Fantasy Focus: RBs
Running back is quite the fickle position, as many teams often split carries to the point that it dilutes a lead back's value and injury is always a concern for even the top-tier options. Some teams have situations that are either unsettled or may see some sort of committee split with backs used in particular roles. Here are a few of the more interesting battles for running back jobs that are worth looking into as we approach the start of the regular season.
Fantasy Updates at the RB position
Candidates: Jeremy Hill, Giovani Bernard
Hill seized the job in week 8 of last year, running for 140 yards or more in four of the last nine games of the season and making a splash in the fantasy news world. Hill looks to be the starter this season. Hill will feature as the lead back of the offense and should receive the bulk of the carries. He offers big-play upside, as his 5.1 yards per carry last season was third best among qualified running backs and his 9 rushing TD’s last year were also third in the league despite the fact that he only had more than eight carries once in the team’s first seven games last year. Bernard, meanwhile, has the sort of speed and open-field ability that should make him an option as a passing down and change-of-pace back. Bernard still averaged over 13 carries per game last season after returning in Week 12 and serving as the backup to Hill, so there is still value available here from both Hill and Bernard. Expect the two to combine to form a formidable rushing attack for Cincinnati this year.
Candidates: Joseph Randle, Darren McFadden, Lance Dunbar
In major sporting news this offseason, Demarco Murray left the Cowboys, leaving a question mark at the RB spot. The Cowboys’ running back position will be of particular interest to fantasy owners, given the high-powered offense Dallas employs as well as the boost of a top-tier offensive line. The Cowboys appear to intend to start the season with a committee setup. Joseph Randle, the preseason favorite for the job, has not really impressed in his preseason appearances, and the organization reportedly values Darren McFadden highest. McFadden and Randle should split most of the work, but McFadden may have a slight upper hand at this point. Given McFadden’s injury history, however, Randle may still be the better bet. Lance Dunbar will still see some usage as a receiving option out of the backfield and an occasional third-down running back, which should give him some value in PPR leagues.
New York Giants
Candidates: Rashad Jennings, Andre Williams, Shane Vereen
Among the Giants’ three likeliest regular running backs, Rashad Jennings looks like he will be the first to receive a shot at being the lead back. Jennings could be a solid mid-tier running back, but he is already 30 years old and has still never played all 16 games in a season. If he stays healthy, he will likely be the team leader in carries, although he may need to improve on his 3.8 yards per carry number last year to avoid a committee situation. Shane Vereen will also have some value as the pass catching back in the Giants’ West Coast offense, and should find room to rack up some yards on quick routes. The bulky Andre Williams will likely fill the goal-line role and vulture at least a few TD’s. Last year Williams found the end zone seven times, with six of those scores coming from inside the three-yard line. But since he ran for only one yard or less on over a third of his rushes last year, he may see fewer opportunities.