4 Do Not Draft 2017 Fantasy Football Running Backs: Run Away!

by Dennis Sosic
Do Not Draft 2017 Fantasy Football Running Backs

It is fun and gratifying to find the sleepers and values late in the draft. It is almost as fun or at least important to avoid players ranked too high.

Regardless of which type of draft strategy you employ regarding running backs, you want running backs with upside. Running backs who are productive at the goal line and can catch passes out of the backfield. One of my golden rules for drafting running backs is to avoid drafting backs on bad teams.

While other owners are searching for sleepers, please don't forget to cross off your lists the players that you believe will not present value at their current ADP. I did some of the research for you. Take a look at the four running backs that I would not draft in 2017.

4 Do Not Draft 2017 Fantasy Football Running Backs

If you want to see where your running backs sleepers are being drafted or where you can possibly find value, I suggest you take a look at Mock Draft Tool, powered by FantasyPros. Do you agree with where your sleeper picks are being taken? Where do you see the value?

Jay Ajayi, Miami Dolphins (Fantasy Pros ADP #15, RB#9)

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Miami Dolphins running back Jay Ajayi's breakout sophomore campaign was the catalyst to the Miami Dolphins making the playoffs last year. However, 735 of his 1,242 came within four games, well over half his season total. He had a big year last year but if you subtract the three 200+yard games ( 2 vs. the Bills), he was an average back. He rushed for 100+ yards only once more. In the other 12 games, he topped 80 yards rushing just once while stumbling to 3.6 yards per carry.

Ajayi has many warning signs that signify potential regression. His injury potential scares me for the price I would have to pay for him. He fell well past his projected NFL 2015 draft slot due to serious concerns about a "bone on bone" situation with his knee. He was placed into concussion protocol on July 31 and missed over two weeks of action. If he suffers another concussion during the season, he could be out for an extended period of time.

Ajayi will also have to overcome an inadequate offensive line. The Dolphins' run blocking unit ranked fifth worst in 2016. They failed to invest top draft capital in a lineman. Their failure to upgrade the line means we should expect this obstacle to persist for Ajayi. In addition, he will also face plenty of tough run defenses next season after drawing the fourth-toughest schedule among fantasy running backs, according to FantasyPros. In addition, he is a detriment in PPR leagues with only 27 receptions.

The red flags stack up too high for Jay Ajayi, especially when he is getting drafted. Too much regression and not enough high floor to be a running back I would want to draft in the first or second round.

LeGarrette Blount, Philadelphia Eagles: Fantasy Pros ADP#64, RB#23)

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LeGarrette Blount gets the chance to follow up on a career campaign with the New England Patriots in which he rushed for 1,161 yards and scored an NFL-best 18 rushing touchdowns.

It is easy to look at his 18 touchdowns and think he was outstanding in the red zone. In fact, he wasn't special at all.

Blount carried the ball within three yards of the end zone 24 times. That was seven more than the player closest to him, Arizona Cardinals' David Johnson. So obviously Blount got plenty of opportunities. Blount reached the end zone on 12 of 24 on those runs, which is 50 percent, and right around the NFL average of 49 percent.

When Blount is in the game, the Eagles' offense will become very predictable. Blount is going to run the ball, not catch it. In 2016, he caught just seven passes.

Last season, Blount ran the ball 299 times-a huge number for a running back. Only Dallas Cowboys' running back Ezekiel Elliot (322) carried the ball more than Blount. His huge workload last season could be a sign that Blount is not going to come even close to giving the Eagles the kind of production he gave the Patriots last season.

The offense in Philadelphia is obviously not as good as in New England. Blount will be sharing touches and will not get as many opportunities to score. He will be a situational, TD-dependent player who just won't be getting as many chances.

Blount will definitely not help you in PPR leagues and he is definitely not scoring 18 touchdowns again. It looks like a situation that has plenty of bust potential and I know I will not be drafting LeGarrette Blount anywhere near his current ADP.

Eddie Lacy, Seattle Seahawks (Fantasy Pros ADP#77, RB#33)

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After two strong seasons, Lacy has scored just three rushing touchdowns combined over the last two years. Eddie Lacy went from being a featured back in the high-powered Packers' offense to currently fighting weight issues and for playing time in Seattle after signing an incentive laden one-year deal with the Seahawks.

Now he will be running behind a poor offensive line in a backfield that is expected to feature a heavy rotation including Thomas Rawls and C.J. Prosise. Lacy and Rawls will battle for early-down work while Prosise will be their third down back and passing situation back.

If Lacy or any other Seahawks RB for that matter is to do well this season, their offensive line has no choice but to be better. In 2016, the line ranked 26th in run blocking. Seahawks running backs were tackled at or behind the line of scrimmage third-most in the league.

You could actually argue that Lacy is the third-best running back on the roster. His yards and touchdowns are trending the wrong way and Seattle has entirely too many other options in the backfield. Thomas Rawls is running ahead of Lacy during camp and in the first preseason game. In fact, Lacy didn't get a single snap with Russell Wilson and the first-team offense in that game.

For some reason, he is still being drafted as a starter-worthy RB2 in deep leagues. That draft price is still rich for me when you consider all of the facts. I have him finishing as a FLEX option at best in deep leagues. I question Lacy's commitment and therefore cannot commit him to end up on any of my fantasy teams this season.

Marshawn Lynch, Oakland Raiders (Fantasy Pros ADP#25, RB#12)

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The "Beast Mode" is back! Although he has been out of football for more than a year, he is returning to significant fantasy buzz, but I am not getting all of the hype.

First of all, Lynch is 31-years-old, which is well past the prime age for running backs. Lynch is a two-down back who averaged less than four yards per carry in an injury-riddled 2015 campaign. He has never been a good pass catcher, so obviously, in PPR, he is less valuable. Lynch has never caught more than 37 passes in any of his seasons with the Seahawks.

Marshawn Lynch has not been a fantasy factor really since 2014. Additionally, it will take time for him to adjust back to the pro game and there is no guarantee he'll stay healthy. We have no idea how he will look now that he is back.

Lynch has a better supporting cast now in Oakland than he ever had in Seattle. He also will not be carrying the load like he did in those days. He also finds himself on a team that wants to use a committee at his position. The Raiders will have two running backs in Jalen Richard and DeAndre Washington, who are multidimensional and are explosive. Last season, one Oakland Raider running back accounted for at two-thirds of the team's backfield touches in a game just three times, fourth-fewest in the NFL.

Lynch is being drafted as an RB1 or high-end RB2 and within top-10 or top-15 running back rankings. His ADP is sky high. There are plenty alternatives who offer less risk than Lynch at this point in the draft. I would rather take the solid but unspectacular Isaiah Crowell, who has upside this season along with intrigued upside of rookies Christian McCaffrey or Joe Mixon.

2017 Fantasy Football Position Previews
QuarterbacksRunning BacksWide ReceiversTight Ends

For more F6P preseason coverage please visit our 2017 Draft Kit section.

4 Do Not Draft Fantasy Football Running Backs

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1 comment

Friday August 18, 2017 - Fantasy Football Links - FantasyRundown.com August 18, 2017 - 4:03 pm

[…] names four running backs you should not draft in […]


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