tags — 2014 Fantasy Football Chris Johnson dynasty Darren McFadden dynasty Toby Gerhart keeper Giovanni Bernard dynasty Andre Ellington sleeper Donald Brown handcuff Ben Tate dynasty Joseph Randle handcuff Demarco Murray keeper MJD dynasty Stevan Ridley handcuff Shane Vereen keeper Carlos Hyde dynasty rookie Bishop Sankey draft Tre Mason dynasty rookie Lorenzo Taliaferro rookie draft Tyler Gaffney sleeper Andre Williams dynasty
Chris Johnson, kinda recent 2,000+ yard rusher, was unceremoniously cut…and is not seen as a ‘must-have’ on the market right now.
Darren McFadden is, essentially, playing for peanuts this year.
MJD could barely find a suitor in free agency.
In coming years, you will see advertisements with pictures of free agent RBs on the NFL Network, while a sad Sarah McLachlan song plays hauntingly in the background. “For just the price of a cup of coffee per day, you can put these abused-mistreated-unwanted NFL RBs to work…“
The decline in value and status of NFL RBs is something everyone now sees clearly. Most NFL teams have now realized that RBs are not the centerpiece of their offense or franchise, and are no longer worth the huge contracts given in the past. These teams understand that the best way to construct a team is by having several moderate-to-low paid RB options working as a group…except for the Carolina Panthers ($14.2M cap hit on top-3 RBs this season).
On this ‘cheap RB’ theory, several NFL teams are going to add to their RB-arsenal by drafting a RB in 2014, because the RB-economic-decline has extended to the NFL Draft. There will likely not be a RB taken in the 1st-round this year. As RB-value drops in the draft, then bigger-names are available in the 2nd and 3rd-round. This RB valuation drop allows teams that are not desperate for a RB to still add a quality one inexpensively. Example: Carlos Hyde is not automatically going to the most NFL-desperate RB situation (like a Tennessee). Hyde may go to a team that just wants depth, and/or as a specialist to meld into their current RB situation.
Many NFL teams that you assume would not have a RB priority might take one between rounds 2-4 this year, and plenty of good options will be available. If/when that happens…it could totally ruin one of your currently rostered Dynasty-Fantasy Football RB hopefuls.
One day, you’re strolling along all happy with Le’Veon Bell, thinking you are all set for this year, and then ‘boom’…LeGarrette Blount is signed, and dampers your day-week-season plans. The same thing can/will happen when some of the 2014 rookie RBs are taken in a few weeks.
I was looking over the NFL RB depth charts and was noting team situations where I could see a bigger-name RB being added in the draft, and thus sucker-punching the value of the currently beloved Dynasty RB. Here are the five current NFL/FF RBs I think are on ‘high alert’ for a post-draft, Dynasty-Fantasy valuation tumble because their team took a certain RB:
#5) Stevan Ridley and/or Shane Vereen, New England
I see you thinking over there…thinking you got the “all clear” to re-love Stevan Ridley now that LeGarrette Blount is gone. I see your logic. You know I am not a Ridley-guy, but I get the BenJarvus Green-Ellis-like groove being the top power-RB on the Patriots. I can dig it.
Then there is my kind of ‘peeps’…the Shane Vereen lovers. He’s going to have 100+ catches this year, right? He is exponentially better than Ridley…we can all agree? The issue here, besides the fact that Bill Belichick is RB-unpredictable, is that both Ridley and Vereen were drafted in 2011. This is their final year of their rookie contract.
Do you really think Belichick is going to give a big contract extension for either? This could be the final year as Patriots for both of them. More so Ridley, who is beyond easily replaceable. If Belichick is planning ahead (and that’s so unlike him) nabs a 4th or 5th-round RB with name-appeal, then its’ going to scare Ridley-Vereen Dynasty-Fantasy owners. Let’s say the Pats grab a Tyler Gaffney, Andre Williams or Lorenzo Taliaferro…Fantasy Football minds are going to race with the possibilities. If the Pats draft a physically big RB (like the three just mentioned), then the next day, the articles are going to hit about how Ridley is being pushed out the door. In an instant, Ridley is going to go from a savvy “Blount is gone” FF-value to “Oh, crap they are replacing Ridley already!” FF-value.
In a Dynasty League, Ridley probably has sleeper value to someone…today. The memories of his 2013 can be erased, and recollections of 2012 can dance in their heads at this very moment. However, if a bigger RB is drafted by the Patriots in a few weeks…2013′s Ridley debacle is going to come roaring back to the forefront. He will have his FF-value cut in half at minimum on May 10th.
As for Vereen…he is a much more unique talent, and harder to replace. I wouldn’t be shocked if the Pats signed him to an under-market extension to try to get a deal done before he embarks on a ‘special’ season. If I were Vereen, I wouldn’t sign it…I would want to leave New England to go play as the main-carry, three-down RB he is capable of being. Vereen is so unique that a newly drafted Patriots RB probably doesn’t affect his value as much, but it will have some value affect if the Pats reach for a ‘name’ RB mid-draft.
#4) DeMarco Murray, Dallas
It’s all clear for DeMarco to be the main-carry RB, again, right? Who’s going to stop him…Joseph Randle? What will stop Murray’s 2014 good vibes is Dallas drafting another RB. Only this time it won’t be a late-round flyer. Maybe, this year they take a RB in the 2nd-round? Why? Murray’s contract is up at the end of this year. Do you see Dallas paying dollars to a RB who cannot stay healthy for a full-season? Perhaps, that was a stupid question…anything is possible with Dallas.
