For the next few weeks before we get to focus on the NFL Draft, I’ll be laying the tracks for the RotoExperts Fantasy Football Hype Train to talk about some players who may end up being buzzed-about names heading into Fantasy draft season. This week, let’s dive into new Colts running back Frank Gore, a dependable workhorse RB2 for the last decade with the 49ers, who made a move east to play with a potent Indianapolis squad.
Throughout his ten-year career, Frank Gore has proven to be a durable, dependable running back. Unfortunately, he was forced to move on from the team that drafted him back in 2005, and he’s headed to the AFC to join the Indianapolis Colts, a team that was one game (and a few deflated balls?) away from the Super Bowl last season and is poised to take that next step.
Ostensibly, Gore will be asked to replace Ahmad Bradshaw and Trent Richardson, the team’s top two rushers, who most certainly will not be back next season. Richardson finished the year with 519 rushing yards and three scores on 159 attempts while Bradshaw, in an injury-shortened season in which he appeared in just ten games, finished with 425 rushing yards on 90 attempts, adding two touchdowns on the ground. Can Gore manage a duplication of those 944 rushing yards on nearly 250 totes? Despite his age, there is a pretty good shot he can. Gore finished with 1,108 yards in 2014 on 255 carries, albeit with a far superior offensive line in San Francisco. I think his usage will probably be closer to 230 carries, but I believe 900-950 yards is very achievable. Bear in mind that Gore hasn’t missed a game since 2010, and has rushed for more than 1,000 yards in each of the last four seasons and eight of his last nine.
The Colts have become a more dynamic offense with the signings of Gore, Andre Johnson, and a mostly under-the-radar lineman Todd Herremans, who should make a world of difference in both run blocking and pass protection schemes as their starting left guard. Their window is right now while quarterback Andrew Luck is still on his rookie deal, and they’ve brought in some key veteran leaders to help take some of the pressure off an otherwise young core of players. Gore is a perfect addition, along with Johnson and Herremans, to bolster an offense led by Luck that features other dynamic weapons including T.Y. Hilton and tight ends Coby Fleener and Dwayne Allen. Gore won’t be asked to be a three-down workhorse with Boom Herron available to spell him when needed, but he is a major upgrade at the position and should perform ably as the lead back at least 60-70 percent of the time.
Hype Train Outlook: Slightly Too Hyped. According to 2014 ADP numbers from FantasyPros.com, Gore was ranked as the RB21, and had an overall rank of 49 at the start of the year, putting him squarely in the Round 4-5 area. As the year progressed, Gore dropped to a low of near 100th overall before exploding (relatively) for 302 yards over the final two weeks of the season to push him past the magical 1,000-yard mark. I expect some Fantasy players to shy away as he ages, joins a new team with a prolific passing offense and becomes just one of a whole host of weapons in Indy. He could be available in the fifth or sixth round, providing nice value as a RB2-3 in your lineup depending on whether or not you’ve taken your quarterback in the first four rounds. He’s a power runner with great hands and proven durability capable of 15-plus touches per game. Getting that from a RB3 is certainly an advantage over the competition. Gore isn’t a sexy pick but I think he’ll be worth a look in the middle rounds. Don’t buy into the Top 20 talk of some, but if he’s staring you in the face after you have two top tier backs, and you want to have a low-floor guy capable of starting on your bench, it’ll be hard to let such a dependable player pass by.