Fantasy football mock drafts around the globe continue to fire up, so now would be the perfect time for owners to brush up on all things about fake football.
Chief among the factors owners must master to stand a chance in any league? Strong drafting habits and the trickiest position of all, running back.
In a way, those two factors follow the same path. The NFL continues to alter how it thinks about and uses running backs, which forces owners to do the same. This is a large part of the reason mock draft strategy changes by the year, too.
To stem the tide in an owner’s favor, let’s take a look at a mock draft based on a 12-team standard league and take a deeper bite out of the running back slot.
2-Round Mock Draft
2.08: Justin Forsett, RB, Baltimore Ravens
It might be easy to forget, but Baltimore Ravens running back Justin Forsett was fantasy football’s eighth-highest scorer at the position last year.
Forsett was the perfect emergency solution for both the Ravens and owners. He went for double-digit production in nine contests by way of 1,266 yards and eight scores on a 5.4 per-carry average with another 263 yards through the air.
He’s a viable every-down back, so the only thing standing in his way is health—but it’s a factor that applies to any and all backs given the nature of the position.
Expect Forsett to receive more than 200 carries again and more than 50 targets through the air, considering he’s breached it in three of his six seasons already, including last year. Touches equate to production, folks.
2.10: Alshon Jeffery, WR, Chicago Bears
With Marshall on the field last year, Jeffery wound up as the No. 12 scoring receiver with a team-high 145 targets for 1,133 yards and 10 scores. Remember, this came on a team with a stud receiving back (Matt Forte) and a stud pass-catching tight end (Martellus Bennett).
Not only is Marshall out of the picture, which opens up 105 targets from last year to go around, ESPN.com‘s analysis provides quite the interesting deep dive on a number owners should care about:
Jeffery is one of Cutler’s favorite weapons at the goal line — his 37 end zone targets since 2013 trails only ex-teammate Brandon Marshall (40). And with Marshall now in New York, Jeffery is locked in as the Bears’ top target in new offensive coordinator Adam Gase’s scheme, which proved to be fantasy-friendly to No. 1 wideouts during Gase’s stint in Denver.
In other words, it looks as if owners are actually underdrafting Jeffery right now considering his average draft position (ADP) of 3.02.
Notable High-Value RBs
Mark Ingram, New Orleans Saints
Fantasy owners don’t seem in love with the idea of New Orleans Saints running back Mark Ingram.
It’s time to change, folks.
Look, it’s easy to get scared away from Ingram after the pass-happy Saints added pass-catching back C.J. Spiller this offseason. This isn’t a cause for concern, though, as a note by Mike Triplett of ESPN revealed:
It hasn’t taken long for this to show up on the field, either, per the NFL:
Ingram has the look of an every-down back. Even if he happens to leave the field on passing downs, he ran for 4.3 yards per carry last year to 964 yards and nine scores.
In the New Orleans offense, Ingram will see another 200-plus carries and perhaps a career high in targets. Given the pace of the offense, he’s going to see enough snaps to give owners their return on value—and perhaps quite a bit more.
Carlos Hyde, San Francisco 49ers
Again, touches equal production, so there isn’t much of a reason for owners to shy away from San Francisco 49ers lead back Carlos Hyde.
Hyde spent last season behind Frank Gore, but he still registered 333 yards and four scores with a 4.0 average. Gore now takes his handoffs from Andrew Luck in Indianapolis, which opens up a world of possibilities for Hyde.
Like Ingram, the addition of a pass-catching back such as Reggie Bush shouldn’t scare owners away from Hyde. It seems to play a factor in his 4.05 ADP, but there are no signs the former Ohio State star won’t be the workhorse.
Peter King provided his analysis on the situation:
If Hyde sits anywhere close to the 250-carry mark, he’s a lock to outplay his ADP and give owners a serious value.
When it comes to running backs, upside more often than not is the way to go. Hyde might be the best possible example this year and an option every owner should consider a gamble on before his ADP.
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