There are many ways to kill your fantasy football season, but few are as effective as swinging and missing in the first round or two on a big-name, low-output running back. Fantasy horror stories from the past few seasons include Ryan Grant’s broken leg in week one of 2010 and the disappearance of Chris Johnson last year.
What running backs are overrated this year? Sometimes there are absolutely no warning signs when a back is dropping in value. Injuries are unavoidable, but there are some players that I think are going way too early in many drafts. It’s not that these players are no good or are not worth drafting, but I think the risk you’re taking when you draft them in their current ranking is too high compared to other players who will most likely still be on the board.
Maurice Jones-Drew – Jacksonville Jaguars
MJD ended up being a steal last year since he was around many drafts all the way to the end of the first round. He stepped up and contributed another great season last year despite playing in a poor offense and having to overcome knee concerns. He took home the rushing title and was one of the best backs in the game.
However, he also led the league in another category: rushing attempts. He carried 343 times and has more carries than anyone over the past three seasons. All that wear-and-tear is going to take it’s toll at some point. His decline is inevitable and if you take him as the fourth RB off the board you are banking your season that this year isn’t the year he steps back.
He’s just too risky for me to be one of my top eight running backs. If you do end up with “pocket hercules” make sure you pick up some serious insurance. MJD in Jacksonville is an icon and a legend, but don’t count on him too much this season or you may be left scrambling through the waiver wire.
Jamaal Charles – Kansas City Chiefs
Charles potential is undebatable. When he’s been healthy, he’s looked like an absolute fantasy beast. In 2010, Charles fell just short of 1,500 yards and scored eight total TDs. Last year, Charles was highly drafted and went down with a knee injury week two after getting just 83 total rushing yards.
The main threat to Charles fantasy value though isn’t his injury woes. Charles should be able to be fully recovered and ready for camp, but it does sometimes take additional time for players to regain their previous form. The main reason why I won’t have Charles as high as others is the addition the Chiefs made of Peyton Hillis.
The Chiefs used a rotation after Charles went down to fill in last season, and new head coach Romeo Crennel is used to running back rotations from his Patriots’ days. It’s unclear at this point what part Charles will have in the rotation with Hillis. Depending on his form in the preseason and how the job plays out, by your draft day he may be a top 10 option. For me right now he’s a very high upside RB2 with quite a bit of risk.
Michael Turner – Atlanta Falcons
Turner is no longer a top 15 RB option. Turner spent many years as a backup making him play a bit younger than his 30-year age. Last year, he did get 1,340 yards but also took 301 carries. Much of his yardage came against the Bucs D in his 172 yard-2 TD game week 16 last year.
The other factor that may contribute to Turner’s slide this year is the presence of Jacquizz Rodgers. The Falcons have been pumping the second-year back from Oregon State and especially touting his abilities in the receiving game. Rodgers may be much more of the package this season pushing Turner (never much or a receiver) to the sidelines more often. Rodgers is a great sleeper; Turner will be other owners headache this year in my leagues.