Fantasy Football: Three Running Backs You Can Trust in 2018

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Trust is difficult to foster in fantasy football, especially at the RB position.  The position has been so volatile in recent years that it has spawned an entire draft strategy in which people try to avoid it altogether (“Zero-RB”).  You clicked on this article though, so I assume that strategy isn’t for you.  No, you want to find an RB, or two, that you can trust in your starting lineup.  First, we will define trust and then we will get into which ball carries are deserving of said trust.

Trust

In the NFL any player can get hurt, so the purpose of this article will not be a prediction of who will start 100% of their games in 2018.  I will also not list Todd Gurley and LeVeon Bell.  Though both are more than worthy of your trust, you already knew you could trust them before you clicked on the article.

Instead, I am looking at RBs who, when active/starting, are highly likely to give you an RB1 or RB2 score that week.  If you knew a player would finish in the top 24 at their position in any given week, I’d say that’s a reliable asset.  Here are three reliable RBs that can still be had at a reasonable price given their efficiency.

Leonard Fournette

I debated Fournette’s inclusion on this list.  I thought that perhaps he was too obvious.  Afterall, he finished last season with an impressive stat line that saw Fournette finish as an RB1 or RB2 in 84.6% of his starts.

Starts Attempts Yards TDs Receptions Rec. Yards Rec. TDs
13 268 1,040 9 36 302 1

With consistency like this, Fournette is rightfully being drafted in the first round of fantasy drafts, but based on workload and 2017 stats he is far more trustworthy than the 10th overall pick.  Only LeVeon Bell and Ezekiel Elliott had more carries per game in 2017 than Fournette’s 20.6 and his average of 80 rushing yards per game were good enough for 5th best in the league.  His workload will remain the same on a defensive minded team that figures to once again be one of the powerhouses in the NFL.

While it is a fair criticism of Fournette to say that he missed 3 games due to injury, these occurrences do not concern me with respect to my trust in Fournette because owners had an opportunity to replace him in their starting lineups with replacement level talent as opposed to just taking a subpar performance.

Kenyan Drake

Drake may not be the first player to come to mind as a trustworthy player, but don’t let his late emergence cause you to underestimate his value in 2018.  Starting in Week 9, after the Jay Ajayi trade, Drake had 7 finishes as an RB2 or better despite only getting 6 starts over those 9 weeks.

Starts Attempts Yards TDs Receptions Rec. Yards Rec. TDs
6 133 644 3 32 239 1

In the back half of the season, Drake took over!  He logged 94.5 total yards per game with 3.2 receptions and added in 4 TDs for good measure.  These stats catapulted Drake to four weekly top 10 RB finishes.

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Richard C. Lewis/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Kenyan Drake’s stats are more than trustworthy, so why are fantasy owners getting him at a screaming value at RB21 off the board in Round 4 of their drafts?  If the only legitimate concerns are 34-year old Frank Gore and rookie RB Kalen Ballage, who has already struggled with assignments and ball security in the preseason, sign me up for all of the Kenyan Drake shares I can get.

Tevin Coleman

Similar to Kenyan Drake, Coleman spent much of his 2017 season pegged as a “backup RB”.  This means his owners in 2018 are getting him at a depressed price.  Coleman is falling all the way to the back half of the 6th round as the 30th RB taken in drafts.

Coleman’s fantasy production has far exceeded his perceived role in the Falcon’s offense.  He only registered 3 starts in 2017 and still finished as a top-24 RB 10 times.

Starts Attempts Yards TDs Receptions Rec. Yards Rec. TDs
3 156 628 5 27 299 3

In fact, Coleman has been so productive with his opportunities behind Devonta Freeman that he only has 3 total starts over the last two seasons and finished as a top-20 RB in each of those seasons.

Unlike other RBs drafted in the first half of drafts, Coleman is one of the few that still has room to ascend.  Coleman is being undervalued even with his current role in mind, but if Freeman is forced to miss time, you could have a league-winning RB1 on your hands,  not just a safe RB2.