Tuesday - Feb 19, 2019

Home / Commentary / First-Round Flops at RB?

First-Round Flops at RB?

We’re just one-quarter of the way through the 2010 fantasy football season, and there are feelings of uneasiness among owners of the so-called Top 5 elite running backs. Why? You can blame it on a variety of reasons, including uneven performances, dud fantasy outings, lack of scoring and injuries. Are any of the “Big Five” destined to become busts this season? Let’s take a closer look at each running back’s fantasy performances to date. Here is how fantasy points were calculated:

Standard Scoring (SS): One point for every 10 rushing yards compiled, one point for every 10 receiving yards compiled, all rushing and receiving touchdowns are six points each.

Point-Per-Reception Scoring (PPR): The same as Standard Scoring, and all receptions are one point each. 

1. Chris Johnson

TENNESSEE
TITANS (No. 30 total offense, No. 7 scoring)
 

WK

OPP

RSH

YD

YPC

TD

REC

YD

TD

SS

PPR

1

OAK

27

142

5.3

2

4

8

0

27.0

31.0

2

PIT

16

34

2.1

0

5

19

0

05.3

10.3

3

@NYG

32

125

3.9

2

0

0

0

24.5

24.5

4

DEN

19

53

2.8

0

3

11

0

06.4

09.4

TOTAL

94

354

3.8

4

12

38

0

63.2

75.2

Johnson is currently ranked as the fantasy RB9 in standard scoring formats and as the fantasy RB8 in PPR scoring formats. The Top 3 pick in most fantasy drafts he has been the epitome of a feast or famine fantasy player so far. Johnson has notched two games with more than 100 rushing yards and two scores, and two games with 55 or less rushing yards and no touchdowns. By the way, Johnson had an 85-yard touchdown run called back on a penalty against a very stout Pittsburgh Steelers defense in Week 2, so he could just as easily have racked up three strong fantasy outings out of four at this point. The Denver Broncos’ defense is surprisingly very good against the run this season, which apparently explains Johnson’s poor Week 4 outing.

Johnson’s outlook for the rest of 2010:

You can relax CJ owners – he’s doing fine overall – but you can expect the hot-and-cold performances to continue through Tennessee’s Week 9 bye. The Titans will face a good Dallas Cowboys’ defense (Week 5) and a good San Diego Chargers’ run defense (Week 8) with two softer matchups – Jacksonville Jaguars (Week 6) and Philadelphia Eagles (Week 7) – sandwiched in between. Johnson’s matchups range from average to very good from Week 10 through Week 17, so his fantasy production should be more consistent during that stretch. Johnson is obviously the heart and soul of the Titans’ offense and should finish among the Top 5 fantasy running backs in both scoring formats. What about Vince Young? As long as he plays competently enough to stretch the field – and he should – don’t worry about Johnson’s production.

2. Adrian Peterson

MINNESOTA VIKINGS (No. 16 total offense, No. 32 scoring)

WK

OPP

RSH

YD

YPC

TD

REC

YD

TD

SS

PPR

1

@NO

19

87

4.6

0

3

14

0

10.1

13.1

2

MIA

28

145

6.3

1

5

41

0

24.6

29.6

3

DET

23

160

6.9

2

5

30

0

31.0

36.0

4

Bye

TOTAL

70

392

5.6

3

13

85

0

65.7

78.7

Peterson owners are not among those having any drafter’s remorse, because he has been very productive as the only reliable weapon in the Minnesota offense through the first month of 2010. Since Peterson is coming off a Week 4 bye, it’s not fair to compare his fantasy numbers head-to-head with the other elite running backs. At the close of Week 3, Peterson was ranked as the fantasy RB2 in standard scoring formats and the fantasy RB1 in PPR scoring formats. With Brett Favre and the Sidney Rice-less Vikings passing attack struggling, the team started leaning heavily on Peterson in Week 2, as evidenced by his numbers.

