of us). He rewarded those who believed with an overall RB6 finish. Whether it’s injuries, scheme changes, or younger guys being added, it seems like the RB position is filled with question marks from top to bottom every season. If your name isn’t David Johnson or Le’Veon Bell, someone doesn’t trust you. Here are 3 guys going in different phases of the draft that you can put your trust in for 2017.
After a wasted season in Philadelphia, trust was at an all-time low for DeMarco Murray last year. He bounced back with 1200 yards, 9 TDs, and an overall RB5 finish in his first season with Tennessee. As I continue my one man crusade to convince you that the Consistency Charts in the UDK are the greatest thing ever, let me tell you about Murray’s 2016. DeMarco was an RB1 ten times last year, more than any back not named Johnson, Bell, or Elliott. In fact, until Week 16, he was never once out of the RB top 20. Full disclosure: he fell off a cliff in Weeks 16 and 17, but your league should have ended in Week 16 anyway.
The usurper, Derrick Henry, is the main culprit behind the mistrust of Murray. While Henry was effective in spurts last year, he only stole one good week from Murray (Week 17). Clearly, they’re going to get the young man more and more involved in the offense but there is plenty of work to go around. Tennessee was top 5 in the league in rushing attempts last year with 476 attempts and, as the team improves, this number could still go up. It is possible, with an ADP of RB8 in the 2nd round, that Murray may be a steal and is definitely trustworthy in 2017.
I feel like I’m going out on a thin limb here, telling you to trust a guy who was recently mentioned as a possible surprise cut. I call shenanigans. I mentioned Devonta Freeman‘s 2015 season earlier and this is a good time to bring it up again. Why, you ask? Because that was Freeman’s first season with Kyle Shanahan, the same role Carlos Hyde finds himself in this season. The situations are eerily similar, Hyde is a running back drafted by a previous regime, there is a rookie hand-picked by Shanny himself, and an offensive line in desperate in need of some TLC. Let’s knock them down in order.
Yes, Hyde was drafted by the previous coaching staff, but in the 2nd round and is far more established than Freeman was with the Falcons. Hyde was the overall RB16 last year and was top 12 on a points-per-game basis. More importantly, he did all of this in a scheme that did not throw to the RBs a lot, something that will change under Shanahan.
I’m going to shut this Joe Williams thing down quickly…how many of you were concerned about where Joe Willaims was going to end up during the draft in May? So why do you care now? He is literally Tevin Coleman-lite. He’s speedy but fumble issues will keep him from taking this job away anytime soon.
Now for the OL. This will be hard to defend but history is on my side. According to Pro Football Focus, coming into Shanahan’s first season in Atlanta, the offensive line was ranked 26th, coming out they were ranked 4th. So while this Niners unit ranks near the bottom, I’m gonna say Shanahan can turn things around. Hyde will see volume, he’s arguably the only weapon this offense has, and for a 4th round RB, he’s much more reward than risk.
I couldn’t imagine putting together a list of running backs you can trust without mentioning Frank Gore. Gore will celebrate his 80th birthday this year and has been rushing for 1000 yards since the days of Paul Brown. In all seriousness, Gore is a rock. He has been a top 20 RB every season since 2006. He’s outperformed his ADP for the last 5 seasons straight. He was at least an RB2 ten times last year. Yes, he’s 33 years old. Yes, they drafted Marlon Mack. I don’t care. He’s being drafted as the RB34 in almost the 8th round. Trust doesn’t live in the 8th round…unless you’re talking about Frank Gore.
I avoided any guys with 1st Round ADP here, mainly because, assuming Zeke only sees 2 or fewer games suspended, I think all 6 of those guys are pretty well trusted by the fantasy football community. With these 3 guys, you could take one of the stud WRs in the 1st round and still walk out with 3 great RBs.