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Would You Rather Draft…Frank Gore or Jonathan Stewart?

These are the decisions that champions of fantasy leagues have to make. You have a couple of RB2/flex players sitting there later in the draft and you can never have too many running backs on your roster. These are the type of players that frustrate your league-mates when they lead you to a championship. Depth on your roster is the key my friends, let’s dive into one of those possible decisions.

Let’s start with some strengths and weaknesses of each player from a fantasy standpoint:

Frank Gore (Indianapolis Colts):

Strengths –

  • Easily the best running back on the roster, no competition for carries
  • Workhorse, 4 straight years of playing in all 16 games
  • Can also make plays out of the backfield in the passing game

Weaknesses –

  • 32 years old, which is old for a running back in the NFL
  • Inconsistent production from week to week

Jonathan Stewart (Carolina Panthers):

Strengths –

  • Easily the best running back on the roster, no competition for carries
  • Stewart is only 28, hasn’t had a lot of carries over his career so far
  • Last year when healthy was excellent in yards per carry and production per touch

Weakness –

  • Has only played in 58% of the Panthers games since 2011 (28 out of 48 games to be exact).

The Argument for Gore over Stewart

This should be simple, I really only need one piece of information to win this argument. Frank Gore has played in 100% of his games in the last 3 years; Jonathan Stewart has played in 58% of his games in the last 3 years. Would you rather take a guarantee or a 50/50 shot? I already won this argument in 2 sentences, but for the sake of completeness, I will continue. Gore is in an explosive offense lead by the best young quarterback in the NFL. He will be the workhorse and X-factor in taking the Colts’ offense from great to elite.

Let’s do some math together:

The Colts averaged 21 carries a game last season with a slew of below average running backs with a 3.9 YPC average. Let’s assume Frank Gore gives them 18 carries a game at his career average of 4.5 YPC average.

18 carries over 16 games = 288 carries

288 carries at 4.5 YPC = 1,296 yards

Gore will get all red-zone carries, let’s say 6 rushing TDs

So, 2015 will look like 1,296 yards and 6 TDs just on the ground, and we haven’t even added in his receptions. Defenses will be forced to cover the pass allowing Gore to rack up yards with short catches off of play-action. Wouldn’t you love to have that guaranteed production?

The Argument for Stewart over Gore

Let’s start with something really important; DeAngelo Williams is no longer splitting carries with Jonathan Stewart. Stewart is the #1 back now in a run-based offense that will give him every opportunity to be the main man in Carolina. His upside and potential is sky high for next season. He was dynamite down the stretch and showed that he can be an elite back if he can stay on the field. He is healthy heading into 2015 and is the #1 back.

Let’s do some more math:

Last 4 games of the 2014 season (When he was healthy and #1 back) = 79 carries, 401 yards = 20 carries per game at 5.0 YPC

If you prorate that out for 16 games, the numbers are impressive:

20 carries over 16 games = 320 carries

320 carries at 5.0 YPC = 1,600 yards

Stewart will get red-zone touches in a run-heavy offense, let’s say 6 rushing TDs

Compare that to Frank Gore’s numbers in a more balanced offense, who would you take? Aren’t you going to take the running back in a run-heavy with a higher ceiling? Isn’t that the point of fantasy football?

Would You Rather Draft Decision:

Frank Gore (Indianapolis Colts)

I will not argue that Stewart’s ceiling is higher than Gore’s for 2015. But would you rather take a 50/50 shot on an injury-prone guy that could have an excellent season, or a workhorse that has stayed healthy for the past 3 years in an excellent offense? I’m taking the player in a great passing offense with an elite quarterback that can set up the run game. A team that has desperately needed a decent running back since Joseph Addai (which is a stretch). Another factor is the fact that Frank Gore will also eat up yardage with catches out of the backfield with screens and broken down play-action plays. Stewart isn’t really a pass-catcher and most, if not almost all of his points, will come from the ground. I’m taking the consistently healthy workhorse over a player that can’t stay on the field. Did I mention that Stewart has only played in 58% of his games the past 3 years?

If you have a “Would You Rather Draft…” question for Dan, tweet your idea to Shep_Collins and he may pick yours to debate in an upcoming article. Follow Dan for Fantasy Football and NFL Draft insight.

About Dan Collins

I have always been an avid football enthusiast. The NFL Draft and Fantasy Football is my passion in the realm of football. I write Mock Drafts and inform readers of what is happening during the critical stages of the NFL Draft. I spend way too much time working through Fantasy Football analysis, situations, and thoughts; it is an issue. Follow on Twitter @Dan_R_Collins for Football info and the occasional joke or wisecrack.