Top Running Back values in Underdog Best Ball Drafts

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With the NFL season just 2 weeks away, we now have a lot of information on how most backfields will operate this season. Despite that, there are plenty of good values still out there, and opportunities for us to find backs who will vastly outplay their current ranking.

 

James Conner- ADP 80, RB26:

I get that the Cardinals could be really bad this season, but Conner’s role is as good as it gets. After coming back from injury week 9 last year, Conner finished as RB 20, 5, 14, 6, 5, 12, 5, and 15 and averaged 16.7 fantasy points. Most of those games were without Kyler Murray and numerous other starting offensive players and linemen. Despite the Cardinals only averaging 18.1 offensive points per game, Conner was essentially an elite back. His ppg numbers over a full season, would have made him RB5 in PPG. That is essentially where he finished in 2021 as RB6 in ppg.

This is just such a gross misprice as people are ignoring the player because of how bad the team is. The Cardinals offense was terrible the 2nd half of the season, yet Conner remained a bright spot. They were pulling OL from other team’s practice squads and using their 3rd and 4th QB, yet that didn’t stop Conner. He has a clear bell-cow role, and you can get him as RB26 is an incredible steal. Even if he misses time again due to injury you are likely getting one of the best values. Conner can not only be a clear RB1, but potentially a top-half RB1.

 

A.J. Dillon– ADP 102.2, RB34:

Dillon remains sharing the Packers backfield with Aaron Jones (ADP 49.9), but this could be the year where the usage flips and favors Dillon. Last season he ended up as RB25 in total points, and while his 9 ppg was in the mid-30’s, he still had 6 games over 10 points, including a high of 20.6. Dillon has done really well these past 2 years as the lighter end of the platoon in the backfield, and already clearly has the goalline rushing role. Jones still saw plenty of Red zone opportunities as a receiver, but some of that was likely dictated by Aaron Rodgers given their familiarity playing together.  With the changing of the guard in Green Bay, Dillon could assume a larger role. He has proven to be a good runner and decent receiver in his own right, so he can handle a greater workload.

Jones has finished as RB9 and RB12 the last two seasons in the primary role, so if the role does flip, that is the type of upside that Dillon could have. Even if it isn’t a full flip in roles, Dillon already is kind of priced at his floor, so he could crack the top 24 backs even with slightly more work than last season. Of course there is plenty of contingent upside if Jones who is a bit older misses some time. You can’t necessarily count on Dillon routinely hitting your line-up as an RB2/Flex, but there are multiple avenues where that ends up the case. At worse he’s filling in 4-6 times during the season.

 

Brian Robinson– ADP 102.7, RB35:

Robinson still remains behind teammate Antonio Gibson in ADP, despite Robinson having the lead role with the Commanders. This will definitely be a shared backfield between the two, but it is likely to be only these two backs getting significant snaps. Robinson should have a sizable lead in carries and red zone work, while Gibson should lead in targets. Robinson saw 205 carries for 797 yards in 12 games last season, but that doesn’t tell the whole story. He was recovering from a gunshot wound in August, which cost him the first 4 games, and he only saw his snaps hover in the 45-50% range, never topping 52%. He’s probably more in line for a 60-65% snap share this year, and there is every reason to believe that his efficiency will improve. In addition, the Washington OL has had some improvements, and the offense in general should be better. This can lead to more TD opportunities and fantasy points. He will likely have a tough time cracking the top 12 RBs, but him finishing somewhere in the RB15-20 range is definitely possible. This could make him a routine option as your RB2 or Flex play, and you are getting him in round 9 or 10.

