Fantasy Football

2018 Fantasy Football Running Back Busts: Young And Old

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Welcome to the last leg of our look at the running back position! Over the last two weeks, we have released the RB Position Preview and taken a look at some sleepers for the upcoming year.

The Position Preview delves into a few running backs that I believe are being over-drafted at their current ADP. If you would like my thoughts on Derrick Henry, Alvin Kamara, and Joe Mixon, check out the position preview linked above.

More than nailing sleeper picks, avoiding a bust is the key to a good draft. An early round bust can completely tank an otherwise good team. There are many ways to predict what players will bust, which I went over in our How To Spot A Bust article. For owners looking for a specific guide, here are six players that may struggle to live up to their ADP.

2018 Fantasy Football Running Back Busts

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Rashaad Penny, Seattle Seahawks (FantasyPros ADP: RB19, 39 overall)

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The Seahawks spent an early draft pick on Penny, and Fantasy owners are following suit. While a finish in the top 40 isn’t out of the question, Penny will be one of the most over-drafted running backs this season. Penny finds himself in one of the worst RB environments possible. Seattle’s offensive line ranked 30th in this year’s Pro Football Focus O-Line rankings, worse than last year’s rank of 27th. Penny’s good decision making and agility make him a good fit for Seattle’s zone-blocking scheme. However, Seahawks running backs averaged just 0.63 yards before contact on outside zone runs, 10th worst in the league.

Opposite of what his third round ADP suggests, Penny does not have the starting job locked up. He will compete for early-down work with Chris Carson and will cede the passing down work to 3rd down specialist C.J. Prosise. Carson was in the middle of a promising rookie year before an ankle injury ended his season. He is now fully healthy and looks great in training camp. Carson has proven he can run behind a poor offensive line (4.2 YPC) and is a trusted pass-blocker for Russell Wilson. On the other hand, Penny’s pass blocking and ability to fight through contact are two of the biggest knocks against him.

The Seattle defense has lost a few play-makers and the Seahawks may find themselves in more passing situations than last year. Carson and Prosise suit better for passing situations, as Penny caught just 19 passes last season at San Diego State. Penny’s weaknesses will be more pronounced in the changing Seattle offense. Penny is a high-risk option and owners seeking stability should look elsewhere.

Jerick McKinnon, San Fransisco 49ers (FantasyPros ADP: RB14, 24 overall)

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The hype train around the 49ers offense is hitting a new level. McKinnon has a second-round ADP, ahead of Jordan Howard, Tyreek Hill, and Travis Kelce. His upside (especially in PPR) is tantalizing, but there are several factors that should make owners hit the brakes. He was electric as a change-of-pace RB but faltered when given increased responsibility. McKinnon has averaged 3.6 YPC when given major responsibilities over the last two seasons. As the lead option in Minnesota, the Vikings still opted to give Latavius Murray the heavy majority of red-zone touches.

McKinnon has never handled a full workload in his career. He projects to receive nearly 70 more carries than his previous career high. At 214 carries, Mckinnon would be in uncharted territory. Matt Breida will get his share of carries, while Kyle Shanahan project Joe Williams could also carve a role for himself. McKinnon struggled behind a poor offensive line in Minnesota, who ranked 22nd in 2017. The 49ers were not much better last year, ranked 20th by PFF. San Francisco did make changes to their O-line, but the unit is largely untested.

McKinnon’s situation should remind owners of Lamar Miller after he signed with the Texans. He looked great in limited touches, resulting in calls to “free Miller!”. Unfortunately, Miller disappointed after moving to a lead-back role. The situations are not equal, but there are similar durability and workload concerns in a new offense. In his current situation, owners are drafting McKinnon close to his ceiling without much room for profit.

LeSean McCoy, Buffalo Bills (FantasyPros ADP: RB13, 23 overall)

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McCoy’s situation is extremely risky. As I said on the Fantasy Edge Podcast last week, I do not recommend drafting McCoy in early drafts. Until resolution comes from his situation, there is too much uncertainty regarding his playing time. If McCoy plays a full schedule, he carries plenty of bust risk in his age 30 season.

McCoy’s performance dropped off a cliff last year and he could be in for another drop this season. His YPC dropped from 5.4 to 4.0, the lowest total of his career. The change is likely due to a nine percent increase (to 36%) in eight-man boxes that McCoy saw between 2016 and 2017. The Bills have even fewer weapons this year, so I would expect that number to increase even further.

