Who Goes in Draft After the Big 3?
Statistically Speaking Running Backs in your Fantasy Football Drafts... Who Goes in Draft After the Big 3?
We all know that there are three no-brainer picks for running backs in the 2019 NFL fantasy draft. And that isn’t even dependent on what type of fantasy league you are playing. It will be Saquon Barkley, Christian McCaffrey and Ezekiel Elliot in some kind of order. That’s all great but what do you do if you don’t have the first four picks? You are picking number five and you need a running back…what do you do? Oh Alvin Kamara will be gone too.
So who are you going to pick as the fourth running back off the board?
The usual suspects for the next running back off the draft are Todd Gurley, Melvin Gordon and David Johnson. The obvious problem: one is holding out; one is hobbling around and the other played on a putrid offense last season. But statistically speaking who should you pick?
Melvin Gordon, Los Angeles Chargers, 6’1”, 215 pounds, 26 years young
2018 stats: 12 games played, 175 rushing attempts, 885 rushing yards, 5.1 rushing average, 50 receptions, 490 receiving yards, 10 rushing touchdowns, 4 receiving touchdowns
The big news is Gordon is holding out and supposedly has laid down an ultimatum, “pay him or trade him”. If he is traded it will hurt his fantasy value. If he sits out, well those that drafted him just took a colossal hit. But what if he plays and plays for the Chargers?
Gordon also suffered a Grade 2 MCL sprain in late November. That would be news except, Gordon has only played a full 16 games in one year out of his four years.
Offensive line: TheHuddle.com ranks the Chargers offense line as average, the 13th best in the league. “While the Chargers linemen have received less than stellar reviews, the reality is that they ranked well in the above metrics and benefit from the same players returning to play in the same offensive scheme.”
The Chargers ran 59.7 offense plays per game, that put them in the bottom five for 2018 season. The rushed on 41.15% of their plays. The running backs averaged 1.85 yards per carry before first contact.
Todd Gurley, Los Angeles Rams, 6’1”, 224 pounds, 24 years young
2018 stats: 14 games played, 256 rushing attempts, 1251 rushing yards, 4.9 average, 17 rushing touchdowns, 81 targets, 59 receptions, 580 yards, 4 touchdowns
Gurley will limp into the 2019 season on an arthritic knee. The Rams drafted a running back in the third round in 2019. The running back Darrell Henderson out of Memphis averaged 8.2 yards per carry in three seasons. Henderson is an explosive running who lined up in the slot, outside and in the backfield while in college. But…we are talking about Gurley right now.
There is talk that not only will there be a running back by committee situation, but Gurley will be saved for the playoffs. No matter, someone will draft Gurley early, too early, defending their decision based on prior season, his potential and name recognition.
Offensive line: TheHuddle.com ranks Rams offensive line as the sixth best in the league. “RT Rob Haverstein holds down the right side, but the Rams have to settle on a reshuffled interior of the line. That could impact the run blocking until it settles down…”
The Rams ran 66.5 offensive plays per game, third in the NFL in 2018. They rushed on 43.59% of their plays. The running backs averaged 1.73 yards per carry before first contact
David Johnson, Arizona Cardinals, 6’1”, 224 pounds, 27 years young
2018 stats: 16 games played, 258 rushing attempts, 940 rushing yards, 3.8 average, 7 rushing touchdowns, 76 targets, 50 receptions, 446 receiving yards, 3 touchdowns
Johnson is the ultimate “comeback” candidate this season. Although he really doesn’t have that far to come back from. Yes, last season the Cardinals averaged 14.1 points per game which was last in the league by 6.0 points per game. And okay, the Cardinals ran an anemic 56.4 offensive plays per game. And oh yeah, Johnson faced eight defenders in the box 24% of the time. But did you know he finished a top 12 fantasy running back last season. In PPR leagues he finished the season with the ninth most points for running backs. That was on a team that rushed on 39.36% of their plays. Cardinals 2018 offense can best be described as pitiful. The running backs averaged 1.24 yards per carry before first contact.
Fast forward to the 2019 season, new coach, new quarterback same bad offensive line, but Kliff Kingsbury and Kyler Murray are now in the fold.
Offensive line: The Huddle.com ranks Cardinals offensive line 29th in the league. “One of the worst offensive lines from 2018 undergoes an upheaval from a new offensive system installed under new HC Kliff Kingsbury and a rookie quarterback who is everything but a standard drop-back passer.”
There is no question that out of these three Johnson has the highest ceiling followed by a non-sit out Gordon and then Gurley. There are some who put Le'Veon Bell in the mix (but remember he not only sat out one year, he is playing behind a hideous offensive line for a coach who may think his star running back is overpaid.
NFL Network’s fantasy mock draft has: #1 Barkley, #2 Elliott, #3 McCaffrey, #4 Bell, #5 Kamara, #6 Johnson…#8 Gurley, #10 Gordon
ESPN's fantasy mock draft has: #1 Barkley, #2 Elliott, #3 McCaffrey, #4 Kamara, #5 Gordon, #6 Johnson, #16 Gurley
BleacherReport's fantasy mock draft has: #1 Barkley, #2 Elliott, #3 McCaffrey, #4 Gurley, #5 Kamara, #6 DeAndre Hopkins, #7 Gordon and 5th pick in the second round goes to Johnson
With the start of training camp there is so much to watch for, will Gordon get signed and in, will Gurley even participate in training camp and hopefully we get a glimpse at the type of offense Kingsbury is thinking of implementing.
Statistics are an important part of the story, but not the complete narrative. Who are you going to pick? Base it on stats but solidify it on eye test.