Forgot Log-in or  Password? |  Help  Not a member, Register Now!
Play Fantasy Use your Fantasy skills to win Cash Prizes. Join or start a league today. Play Now
      
Fantasy Football Today
Fantasy Football Today Blog
Gameday Inactives
2014 Draft Prep Guide
Downloadable Draft Kit
Mock Drafts
Get Your Draft Board
Player News
Stats
Players
Depth Charts
Roster Trends
Columns
Injury Report
Projections
Rankings
Red Zone Stats
Teams
Schedules
Scores
Standings
Fantasy Games
Playoff Challenge
Commissioner
Prize Leagues
Free
Office Pool Manager
Game Pick'em
Player Challenge
Fantasy Baseball Today
Fantasy Baseball Today Blog
Downloadable Draft Kit
Mock Drafts
Player News
Stats
Players
Depth Charts
Roster Trends
Columns
Injury Report
Rankings
Projections
Teams
Schedules
Probable Pitchers
Scores
Standings
Fantasy Games
Commissioner
Free
Prize Leagues
Player News
Stats
Players
Columns
Injuries
Projections
Rankings
Teams
Schedules
Message Boards
Fantasy Games
Commissioner
Free
Player News
Stats
Players
Columns
Injury Report
Projections
Rankings
Teams
Schedules
Mock Drafts
Scores
Standings
Fantasy Games
Commissioner
Free
Prize Leagues
Downloadable Draft Kit
Player News
Stats
Players
Columns
Injury Report
Projections
Rankings
Teams
Schedules
Mock Drafts
Scores
Standings
Fantasy Games
Commissioner
Free
Prize Leagues
No Fantasy Teams Found
 
 
 

2014 Draft Prep: RBs ripe for a breakdown?

Senior Fantasy Writer
  •  

This is the story you don't want to read about Adrian Peterson. The one that's been years and years in the making ... maybe since he was a superstar running back at Oklahoma.

You see, Peterson is getting old. Old in terms of the NFL and in terms of how much work he can take on without slowing down or getting hurt. Not old in terms of real-life old. He's still very much young in that regard.

For several years, we've tracked how many carries and catches a running back gets and have found a correlation between when the touches pass a certain threshold and when a player begins to suffer injury. It has nothing to do with the exact age of a player -- saying a guy is 30 years old and therefore worthless is irresponsible. But ... many players from the past entered the NFL at age 21 or 22, put up eight solid seasons of work and totaled well over 2,000 carries before falling off the proverbial cliff. Their numbers went down the drain and their careers followed soon thereafter.

That threshold used to be 2,400 carries, but two years ago we changed the formula because backs were running a little less and catching a little more. So we made up a "Total Evaluation Number" based on the number of carries and catches a back had. Simply put, we totaled a player's receptions, divided by three and added it to the player's carries totals (including playoffs but not the preseason) to come up with the number. The new number to watch out for? 2,100 -- and Peterson passed it last season.

Now this is the same monster who came back from a torn ACL in less than nine months and steamrolled the NFL for 2,097 yards. He also has scored at least 10 touchdowns every year of his seven seasons. It's clear he's a rare breed. But even if we judge Peterson by our old criteria for running backs, which doesn't take receptions into consideration whatsoever, he's due for one more big year. And then ... man, I don't even want to type it. I can put that off for another year.

Here are the running backs carrying risk for becoming a physical liability to his NFL team and your Fantasy team.

Running back Career carries Career rec. Total evaluation # Major injury Week 1 age
Frank Gore 2,327 349 2,443 31
Fred Jackson 1,688 256 1,773 33
Steven Jackson 2,571 443 2,718   31
Maurice Jones-Drew 1,818 342 1,932 29
Adrian Peterson 2,126 210 2196 29
Darren Sproles 497 522 671 31
DeAngelo Williams 1,387 174 1,445   31

What happened last year?

A year ago we tested the theory against two tried-and-true Fantasy stallions in Steven Jackson and Frank Gore. Gore had just crossed the 2,100 barrier during the Super Bowl and Jackson had long blown past it. Gore had seen his carries decline for three straight years previously but got a bump up to 17.3 carries per game during the regular season and did very well with them. Jackson wasn't as fortunate, getting hurt in Week 2 and missing a big chunk of the season before coming back. He struggled to maintain a good rushing average but was able to still be a factor at the goal line. Long story short: Gore did well, Jackson didn't.

