Buccaneers running back Peyton Barber

Kim Klement/USA Today Sports

Fantasy Football Preview: Hot/Cold Running Backs

Keep an eye on Peyton Barber and Rex Burkhead, writes Jack Thomason.

Jack Thomason
August 23, 2018 - 3:29 pm

(670 The Score) We continue our look at overvalued and undervalued fantasy football players at various positions by focusing on running backs today.

The intent is exactly what it sounds like -- to identify who we're hot and cold on, by position, from an average draft position (ADP) standpoint. I'll preview a different position each week. You can check out my past work here, including updated positional rankings.

I'm using FantasyPros ADP as a barometer and welcome all dialogue and banter as well. Feel free to engage on Twitter here.


LeSean McCoy, Bills -- The Bills may well be the worst team in football, so let's just start there. Although they made the playoffs last year, it was in large part due to random variability and luck, given their point differential was -57! The Bills have since traded their starting quarterback and drafted a rookie in Josh Allen and brought in AJ McCarron to replace him. They also lost three starting offensive linemen to free agency or trade, and their defense overperformed last year. None of these situations are positives for McCoy. Add in the possibility of McCoy going on the commissioner exempt list at any time amid domestic violence allegations, and I can't get behind him as a high-end RB2. (ADP: RB14; My rank: RB24) 

Ronald Jones, Buccaneers -- Many folks got wrapped up in the poor Jamaal Charles comparison with Jones, but they were poor comps. Jones is a poor receiver, blocker and route runner due to his inexperience and skill set. He's extremely fast and broke several big runs at USC, but the Buccaneers reached for him in making him the 38th overall pick in the draft over other quality running backs available. He's 21 years old, so there's long-term hope, but to start the season, Peyton Barber is the player to own in Tampa Bay. Jones currently has 12 carries for 11 yards in the preseason. (ADP: RB26; My rank: RB39)

Rashaad Penny, Seahawks -- I was in on Penny early myself and still like him to a varying degree, but there's a lot of smoke around him and therefore likely fire as well. Chris Carson was the darling in Seattle's backfield last year until suffering an ankle injury, and it seems he has returned in the same positive light for coach Pete Carroll, who has been raving about Carson every chance he gets. Beyond that, Carson has looked like the better player in preseason. Penny broke his finger and missed a little bit of time, and now a report surfaced that he came back to camp at 236 pounds. He played college ball at 220 pounds, so there's a stark contrast in weight -- and generally speaking, adding weight as a running back is never a positive. I believe Penny will be a factor by midseason, but right now at his current ADP, I'm letting someone else draft him and I'll try to make a trade for him when that owner grows frustrated early in the season. (ADP: RB23; My rank: RB30)

Just missed: Dion Lewis, Aaron Jones and LeGarrette Blount


Peyton Barber, Buccaneers -- After writing about Jones, this is where we point out Barber isn't getting enough respect. Barber's ugly ADP is starting to correct itself as you read this, but it's still worth noting. Barber is an all-around runner. He does nothing great but does many little things well. He can catch, he runs violently and he sets a tone for the offense. He can also block and convert in short-yardage situations. Barber performed well in a starting role down the stretch last season. The Buccaneers offense has a lot of receiving threats and is going to move the ball, so there should be scoring opportunities ahead for Barber. Jones won't just vanish, as he'll have a role and coaches will continue to build his confidence, but Barber is the early season horse. (ADP: RB47; My rank: RB29)

Marshawn Lynch, Raiders -- When the Raiders finally decided to feed Lynch over the last six games of the season, we saw vintage Marshawn. He was a tackle-breaking machine in averaging 18 carries and 84 yards over that span while scoring three touchdowns. Lynch looked quick and explosive ripping off at what first looked like a 60-plus-yard touchdown run the in preseason the other night too. The run was called back for a penalty, but fantasy owners watching saw what they needed to. With a healthy offensive line that was regarded as one of the best in the league last season and a healthy Derek Carr, Lynch is being undervalued right now and is a draft-day bargain. (ADP: RB27; My rank: RB18)

Rex Burkhead, Patriots -- While everyone finds the Patriots' backfield frustrating and convoluted, there's plenty of fantasy goodness in that position if you know what to look for. Burkhead runs a significant amount of routes, he has been the Patriots goal-line back and he's a strong and efficient runner. He scored eight touchdowns in 10 games last year, and no team had more rushing attempts inside the five-yard line than New England. Sony Michel is still recovering from a knee injury, and Burkhead is shaping up to be a nice value in drafts. (ADP: RB31; My rank: RB20)

Just missed: James White, Chris Carson and Jamaal Williams

Jack Thomason is 670 The Score’s fantasy football expert and co-host of “Chicago’s Fantasy Football Today,” which can be heard every Sunday during football season from 8-9 a.m. CT on WSCR-670 and 670thescore.com/listen. Follow him on Twitter @jthomason77 and feel free to ask fantasy questions.