Fantasy Football: Which Round 2 RB Has Fantasy Upside?

Jun 14, 2016; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Texans running back Lamar Miller (26) catches a short pass in offensive drills during Houston Texans minicamp at Methodist Training Center in Houston, TX. Mandatory Credit: Erik Williams-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 14, 2016; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Texans running back Lamar Miller (26) catches a short pass in offensive drills during Houston Texans minicamp at Methodist Training Center in Houston, TX. Mandatory Credit: Erik Williams-USA TODAY Sports /
Fantasy Football
Jun 14, 2016; Baltimore, MD, USA; Baltimore Ravens running back Justin Forsett (29) runs with the ball during the first day of minicamp sessions at Under Armour Performance Center. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports /

Who is the best running back in round 2?

So you’re not completely sold on the whole “Zero RB” draft strategy that is taking over fantasy football and you really want a stud running back to compliment the stud wide receiver you already selected in the first round.

It’s now your pick, and you want the back who the biggest upside.

Is that Lamar Miller or Devonta Freeman? Maybe you think Doug Martin can match his numbers from last year or that Eddie Lacy is due for a huge bounce back year? And don’t forget about Mark Ingram, if he can stay healthy…

Let’s examine each back on a case by case basis as we prep for the start of the 2016 fantasy football season.

Next: Lamar Miller

Fantasy Football
Jun 14, 2016; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Texans running back Lamar Miller (26) catches a short pass in offensive drills during Houston Texans minicamp at Methodist Training Center in Houston, TX. Mandatory Credit: Erik Williams-USA TODAY Sports /

Lamar Miller

So by now everyone and their grandmother knows that Miller was underutilized by the Miami Dolphins and that he couldn’t wait to jump ship

to the Houston Texans for a boat load of money this off-season ($26 million over 4 years to be exact).

Miller is the perfect fit for Texans head coach Bill O’Brien’s run first system. Over the past two years the Texans were No. 1 in rush attempts in 2014 and No. 5 last year. Miami on the other hand, was No. 22 in 2014 and last in rush attempts last season.

Despite his lack of touches in Miami, Miller still finished as the No. 9 running back in standard leagues in 2014 with 216 carries for 1,099 yards and eight touchdowns and 38 catches for 275 yards and a touchdown, and he was No. 6 last year with 194 carries for 872 yards and eight touchdowns and 47 catches for 397 yards and two touchdowns.

Now comes the super fun part – playing with numbers. Last year, Miller had 63 percent of Miami’s 310 carries, and he averaged 4.5 yards per carry and scored a touchdown once every 24 attempts.

Now if you put him on the Texans last year based on their 472 rush attempts, Miller would have rushed for 1,337 yards and scored 12 touchdowns. Only Adrian Peterson and Doug Martin had more rushing yards, and Miller would have led all running backs in rushing touchdowns.

That doesn’t even take into account Miller’s receiving skills as there is no doubt Miller is going to be a focal point on screens and the inevitable Brock Osweiler check-down.

Miller is as safe a pick in the second round as there is.

Next: Devonta Freeman

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Jan 3, 2016; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Falcons running back Devonta Freeman (24) runs against the New Orleans Saints during the first quarter at the Georgia Dome. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports /

Devonta Freeman

If someone told you at the beginning of last season that Devonta Freeman was going to lead all running backs in fantasy scoring (in PPR), you would have thought that person to be crazy. Hopefully that person also bought a lottery ticket, because they were right on.

Freeman wasn’t even being drafted in many leagues as then Falcons rookie running back Tevin Coleman was the uber-hot rookie running back that everyone wanted.

Then Coleman got hurt and allowed Freeman to take over as the primary back and he never let it go. He finished the season with 1,634 all-purpose yards and 14 touchdowns. There was a 4-week span (from week 3 to 7) where Freeman was easily the best fantasy player alive. In those four weeks he scored nine touchdowns.

But as the season progressed, Freeman seemed to slow down. He only managed to score another four touchdowns and what really hurt was his stats during the last five weeks of the season. Perhaps the most important part of the season for fantasy owners who are chasing a playoff spot and of course, the fantasy playoffs themselves.

In his last five games Freeman averaged close to 20 carries per game, but only managed a pathetic 58.4 yards per game or even worse 3.04 yards per carry.

Freeman probably isn’t as bad as those last five games of last season would make you believe, but he also isn’t anywhere near as good as that four game span where he scored nine touchdowns.

