2016 Fantasy Football Three Down Backs: Endangered Species

by Eric Robinson
Credit: Angie Six

Credit: Angie Six

Three down running backs have started to become harder and harder to find given the shift to the NFL becoming a more quarterback oriented league.

That can make the position even more frustrating for fantasy football players on draft day. It is crucial to try to find players who are going to get the football. With less running backs handling all three downs on a consistent basis, finding these players become all the more important.

Although there are fewer of these backs out there, there are still some to choose from if you know where to look. Here are just a few of them.

Three Down Backs

Adrian Peterson, Minnesota Vikings

Peterson was on the field for just over 65 percent of snaps last season. He is one of the most dominant runners in the NFL and is one of a few running backs who still has most of the sway in the offense.

He may be on the wrong side of 30 years old, but he is still playing at a high enough level to warrant the usage the Vikings give him. Looking at the depth chart behind him, there aren’t really any threats to his position at the top.

Jerrick McKinnon and Matt Asiata won't be taking many snaps away from the lead back. As long as AP is healthy, he is a three-down back for Minnesota and should be treated as such from a fantasy perspective.

Mark Ingram, New Orleans Saints

The number one running back on the New Orleans missed four games last season. Despite that, he still was on the field for 46 percent of the Saints total snaps for the season. If he can stay on the field, he should be one of the most consistent players in fantasy football.

There have been reports of Ingram getting more involved in the passing game as well, which can only help the Alabama product’s role in the explosive Saints offense. Perennial disappointment C.J. Spiller and backup Tim Hightower remain behind him on the depth chart as well as Daniel Lasco. Ingram is the lead back in this offense and has been a three-down back since he was drafted in 2011.

Latavius Murray, Oakland Raiders

Surprisingly enough, Murray placed fourth in the league among running backs in terms of percentage of snaps played last season with an astounding 64.4 percent. He has entrenched himself atop the depth chart of what could be a sneaky good Oakland offense this season.

The dude is going to have his chances this season unless he largely underwhelms the Raiders. With Taiwan Jones and rookie DeAndre Washington behind him there is a little bit of pressure to perform for Murray, but he is in a contract year.

That alone could make a large difference. The stars have aligned in Oakland for Murray. This is his best chance to make an impact on the field and on the fantasy football scene.

Frank Gore, Indianapolis Colts

I will end with one of the most consistently active football players of the past decade, Frank Gore. He has started in every game he has played for the last four seasons. On top of that, the depth chart behind him in Indianapolis is essentially non-existent.

Yes, the Colts have Andrew Luck and will be a passing-oriented offense because of that. Yes, he is 33 years old. But Gore has been on the field despite that. If you go WR-WR to start off on draft day and are looking for an option in the later rounds that will be able to get you consistent points until a waiver option falls into your lap, Gore is the man for you.

On top of that you will probably get some solid results from him in that offense in the meantime. He may not break scoring records, but he will be better and more consistent than a lot of backs taken before him.

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