The trend so far this year in fantasy football drafts has been running back heavy in rounds 1 and 2. On average, 17 of the top 24 picks are running backs this year, with 5 WRs, 1QB, and 1 TE rounding out the rest of the first two rounds. What does this mean? It means that people are sucking up RBs early and you need to find cheaper undervalued backs that can contribute later in the draft. A certain RB in the AFC East is someone you need to target.
The Jets brought in Mike Goodson and Chris Ivory this offseason to take over the ball carrying duties from Shonn Greene. Goodson has already had his share of off-field issues, with a May 17th arrest that could put his season and career in jeopardy. Ivory is a beast that runs extremely hard, but he hasn’t been able to stay on the field so far in his career, and the concern is that, when asked to carry a full workload, he will breakdown shortly into the season. That is where Bilal Powell comes in.
The third year running back out of Louisville came on last season when he got playing time over Green. Powell had 6 games last year in which he had double-digit carries, and he averaged 4.2 YPC in said games. Powell proved last year that he can be an effective goal line back, even taking over goal line duties towards the end of the year. Powell had 5 carries inside the 10-yard line last year, and he scored on 3 of them.
Powell can also catch the ball. He had 17 catches last year, averaging 8.24 yards per catch. His catch rate was awful at the beginning the season, but he showed drastic improvement as the year went on. 20 of his 29 targets last year were “catchable” balls and he caught 17 of the 20. His efficiency catching the ball is something new Offensive Coordinator Marty Mornhinweg will love to see. Running backs in Mornhinweg’s offense in Philadelphia from 2006-2012 averaged a combined 89 catches, whereas Jets RBs during the same span averaged 62 catches. Jets RBs are going to catch the ball more this year, and Powell can take full advantage of that.
In addition to his short yardage and catching abilities, Powell was also rated 19th out of 63 in Pass Blocking Efficiency according to ProFootballFocus.com. This combined with his short-yardage efficiency could mean more third down work for Powell throughout the season.
Powell is going in rounds 12-14 of 14 team leagues, and for the most part isn’t being drafted in 12 team leagues. I would rather take a chance on Powell than a guy like Peyton Hillis or Ryan Williams who are going 2-3 rounds higher than Bilal. To put it simply, Powell is slated behind Goodson, who may not even be on the team come mid-season and has injury concerns of his own, and Ivory who has proven he can’t stay healthy for a full season yet in his career. I’d take a flyer on Powell. He might just be the boost you need late in the year to push you into the fantasy playoffs.