2018 Fantasy Football Running Back Committees

by Kevin Huo
2018 Fantasy Football Running Back Committees

In life, we all have strengths and weaknesses. It's inevitable. For example, I'm not an ideas guy. I'm just not. I can rant and rave about any topic you give me, but if you ask me to talk about something off the top of my head or come up with an idea for a fantasy football article... I blank.

And that's why I turn to Reddit, specifically r/fantasyfootball, to see what I can contribute to other peoples' discussions and ideas. With that being said, the idea for this article came from a post by u/SportingReddit titled 2018 Running Back Committees - A Comprehensive Review and Discussion. Only five upvotes on the post, but it caught my attention and led me to abandon my homework. I posted a long comment which eventually became the backbone of this article.

The two questions I will be answering today are:

  1. Is the situation even a running back by committee (RBBC) at this point in time?
  2. How is the value of the players affected by the situation?

To find potential RBBC situations, I pulled up the Fantasy Football Running Back Depth Chart. That page has a table that shows every team's starter, handcuff, third-down back, and goal-line back. However, it's a little generous with its definition of an RBBC, deeming every 60/40 split a committee.

To me, that's more of just a shared backfield between two similarly talented backs. For example, the Running Back Depth Chart lists the Falcons as an RBBC, but I wouldn't consider them one. A true committee is basically what the Patriots do every year. They line up different backs for different situations and matchups and will almost never feature one specific guy.

2018 Fantasy Football Running Back Committees

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I've come up with a list of 10 teams that are worth diving into. Those teams and their running backs are the:

  • Cleveland Browns - Carlos Hyde, Nick Chubb, Duke Johnson Jr.
  • Detroit Lions - Kerryon Johnson, LeGarrette Blount, Theo Riddick, Ameer Abdullah
  • Green Bay Packers - Aaron Jones, Jamaal Williams, Ty Montgomery
  • Indianapolis Colts - Marlon Mack, Jordan Wilkins, Nyheim Hines, Robert Turbin
  • Miami Dolphins - Kenyan Drake, Frank Gore, Kalen Ballage
  • New England Patriots - Sony Michel, Rex Burkhead, James White, Jeremy Hill, Mike Gillislee
  • New York Jets - Isaiah Crowell, Bilal Powell, Elijah McGuire
  • Oakland Raiders - Marshawn Lynch, Doug Martin, Jalen Richard, DeAndre Washington, Chris Warren
  • Seattle Seahawks - Rashaad Penny, Chris Carson, Mike Davis, C.J. Prosise, J.D. McKissic
  • Washington Redskins - Semaje Perine, Rob Kelley, Chris Thompson, Kapri Bibbs

The majority of these running backs are flawed - much like myself. While I may lack a truly creative side, most of these backs are strictly early down grinders or pass-catching specialists. That's why they're in these situations that could be considered committees. However, it's our job to find the backs who can differentiate themselves from their peers and handle a full-time workload.

Cleveland Browns - Carlos Hyde, Nick Chubb, Duke Johnson Jr.

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Not a Committee. Going into the preseason, I figured Hyde and Chubb would split early down carries while Johnson handled third-down plays. After training camp and that first preseason game, I'm not so sure. Hyde was listed as the starter and played three snaps - taking one carry before getting the customary veterans' hook.

Meanwhile, Chubb took 15 carries for 11 yards. Players who are competing for the starting position don't get 15 carries in Week 1 of the preseason.

Johnson was one of the best pass-catching backs in the league last year, so I don't expect his role to change. I'm comfortable drafting him as a low-end flex option in PPR leagues. Meanwhile, Hyde is slowly creeping up my board while it looks like Chubb may only have value this year if Hyde gets hurt or the Browns start losing.

Hyde is only on a one-year deal so I doubt the Browns will have any qualms about running him into the ground.

Detroit Lions - Kerryon Johnson, LeGarrette Blount, Theo Riddick, Ameer Abdullah

Committee. This backfield is almost the definition of a committee. Johnson flashed during the preseason, but Detroit won't be prepared to hand over the reins to him fully just yet.

Blount will obviously work as the goal-line/short-yardage back while Riddick will catch 50+ balls again. Johnson may take more of the workload as the season goes on, but at the time of drafting, he has to be considered as one part of a RBBC.

Green Bay Packers - Aaron Jones, Ty Montgomery, Jamaal Williams.

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Not a committee. I want Jones. Williams proved he could carry the load last year, but with Aaron Rodgers healthy, that's not what this offense needs. With Aaron Rodgers back, the Packers don't need a grinder like Williams or a chess piece like Montgomery.

