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Here we are, the conclusion of Combine Week 2014! We’re finishing up this week with my review of the running backs from the Combine. I will warn you, though, that trying to formulate a long-term fantasy forecast for a running back who has yet to be drafted is tricky business. So much of a running back’s fantasy value is derived from the situation they are brought into (number of touches, type of offensive system) and the offensive line they get the pleasure, or misfortune (see: Lamar Miller) of running behind. A perfect way to illustrate this point is to look back at the running back draft class from last year. Two prime examples immediately come to mind when thinking about how team situations affect fantasy value for running backs. These two players are Christine Michael and Le’veon Bell.

As we all know, Christine Michael was drafted in the 2nd round of last year’s draft by the eventual Super Bowl Champion Seattle Seahawks. Michael was quite possibly considered the most talented running back in last year’s class. However, he was brought into one of the worst situations possible for a back hoping to contribute to fantasy teams in the near term, as he was getting splinters in his ass from riding the pine behind Marshawn Lynch (who’s all ’bout that action, boss), and Robert Turbin all year. Now let’s take a look at Le’Veon Bell. Not an extraordinary talent; average speed and acceleration, Bell isn’t a particularly special athlete. However, he was taken by the Steelers, who had little standing between Bell and the starting RB job. Bell’s value skyrocketed and he ended up finishing the year as the #14 RB in fantasy football. That’s a high end #2 in standard 12 team leagues, in case you can’t do that math. It took me a little while, but I think you get my point… pick up what I’m putting down, catching my drift, smellin’ what the Rock is cookin’… Anyway, I digress…

Basically what I’m trying to say is that it is virtually impossible to rank fantasy rookie running backs without knowing whether or not they will have a chance to lock down a prominent role in an offense. Perhaps you think that it’s just me copping out, and maybe it is, but I guess can do that since I’m the one writing this and you’re reading it. If it gives you any consolation, I plan to touch back on each of the positions after the draft is completed and should be able to give you a better idea of which running backs (and quarterbacks, wide receivers, and tight ends) to be targeting on draft day. So today I’ll just throw out some name of some of the better rookie RB talents.

Carlos Hyde (5’11 230) OSU — Hyde is a strong, downhill runner who is going to run right at you, between the tackles. He lacks any type of breakaway speed but has the build and strength to hold up as an every-down back.  

Ka’Deem Carey (5’9 207) ASU — Always falling forward, Carey has a knack of getting that extra yard. He is a hard runner that always keeps his legs pumping. He is also a reliable receiver out of the backfield. Some of his weaknesses include not having ideal size, lacking elusiveness, and having a lot of miles on those legs. 

Charles Sims (5’11 214) WVU — As I stated in my Senior Bowl review, Sims is quite possibly the most well-rounded back in the class. He has even drawn comparisons to Matt Forte, due to his size and receiving ability. Sims is at least average or better in all aspects of his game, which should help lead to ample opportunities to prove himself as an every-down guy.

Lache Seastrunk (5’9 201) Baylor — Seastrunk was a highly productive player in college for the Baylor Bears. However scouts question whether his success had more to do with his ability or the scheme he played in. Running in an up-tempo spread system, Seastrunk saw very few loaded boxes, allowing the big hog mollies to put a hat on a hat and create holes for him to run through. One big question facing Seastrunk is his ability to catch the ball out of the backfield, as he had a whooping 9 catches in his college career.

Tre Mason (5’8 207) AUB — Mason was the star for the surprising SEC Champion Auburn Tigers this year, racking up almost 2,000 rushing year en route to becoming a Heisman finalist. Equipped with less-than-ideal size, Mason has a low center of gravity which allows him to maintain great balance, cut on a dime, and slip through holes that bigger guys couldn’t. Due to his slight frame, however, there are concerns as to whether he could withstand a full workload. Also, Mason likes to dance behind the line before making his move upfield. With NFL defenses being NFL defenses, there may be future issues with him gaining solid, consistent yardage.

Other names to know: Isaiah Crowell, Bishop Sankey, Jeremy Hill, De’Anthony Thomas, Terrance West

 

 You can follow Josh O. at his twitter.

  1. Fantasy with Dase or Days

    Fantasy with Dase or Days says:
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    If you take into account that LeVeon Bell did not play in his teams first 3 games last year. His production is actually that of a middle of the pack RB1(non PPR scoring). He was pacing 1,560 total yards & 9.84 Rushing TDs. A couple other rookies that come to mind are Eddie Lacy and Zac Stacy. Eddie was drafted by the Packers and finished the year as the #7 RB(non PPR) and he had 3 games of 16 yards or less. Then Stacey who was drafted by the Rams and he played in essential 12 games last year. If you expand his production to 16 games(1,480 total yards & 10.6 total TDs). Just like Bell, he was a middle of the pack RB1 for you(non PPR).

    The RB spot for fantasy at the moment is the flip side of the QB/WR position. It’s very top heavy and then you start trying really hard to find the depth. Except it’s not to be found and it can become a scary place to get lost in. Hopefully like last year, we will see a few rookies land in a situation like the above RBs I mentioned above. We also can’t forget that free agency is yet to happen and that could/should help strengthen this position.

