A Good Rule of Thumb to have when it comes to Running Backs is “Good Offenses = Good Running Backs”
Chris Carson- Seattle Seahawks
Chris Carson is on a great offense and in a great situation. Yeah, I hear you “Aren’t you worried about Rashaad Penny?” the answer is NO! Look Penny could take away some touches this year but there is another guy that was on the team last year who is with the Chicago Bears now and that is Mike Davis. Davis had 7.5 attempts per game and 34 receptions last year and I think some of that work can be handed to Carson on top of what he had last year.
If he did not have the injury history I would take Carson late 1st early 2nd because he has the ceiling of finishing RB1 this year. OC Brian Schotenhimer says he wants Carson to see 50 targets this year, more than double what he had last season. Carson averaged 13 points per game last year and with no Doug Baldwin and more work in the passing game I don’t think you are crazy to reach in the 2nd round, early 3rd round to take him as a solid RB 2 this year.
And take this for what it is worth they are projected for the 6th easiest schedule in 2019. This means more handoffs when the team is in the lead!
Latavious Murray- New Orleans Saints
Over the last 3 seasons Mark Ingram averaged 47 receptions, 1009 rushing yards, and 10 TDs per year on a 16 game season. In the red zone Ingram got 41% of the carries between he and Kamara. The point here is just because Kamara is there Murray should be able to step right into the Ingram role and get some quality touches near the goaline.
This offense looks to be at the top of the league again this season and Murray proved to be a respectable back in Oakland and the last few seasons in Minnesota. Another positive here is IF Kamara is to go down Murray’s value will skyrocket and he will then have the ability to be an RB 1 this season.
There are not too many guys this late in the draft that you can get that have that kind of upside. Murray is going with pick 6.12 and I believe he will be a solid RB 2 this season.
Justin Jackson- Los Angeles Chargers
Jackson looks to be a great value if Gordon does indeed sit out this season. Jackson is going in late round 11, 5 rounds later than Austin Ekler and as far as we have heard and seen from the team it looks like they will be in a 50/50 timeshare.
Last season when Gordon was hurt in weeks 12-14 Jackson averaged 13 points per game, Ekeler also averaged 13! He also averaged 4.4 yards per carry while Ekeler only averaged 3.2 in that span of games. Over the whole season he Jackson managed 19 targets and 50 rushing attempts while being considered the 3rd back on the depth chart for most of the season. Keep in mind all of those stats are from his rookie season and he did not get much time with the first offense team until later in the season. The more time he gets with Phillip Rivers the more he will be able to trust him in the game. This preseason has proven this so far as Jackson has got 13 attempts compared to 8 on Ekeler.
We don’t want to read too much into the preseason but again, I expect a 50/50 split and work on the goal line to make Jackson a sleeper in the 11th round this year!
Kalen Ballage- Miami Dolphins
For those that do not follow fantasy closely Ballage may not have been on your radar before now but he definitely should be now. Ballage had a mediocre rookie season but this was to be expected with veterans Frank Gore and Kenyan Drake in the fold. With Gore gone to Buffalo and Drake nursing an injury Ballage has shown what made the Dolphins like him so much last offseason drafting him in the fourth round.
There are some encouraging stats from last season such as a 5.3 yards per carry average. Ballage has impressed thus far in camp and is looking to make the most of his opportunity. The Dolphins have a history of displacing good veterans with talented young guys, see Jay Ajayi. At the least Ballage will be in a 50/50 split for carries this season and has upside to carry a much larger role. Because of this and his ADP of 8.05 in 12 team leagues he looks to be a high upside guy with good value.
If you are someone who waited to take a RB until the third or maybe even fourth round, Ballage maybe just the type of upside player you should be looking for.
Royce Freeman- Denver Broncos
Royce Freeman came into last preseason looking like he would be the man in Denver, Then an undrafted free agent named Phillip Lindsay (you may have heard of him) came along and put that dream to a stop. Freeman was being drafted as high as the third round last season and was a real disappointment to those who drafted him there. Those who did get burned last season should not let that deter them from drafting him this season.
First off, his value is much better this season as he is going late in round 8 currently. This is great value for a guy who is likely to see 50% of the snaps for his team and has the upside of being 1 injury away from a starring role. Freeman will likely be the goal line back and has shown breakaway ability. His 4 yards per carry last season was a solid number.
Again Freeman is a high upside option with a floor that has value where he is currently being drafted.
Greggory Cline and Trevor Calvert Contributed to this Article.