Fantasy Football

2019 Fantasy Football Running Back Busts: Deep Six


Welcome Fantasy freaks and geeks to more 2019 Fantasy Football coverage at the Fantasy Six Pack.

Every Fantasy owner loves to find the sleeper. The player they had a hunch about that breaks out so they can win their championship. They also want to brag about it until the following season. You know the type. Even a blind squirrel…

It is equally important to stay away from the busts. The players that don’t live up to their draft pick or expectations. Staying away from these type of players provide you an even better chance to win than grabbing a sleeper.

The Fantasy Six Pack team is here to help. Take a moment to find out which quarterbacks will bust with the 2019 Fantasy Football Quarterback Busts.

Great, you are back! Take a look at six running backs to prevent your fantasy roster from suffering a Deep Six in the 2019 Fantasy Football Running Back Busts: Deep Six.

2019 Fantasy Football Running Back Busts

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LeVeon Bell, New York Jets

Le’Veon Bell was a fantasy stud in his time with the Pittsburgh Steelers. From 2013-2017, Bell finished in the top five in rushing yards three times. Bell has over 70 receptions and 600 receiving yards each of his last two seasons. I won’t keep boring with you more stats, but you get my point.

Now that the soap opera is over in Pittsburgh, Bell took his talents and moved to the New York Jets. This team is going to be a wake-up call for Bell. With the Steelers, he played with two future Hall of Famers in quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and wide receiver Antonio Brown. Bell ran behind a line that ranked in the top 10 in adjusted line yards in each of the last four seasons.

He is going to a Jets team in which the new head coach Adam Gase doesn’t want him. He complained about the contract that the Jets gave him. Adam Gase is a train wreck and still living off the offensive production that Peyton Manning produced while they were together in Denver. What has Gase done since then?

Yes, I know. Gase still somehow got a head coaching job. He couldn’t figure out how to use Kenyon Drake in Miami, but Bell will get a ton of touches? While I know Drake is no Bell, but the point is, does Gase know how to utilize his best players?

The Jets have not had a 1,000 yard rusher or 1,000 yard receiver since 2015. Also, Football Outsiders ranked the Jets offensive line 32nd in run blocking (Adjusted Line Yards) in 2018.

I would have to assume that Bell should finish near the top of the league in touches, but the Jets are a total mess. Bell will spend a lot of time not getting out of his backfield.  Sam Darnold started to come at the end of last season. He also developed chemistry with wide receiver Robby Anderson, which opened up the offense. However, Darnold is now forced to learn a new offense.

Bell didn’t play a single snap last season. How will it affect him? He used to be a bell-cow back and does a year off make him feel less worn down as he claimed that the Steelers did to him with all of the touches. I can’t seem to trust a running back who hasn’t played in a year and is playing for a head coach that didn’t want him. Save that drama and do not draft Le’Veon Bell in the first two rounds.

James Conner, Pittsburgh Steelers

James Conner stepped into LeVeon Bell’s shoes in Pittsburgh and practically produced a LeVeon Bell-type season. Conner put up 973 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns along with catching 55 passes for 497 yards and a touchdown. He was a dual-threat back when he was on the field. However, Conner has struggled to stay healthy in each of his first two seasons. He missed three games last season and was limited in the season finale.

Conner is the primary back in Pittsburgh, but the Steelers could run an RB committee. It’s something Pittsburgh has never done under Tomlin’s watch. It makes sense for the Steelers to go with multiple backs. First and foremost, Conner’s injury history. He has missed three games in each of his first two seasons. Secondly, the Steelers have someone that has proven to be more than capable of being an offensive threat.

In limited time last season, Samuels has proven to be a passing-down weapon. Samuels accumulated 455 total yards, including a 142-yard game against the Patriots when Conner was hurt. He finished the year with 26 receptions on 29 targets. The Steelers lost over 100+ targets, so who is Ben going to throw the ball to? I see Samuels playing a significant role in the passing game. Additionally, the Steeler hired Eddie Faulkner to be their running backs coach. Before joining the Steelers, Faulkner spent six years at North Carolina State University, where Jaylon Samuels went to school.

