Thursday - May 23, 2019

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The Rookie Wall

Owners of
Eddie Lacy

,
Giovani Bernard

,
Le’Veon Bell

and
Andre Ellington

are all thrilled to have these guys as mainstays in their lineups. As is the case with most fantasy owners, some of their early-round ‘stud’ running backs didn’t pan out so the rookies have been needed a lot more than expected, and they have delivered more often than not.

The operative question remains: Will it continue? Overuse of rookie running backs has often led to late-season breakdowns. There’s a laundry list of names to cite, but look no further than last year.
Trent Richardson

never really got rolling at top gear, but he ended the season on the shelf after a couple of underwhelming mid-December performances.
Doug Martin

was a lot more successful in-season than Richardson, only to see his production dramatically decrease over the last few weeks of the season. His owners were spared because he found the end zone often enough, but those yards per carry numbers got ugly after his midseason breakout. Contrast that with
David Wilson

, who was sparingly used throughout the season as he never seemed to get out of coach Tom Coughlin’s doghouse, only to have a couple of breakout performances late. A similar story was written by
Bryce Brown

as well.

At this point in the game, especially when dealing with rookies, freshness is of greater relevance than past production. How will this translate to this year’s rookie crop? Warning sirens are going off in regards to
Eddie Lacy

. He has been heavily used since returning from an early-season concussion in Week 5. He has had no less than 22 carries in any game and as many as 33 touches. The quarterback situation is a plausible narrative in describing his struggles against a lousy Philadelphia defense last week, but ignoring the rookie wall potential would be foolish. His quarterback isn’t coming back anytime soon and history shows that rookies used this much have issues finishing the season strong. Given his playoff schedule (three bottom five run defenses), I do not recommend selling him for pennies on the dollar, but testing the waters to see what he’ll fetch would be wise.


Le’Veon Bell

may be headed towards a similar fate as Lacy. Since returning in Week 4 from a preseason foot injury he has had at least 18 touches in every game and he topped out against a subpar Buffalo defense last week with 25. His 18.6 points made his owners happy, but his 2.6 yards per carry raises concerns. Unlike Lacy, Bell has not been as strong on the ground to-date and additionally he does not have a friendly schedule down the stretch. He’s been scoring due to quantity lately, so now would be the best time to explore trade options for Bell.

That said, owners of
Giovani Bernard

and
Andre Ellington

should be more encouraged than the former two. Both have very friendly schedules down the stretch and have had their use limited by their coaches to date, keeping them fresh for the stretch run. Ellington has only eclipsed 15 touches one time this season while Bernard has done it just three times. Bernard also has the benefit of a bye week pending, too. Their coaches have made a concentrated effort to keep them fresh for the end of the season and that should lead to stronger finishes than their rookie counterparts. Despite their limited use, Bernard has failed to eclipse 10 fantasy points in a standard points per reception league just twice since Week 2 while Ellington has only fallen short three times over the same timeframe. Three of those five were amidst blowouts, games in which they were even more limited in part due to the circumstances of that game.

I think the strong finishes for Ellington and Bernard both begin now and am making them my www.fanduel.com plays of the week. Leaning on these two will allow you to play better options elsewhere while the competition relies on more expensive and less production options.

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