We spend an awful lot of time in fantasy football talking about the top-25 or 50 players. It's all anyone wants to talk about. 'Who do I take in the first two rounds?' and 'which positions should I target with my first three selections?' are questions I get over, and over, and then over, and maybe over again, every single day. We need to get out of that mindset. Being that you're here at FantasyAlarm you realize that. We're not like everyone else. We do things differently, not to be contrarian, but because we believe what we are doing works. To that end this ADP piece will focus exclusively on backup running backs. You know who the top-10 runners in fantasy football are. But who should you be targeting as your 3rd, 4th and 5th runners? Now we're talking.
Which players, at the difference sites, have different ADP values? Let's explore.
Lance Dunbar, Cowboys 139.7 (FFC), 191.2 (MFL), 181.5 (NFFC)
OC Scott Linehan ran Reggie Bush and Joique Bell in tandem in Detroit. The same won't happen with DeMarco Murray and Dunbar in Dallas, but that doesn't mean that Dunbar won't have a significant role. Murray can catch the ball and finally showed an ability to pound the pigskin into the end zone last season. The reason question with him is can he stay healthy if he touches the ball 20 times a week? Dunbar will likely spell Murray from Week 1 and he might end up having plenty of flex appeal this season, even if his weekly workload will be greatly dependent on how Murray is feeling.
Ronnie Hillman, Broncos 154.5 (FFC), 229.6 (MFL), 260.5 (NFFC)
The hype for Montee Ball seems a bit excessive to me. After undergoing an appendectomy the expectation is that he should still be ready to go for Week 1. We'll see. The real question now is who do you handcuff to Ball – Hillman or C.J. Anderson? Hillman has received props from the coaches this spring for his blitz pickup, something he really struggled with last season. If those aren't hollow words but truthful reports, Hillman would seem likely to grab the 2nd spot given his talents catching the ball and in the open field. Anderson is more of an early down option but he too is dealing with an issue right now, a concussion he suffered against the Seahawks.
Carlos Hyde, 49ers 94.2 (FFC), 106.7 (MFL), 126.9 (NFFC)
If Frank Gore is injured Hyde could become a low level RB1 in the Niners potent ground attack. Hyde could, with a good deal of certainty, be no worse than an RB2 in this scheme, so drafting him as a handcuff if you're a Gore owner makes all the sense in the world (it's also not a bad idea just to draft Hyde even if you don't own Gore). Gore is 31 years old so he's nearing the end. The problem is that folks seem to be calling the Reaper for him right now without spending a moment to notice that he's run for at least 1,100 yards and eight scores each of the past three seasons. The only way that Hyde justifies his current cost is if Gore craps out. It could happen, no doubt, but the Niners are careful with how they use Gore, and though age is against him, he's been a very productive back the past three seasons.
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Christine Michael, Seahawks 118.9 (FFC), 104.5 (MFL), 137.1 (NFFC)
First point – Michael is being wildly over-drafted. He is the direct replacement for Marshawn Lynch, but Robert Turbin is also around and he'll get looks on third downs as long as Lynch is healthy. That means Turbin/Michael will battle for touches if everyone stays on the field. If Lynch goes down it's likely that Michael could have high end RB2 value, I get it, but right now that's not anywhere close to where he should be drafted, thought of, or planned for. Why? Talk of Lynch's demise are greatly exaggerated. The 28 year old runner was 6th in the NFL in rushing yards last season (1,257) and for the third straight seasons he ran for at least 11 rushing scores (he had 12). Michael is a handcuff with great potential but Beast Mode figures to have one more season carrying the mail for the Seahawks.
Bernard Pierce, Ravens 92.1 (FFC), 122.2 (MFL), 122.0 (NFFC)
With Ray Rice out for two games Pierce will get a good shot to establish himself as at least an option to share the backfield once Rice returns. Pierce showed up to camp in good shape this year and appears intent on putting behind him a rough 2013 season (2.9 YPC on 152 rushes). During his rookie season of 2012 he impressed many with a 4.9 YPC mark, and there is substantial upside to the six foot, 230 lbs runner. Don't forget that Ray Rice was equally awful last year (3.1 YPC), has a ton of miles on his body (he has been run hard by the Ravens after being run exceedingly hard in College at Rutgers) and he's got all those off the field problems to be worried about. At worst, Pierce is in the RB2 talk for the first two weeks of the season.
James White, Patriots 142.0 (FFC), 189.3 (MFL), 266.2 (NFFC)
Trust the Patriots at your own peril. If you don't know that by this point then you simply haven't been paying any attention over the last decade. A 4th round selection this season, White has seemingly impressed everyone within the Pats organization. He's kept his head down, worked hard, and looked sharp at times. He even ran with the Pats first team offense at practice Wednesday clearly showing that the expectation is that he will have a role with the club this year. Shane Vereen should be a PPR beast and he'll get his, so it comes down to White and Stevan Ridley for playing time and the main role as the ball carrier in this offense. Ridley has had fumble issues, there is no doubt about that, but he's also been a very effective NFL player at times with 19 rushing scores the past two seasons. White shouldn't be drafted with the expectation that he will contribute early on, and he's more of the flier variety type of add at the moment.
Andrew Williams, Giants 105.6 (FFC), 164.4 (MFL), 217.1 (NFFC)
David Wilson (neck) is done. Peyton Hillis is still playing, but in effect he's done too. Michael Cox is a replacement level talent. That leaves Williams and Rashad Jennings to carry the mail. Jennings is the lead back, there is no doubt, and he can run between the tackles, scoot outside and catch the ball. He could touch the ball 15-20 times a week. So where does Williams fit in? Everyone loves him in New York, and he's carried the ball 14 times for 83 yards an a touchdown this spring. He's a bigger back than Jennings, and there is growing feeling that Williams will be a goaline vulture at a minimum. Unlike others on this list, Williams appears to have a role locked in place and if Jennings, never the healthiest guy going, were to go down Williams production could explode.
And the wild card...
Jonathan Grimes, Texans X (FFC), X (MFL), 382.3 (NFFC)
Arian Foster played half a season last year, had surgery, contemplated retirements, and has missed a couple of weeks with a hamstring injury this spring. That led Andre Brown to being on a quite a few sleeper lists this season. Oops. The Texans made some bold moves earlier this week which included releasing Brown, Dennis Johnson and Tim Cornett. They brought in Williams Powell and Ronnie Brown, but let's be honest, what can those guys offer at this point? Grimes appears to be in the clear lead for #2 duties behind Foster with Alfred Blue