Running Back Rankings and Arbitrage Plays
Don’t look now, but the NFL season is almost here. With fantasy football drafts in full swing, let’s use the ADP Arbitrage App to find some running back bargains. I’ll use some simple screens – weight, targets, and attempts – to identify cheaper options to higher-drafted players.
Concerned about what the addition of Chris Johnson means for Andre Ellington? Worried about a Jamaal Charles decline? Not sold on Justin Forsett repeating his out-of-nowhere performance from last year? Or just missed out on them?
Fear not, Giovani Bernard is available well after all three. Yes, he’s now second fiddle to Jeremy Hill. But that doesn’t mean he can’t have a very productive season. The RB Sim App gives Bernard median and high projections on par or better than any of the other three. Even sharing a backfield with Hill, Bernard offers value. If Hill misses time, Bernard’s usage would spike, creating even more upside.
Joique Bell / Andre Williams
It’s really hard to advocate for Joique Bell when he hasn’t even practiced yet. That didn’t stop me from trying yesterday. But I understand there’s legitimate concern there. If you want to dig really deep for a CJ Anderson arbitrage play, why not try Andre Williams. Remember last season when Anderson was buried on the depth chart behind a presumptive starter (Montee Ball) and a pass catching back (Ronnie Hillman), who then respectively underperformed and got injured? Substitute Rashad Jennings and Shane Vereen and you’ve got Williams. I’m not saying Jennings will bomb as the starter and Vereen will get injured, but at RB52 it’s probably a worthwhile investment. Drafters aren’t expressing tons of confidence in either Jennings or Vereen being the undisputed leader in that backfield, so there’s opportunity for someone else to make an impact.
The Cleveland backfield is a hot mess right now, so I’m not sure an investment in Isaiah Crowell makes much sense. Whenever a situation is as unclear as Cleveland’s, the least risk and most upside can be found in the cheapest player. West could be the player to own in Cleveland this year. As with Williams, even if he’s not, the investment is minimal enough that it shouldn’t hurt you.
Jonathan Stewart isn’t as cheap as West or Williams, but he’s also got more to recommend him. First of all, drafters are confident that he’s Carolina’s “bell cow.” Second, he’s got a longer track record – injuries notwithstanding – of production. Finally, he plays for an offense that’s nearly as run-heavy as Cleveland’s, and moreso than New York’s. The injury risk for Stewart is a real concern, but as long as he’s healthy he should be a solid producer, without significant backfield competition.