The wise thing for the Cowboys to do would be to prepare for life without Murray after this season. They could begin the planning by drafting a RB who Mr. Jones falls in love with. Imagine the FF-value hit Murray takes if an RB like Bishop Sankey or Tre Mason are added. It looks ‘all clear’ now with Murray for FF-2014, but his contract (and injury) situation should/could force a RB to be selected 2nd or 3rd-round, and that RB addition could jolt everyone’s thoughts on Murray for 2014.
#3) Ben Tate, Cleveland
The Browns barely committed to Ben Tate in free agency. Toby Gerhart and Donald Brown received much more free agent love this off-season. As much as I like Ben Tate, he really hasn’t proven a whole lot…except for proving he is often injured.
If I were the Browns GM, I would be thrilled with my savvy deal for Tate. I’d be looking forward to him having a big year. I’d also be lining up the other RB who will be going to work with him; splitting time and touches…and was my inexpensive Tate-insurance policy. I’d never enter a season depending upon Ben Tate and Edwin Baker as my 1-2 punch. I’d never enter a season with Edwin Baker, but that’s besides the point.
If one of Hyde, Mason, Sankey, et al lands in Cleveland, then the worry will begin on Tate and start to knock his current #25-30 ADP down a few pegs.
#2) Giovanni Bernard, Cincinnati
Gio Bernard is a 200-205 pound RB who does not have a main-carry RB profile. He is not a physical bruiser, nor a fleet speedster. He is a nice 7-12 carry and 3-5 target per game guy at best. Gio is not built for heavy goal-line work. What 200 +/- pound RB is? Bernard had a two rushing-TD game on a THU night in Week 9 versus Miami, and oh how heart’s swooned in Fantasy-land that the BJGE takeover was ‘game-on’ finally with Gio. From that Miami game on, Bernard posted 10.0 FF PPG (13.7 PPR) on 47.7 yards rushing (3.8 ypc), 83.0 total yards, 0.28 TDs per game for the rest of the regular season (16-game extrapolation: 763 rushing yards, 4.5 TDs, 1,328 total yards).
Those are solid ‘Flex’-option numbers from Gio, but not worthy of his current #14-20 ADP. Part of why I have Gio so high on this list is that Dynasty-Fantasy GMs are going early 2nd-round on Bernard in many recent start-up drafts…his value is white hot right now, which makes a potential value fall even more painful.
What’s that? It doesn’t matter what happened late last year with Gio? Why is that? Oh, because BenJarvus Green-Ellis stinks, and they are going to turn it all over to Gio…that’s your theory? What if the Bengals draft beloved state of Ohio RB Carlos Hyde, and ditch the more expensive ($3M per year with one year remaining), aging, underwhelming (3.4 ypc last season) RB in Green-Ellis? What if Green-Ellis stays? Do you think he just sits on the sidelines all game? The Bengals are going with a 1-2 punch of RBs with Giovanni Bernard, one way or the other…which bottles up Bernard’s Fantasy ‘upside’ in 2014.
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#1) Andre Ellington, Arizona
You know you’re ‘high’, right? I see you. You actually think Andre Ellington is going to take 15-20+ carries a game as the Arizona Cardinals main RB this year, don’t you? “Well, I’m afraid I’ve got some bad news…” Andre Ellington will not intentionally be the Cardinals’ main-carry RB in 2014, or any season.
First, Andre Ellington is becoming somewhat of a myth that I’m not sure really exists. Why are you editing history into thinking Ellington had such an awesome 2013? Oh, I know. He had that one game in Week 8 against Atlanta where he started and rushed for 154 yards…and had that neat 80-yard TD run. What did Ellington produce for the rest of the season after his breakout performance? 7.9 FF PPG (10.3 PPR) on 12.3 carries, 53.2 rushing yards, 0.17 TDs, 2.8 rec., 28.8 rec. yards per game. That’s a decent ‘Flex’ FF-option in a given week, but not a main-carry RB who is worth his current #20-25 (ADP) #25-30 (standard) ADP.
Ellington is a nice RB to have as part of a duo or trio in the NFL, but not the main guy. He has NFL value as a 5-10 carry a game guy with 3-5 targets per game. Ellington is not a ‘grinder’; he is not a goal-line threat. He is going to live off of making a ‘big play’…and you might go 2-3-4 weeks between big plays.
Ellington is the kind of RB you start for Fantasy Football each week, and he muddles around with 40-50-60 yards and no TDs per game, then you get pissed and start someone else over him out of frustration, then he has his big play and goes for 140+ yards in a game (on your bench), then you jump back on him just in time for 2-3-4 more weeks of 40-50-60 yards and no TDs. Ellington does not have the size or speed/agility profile to be a main-carry RB. There is no way Arizona is going to let him be the goal-line guy.
If Arizona drafts a physically bigger RB, like a Carlos Hyde or Andre Williams, then Ellington’s FF-value is going to spiral. One way or the other, via draft or free agency, Arizona has to add a legit big-body runner, and that runner will take FF-value from Ellington. If it is a big name RB from the draft, Ellington’s FF-value is going to drop quickly.
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