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DeMarco Murray, Montrae Hollan, Chris Chamberlain

Adrian Peterson had 388 touches last year if you combine his carries and his receptions. That’s pretty great usage to get out of one spot in your lineup and AP was so ridiculous with those touches that he returned a lot of value to fantasy owners. But Peterson is also going for $63 on average this year in auction drafts. You have to pay for all of those touches.

Today I’ll look at three backs that you could pick up in an auction league for a total of $50, even though these backs combined for over 600 carries last year. Just so I don’t risk being misunderstood, I realize the reason that AP is worth $63 is because he only requires one roster spot and he allows you to optimize the points you get out of that spot. But the guys I’ll talk about today will still offer some upside even if they require three roster spots.

Below is a table that shows the 2012 stats for the widely hated group of DeMarco Murray, Darren McFadden and Ryan Mathews.

PLAYERSEASWEIGHTAGEGATTSYDSYPCTDSRECSrecYDSAuction Average Price
DeMarco Murray2012215241016.2065.704.060.403.5025.10$16
Darren McFadden2012210251218.0058.923.270.173.5021.50$24
Ryan Mathews2012220251215.3358.923.840.083.2521.00$10

I can tell you’re getting ready to click “back” on your browser, so let me try to get you to stay. You don’t want any of these guys because your perception is that they can’t help you win your league (because they’ll be hurt or ineffective or both). But your expectation of what will happen and what will actually happen are two different things. I can prove this by pointing to the players’ last year ADP. Both Murray and McFadden were top 10 in ADP while Mathews was RB13 (while he wasn’t even playing in the preseason). So how did our perceptions work out in those cases in 2012? Spreading your risk around in three guys allows you to somewhat protect yourself against the problem that perception and reality can be different.

If you pick up these three players for the prices listed above, you can expect a few benefits:

  1. Think of it like you’re drafting a committee RB1, where you’re going to get the benefit of injury protection and the ability to play matchups.
  2. The injury protection comes because even if one of the guys gets hurt (as RBs often do) you still have two others.
  3. The ability to play matchups gives you an optionality that you don’t get with just one RB. Consider that in week 1, Oakland plays IND (last in YPC for run defenses last year) while Dallas plays NYG (also bottom half of the league in defensive rushing YPC). You get to look for matchups like that each week.
  4. Players like Cedric Benson and Shonn Greene have returned value to fantasy owners just based on racking up touches. This group is a similar play, but with more upside because they were all highly regarded runners at one point in their careers. Both McFadden and Mathews have top 10 RB finishes under their belt, while Murray lit the league on fire for a few games during his rookie season. There’s some non-zero chance that one or more of these guys returns to the form that made fantasy drafters thing they were worth top 10 ADP last year.
  5. In a worse case scenario, you probably get a group of blah running backs that might play partial seasons, but that you can still acquire cheaply and play matchups. In a best case scenario, one or more of them will return to stud RB form.

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