 

Raheem Mostert -ADP 140.8, RB47 & Jeff Wilson– ADP 160.9, RB51:

This is slightly contingent on Jonathan Taylor not being traded to Miami, though likely one of these backs will still be ok in that scenario. If Taylor doesn’t come to the Dolphins both Mostert and Wilson can be extremely valuable at this price point. Mostert likely has the lead role, with Wilson taking the secondary role again, but it appears that is how this backfield will go to start the season. Rookie Devon Achane is banged up, and currently buried on the depth chart. Mostert never cracked 20 points last season, but he did have 5 games between 16.1-19.1 points. Wilson also contributed when he came over mid-season with 4 games out of 8 with 10+ fantasy points. Neither one probably ends up as a top 15 RB, but it’s not going to be tough for them to finish in the 24th-36th range. If you are getting them as your RB4 you are doing really well, even RB3 in some builds could really payoff.

 

Jerome Ford- ADP 189.9, RB60:

Ford saw some early offseason steam as he clearly came into camp as the back likely to inherit the number 2 role in this offense, which has mainly been handled by Kareem Hunt in recent years. Hunt has been a pretty consistent fantasy option in that role over the years, and Ford could see similar success based on his profile. Ford got pushed up to the 140ish range due to the hype, but an injury has kept him out of much of camp/preseason. Despite the injury, all reports seem to indicate that Ford is still likely the number 2 back on this team and should see some decent usage. The injury though has pushed his ADP back down to a range making him a pretty solid value. Even if Ford only gets 75% of Hunt’s usage he can payoff this price tag.

NOTE:  written before the trade for Pierre Strong. Still a consideration at a falling price.

 

Ty Chandler- ADP 200.8, RB62:

The general assumption is that Alexander Mattison will just completely inherit Dalvin Cook‘s bell-cow role in this offense, but that shouldn’t be a given. Mattison has produced multiple times in the past in 1 or 2 game samples when Cook has been out, but it’s not a given that he can replicate that week-in-week out. Last year Cook was an 75-85% player most weeks, and it would be surprising if Mattison gets that kind of workload. Chandler especially could be a factor in the passing game, and might end up being the primary 3rd down back. For a team that should be among the top 5 in pass attempts and top 10 in points, there is a lot of potential for Chandler. While Mattison will likely maintain most of the goalline work, if this split ends up being more like 60/40, Chandler could be a massive value.

 

Clyde Edwards-Helaire– ADP 203.1, RB64:

The Chiefs backfield is likely to be Isaih Pacheco as the lead back and Jerrick McKinnon as the passing game back, which leaves little room for other options. Here though as an 18th-round option, CEH still could have some value. Despite dealing with injuries in camp, he started the year decently well, before going down with injury again late in the season.  In his six starts to begin the season, he averaged only about 45% of the offensive snaps, yet he produced point totals of 20.9, 13.8, 12.4, 21.9, 5 and 3.3 half-point ppr points. That’s two very good weeks and two usable weeks out of 6 games, and he never had even a 60% snap share. CEH can back-up both Pacheco’s and McKinnon’s role, so if either are ever limited or out, he can produce in this offense. The floor is lower on this play, but the upside is still there.

 

Chris Evans– ADP 211.7, RB67:

All offseason the question has been who would succeed Samaje Perine as the Bengals’ number 2 back/3rd down back. With Trayevon Williams getting hurt, Evans was able to outshine rookie Chase Brown, and appears to be entrenched in this role. It’s possible it ends up split more than in the past, and Joe Mixon might just end up seeing more work, but Evans offers some nice late-round value. This is an elite offense, so even if Evans is only a 25-30% player he should have some opportunities for usable weeks. You could end up with a similar playing time outlook to a Jaylen Warren, Jerrick McKinnon, or Tank Bigsby, but 100 spots later in the draft.

 

Kyren Williams- ADP 212.8, RB68:

Though we’ve seen the raw talent that Cam Akers has both going back to college and in small glimpses in the NFL, there are enough reports to suggest that the Rams want to use multiple backs this season. Williams always seemed like a more limited prospect, but he’s had a strong camp and seems locked into the number 2 role, with some 3rd down usage. For a team that could be playing from behind a lot, having a pass-catching back might not be a bad option in the 18th round.

 


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