They need an impact player like Jones, someone who can be a big-play threat every time he touches the ball. Jones has the highest upside of these three and raises the potential of the Packers offense the most.

Jones will serve a two-game suspension to open the season, but that might work in your favor. Not only is he going to slip in drafts, but in those two weeks, the Packers will realize Williams and Montgomery aren't cutting it. Jones will be the starter at some point going forward.

Indianapolis Colts - Marlon Mack, Nyheim Hines, Jordan Wilkins, Robert Turbin

Not a Committee*. That asterisk is if Mack overcomes his hamstring injury. Mack has been somewhat injury prone in his short career, with sportsinjurypredictor.com evaluating him at a 58% chance to get injured and projected to miss 5 games. If he stays healthy, Mack will emerge as the back to own here.

He profiles athletically as more of a lead-back compared to Hines who is a 5'9" 198 pass-catching specialist. Wilkins is an interesting dart-throw if Mack continues to miss time. He could play himself into more of a role. Turbin has been a short-yardage, goal-line vulture his whole career.

Miami Dolphins - Kenyan Drake, Frank Gore, Kalen Ballage

Not a Committee. While the Dolphins brought in Gore, I wonder how much of that was about his veteran leadership. He's probably still an above average back at this point, but Adam Gase spoke all summer about adding leaders in the locker room.

Drake proved he could shoulder the load at the end of last season and with Jarvis Landry gone, he is the most talented player the Dolphins have on offense. The offense should revolve around him.

New England Patriots - Sony Michel, Rex Burkhead, James White, Jeremy Hill, Mike Gillislee

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Committee. Perhaps the most surprising move of draft night was the Patriots investing a first round pick on Sony Michel. It's not that Michel isn't talented, but that hasn't been the Patriots' MO for years. They haven't taken an early-round running back since Lawrence Maroney in 2006. Even then, Maroney only handled 175 carries that season.

The last few seasons, they've gone with a full-blown committee each year. They typically roll out a grinder for soft defenses and to put away teams, a pass-catching specialist, and someone somewhere in between. After Hill impressed in their first preseason game, I'd guess he will replace what Gillislee did last year.

Super Bowl hero James White will reprise his pass-catching role, leaving Michel and Burkhead to split all the other touches. Michel is already behind the 8-ball with an early injury and Burkhead is an underrated player who scored eight touchdowns last year. At their current ADPs, I'd target Burkhead > White > Michel > Hill.

New York Jets - Isaiah Crowell, Bilal Powell, Elijah McGuire

Not a Committee. Originally I thought this was going to be a mess, but with the Jets insisting they will involve Crowell in the passing game, he stands out amongst the bunch.

Keep in mind that Crowell is only one year removed from being considered a consensus second-round pick. Crowell might not be a league-winner, but he'll definitely outscore his current 7th/8th round ADP.

Oakland Raiders - Marshawn Lynch, Doug Martin, Jalen Richard, DeAndre Washington, Chris Warren

Committee. Lynch played well down the stretch last season, but the Raiders will want to take as much of the load off of him as possible. They probably believe they are playoff-bound, and they want Beast Mode to be healthy then. Martin had his best seasons in zone-blocking schemes similar to what Oakland will run this year.

Add in pass-catchers like Jalen Richard and DeAndre Washington and you've got yourself a committee. A deep sleeper to keep an eye on is Chris Warren who did this recently and followed it up with 13 carries for 86 yards in preseason action.

Seattle Seahawks - Rashaad Penny, Chris Carson, CJ Prosise, JD McKissic, Mike Davis.

Who in the world knows. Either way, I'm staying away from everybody in this group. Carson and Penny's ADPs will drift towards each other, making Penny more enticing, but I'm not biting.

Carson has a forward push as the starter and played well in the preseason, but not good enough to completely shut the door on Penny. In addition, Prosise and McKissic will take away potential passing down plays.

Ultimately, the Seahawks have not been able to run the ball consistently since Marshawn left and did nothing to address their offensive line concerns. In addition, I expect their defense to be significantly worse, so Russell may have to air-it-out in catch-up mode more often.

Washington Redskins - Semaje Perine, Rob Kelley, Chris Thompson, Byron Marshall, Kapri Bibbs

Committee. Yikes. This was shaping up to be an incredible opportunity for Derrius Guice before he tore his ACL in Week 1 of the preseason. Since then, Coach Gruden has said they will not be bringing another back in. I guess that means we'll be seeing a lot of Perine and Kelley and their respective 3.4 and 3.9 career YPC averages.

Thompson will have a huge role as the primary pass-catcher, but had setbacks in his recovery. He remains my favorite bet to return value in PPR leagues though.

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

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