The Bills offensive line is projected by PFF to be the fourth worst in the league, thanks to the loss of starters Cordy Glenn, Richie Incognito, and Eric Wood. They finished last season as the seventh-ranked unit, so a massive drop off is in order.

Last season gave owners hints of a possible Shady dropoff. This season, advancing age and the offense around him will only make things worse. Discounting off-field distractions, Shady could be in for the worst season of his career.



Alex Collins, Baltimore Ravens (FantasyPros ADP: RB20, 41 overall)

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I waver back-and-forth on Collins all the time. I will put him on the “bust” list for now in anticipation of his ADP climbing in the coming weeks. Collins was great for the Ravens last year, fully seizing the lead-back duties in Week 8 and not looking back. He averaged 4.6 YPC and scored six touchdowns on 212 carries.

Collins will have a few factors working against him this season. First, the Ravens offensive line is a big question mark. Marshal Yanda is coming off a major ankle injury and at 34 years old, the perennial Pro-Bowler’s performance is up in the air. PFF ranked the Ravens O-line 24th, six spots below their rank at the close of 2017.

Collins was not used much as a pass-catcher and will cede touches to Javorius Allen. The real darkhorse for touches in the Ravens backfield is Kenneth Dixon, who Baltimore has stood by through suspension and injury. He was due to be the lead back last season and could earn more touches if he performs well early on.

Finally, Collins came out of nowhere to produce last season. With a full season of tape, defenses may have better preparation for him. He struggled with efficiency towards the end of the season averaging 2.96 YPC in his last three games. The addition of Michael Crabtree, John Brown, and Willie Snead may also increase the Ravens passing attempts compared to last season, decreasing Collins’ opportunity.

Collins is the “safest” options on this list, but a lack of production history and a lower ceiling than other RBs puts him on this list.

Carlos Hyde (FantasyPros ADP: RB28, 78 overall)

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Depending on your point of view, Hyde is either in an enviable situation or one where he just can’t win. If you’re a glass-half-full person, you’ll see that Hyde returned to his home state to be the main running back on a young, improving Browns team. Pessimists out there see an injury-prone veteran who has to compete with a highly-regarded rookie and an established third-down RB.

In reality, Hyde’s situation falls somewhere in between. Thanks to his injury issues, owners tend to overlook his talent as a top 15 running back. Hyde will start the year as the starter while Nick Chubb getting worked in on the odd series. Hyde won’t come close to the 59 receptions he received last year, as Duke Johnson has a tight grip on the passing downs.

The biggest worry for Hyde owners will be the emergence of Chubb. Coming out of Georgia, Chubb has garnered attention as one of the best running back prospects in recent memory. If Hyde comes out slowly, the call for Chubb to take control of the backfield will be deafening. Not that Hue Jackson would listen to fan outrage, but at this point, any move is possible if he’s looking to save his job.

Chubb will take control of this backfield sooner or later and owners wanting a safer RB2/RB3 should look elsewhere. Other running backs drafted in the same round include Dion Lewis and Tevin Coleman.

Kenyan Drake, Miami Dolphins (FantasyPros ADP: RB20, 40 overall)

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Drake is an interesting case. He performed admirably when forced into a bell-cow role, but apparently hasn’t gain the full trust of the coaching staff. Despite averaging 4.88 YPC as a starter, the Dolphins signed Frank Gore and Kalen Ballage to compete for touches.

Bell-cow or not, the Miami offense holds Drake back. Last season, the Dolphins ranked last in rushing attempts and 29th in rushing yards. New OC Dowell Logains doesn’t inspire much hope as the man who led the Bears “offense” to 29th place finishes in points and yards per game last year. Head Coach Adam Gase runs one of the slowest offenses in the league, registering under 1000 plays from scrimmage the last two seasons. The Dolphins led the league in percentage of passing plays and will throw even more with Ryan Tannehill at the helm. Negative game scripts will keep the ball in the air more often as well as Miami tries to play catch-up.


Drake will start this year with significantly fewer touches than he had last season. If he is unable to maintain the same efficiency he will disappoint at his current ADP.


Visit the F6P Fantasy Football Draft Kit Page for more advice to prepare for the 2018 season.

2018 Fantasy Football Draft Kit Categories
RankingsPosition PreviewsTeam PreviewsSleepersBusts

About Jonathan Chan

Winning fantasy leagues since 2004. Losing them for much longer. Follow Jonathan on twitter @jchan_811 and he'll be ready for all your questions!

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