Peterson’s outlook for the rest of 2010:

Overall, Peterson should be money in the bank most of the time (we’ll see how he does against the New York Jets stingy run defense in Week 5), but I am a little concerned about whether Peterson can hold up under what looks like a heavier workload than usual. With Chester Taylor (Chicago) gone, Peterson is seeing more action on third down. Granted, the addition of Randy Moss can only help Favre and the sputtering Minnesota passing attack. Patience, however, is the key word for Peterson owners during the next three weeks with the tough run defenses of the New York Jets (Week 5), Dallas Cowboys (Week 6) and Green Bay Packers (Week 7) on the schedule. From Week 8 through Week 16, most of Peterson’s matchups range from average to very favorable – aside from another date with the Green Bay Packers (Week 11) and a contest against the New York Giants (Week 14). Relax Peterson owners, you have very little to worry about right now. Peterson is a top fantasy running back in any scoring format.

3. Maurice Jones-Drew

JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS (No. 24 total offense, No. 20 scoring)

WK

OPP

RSH

YD

YPC

TD

REC

YD

TD

SS

PPR

1

DEN

23

98

4.3

0

3

15

0

11.3

14.3

2

@SD

12

31

2.6

0

1

17

0

04.8

05.8

3

PHI

22

88

4.0

0

2

1

0

08.9

10.9

4

IND

26

105

4.0

1

2

16

1

24.1

26.1

TOTAL

83

322

3.9

1

8

49

1

49.1

57.1

As the dual-threat centerpiece of the Jacksonville offense, Jones-Drew is usually a nice consolation price for any fantasy owner who missed out on Chris Johnson or Adrian Peterson. However, things are not right in Jones-Drew’s world. He currently ranks as the fantasy RB14 in both standard scoring and PPR scoring formats. There was the preseason talk about a possible knee issue and rumors about a lingering regular-season ankle injury, but the Jaguars have been running him as frequently as they usually do. Granted, the matchups against the Denver Broncos (Week 1) and the San Diego Chargers (Week 2) were tough ones, but he should have produced more against the Philadelphia Eagles. Jones-Drew shredded the Indianapolis Colts’ porous run defense, but so have other teams. The biggest problem for Jones-Drew – is David Garrard‘s struggles.  The Jacksonville offense obviously has been dragged down and Jones-Drew with it.

Jones-Drew’s outlook for the rest of 2010:

Although it’s probably too early to call Jones-Drew a bust, I seriously doubt you will get your money’s worth if you selected him with a Top 5 draft pick. Jones-Drew proved that he is healthy with that big game against the Indianapolis Colts, so you panicky owners can relax a bit. On the other hand, if he struggles in Week 5 against a very soft Buffalo Bills defense, you may have to shift back into panic mode. Will Jones-Drew’s fantasy production become more consistent? I doubt it. Bottom line – Jones-Drew’s weekly fantasy production looks like it is tied directly to the performance of Garrard and the offense, and the ease/difficulty of the weekly matchups. By my count, Jones-Drew has four favorable matchups, two average matchups and five unfavorable matchups left on his schedule. Three of his five tough matchups will come before Jacksonville’s Week 9 bye: the Tennessee Titans (Week 6), the Kansas City Chiefs (Week 7) and the Dallas Cowboys (Week 8). Is Jones-Drew good trade bait? Don’t count on it. Could he crack the Top 10 fantasy backs by the end of the season? If Garrard picks things up, maybe. If you own Jones-Drew, you’ll just have to live with your decision to draft him.

4. Ray Rice

BALTIMORE RAVENS (No. 22 total offense, No. 25 scoring)

 
WK

OPP

RSH

YD

YPC

TD

REC

YD

TD

SS

PPR

1

@NYJ

21

43

2.0

0

2

19

0

06.2

08.2

2

@CIN

16

87

5.4

0

4

30

0

11.7

15.7

3

CLE

15

80

5.3

0

4

16

0

09.6

13.6

4

@PIT

8

20

2.5

0

1

9

0

02.9

03.9

TOTAL

60

230

3.8

0

11

74

0

30.4

41.4

The guy who rolled up 2,041 total yards and eight total touchdowns last season and came off draft boards with a Top 5 pick in 2010 is obviously off to a terrible start. With four weeks in the books, Rice currently ranks as the fantasy RB27 in standard scoring formats and as the fantasy RB24 in PPR formats. Although Rice was selected ahead of Jones-Drew in some leagues (or higher), Jones-Drew has outscored him in fantasy points by a noticeable margin. In fairness to Rice, he has faced three of the league’s better run defenses in the first month of the season. The third-year pro also was limited by a knee injury in Week 4. This time last year (four games played), Rice had rushed 49 times for 295 yards (six yards per rush) and scored one rushing touchdown, and caught 17 passes for 134 yards with no receiving touchdowns.