To make things worse is that the news coming out of Falcons headquarters is that they want to keep Freeman “fresh” by reducing his touches and getting Tevin Coleman more involved in the offensive in his second season.

Put it all together and Freeman is due for some serious regression and isn’t worth a second round investment.

Next: Eddie Lacy

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January 16, 2016; Glendale, AZ, USA; Green Bay Packers running back Eddie Lacy (27) runs the ball against Arizona Cardinals strong safety Tony Jefferson (22) during the second half in a NFC Divisional round playoff game at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports /

Eddie Lacy

“Fat” Eddie killed many fantasy teams last year and left a really bad taste in a lot of fantasy owners mouths, so much so that many have sworn to never draft him again. That is great news as heading into 2016 there is plenty of value to be had in Eddie Lacy (if you believe in P90X).

It appears that the Packers have finally gotten through to Lacy this off-season. That and the fact that this is a contact year, Lacy re-dedicated himself this offseason and thanks to the fitness program P90X, he has lost a lot of weight.

What does that mean for fantasy owners? Hopefully it means that he will be quicker, more nimble, and be able to stay on the field longer instead of being tired from walking to and from the huddle.

Don’t forget that Lacy plays for one of the best offenses in football that will have their leading receiver in Jordy Nelson back to start the season.

Lacy had his best year back in 2014 when he had over 1,500 all-purpose yards (1, 139 rushing and 427 receiving) and 14 touchdowns.

If he really is committed to being the best he can be, it’s not out of the realm of possibilities that Lacy beats his 2014 numbers. Either that or he becomes the next Trent Richardson.

Next: Doug Martin

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Jan 3, 2016; Charlotte, NC, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Doug Martin (22) stiff arms Carolina Panthers cornerback Josh Norman (24) during the second quarter at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports /

Doug Martin

Another major fantasy surprise of the 2015 season. Many fantasy owners had written Martin and were drafting him as their RB3 last year. Who could blame them considering that after a stellar rookie year back in 2012 where he rushed for 1,454 yards and scored 11 touchdowns, Martin’s production fell off a cliff in 2013 and 2014 where he only managed 950 rushing yards and three touchdowns in two years.

But last year Martin came storming back (in a contract year – cough, cough – Eddie Lacy) and rushed for 1402 yards and six touchdowns and even contributed 271 receiving yards and one touchdown.

Now armed with a new contract Martin is out to prove that last year was not a fluke, except that it might be.

You can’t ignore Martin’s injury history of 2013 and 2014 (but who doesn’t get injured in the NFL, right?). You also can’t ignore the fact that the Buccaneers seem poised to hand the reins over to Jameis Winston and move into the new pass-first era of the NFL, which will diminish Martin’s touches.

Plus, Charles Sims is still around and there are those out there who feel that Sims is the better back suited for the Buccaneers style of offense, seeing that Sims is great at catching balls out of the backfield and averaged 4.9 yards per carry last season.

Martin should still be good, but he isn’t going to replicate is 2015 numbers. If you’re debating selecting Martin in round 2 or another wide receiver (Amari Cooper, Mike Evans, Alshon Jeffery), go with the wideout and thank me later.

Next: Mark Ingram

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Nov 29, 2015; Houston, TX, USA; New Orleans Saints running back Mark Ingram (22) rushes during a game against the Houston Texans at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports /

Mark Ingram

Right now Ingram is being drafted as the 11th running back selected at the tail end of round 2 and most of that has to do with two things.

One, he plays on the New Orleans Saints, who have one of the most prolific offenses in the NFL and two, that after catching only 53 balls through his first four seasons, he caught 50 balls last year.

There really isn’t anything not to like about Ingram’s 2016 fantasy outlook as he is rather consistent. Over the past two years he has average about 4.5 yards per carry and seven touchdowns. Throw in the fact that he doesn’t really face any real competition (no C.J. Spiller doesn’t count) and you really can’t go wrong with Ingram as your RB1. Especially if you’ve already landed two of the top 15 or so wide receivers.

Next: The Top 3 RBs for PPR Leagues

Of course it’s not all gravy for Ingram. He’s injured a lot. He’s only player a full 16 game season once in his five-year career and the Saints are a pass first team, which limits the touches Ingram is going to see. He’s just not going to run the ball 300 times a year or 250 for that matter, so that limits his ceiling.