Backfield Dilemmas: Who do you Want?

Aug 13, 2016; Nashville, TN, USA; Tennessee Titans running back DeMarco Murray (29) carries the ball away from San Diego Chargers defensive back Darrell Stuckey (25) during the first half at Nissan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joshua Lindsey-USA TODAY Sports
Aug 13, 2016; Nashville, TN, USA; Tennessee Titans running back DeMarco Murray (29) carries the ball away from San Diego Chargers defensive back Darrell Stuckey (25) during the first half at Nissan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joshua Lindsey-USA TODAY Sports /

The fantasy football running back position in fantasy football is becoming more and more difficult to diagnose and predict. In some cases, it’s really hard to determine who the starter is, who will see more touches, who will get the goal-line looks, etc.

For this exercise, I want to look at a few shared backfield’s that make it difficult to choose one fantasy football running back from. I will look at running backs for the Titans, Bengals, and Jaguars, three teams who have two running backs who will each play a respectable amount.

Next: Titans Backfield

Tennessee Titans: DeMarco Murray/Derrick Henry

The Titans have clearly shown their commitment to running the football since ending the 2015 season at 25th in the league in rushing yards per game. Antonio Andrews led the entire team with a measly 520 yards, which surely contributed to their decision to trade for DeMarco Murray and draft Derrick Henry.

Murray and Henry have both made strong impressions so far in the preseason, and there a major reason why the Titans are the second-best rushing team through three weeks of preseason football. For 10-team leagues, Fantasy Football Calculator has Murray projected to fall in the bottom-half of the fourth round, while Henry’s ADP sits at the beginning of round eight.

I think both are primed for a lot of production, but I’m siding with the young gun here. Titans coach Mike Mularkey said they will “find ways” to get Henry involved, and considering Murray’s mileage, I’m confident Henry will receive 40-50 percent of the touches as the season progresses, and even more if Murray gets hurt. Furthermore, it wouldn’t surprise me if Henry stole red-zone touches off the bat. At 6’3, 240 lbs, Henry is an absolute tank; he is going to be tough to tackle in goal-line situations, and that alone gives him big touchdown upside. I think Henry is the guy to snag in the Titans’ backfield; he may not contribute immediately, but he can be your RB1 as the season progresses if things fall his way.

Next: Bengals RB's

Cincinnati Bengals: Jeremy Hill and Giovani Bernard

I love the Bengals’ backfield this year, and I’m actually not opposed to drafting both players. The Bengals are going to pound the football; they lost deep-threat targets Marvin Jones and Mohamed Sanu in free agency, leaving the Bengals thin at receiving options with tight end Tyler Eifert likely to miss at least the first four games of the season.

Even when the Bengals do throw, their running backs are certainly in the mix for targets. Bernard, especially, is a great pass catcher out of the backfield, and he’s been consistently productive in his three years in the NFL – He’s totaled over 1,000 yards from scrimmage in each year. Hill had a down year, but still managed nine touchdowns. He has 21 total touchdowns in his first two seasons, and he’s due for a big role in 2016 considering the lack of reliable receiving options.

Similarly to Murray/Henry, you can get Hill in the fourth round and Bernard in the eighth. I love Bernard’s value in the eighth, but Hill can be a steal in the fourth. He’s only going into his third season, and his production in the first two years speaks for itself. I’m fine with grabbing either one of these guys at their respective ADP, but the value of Bernard (especially in PPR) should not be ignored. 

Next: Jaguars Running Backs

Jacksonville Jaguars: Chris Ivory and TJ Yeldon

The Jaguars plan on running the football a lot more this season, and they have a formidable duo in the backfield to do so successfully. Both Ivory and Yeldon have been impressive in the preseason, and you can snag either one of them for a cheap price in your fantasy draft.

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Ivory’s ADP is in the seventh round, and he’s attractive there considering he’s coming off his best season as a pro. He eclipsed 1,000 yards rushing for the first time in his career, also adding career highs in catches (30) and receiving yards (217).

Yeldon is going into his second year, and his quiet rookie season provides great value in his draft stock (ADP round 10). But how quiet was his rookie season really? He managed over 1,000 yards from scrimmage in only 12 games played, and the Jags were overly committed to passing the football. Things will change this year, and Yeldon will be greatly benefited from their transition into a more run-heavy team.

Next: Which RB's should you draft?

I love Yeldon over Ivory for a couple of reasons. Ivory is a very physical back, and he’s going into seventh season. Yeldon is only going into year two, and he’s looked like a different player this preseason, citing his hard work in the preseason for his new build that he hopes will better prepare him for NFL hits. I like Yeldon because he will catch a ton of passes in addition to his split workload out of the backfield, and his upside and ADP position alone poise great value for a guy going into his second year in an emerging offense.