While one might suggest that every back is different and shouldn't be judged on a system created by an over-zealous Fantasy writer, one could also say Jackson had it coming while Gore might have gotten by because he barely topped the Total Evaluation Number heading into 2013 and the Niners did a very good job maintaining him. We'd be shocked if either guy had big seasons this year now that Gore has crossed over fully into red-flag territory with more than 2,300 career carries and Jackson now has a staggering evaluation number of 2,718.

Risky runners

Fred Jackson and Maurice Jones-Drew also are getting close to the 2,100 mark for adjusted touches and are considered risky running backs. Jackson's NFL carries don't make up all of his work -- he used to play indoor football and after much research we got a hold of just how many touches he had. Even with them and at the ripe old age of 33, he still has enough left in the tank for one or two more seasons, especially if the Bills can lighten his load and limit him to passing downs/two-minute drill/goal-line work. Don't expect another big year from him but he could provide decent depth and work as an insurance policy for C.J. Spiller.

Jones-Drew isn't much better off even if he's the best back on the Raiders. After messing up his foot in 2012 Jones-Drew struggled in 2013 to get even 1,100 total yards with five scores. It wasn't that long ago he led the NFL in rushing! With 1,818 career carries and an evaluation number of 1,932, Jones-Drew is a candidate to keep struggling to stay healthy this season. He's less than 200 carries from hitting the red-flag mark, and he'll only get there faster if he's involved in the Raiders passing game. That doesn't even take into account the team he's on or the fact that he'll split carries with Darren McFadden (while he's healthy). No one should aim to have MJD on their Fantasy team this season unless it's as a flex or a backup.

There's one more name on the list -- DeAngelo Williams. He's 31 but has been used rather sparingly throughout his career (at least compared to other backs). Williams isn't scary in terms of breaking down because he hasn't been overused -- he's scary to use for Fantasy because you just don't know how much work he'll get from week to week. Williams is a backup Fantasy rusher who could keep going until he's 33 or 34 thanks to his lack of work when he was younger.

What to watch out for

This year we should see one popular running back get to our warning level for a break down with another three get close. It's something to keep in mind if you're in long-term formats or just thinking about the future of well-known running backs.

Running back Career carries Career rec. Total evaluation # Major injury Week 1 age
Ahmad Bradshaw 1,073 159 1,126 28
Reggie Bush 1,228 451 1,378 29
Matt Forte 1,593 354 1,711   28
Arian Foster 1,236 216 1,308 27
BenJarvus Green-Ellis 1,074 59 1,093   29
Rashad Jennings 387 97 419 29
Chris Johnson 1,753 273 1,844   28
Marshawn Lynch 1,877 207 1,946   28
Ray Rice 1,618 406 1,753   27
Pierre Thomas 818 301 918   29

Marshawn Lynch is the one who is going to be ripe for a breakdown in 2015 -- if it doesn't happen in 2014 first. Lynch is not only coming off of a Super Bowl run, typically the precursor to a back slowing down, but he also took on more than 400 touches last season if you include the playoffs. He also has 1,002 carries over the last three seasons. These are all dangerous numbers -- eventually backs who take on this much work start to crack. The hunch here is that Lynch doesn't quite hold up to expectations. Christine Michael has been rumored all offseason to be the guy who will get a bump in work even if Lynch stays healthy this season.

Matt Forte, Chris Johnson and Ray Rice are the ones to keep an eye on, but their respective workloads don't make them high-risk players for the injury report. At least not yet. While Johnson and Rice have other issues around them that keep them from being appealing Fantasy choices, Forte is in a perfect situation where he won't share the ball too much and should contend for 10 or more touchdowns. You might think he's been overworked but he has just 740 carries and 170 catches over the last three seasons. By comparison, Johnson (817 carries, 135 catches) and Rice (887 carries, 208 catches) have had more.

Get player news notifications, manage your team and check scores
- all updated in real time. Download the CBS Fantasy App.

  •  
 
CBSSports Facebook Google Plus
COMMENTS
Conversation powered by Livefyre
 
 
Player News
Arians: QB Carson Palmer shoulder 'getting better'
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(12:25 pm ET) Bruce Arians would not commit either way to the possible availability of Cardinals starting quarterback Carson Palmer for the Sunday game in Denver. But he did speak with optimism about his recovery from a shoulder injury that has prevented him from playing since Week 1.

"He's still doing a lot of treatment with (his shoulder)," Arians told the Denver Post. "It's getting better."


Jaguars rule out Marqise Lee for Week 5
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(12:23 pm ET) The Jaguars announced that rookie receiver Marqise Lee won't play Sunday against the Steelers. He has not played since Week 2 due to a hamstring injury.

