Last week, I wrote about the 10 running backs who were in the best position to succeed this season in fantasy football. This week, I will tackle the 10 running backs that are in the worst position for fantasy success. Some of these players are going relatively late in the draft anyway, so the point here is to compare the value of these players with other running backs that are being drafted at a similar average draft position.
Once again, I have graded each running back in terms of the outside factors that will influence his fantasy impact; his team’s run-blocking, their strength of schedule, and the back’s projected workload for the 2013 season. Each field yields a rating from 1-10, so the maximum, or most ideal running back situation, would be a 30, and the minimum, or least ideal situation, would be a three. The rating disregards individual talent, and merely judges each running back by the circumstances that surround him.
As a precursor to the rankings, I will go ahead and state that I did not include any Carolina running backs on the list. That running back by committee should, of course, be avoided at all costs except in the deepest of leagues. The only back in Carolina that should be started is their quarterback, Cam Newton.
10. Rashard Mendenhall, Arizona – 15 points – The Cardinals have upgraded their offense line with the additions of Levi Brown at left tackle and their first-round selection Jonathan Cooper at one of the guard positions, but in fairness, they had nowhere to go but up. This was the worst line in the league last year, and still very much a work in progress. The Cardinals have a slightly harder than average schedule for the running back position this year. Mendenhall is in year two coming off of an ACL injury, and looked very slow last year. Also, the Cardinals drafted two rookie running backs, so owners might not get the carries that they would expect from a lead back. He’s going very late in the draft, but I would rather target St. Louis’ Isaiah Pead/Daryl Richardson/Zac Stacy a round or two later for better value.
9. Ahmad Bradshaw, Indianapolis – 15 points – The Indianapolis Colts, too, had a porous offensive line last year, and I predict that they might be even worse this year.
Gosder Cherilus at right tackle is the one positive move that this team made on their front five in the offseason. Donald Thomas, the line’s other offseason addition, doesn’t really add much. The overall cohesion of the unit will be a large question mark early on. The Colts have the 16th-easiest schedule for running backs. Bradshaw’s recurrent nagging foot injuries and the presence of Donald Brown and Vick Ballard could also limit his workhorse status. Take Gio Bernard and BenJarvus Green-Ellis one round later and you will be doing yourself a favor.
8. Ryan Mathews, San Diego – 15 points – Another writer knocking Mathews. Well, it’s justified. Didn’t you see the M Night Shyamalam movie about him? I think it was called “Breakable.” All jokes aside, this offensive line only returns one starter from last year, so cohesion, even with the elite talent that they don’t have, will be a major concern this season. I have them rated dead last as a squad. Pass on Mathews. Take Le’Veon Bell instead.
7. DeMarco Murray, Dallas – 15 points – Injuries are also a major concern for Murray, as he has missed nine games in his first two seasons. He has the talent to be a difference maker when healthy, but expect more famine than feast from him in 2013. The Cowboys line ranks in the bottom third of the league, and so does their strength of schedule. He’s going in the late third and early fourth rounds. This is way too high for the risk involved. There is more value in taking Chris Ivory or Lamar Miller in the fourth or fifth round.