Believe it or not, there is an NFL game this week. That being said, now is the time to start trying to sort out what the best value at each position is. This week we will be taking a look at 5 different running backs that seem to be going a little too late in most drafts. There are plenty of running backs to choose from and even plenty of running back strategies to choose from, so we will try to identify RB’s in multiple different tiers to fit your draft strategy.
David Johnson should easily be in the mix with both Todd Gurley and Le’Veon Bell to be the #1 overall pick in most leagues. Johnson missed all of last year with a wrist injury, which should mean that he is 100% ready to go entering this year. At this point, even ACL injuries aren’t too threatening to a career and this wrist injury is NO PROBLEM. People may have forgotten this, but David Johnson is a 3 down, do-it-all back that can catch 10 passes, rush 20 times and get 5 goal-line touches all in one game. If David Johnson is on the board at 3, you HAVE to take him, and I wouldn’t talk anyone off of Johnson at 1.
Melvin Gordon could make the leap to being a top 5 usage RB this season. Now, I don’t think Melvin Gordon is quite as good as some of these guys at the top of the board, but the usage alone can provide him a monster year. Last season, Austin Ekeler started to steal some pass game usage later in the year when Gordon was banged up a little. At the end of the year, Ekeler made a few costly mistakes that I believe will give Gordon the ability to become that every-down back again. If we see that usage, Gordon should be going ahead of some of the guys ahead of him, like Leonard Fournette. The Chargers defense is also really solid, so Gordon should see a lot of carries regardless of his pass-game usage.
Alex Collins is a really good running back that should get the bulk of the opportunity for a team that generally prefers to run the ball. At this point, saying the Ravens offense is good would be an absurd statement, but the addition of Lamar Jackson can help the run game in many different ways. If Joe Flacco starts, the Ravens can integrate Lamar Jackson into the running and receiving game, which will be an interesting dynamic for teams to defend. Having a super athletic player on the field that could receive a pinch and throw the ball 40 yards downfield really will scare a lot of defenses and possibly help open up the offense for the Ravens. Collins will be one of the main beneficiaries of this dynamic, as he will have more room to run and more opportunities to score.
Rex Burkhead just produces when he is on the field and he is the perfect Patriot. He does everything the team could ask for whether its catch balls out of the backfield or block punts. A lot of people are high on Sony Michel because he was the Pats first round draft pick this year, but who’s to say he’s the clear #1 guy. The Patriots offense is rather complicated to learn and it’s rather easy to get benched. Michel had fumble problems last year at Georgia and I doubt the Patriots will have much patience in that regard. Michel seems like more of an investment than an instant plug-in, which means Burkhead could be in for a really good season.
Matt Breida is probably my favorite play way down on a draft board. The 49er’s picked up Jerick McKinnon in the offseason for a lot of money, but he has never been a 3-down back for a full season and his body doesn’t really seem like the guy that is ready to be that guy. We also know that Kyle Shanahan likes to use multiple running backs if he can like he did in Atlanta with Freeman and Coleman. There have been reports that indicate that Shanahan wants to use McKinnon like he used Freeman in Atlanta. Now, maybe I’m crazy, but that would open up Breida to be used like he used Tevin Coleman in 2016-17. That would be GREAT for Matt Breida owners and there isn’t much risk in the pick so late in the draft.