Report: Lions DT Nick Fairley limping Wednesday
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(12:14 pm ET) Lions defensive tackle Nick Fairley walked with a noticeable limp in the locker room Wednesday and declined to answer questions from the media, per the Detroit News.

Fairley has played through a biceps ailment in recent week, but there has been nothing to indicate any problems with his legs. He did manage his first sack of the season Sunday against the Jets.


Mike Glennon could put up numbers vs. Saints
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(12:14 pm ET) Buccaneers quarterback Mike Glennon put together a solid performance in leading his team to a surprise win over the Steelers in Week 4, and now faces a solid matchup in his encore in Week 5 against the Saints.

Glennon had accuracy issues against the Steelers, but still put up 300-plus yards and two touchdowns. He might find some success this Sunday, against a Saints defense that has struggled to slow down opposing quarterbacks. Only four teams have allowed more Fantasy points per game to quarterbacks than the Saints, who have been tagged for 22.5 per game, including 30-plus twice.

Glennon is tough to rely on, given his lack of track record, but there is a chance for him to put up some numbers here. The Saints are likely to go up early Sunday, so Glennon could be forced to pass often. In a two-QB league, Glennon has some upside in Week 5. 


Brian Quick facing a great matchup
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(12:12 pm ET) Rams wide receiver Brian Quick has emerged as the team's top option in the passing game, and he has a good chance to put together another solid performance with the Eagles on the schedule in Week 5.

Quick leads the team in targets with 22 through three games, and could be set to turn in a big performance Sunday. The Eagles allow the fifth-most Fantasy points per game to opposing wide receiver, with six touchdowns and 173.5 yards per game allowed.

The quarterback situation in St. Louis is worrisome, but Quick has found success in spit of it so far. He is not a slam dunk by any means, but Quick has some upside for Fantasy purposes in Week 5, given the matchup. 


LB Desmond Bishop back with Cardinals
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(12:08 pm ET) Less than a month after waiving linebacker Desmond Bishop, the Cardinals have re-signed him. He had been let go on Sept. 6.

Bishop was a prolific contributor to the Green Bay defense in 2010 and 2011 with 218 total tackles in those seasons combined. But he had just four tackles and one assist with Minnesota a year ago.


Colts LB Jerrell Freeman returns to practice
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(12:02 pm ET) Colts linebacker Jerrell Freeman, who has not played since the opener due to a hamstring injury, returned to practice Wednesday. Indy is preparing to host the Ravens on Sunday.

DE Osi Umenyiora admits he could be doing more for Falcons
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(12:00 pm ET) Falcons defensive end Osi Umenyiora conceded Wednesday that he needs to contribute more to what has been a failing defense in 2014. Atlanta is yielded 28.3 points per game this season and surrendered 41 Sunday at Minnesota.

"Do I feel like I could be helping more? Yes," he told the New York Daily News. He added that he will continue to do whatever the team asks of him.

Umenyiora has yet to start in four games and has registered just six tackles and no sacks.


Zac Stacy could find success through the air
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(11:57 am ET) Rams running back Zac Stacy is looking for his big breakout performance, and could have a chance to find it in Week 5 against the Eagles.

The Eagles have struggled mightily against opposing running backs this season, allowing 21.0 Fantasy points per game. That number is even higher since going up against the hapless Jaguars in Week 1, as the team's last three opponents have all put up 24-plus points against the Eagles out of the backfield.

The Eagles have actually held their own in the running game, with opposing backs averaging just 3.7 yards per carry. However, they have struggled to keep track of backs in the passing game, where they have allowed four touchdowns over the last three games. Stacy has not made a big impact as a receiver, but this could be his best chance to do so, especially if the Rams end up in a shootout.

Stacy has been splitting work more than we expected, but he should get a healthy role in Week 5. Keep him active. 


Stay the course with Greg Olsen
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(11:51 am ET) Even though Panthers wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin continues to emerge as quarterback Cam Newton's favorite target, tight end Greg Olsen should remain a big enough part of the passing game to start across the board in Fantasy.

So what if he was shut down Week 4 at Baltimore? The Ravens have allowed the fewest Fantasy points per game to tight ends this season. It was par for the course. He was the No. 6 tight end in standard CBSSports.com leagues prior to that game, ranking ahead of notables Niles Paul, Rob Gronkowski and Travis Kelce.

Olsen isn't going to score a touchdown every game, but a tight end who consistently contributes five catches for 60 yards (except when he's facing the Ravens) is going to score enough that you won't be able to justify sitting him in Fantasy unless you just have an embarrassment of riches at the position.

And in that case, make a trade.


 
 
 
Rankings