Rice’s outlook for the rest of 2010:

Of the five running backs discussed in this article, I am the most worried about Rice. His production in the passing game has obviously taken a huge hit because of the presence of Anquan Boldin. Rice made a living in part by catching those short dump-off passes from Joe Flacco, but Flacco is now targeting Boldin downfield. The fantasy points that Rice generated as a receiver made up for his lack of scoring, which also isn’t going to change. Willis McGahee is still stealing goal line touches.

What about Rice’s schedule? He scored seven of his eight touchdowns and amassed a ton of his impressive 2009 statistics after Week 4 thanks to playing one of the easier schedules in the league. Will lightning strike twice? I doubt it. His 2010 schedule will lighten up a little, but not enough to inspire my confidence. By my count, Rice will have just three favorable matchups (Buffalo Bills in Week 7, Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 12 and New Orleans Saints in Week 15), five average matchups (New England Patriots in Week 6, Miami Dolphins in Week 9, Atlanta Falcons in Week 10, Carolina Panthers in Week 11, Houston Texans in Week 14 and Cleveland Browns in Week 16) and two tough matchups (Denver Broncos in Week 5 and Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 13). Don’t forget – Rice’s knee injury could linger. Should you Rice owners start worrying? Yes. If the opportunity presents itself, try to trade Rice off. He probably will not crack the Top 15 in either scoring format.

5. Frank Gore

SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS (No. 23 total offense, No. 29 scoring)

 
WK

OPP

RSH

YD

YPC

TD

REC

YD

TD

SS

PPR

1

SEA

17

38

2.2

0

6

45

0

08.3

14.3

2

NO

20

112

5.6

1

7

56

1

28.8

35.8

3

KC

15

43

2.9

0

9

102

0

14.5

23.5

4

ATL

21

77

3.7

0

7

60

0

13.7

20.7

TOTAL

73

270

3.7

1

29

263

1

65.3

94.3

If you “settled” for Gore in your draft or decided to grab him ahead of Rice or Jones-Drew, you’re probably not regretting that decision. Sure, Gore is averaging just 3.7 yards per carry and has scored just twice while toiling away in one of the worst offenses in the league, but fantasy-wise, he is more than holding his own as the main cog in that terrible offense. Heading into Week 5, Gore ranked as the fantasy RB8 in standard scoring leagues and as the fantasy RB2 in PPR scoring formats. Serving as the 49ers’ leading receiver is definitely helping his owners in PPR leagues – Gore has averaged 133 total yards per outing.

Gore’s outlook for the rest of 2010:

Although the injury-prone Gore is usually a lock to miss a game or two each season, his owners should be an optimistic bunch. Gore posted some solid numbers despite his team’s poor passing attack and questionable play-calling under now-former offensive coordinator Jimmy Raye, and it looks like new offensive coordinator Mike Johnson is going to use Gore in some creative ways. Last week against the Atlanta Falcons, Gore touched the ball on inside handoffs, tosses, screens and draws. Johnson also snuck Gore out of the backfield in four wide receiver sets and got the ball to him. The 49ers passing attack can only get better from this point forward (it sure can’t get much worse), which should mean more room to run for Gore. What about his schedule? It doesn’t look very scary, and it’s easier to list his challenging matchups: Denver Broncos (Week 8), Green Bay Packers (Week 13), Seattle Seahawks (Week 14) and San Diego Chargers (Week 15). Gore should finish as a Top 10 or even top-five fantasy back in both scoring formats.

About Fantasy Sharks

FantasySharks.com began in 2003, disseminating fantasy football content on the web for free. It is, or has been, home to some of the most talented and best known fantasy writers on the planet. Owned and operated by Tony Holm (5 time Fantasy Sports Writer Association Hall-of-Fame nominee,) Tony started writing fantasy content in 1993 for the only three fantasy football web sites in existence at the time.