I’m going to try to update my targets as I make changes on my personal sheet. One player that I’m going to start looking for is Kenneth Dixon. I haven’t been on Dixon at all during the summer, mostly because it seems like people assumed he was just going to start in BAL, and I wasn’t so sure. Or at least they gave him a great chance of winning the RB battle there. Here’s a graph that shows his ADP over time.
You can see that as it became less clear that Dixon would start, his ADP tanked. Interestingly though, in the Ravens’ third preseason game Dixon looked to be essentially starting over Justin Forsett. It’s always tough to tell, and maybe the two were just mixing in, but Dixon played a lot in the first quarter. So now we’re in a situation where Dixon’s value is at its lowest, at the very time where his role is becoming more clear. Unfortunately, Dixon also suffered an MCL tear in that game and the reports are that it’s a four to six week injury.
The value decision in Dixon’s case is: Do you really want to spend a 15th round pick on a player who might be a zero for six weeks and then might be in a timeshare? I actually do. The reason is that when Dixon comes back he could be a real difference maker for your lineup. Justin Forsett has had two years with this team and then the best he could do in terms of winning the RB battle is to split time with a late drafted rookie. It seems like it’s a situation ripe for disruption. To read up on Dixon as a prospect see this article.
To be fair, making picks like this can often feel like playing roulette, where you move your chips around on the board and then your number hits right after you’ve taken your chips off that number. I had James White on 75 percent of my teams last year during the parts of the season where he wasn’t scoring any points, and then I had him on zero percent of my teams when he was scoring.
So it’s possible that you could hold Dixon for six weeks, then watch him come back and be in a committee, and then you might drop him. But the potential to get a running back who has a decent shot of coming back and taking control of a backfield is something you should be looking for in the 15th round of a draft. All of Dixon’s competition in BAL should have had a leg up on him in the RB battle. Forsett is the trusted veteran with a surprising season under his belt. Buck Allen has a similar prospect profile and one more year in the system. And Terrance West was the early-August buzz guy. So the fact that Dixon had ascended to near the top of the depth chart should affect our expectations of what is to come.
Interestingly, none of the other RBs seem to have a trump card on Dixon. Allen is a great receiver, but Dixon actually averaged more receiving yards in his final college season than Allen did. Forsett’s experience should be a trump card, but conditional on a rookie splitting time with a veteran early in the season, I would expect the rookie to be ahead by about Week 6 or so. And West’s buzz seems to be fizzling. Even though he played with the starters in Week 3 of the preseason he looked to be behind Allen and Dixon.
One thing I should say is that maybe it would be preferable to just draft Justin Forsett at his reasonable ADP and hope that inertia carries him through to the end of the season. That could definitely happen. But I see this as a “where there’s smoke, there’s fire” situation. The fact that BAL has entertained so many competing backs who could take Forsett’s job, along with Forsett’s generally low production career, makes me more willing to believe that the back that starts the season in BAL will not be the one to finish it. But I see the pro-Forsett side as being extremely reasonable as well.
There may come a time when the bench spot is worth more to you than holding Dixon, but for now in the middle teen rounds of the draft I think he’s a player worth taking a flier on. In a league that allows trading you could also potentially let another owner draft Dixon and then target him as a throw in to a trade later. That may be getting overly cute, although what do you have to do that’s so important you can’t fly a little too close to the sun with your fantasy strategies?