Organized Team Activities, or OTA’s, are in full swing in the NFL, as the 32 teams look to see which players will be among their 53-man rosters when the season starts for real in September. This is not the only roster construction activity going on, of course, with the ever-popular best ball leagues filling up and drafting on a daily basis. With this in mind, let’s take a look at five running backs who are finding themselves being drafted earlier in MFL10s.
The five players we’ll be looking at saw the biggest rise in average draft position (ADP) for the period between May 24 and May 30, information that can be found using the RotoViz MFL10 ADP app. (Although these are the biggest risers from the last week, I’ll also include older ADP data to give a clearer picture of the overall trend.) Don’t even think about diving into a draft without consulting this app.
Despite not attending the Eagles OTA’s this week, best ball drafters seem to have been encouraged by a report that Darren Sproles, recovering from season-ending injury a year ago, could lead the team in RB snaps in 2018. The presence of Jay Ajayi, a player who considers himself “a workhorse running back, a grinder“, as well as Super Bowl hero Corey Clement means that Sproles will face stiff competition if he is to achieve this feat.
In his four seasons with the Eagles, Sproles has averaged 5.1 carries per game as well as snaffling an average of three receptions per outing. He did lead the Eagles in RB snaps back in 2016, a season that saw him amass 865 yards from scrimmage. But he didn’t face quite the same level of competition back then. Still, for the price of an 18th round pick in 12 team leagues, he is certainly worth a dart throw. That being said, Shawn Siegele isn’t convinced that Sproles is the best use of a late-round pick.
Royce Freeman (ADP Increase 0.73)
I recently wrote of how, given the choice between picking Royce Freeman or Ronald Jones in 2018 rookie drafts, I was firmly in the Freeman camp. I’d like to think that this article is the main reason for Freeman’s increase in popularity among Best Ball players. But let’s be realistic, shall we?
Freeman faces very little serious competition for early-down work with the Broncos. The Denver Post recently wrote that if Freeman is called upon to take the starting role, he has shown the durability and production befitting an every-down NFL back.
The Broncos had the eighth-most running plays in the NFL last season, with a pass to run ratio of 1.36. The lead back in such an offense is surely worthy of a ninth-round pick, assuming he can chip in with some receiving work too.
Future Hall of Famer Adrian Peterson was connected with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers recently, before announcing a litany of teams that he could see himself on in recent weeks. None of the teams he mentioned seem to be in immediate need of a 33-year-old who doesn’t catch passes or play special teams, of course. But that hasn’t stopped best ball players from tucking Peterson away on their rosters, just in case.
Peterson will almost certainly have to wait until closer to training camp before finding a team. Maybe even later than that. He wasn’t terrible for the Cardinals after his midseason trade from the Saints last season, but he wasn’t exactly the Peterson of old either.
Most of his production came as a result of volume. Peterson is not likely to land on any team that will allow him more than 20 rushing attempts per game in 2018. Still, if he only costs you a 20th-round pick, you may get something out of him. Assuming he signs somewhere first, of course.
The Lions spending a high draft pick on an RB is absolutely no guarantee that the player is (a) any good or (b) durable. Since 2010, the Lions have spent top six picks on three backs, namely Jahvid Best, Mikel Leshoure, and Ameer Abdullah. The three amassed a combined 3,002 rushing yards on an uninspiring 3.76 yards per attempt. They scored a touchdown on just 2.6 percent of their 798 carries.
Undeterred by this, the Lions have gone back to the well in drafting Kerryon Johnson in the second round this year. Johnson and free-agent signing LeGarrette Blount have already overtaken Abdullah in the eyes of the Lions coaches. This has been evident with “one or the other leading every team session or 7-on-7 drill” during the first week of OTA’s.
While the prospect of a timeshare puts a cap on both of these players redraft value, Johnson’s 11th-round ADP makes him an intriguing best ball pickup, especially if drafters adopt a Zero-RB approach. The biggest downside would be the fact that serious passing-down work will not go to Johnson (and certainly not Blount), as long as Theo Riddick is around.
With Frank Gore no longer on the roster, there is a school of thought that takes the Colts RB job to be the key to unlocking a whole host of fantasy points this season. Whether the Colts are as run happy as they were a year ago (they had the seventh-lowest pass to run ratio with 1.20) could, of course, depend on the health of Andrew Luck. But with the man who played on 53.88 percent of offensive snaps a year ago now in Miami, the question of who fills this gap remains one to tax fantasy players.
While a committee looks unavoidable, it already appears that rookie Nyheim Hines is showing himself to be valuable in the passing game. New head coach Frank Reich has already been impressed by Hines pass catching in what little he has seen. This skill could see him be the first to establish a defined role in the committee. That being said, there may be players available in the 15th-round with more solid credentials than Hines at this stage. But as the season approaches, if he continues to impress, this ADP could continue to rise. You may end up getting a bargain at this price.