Thomason: Overvalued/Undervalued Fantasy RBs

You should be wary of drafting Le'Veon Bell early.

Jack Thomason
August 16, 2019 - 10:33 am

(670 The Score) We're taking a look at overvalued and undervalued players in fantasy football to help you get ready for your drafts.

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We evaluated quarterbacks the other day, and now we're diving into running backs.

OVERVALUED

Le’Veon Bell, Jets -- There are many reasons to like Bell, starting with the idea that he's a dual-threat back who's likely to have 300-plus touches. The Jets have also improved their offensive line, and quarterback Sam Darnold has a year of experience under his belt. Still, color me skeptical. Bell is being drafted as the RB6 and while I think the Jets' offense improves, coach Adam Gase has a history of using a running back-by-committee. Gase has publicly stated that he wasn’t a fan of the Bell signing, and there’s been a lot of buzz out of camp about Ty Montgomery being a factor.

Beyond that, Bell hasn’t played football since January 2018 and the Jets' over/under for wins is 7.5, which means they're not likely to be playing with a lead often. Gase-led teams also have played at a slow offensive pace. For all those reasons, I’m steering clear of Bell at his current average draft position. I’d rather select players like Nick Chubb or James Conner if I’m forced to take a running back early, or I'd take a receiver like Davante Adams in place of where Bell is going.

Phillip Lindsay, Broncos -- Lindsay was fantastic in 2018, when he burst onto the scene as an undrafted free agent who rushed for more than 1,000 yards and nine touchdowns. That being said, the Broncos have a new, first-time coach and offensive coordinator, and both seem fixated on making this backfield a committee with Royce Freeman factoring in heavily. This makes sense, given Lindsay’s 5-foot-8, 190-pound frame. That's not a knock on Lindsay or to say he won't remain efficient, but it's a signal that he'll probably see a decrease in touches, which will impact his overall fantasy numbers.

On top of that, the Broncos recently signed Theo Riddick. While Riddick has suffered a fracture in his shoulder that will keep him out six to eight weeks, his involvement in the passing game when he returns figures to hurt Lindsay's value. This Broncos offense could also struggle under new quarterback Joe Flacco. All in all, I like Lindsay, but think RB22 is a little high for him to be drafted when his backfield partner Freeman is being drafted as RB39 and 55 overall spots later.

Kareem Hunt, Browns -- I can’t get behind Hunt being drafted as a No. 3 running back (RB36) when we know for certain that he'll be sitting out eight games due to a suspension. The Browns' bye comes in Week 7, so we won’t see Hunt back in uniform until Week 10. As the Chiefs' lead back, Hunt was a top-tier fantasy option, but he has a more talented running back in front of him now in Chubb, who will further establish his supremacy over the first eight games.

When Hunt finally returns, he will have missed almost an entire year of football, and Chubb will be entrenched in his role as the lead back. The Browns also like Dontrell Hilliard, who may end up not being a major factor but is still one more roadblock when assessing Hunt's ability to be a legitimate fantasy contributor. If you get Hunt, you'll likely need to use a top-100 pick (his ADP now is 90) and then you'll to burn a roster spot while he's out. I’ll let someone else take him while I focus on guys like Latavius Murray, Freeman and the receivers in this area of the draft. 

Other overvalued running backs: Rashaad Penny, Tarik Cohen, Kenyan Drake

UNDERVALUED

Chase Edmonds, Cardinals -- Everyone is excited about the Air Raid offense that new Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury is bringing to Arizona. With that offense comes an up-tempo pace, which means more offensive plays. There have been comments from the Cardinals about the offense running upward of 85-90 plays per game. While that doesn't seem realistic, if the Cardinals can finish inside the top five in plays run, Edmonds is going to have value and be more involved than people realize. David Johnson is the clear-cut No. 1 and I love him this year, but he can't play every snap. In the Cardinals' preseason opener, rookie quarterback Kyler Murray and the first-team offense played 11 snaps, and Johnson was in for seven of them and Edmonds four. I’m not sure if we see that sort of split all year, but the point is Edmonds should have standalone value along with the massive upside if anything were to happen to Johnson. Edmonds is basically free right now, going off the board as the RB80 with an ADP of 255.

Matt Breida, 49ers -- With the news that Jerick McKinnon is struggling to heal from his ACL injury suffered in 2018 and the possibility that he starts the season on injured reserve, we’ve gained some clarity in the 49ers' backfield. Tevin Coleman and Breida are locked in as the 1-2 punch, and that’s big for fantasy purposes. San Francisco’s backfield gained the fifth-most yards from scrimmage in 2018, according to Rich Hribar of Sharp Football Analysis, and Breida led the way with 1,075 total yards and five touchdowns. He did it playing through a multitude of injuries too. With a healthy and improved offense, there will be more sustained drives and more scoring opportunities in general, and Breida is in line for plenty of action. He’s currently available around the ninth round of drafts as the RB46. He’s a steal.

Latavius Murray, Saints -- Similar to the players above, Murray offers standalone value and has monstrous upside if anything were to happen to happen to the No. 1 running back, in this case Alvin Kamara in New Orleans. Murray has the luxury of running behind one of the NFL’s best offensive lines while also being part of a top-tier offense. Kamara is a stud whom we have all come to love, but it’s clear the Saints want him to share the load like he did the last two seasons with Mark Ingram. Over those two seasons, Ingram averaged 15 touches per game, and Murray was brought in to fill that Ingram role. For Murray to have that type of potential weekly volume coupled with the injury upside in one of the league's best offenses and hold a current ADP of 87 (RB37) is criminal. Murray is and has been one of my favorite values this offseason.

Other undervalued running backs: Royce Freeman, Kalen Ballage, Miles Sanders

Jack Thomason is 670 The Score’s fantasy football expert. Follow him on Twitter @jthomason77 and feel free to ask fantasy questions.​