    • Josh O.

      Josh O. says:
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      @Fantasy with Dase or Days: He’s baaack! Again, great points, and good alternative examples. RB is the most situation dependent situation in fantasy, which is why it would have been foolish for me to rank these guys. And it is very top-heavy. Think you gotta get top guys when you can and find value in positions with depth like QB and WR

      • Fantasy with Dase or Days

        Fantasy with Dase or Days says:
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        @Josh O.: Hahaha. Thanks! The Colts GM said that the best player is going to play when it comes to the teams RB spot. As of now they have Trent Richardson who in 14 games with the Colts last year. His stat line looked like 723 total yards(458 rushing yards with 157 carries a 2.9YPC)!, 4 total TDs with 28 catches. Set to be a free agent this year is Donald Brown. Who in the same 14 games that T-Rich was a colt gave fantasy owners 741 total yards(527 rushing yards with 95 carries a 5.54 YPC)!, 8 total TDs with 27 catches. He only played in one game last year but they also have Vick Ballard. Who had 966 total yards & 3 total TDs in 2012. If T-Rich is the starter and the way the RBs look at the moment he looks to be able to hold RB3 value(very low). How do you view him in terms of Dynasty value? If you were in a startup, how would he sit in your ranks?

        • Fantasy with Dase or Days

          Fantasy with Dase or Days says:
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          @Fantasy with Dase or Days: When I say RB3, I am talking about redraft value.

          • Jay

            Jay says:
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            @Fantasy with Dase or Days: I don’t mean to jump into Josh’s post, but I’m staying far away from TRich, even as a buy-low.

            • Josh O.

              Josh O. says:
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              @Jay: I thought I replied to this earlier. Guess not… I’m staying away from Richardson as well. Not worth a roster spot on my team.

              • Fantasy with Dase or Days

                Fantasy with Dase or Days says:
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                @Jay: @Josh O.: The more people jumping into the conversation the better. Even though he has struggled(might be putting it to nice) when the ball is handed to him. He has been very effective catching and running with the football. In his two years, he has averaged 43 catches, 341.50 yards and 1 TD. Plus you have to remember that he was about even in catches with Donald Brown(free agent). So if Brown is gone and T-Rich has the RB1 job in Indy. Vic Ballard is not going to eat into his opportunity in the passing game. Even if you split his YPC average over his first 2 years(3.3). Let’s say he gets 250 carries that good for 850 rushing yards. Then you add in around 350 receiving yards and your looking at 1200 total yards. Plus you add in his TDs which he had double digit(12) for the Browns and last year was 4 but Donald Brown had 8. With the state of the RB position and his opportunity to have the RB1 job in Indy. I can’t say that I’m not going to have a roster spot/stay away(if price is right) for/from T-Rich next year.

  2. Fantasy with Dase or Days

    Fantasy with Dase or Days says:
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    The Ravens and Dennis Pitta avoid the franchise tag(WR or TE) issue and both side come to an agreement of 5 years for 32 million dollars. In 2012, he finished the year as the number #7 TE in standard(non PPR) scoring. Last year was only able to see action in the final four games of the year. In which he had 5 catches, 42.25 yards, .25 TDs on 8.25 targets per game. If you expand those #s over a full season it puts him as the #11 TE in standard(non PPR) scoring format. The catches and targets really jump out to me. Only 3 TEs last year had at least 80 catches and only 2 other TEs would have seen more targets. Plus you add in the new OC in Gary Kubiak and his history with the TE position. I’m a fan of Dennis Pitta in 2014!

    • Josh O.

      Josh O. says:
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      @Fantasy with Dase or Days: As you can see by my avatar, I’m a Ravens fan. With that said, Dennis Pitta is locked and loaded as a TE 1 for me next year. Given the lack of reliable possession receivers and RZ targets, Pitta should see plenty of work. On top of that, tight ends seemingly come out of nowhere within Kubiak’s system. Pitta is arguably a better talent than anything Gary had to work with at the position in Houston, and we saw Owen Daniels produce top 10 fantasy seasons. Luckily for me, I was able to get Pitta off the scrap heap in one of my dynasty leagues this year. I am making the prediction here that Pitta will be top 5 at the position in 2014, if not better than that.

      • Fantasy with Dase or Days

        Fantasy with Dase or Days says:
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        @Josh O.: As Kevin Hart would say “put your name on it!” I love it. He is somebody that offers very nice upside at the TE position.

  3. Wallpaper Paterson says:
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    I like Taliaferro and West as small school guys who I will target in my dynasty league. I have seen both play in actual games and they looked good. I like Hyde, Hill and Sims too, but I must focus on WR with my first two picks. In the 3rd round, Hyde, Hill and Sims will likely be taken already.

    • Josh O.

      Josh O. says:
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      @Wallpaper Paterson: I really like West a lot. I think if he had gone to a bigger school, he’ be talked about right up there with the best RBs in the class. It’s just hard to project these guys without knowing where they’ll be.

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