Tom Arters
Overvalued/Undervalued -- RB Edition

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Arian Foster Undervalued – While presently being drafted as the 13th running back, Foster represents legitimate top-5 value. Why the discount? The injury bug has bitten Foster some in recent years. Like a plague, this haunts his “investors” in droves. The only competition he faces is Andre Brown , who was brought in on a one-year-deal to occasionally spell Foster and act as insurance after Tate’s departure. New coach Bill O’Brien has stated he only views Brown as a first- and second-down back. This leaves Foster to be the exclusive passing down back and majority shareholder of early-down duties as well. While Ryan Fitzpatrick isn’t exactly an upgrade at quarterback, the expected new scheme will be complementary towards an every-down back with size – a la Foster – to take advantage of his hands as well as his legs.

Forecast – A line of 1,800 total yards, 60 receptions and 10-12 TDs aren’t unexpected.

Doug Martin Overvalued – Martin will be marred by increasing competition and a coach who has already declared a timeshare. Factor in an apathetic attempt to start off his 2013 campaign before getting injured (another potential knock against him) and he no longer seems fresh. Martin is being drafted as the eighth running back off the board. Team brass drafted Charles Sims , who is widely believed to be a passing down specialist with the ability to pilfer a few early down carries as well. That’s not to say 2013 darling, Mike James , and his cohort Bobby Rainey, won’t have something to say about touches as well. I will be shocked if we see Martin garner a workload greater than 16-18 touches a game and a share in paydirt plays. Granted there is value to be had in such a workload, but not as the eighth running back off the board.

Forecast – Projections here are more difficult without knowing roles, but reside around 1,300 total yards, 30 receptions and 6-8 TDs for now; subject to decrease.

Bernard Pierce Undervalued – Let’s be honest for a moment, the 2013 Baltimore Ravens running game was tear-inducing. I’d like to blame it on a singular at-fault issue, but I can’t. Extremes such as these are just that, however, and we should expect a return to normalcy. Enter Pierce, who is likely to see 4-6 starts to kick off the year (based on an expected suspension of Ray Rice ). I know it’s not much, but considering you’re getting a starter for the cost of a late-round pick (the price of a backup) to kick the season off – I say “value!” We can only speculate upon the role Rice will have thereafter, but we do know that Pierce will be the unquestioned starter early on. He is being drafted outside the top 125 picks and has the ability to be a top 50 producer for a fairly significant portion of the year. Keep in mind that despite an awful showing last year, the Rice/Pierce combo averaged 95 yards, five catches, and almost a touchdown every other game.

Forecast Average daily start to kick the year off is settling in around 80 total yards, 4 receptions and a TD every other game; quality RB2 territory.

Reggie Bush Undervalued – Love him or hate him, he is a producer when healthy. His prorated 16-game line last year, sans the injury-shortened week against Arizona (and accepting his game-shortened weeks in the back nine are par for the course), sits modestly at almost 1,800 total yards, 63 receptions and nine touchdowns. Arguably, that is top 5 running back territory. Enter Joe Lombardi, former New Orleans' positional coach, who is expected to use Bush in space even more this year. Bush should approach the 70-catch threshold on a prorated basis and flirt with double-digit scores. For those pointing at Joique Bell, look past the games Bell started in place of Bush and at the games where they split touches. It’s not nearly as alarming as one would think in terms of a handcuff.

Forecast – Based on a full season, I’m teetering on a 1,700 total yard, 70 reception, 9 TD prorated line while drafting as if he starts 14 games.

Toby Gerhart Undervalued – Let me begin by saying I still think the Jacksonville Jaguars are years from playing competitive football. That being said, it’s all about opportunity and situation. Gerhart is expected to be a three-down workhorse for the Jaguars. The only question is what he’s walking into. In 2013, Jacksonville attempted to run only 378 total times and struck paydirt a mere seven times. Coach Gus Bradley is encouraging a more physical, ball-controlling game.

The Jaguars drafted two high-ceiling wideouts to replace the malcontent known as Justin Blackmon. More talent at the receiver position will both place the Jaguars in the red zone more as well as helping to stretch the field and open up running lanes. With Maurice Jones-Drew out the door, Blackmon singing the blues, and Blake Bortles ready to take the reins, we’re looking at a very different set of skill position players on offense. With Bortles, they’re likely to lean more on the run game than in recent years to help with the acclimation period. Gerhart’s fairly soft hands stand to benefit him as well. Gerhart is presently being taken as the 27th running back off the board. More than 300 touches should firmly place Gerhart inside the top 20 running backs and on pace to be a decent RB2.

Forecast – I’m cautiously optimistic in a 1,400 total yard, 45 reception, 6 TD showing with upside in touchdowns if Bortles can move the chains.

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