The Pittsburgh Steelers have to keep their offensive weapons healthy, especially when you have players that have proven to be significant contributors. While Conner did catch passes last season, his catch percentage was atrocious and did so with a 60.9 PFF receiving grade that was 38th out of 53 qualifying running backs. Which leads me back to Samuels and the Steelers also drafted running back from Benny Snell who will take touches away from Conner.

There is not a scenario where I can see drafting Conner in the first round with these lingering questions surrounding his workload. Conner had a great season last year, but I would not expect it again in 2019.

Leonard Fournette, Jacksonville Jaguars

Leonard Fournette was the number four overall pick from 2017 for the Jacksonville Jaguars. Fournette had an outstanding rookie season, rushing for 1,040 rushing yards and nine touchdowns although he missed three games. Unfortunately, Fournette had a dismal 2018 season. He had 133 attempts for 439 rushing yards good for a total of 3.3 yards-per-carry. He had six total touchdowns which includes one receiving score.

The Jaguars’ running game finished 30th in rushing yards and had to work with two ineffective quarterbacks. Fournette struggled to find room to run and dealt with an injury and a one-game suspension due to throwing punches during a game, which limited his sophomore campaign to just eight games.

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When looking at rushing stats last season, Fournette was the 46th ranked back in all eligible backs. That is a far cry and caused a negative investment for Fantasy owners who drafted Fournette in the first or second round. An investment that doesn’t seem logical for Fantasy owners involving Fournette.

The Jacksonville Jaguars will have an entirely different offensive look in 2019.  The Jaguars added John DeFilippo, who ran the Vikings offense in 2018, as their new offensive coordinator replacing Nathanial Hackett. Fournette will need to understand the gap concepts and the different types of blocking that DeFilippo will install in this offense. Additionally, the Jaguars also finally got rid of their inept quarterback Blake Bortles, who probably halted any Super Bowl chances during his time in Jacksonville. They signed Super Bowl hero Nick Foles who excelled with the Eagles, but was it the style of offense?

Furthermore, the Jaguars improved their offensive line with the addition of rookie right tackle Jawaan Taylor. Lastly, left tackle Cam Robinson, left guard Andrew Norwell and center Brandin Linder are all healthy after missing time last season. Finally, Fournette will be the centerpiece of the Jaguars offense. Jacksonville will have a different running back group. They signed veterans Alfred Blue and Thomas Rawls to provide insurance and rest for Fournette along with drafting Ryquell Armstead from Temple in the fifth round of the draft.

The durability concerns with Fournette and his inefficiency at 3.7 yards-per-carry should make Fantasy owners anxious in selecting Fournette in the third round as he currently is being drafted. It will be challenging to have any faith in him. There are glowing reports about the centerpiece of the Jaguars offense. However, his injury history and transgressions will not allow me to select him this season.

Todd Gurley, Los Angeles Rams

The mystery surrounding Todd Gurley is perplexing. The questions around his arthritic knee lead to the biggest secret of them all. Where do you draft Todd Gurley?

Gurley is probably the most talented running back in the league right now. His dual-threat ability is unmatched except for his nose for the end zone. Over the past two seasons, Gurley has rushed for a combined 2,556 yards and has scored 40 touchdowns.

Once the news came out that the arthritic knee would be the issue Gurley was dealing with. The Los Angeles Rams prepared in case Gurley would not be capable of a significant workload this season. The Rams selected Memphis running back Darrell Henderson in the third round of the 2019 NFL Draft. Henderson produced 3,584 yards and 36 touchdowns on 387 total touches in his final two seasons at Memphis. Incredibly, he averaged 8.9 yards per carry during that span. The Rams will get Henderson on the field, especially in passing situations in space where he can be the most dangerous. The volume of his touches is the key.

Another warning sign concerning Todd Gurley is the Rams offensive line. The Rams lost more game started along the offensive line than any other team last season. All-Pro left tackle Andrew Whitworth almost retired after this past season, but they did lose left guard Rodger Stafford and veteran center John Sullivan. The turnover on the interior could negatively impact the Rams running game this season.

In’s best ball format, Gurley’s current ADP is 18.3. That’s 11th among all running backs, behind players such as James Conner and Dalvin Cook and ahead of Nick Chubb and Damien Williams. The doubt and risk involving Gurley are evident in where he is currently being drafted. Of the four running backs mentioned, I would select each running back ahead of Gurley in Fantasy drafts.

