Run for Your Money: Cheap Fantasy Running Backs

 

Yet another look at cheap alternatives to higher priced players, this time focusing on running backs. The ADP Arbitrage App is one of my favorite tools at RotoViz. I like to use it for its intended purpose – finding cheap fantasy running backs – but I also like to use it to challenge my thinking about particular players. Let’s dive in.

Eddie Lacy & Joique Bell

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No doubt that Eddie Lacy is younger and in a better offense with less competition. But Joique Bell’s ADP has dropped almost a full round since the draft, mitigating a large part of whatever risk Ameer Abdullah presents to his workload. It’s also worth noting that Bell’s performance wasn’t too far off from Jamaal Charles and C.J. Anderson last year. Charles has a well-deserved reputation as an elite RB, but there are reasons for concern going forward. Anderson has the opportunity to improve on last year’s numbers if he starts the whole season, but that’s not a risk-free proposition either. Again, I’m not necessarily suggesting you avoid any of the top three backs in this list, so much as I’m suggesting that Bell may make a good target. Remember, Bell shared a backfield with Reggie Bush and still posted top-20 seasons.

Isaiah Crowell & Nobody

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Among RBs with more than 100 carries, Isaiah Crowell tied Jamaal Charles as last season’s most efficient runner. But Terrance West wasn’t awful, finishing as the 15th-most efficient, ahead of LeSean McCoy, Joique Bell, Matt Forte, and others. Crowell managed fewer pass targets/game than eventual two-time cut candidate Ben Tate, a concern in PPR formats. Cleveland spent a third round pick (Crowell was undrafted) on Duke Johnson, who has a better profile. Cleveland has limited RB opportunity to begin with, so the presence of a serviceable West and the addition of Johnson really limits Crowell’s upside in my opinion. He’s a player I’m trying to avoid.

Marshawn Lynch & Mark Ingram

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Both Lynch and Ingram are being drafted in line with their 2014 seasonal finishes (Lynch was PPR RB4, Ingram RB14). So in that sense their respective ADPs are reasonable.

Here’s a thought exercise. Lynch is 29, and his team traded away it’s two-time all-pro starting center, then added both Jimmy Graham and Tyler Lockett to the passing game. They’re also on the verge of re-signing Russell Wilson which could mean far more pass attempts, and fewer rushing attempts.

Ingram is 24, his team shed two of its top pass catchers this offseason, traded for a two-time all-pro center, and drafted an offensive lineman in the first round, all of which signals more rushing attempts. Hmm. If we love Lynch (ADP suggests we do), then shouldn’t we love Ingram too? From the NFL Career Graphs App.

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It’s probably true that C.J. Spiller is more of a threat to Ingram than any Seahawks RB is to Lynch. But there’s nearly two full rounds difference in their ADP costs. I submit that Ingram is a good player to target.

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