Our third entry in the Sleeping with the Staff series features the running backs. Everybody wants to know who the sleepers are at running back. We get it; it’s the most important position to pick well at in your draft, especially since your first pick or two or three could all be running backs. But knowing who the busts will be is just as important, so that’s why we’re presenting them first.
Tom McFeeley – David Wilson – No knock on Wilson, but Tom Coughlin is not exactly committed to individuals. Being named a starter only gets you a ribbon, not a trophy. Andre Brown performed better in many spots last year, and Wilson was in Coughlin’s very big doghouse for much of 2012. He carries huge risk as a RB1. A decent RB2 pick, but I wouldn’t trust him as more than a flex (because I’m cautious).
Jake Ciely – Mark Ingram – I don’t understand the love. Just because he’s in the Saints backfield doesn’t mean Ingram will suddenly jump into starter territory this year. The backfield is still a committee (don’t forget about Pierre Thomas’ success) and Ingram rarely sees use inside the 10-yard line. Don’t buy the hype.
Evan Tarracciano – Trent Richardson – Perhaps I’m in the minority, but I’ve never understood the hype on Richardson. He battled injuries and had a questionable tag going into the majority of games last year, which caused headaches for all of his owners. He averaged only slightly higher than 3.5 YPC, and is on a Cleveland Browns offense that will continue to struggle moving the ball. I would expect his touchdown total to decrease in 2013 and for his owners to be disappointed, given where he’s being drafted.
Bobby McMann – David Wilson – There is no questioning his explosiveness, but David Wilson is no sure bet to be the Giants bell cow all season long. In addition to the fumble issues, he will have Andre Brown right behind him looking for touches. Wilson’s upside is C.J. Spiller-esque, but his potentially inconsistent production makes him a risk at his current ADP.
Pat Mayo – Steven Jackson – He’ll be good, just not RB1 good. The Falcons have a vertical offense which will likely still include a heavy dose of Jaquizz Rodgers in the passing game. In order for Jackson to live up to his current ADP he’ll need to score an insane number of TDs, which is hardly predictable.
Ian Riley – DeMarco Murray – As a player a like him. Unfortunately I just do not see him being able to overcome what is going to be a very bad run blocking Cowboys offensive line. Unless your name is Barry Sanders, you are only as good as the big uglys in front of you.
Jennifer Millman – Rashard Mendenhall – Some Fantasy owners are drafting Mendenhall as high as a RB2 (deep leagues), but he likely won’t even put up RB3 numbers. Mendenhall’s 2012 Fantasy season was horrendous, and he joins an Arizona team that has one of the worst offensive lines in the league. QB Carson Palmer will have trouble getting the ball off, and any RB will have trouble getting out of that backfield. Plus, the Cardinals drafted two RBs this year – a power back in Stefan Taylor and a versatile guy in Andre Ellington. And they still have 2011 2nd-round pick Ryan Williams. Crowded backfield + horrendous offensive line = Fantasy bust.
Adam Zdroik – Steven Jackson – High-end busts are a thing of the past. S-Jax is here because who really wants him as their No. 1 running back? The guy is getting drafted as around the 11th RB off the board and I just don’t envision him getting as many touches as he had with the Rams.
Dr. Roto – Maurice Jones-Drew – Waited too long to have Lisfranc surgery and has no QB to help him out. Will go in 2nd round but should go in the 4th.
Jayson Braddock – Lamar Miller – I hate to go back to back Dolphins in the bust category, but the hype on Miller is unwarranted. Miller has wasted movement on his change of direction in the backfield. I almost listed Mike Gillislee as my running back sleeper due to the fact that he’ll win the starting job over Miller at some point this year.
Adam Ronis – Rashard Mendenhall – Coach Bruce Arians doesn’t run the ball much and behind a poor offensive line, there won’t be much room to run. Arians passed the ball 59 percent of the time with the Colts last season. Just because Mendenhall played under Arians in Pittsburgh doesn’t mean he will excel in Arizona. Mendenhall is averaging 4.1 yards per carry in his career and he’s not a running back that will perform well behind a poor offensive line. Mendenhall will also be pushed by Ryan Williams and Stephan Taylor.
George Kurtz – Arian Foster – Yards per Carry have gone down the past couple of years and starting to make him very TD dependent. I’m not saying I wouldn’t draft him Top 3, I would, but have a feeling I’ll regret it later.
Sarah Bojarski – DeMarco Murray – Murray always shows promise, but he just can’t stay healthy. He isn’t able to be the lead back and handle the entire workload himself. He’ll give you good numbers for a few games, but then he’ll get injured and miss time and not be 100 percent. He played last year at less than 100 percent and it showed.
Scott Engel – Chris Ivory – There is no great passing game to open wide running lanes like there was in New Orleans. Defenses can stack the box against Ivory, who has no real extensive starting experience and lacks a lot of help in the passing game to take focus off him.
Next up in the Sleeping with the Staff series: Running back sleepers!