The injury risks and the impending shared workload between possible multiple backs should make Fantasy owners hesitate in selecting Gurley anywhere before the third round. An earlier selection is not worth the risk.

LeSean McCoy, Buffalo Bills

In 2018, the Buffalo Bills’ rushing leader was rookie quarterback Josh Allen with 631 yards rushing and eight touchdowns. That is a far cry from when the Bills could always count on the versatile running back LeSean McCoy.

The 31-year-old LeSean McCoy had the worst season of his career in 2018. He averaged a career-low 3.2 yards per carry and tied his career-low in touches (195, 2009). This downward slide started in 2017 when he averaged only 4.0 yards per carry, the lowest of his career until last season.

The Bills’ run game in 2019 will look entirely different. Suddenly, the backfield is stacked with future Hall of Famer Frank Gore, dual-threat back T.J. Yeldon, and 2019 third-round pick Devin Singeltary.  The 35-year-old Gore had a better season than McCoy last season with 722 rushing yards and averaging 4.6 yards per carry. The former Jaguar T.J. Yeldon is a versatile back whose speed and quickness makes him an ideal receiving back out of the backfield. Devin Singletary was an extremely productive back at Florida Atlantic College, and he led the nation in touchdowns in 2017. Not sure how the rookie running back fits in the Bills offense unless we see a potential trade or cut of LeSean McCoy.

With Josh Allen still exhibiting growing pains and an elite Bills defense, the Bills offense led by Bill Belichick disciple Brian Daboll will lean heavily on the ground game with the dreaded committee approach.

McCoy will share the lead back duties in running situations with Gore leading to fewer touches and minimal fantasy appeal. McCoy is currently being drafted as the RB39, and with his diminished skills and fantasy output, Fantasy owners should avoid LeSean McCoy. Instead, go with upside running backs like Ronald Jones, Darrell Henderson, and Jaylen Samuels.

Sony Michel, New England Patriots

Sony Michel is coming off a splendid rookie season along with a sensational postseason. In 13 regular-season games, he rushed for 931 yards and six touchdowns. Michel exploded in the New England Patriots Super Bowl run, totaling 336 yards and six scores.

His growing history of knee injuries has to be a red flag for Fantasy owners. Michel has dealt with knee injuries for three consecutive years. Recently, Michel underwent a knee scope that explains his recent absence from one OTA and all of mandatory minicamp last week. Every report indicates that Michel is recovering quickly and has already started running. However, due to his durability concerns, the Patriots added to their crowded backfield by selecting Alabama running back Damien Harris in the third round of the 2019 NFL Draft.

Damien Harris joins a loaded backfield which includes Super Bowl LI hero James White. White finished 2018 with 87 receptions for 751 receiving yards and seven touchdowns, while also rushing for 425 yards and another five scores.  The Patriots also use Rex Burkhead in a variety of ways out of the backfield. The versatile back continues to make big plays for the Patriots including their Super Bowl victory. Patriots head coach Bill Belichick trusts Burkhead, and that goes a long way in getting a mixed bag of touches.

Another caveat is that Michel is a one-dimensional back. Michel only caught seven passes for 50 yards last season, making him one of the league’s least productive receiving backs previous season.

Coach Bill will utilize a rotational approach based upon their opponents, exploiting their defenses. What it comes down to is that Michel and Harris will see the short-yardage and goal-line work while James White and Rex Burkhead will be the primary receiving options out of the backfield. A strong buyer beware caveat is in effect for Sony Michel. Michel is being drafted as RB21, which makes me look elsewhere with his injury history and the Patriots timeshare at the running back position. Michel will not live up to last season, nor should Fantasy owners pay for that Fantasy output either.

Get prepared for the 2019 Fantasy Football season by checking out the rest of our Fantasy Football content.

About Dennis Sosic

Dennis Sosic is from Cleveland, Ohio and a HUGE sports fan including NFL (GO BROWNS!) and college football (GO BUCKEYES!) MLB (GO TRIBE), NBA (GO CAVS!) and MMA. He has been called a Sports Geek by friends and foes alike and that fits him perfectly. He has been competing in fantasy sports, mainly fantasy football and baseball for over 20 years. Please do all of us a favor and follow Dennis @ CALL_ME_SOS.

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