There’s EV to be gained by reading between the ADPs in fantasy football.
Last week, we used a gap methodology created by Charlie Kleinheksel to identify some of the best running back values for 2019. Check out my most recent piece for a look at the RB buckets generated from using that methodology in 2019.
The takeaway is that we want to be targeting S2 – or “small gap” – RBs; ie, the cheaper back in a committee. They’ve had historical win rates as high as the stud backs who are drafted in the high-leverage rounds.
Here’s the full table broken down by back type. Check the linked article above for an explanation on the four RB buckets. We’ll expand on our S2 targets below the table.
- ADP: 72.1
- Gap to Chris Carson: 16.4 and closing
The small, closing gap ADP indicates market uncertainty, and uncertainty is where Zero RB shines.
Penny was the poster boy for this year’s Mind the Gap article, and for good reason. Landing in our S2 bucket is just one of many boxes he ticks in 2019.
He’s young and was highly productive in college. He matched that with first-round-pick status and plays behind an RB with an injury history on a team that led the league in rushing expected points last year.
Penny has RB1 upside in the fifth and sixth rounds of fantasy drafts if things fall right and is exactly the kind of guy that contributes to the high win rate of S2 backs.
- ADP: 78.7
- Gap to Alvin Karama: 75.1
Speaking of teams that use their RBs a lot — the Saints have ranked either first or second in overall expected points from the position in three straight seasons.
Out is Mark Ingram and his 15.8 touches and 13.4 expected points per game over the past three seasons. In comes Murray, who’s proven capable in both a lead role and as a backup, producing finishes of RB36, RB33, RB12, and RB12 over his past four seasons.
He’s currently being drafted at his demonstrated floor — RB34 — and is in position in an elite offense to win your league should the unforeseen befall Kamara.
- ADP: 85.3
- Gap to Phillip Lindsay: 39.2
I’m on record in believing that Lindsay will hold his edge in opportunity over Freeman this year, but picking Freeman makes all sorts of sense at his current price.
Shawn Siegele took Freeman at 9.04 in the MFL10 of Death, and the 2018 third-round selection is indeed an enticing post-hype breakout candidate.
Even if you’re firmly in the Lindsay camp, Freeman’s upside at this ADP is too great to ignore.
- ADP: 87.6
- Gap to Miles Sanders: 7.1
This backfield has essentially become a pick ’em, with both Howard and second-round pick Miles Sanders going in the seventh round.
While Howard is currently the S2 back in this scenario, that could change in the weeks ahead. Whatever — both backs represent a cheap opportunity to buy a piece of an offense which has been top 10 in play volume in each of Doug Peterson’s three seasons at the helm.
Howard fell off last year but has proven RB1 upside.
- ADP: 105.9
- Gap to Melvin Gordon: 99.2
Ekeler just barely sneaks under the 104-pick threshold to qualify as an S2 back, and it wouldn’t be a stretch to call him a B2 “handcuff” either.
Whatever the label, he was the RB25 last year and should once again be a staple of your Zero RB builds in 2019.
- ADP: 106.6
- Gap to Marlon Mack: 75.3
Of 589 rookie RBs since 2000, only five of them caught more passes than Hines’ 63 last season — Saquon Barkley, Reggie Bush, Alvin Kamara, Christian McCaffrey, and Matt Forte (tied).
In that time, there have been 10 RBs to record at least 55 receptions as rookies (excluding Barkley & Hines last year). As sophomores, that group averaged 250.1 fantasy points.
Hines’ RB28 finish last year is his absolute floor. He’s currently the 44th RB off the board, making him one of 2019’s most mispriced players.
- ADP: 121.8
- Gap to Damien Williams: 95.2
I get why people are high on Damien Williams this year, but I’m not sure the situation is as cut and dried as the market suggests.
One of these backs has multiple 800-yard seasons to his name, while the other has only just barely surpassed 200 rushing yards.
Williams is only one-year younger than Hyde and has never hit 100 fantasy points. I’m not sure how things will shake out in KC this year, but I do know that you’re taking a tremendous risk by using a late-second/early-third round pick on an old and monumentally unaccomplished RB.
Be sure to sprinkle in some Hyde on the off-chance that a career backup like Williams isn’t an RB1.
- Gap to Lamar Miller: 57.1 and closing
Last year, I begged you not to draft Foreman, knowing that his busted Achilles would almost certainly mean a lost season.
This year, the former RotoViz favorite should be fully recovered and well positioned to blow away his 10th-round ADP. Foreman was an incredible prospect, leading the way in the 2017 Prospect Lab and could see some serious run in one of the league’s most-dangerous offenses.
- ADP: 140.1
- Gap to LeSean McCoy: 35.8
Singletary isn’t a perfect prospect, but he’s young, resides in a volatile, uncertain Buffalo backfield, and is cheap as chips.
He’s also got the double whammy of being a rookie back going in rounds 9-12, which Blair Andrews has demonstrated to be the group which has historically most outperformed its ADP.
A quick shoutout to Patriots rookie RB Damien Harris here, too. He’s technically not an S2 back since he’s the third RB being drafted in New England, but he’s got a small gap to both Sony Michel and James White, and also fits the R9-12 rookie criteria.
- ADP: 162.2
- Gap to Derrius Guice: 60.3
Peterson is an S2 back by the thinnest of margins, and this is really a borderline B1-B2 situation. The market is expressing confidence about how this backfield will shake out, but I’m less certain.
The 34-year old was eighth in rushing expected points (ruEP) last year, surprising everyone with an RB2 season. Guice will be more than a year removed from an ACL tear, and while I see the upside, I’m not sure the downside is properly priced in. Don’t forget that Guice’s recovery was complicated by a two-month infection.
RotoViz’s resident doctor, Jeffrey Budoff pointed out the resulting recovery delay may be the least of his concerns:
There are other issues. Nothing causes scar formation like an infection causes scar formation. So Guice’s knee will have more stiffness than normally follows an ACL reconstruction. In addition, his quadriceps muscle, the main power generator for jumping, cutting, and a major contributor to acceleration, will have more scar formation.
Budoff goes on to say that all that extra scar tissue may “predispose him to future activity-related swelling and aching, potentially leading to decreased practice and/or playing time.”
Between those concerns and a horrible offense in Washington, I’d be shocked if Guice gets the kind of volume that will justify this price tag.
I’d prefer Peterson, who is free.
Image Credit: Russell Lansford/Icon Sportswire. Pictured: Royce Freeman.
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