The 2016 fantasy football season is slowly creeping up on us, with the middle of July almost here. Training camps and preseason play will soon follow, meaning the time to research for average draft position results and player value is now.
That may be the case especially at the running back position, where there are a precious few elite options and it’s always important to stock up on value. If you’re looking for extra value at running back this summer, look no further than the latest ADP stats, per FantasyFootballCalculator.com. Let’s see what the draft community says about the running back position to this point in July and which running backs figure to return the most fantasy value in 2016:
Jamaal Charles – Chiefs (ADP: Round 2)
A candidate to be picked #1 overall a year ago, Charles’ 2015 season quickly went up in smoke thanks to his second torn ACL at the NFL level. Charles was well on his way to another elite fantasy season before going down, as he’d accumulated five total touchdowns and well over 500 yards through his first five starts.
Charles was as good as ever, but now we need to face the harsh reality that he’s 29, the Chiefs now have a strong stable of backups behind him and getting over another knee injury could be difficult. That being said, Charles was a monster the last time he returned from a devastating knee injury, he’s arguably still in his prime and Andy Reid offenses tend to be built around one do-it-all rusher.
He’s nearing 30 and coming off of a second ACL tear, but it looks like Jamaal Charles will be just fine this season. https://t.co/rKlf15KDE6
— SB Nation NFL (@SBNationNFL) July 11, 2016
Charles can still be that guy, and unless you think he’s going to drop off completely, you’re getting a steal in round two. There is clear risk involved, but the upside is obvious. Charles is still the main man in Kansas City and he knows how to rehab a knee injury. As long as his role is remotely close to normal, he’s a serious bargain in round two.
Eddie Lacy – Packers (ADP: Round 2)
Ditto for Lacy, who was drafted as a top-five option across the board in fantasy football leagues in 2015. Yes, he was over weight and disappointed as far as a first round pick should perform, but he did have his moments and this summer we’ve seen evidence that he’s dialed in. He’s lost weight and looks to be in the best shape of his life, which could turn those handful of 2015 gems into more than half of the 2016 season.
— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) July 12, 2016
There is risk with Lacy, but part of his downfall was due to Green Bay losing deep threat Jordy Nelson and no longer being able to stretch defenses out. With Nelson back and Lacy in what seems to be the best shape of his life, there is a real chance he bounces back and has his best season yet. He’s worth it in round two to see if it all works out. If he can slide to you in round three, all the better.
LeSean McCoy – Bills (ADP: Round 3)
Shady is your best bet in round three at the moment, though, as fantasy league managers seem to be down on him due to his nagging 2015 injuries, his lack of explosiveness with the Bills thus far and some legal issues after last season.
Most of the legal stuff has cleared up and his first year with the Bills really wasn’t so bad. In the end, McCoy still topped 1,000 total yards and managed to score five times, despite battling some injuries and missing four whole games. Healthier, more comfortable in the system and dialed in, McCoy is a strong bounce back candidate. The Bills want to play smash mouth football on offense and a heavy workload gives McCoy an extremely high ceiling.
There is still risk involved with a guy who didn’t meet expectations in 2015, but given his talent, role and system, he also could explode as one of fantasy’s top rushers.
DeMarco Murray – Titans (ADP: Round 4)
It gets a little less interesting from here, but we needn’t be sleeping on Murray. Murray was bound to trail off a bit in 2015, as he was in a new system – one he clearly didn’t end up fitting – and was also coming off a season where he toted the rock an insane 393 times.
Now much more rested than he was going into last year and with a nice role in an offense that looks prepared to run the ball a ton, the 28-year old Murray is a strong redemption candidate in the fantasy realm. Murray does have competition behind him and Tennessee’s offensive line has been inconsistent, but he’s a talented, bruising back who will relish the opportunity to be the lead man again for a team that wants him to run down hill.
Matt Jones – Redskins (ADP: Round 5)
Jones is another guy who has all of the upside in the world, and it’s actually surprising that fantasy owners show such little faith in him in drafts. Alfred Morris is gone, the Redskins have a strong passing game on the surface and this is truly Jones’ starting job to lose.
The real issue with Jones is ball security, but if he can simply hold onto the football he could quickly become a fantasy menace. After all, we’re talking about a guy who put up nearly 800 yards and four total touchdowns on just 163 total touches. Jones needs to be more consistent and quit losing the football, but if he can fix his glaring issues before September, he’s going to be a fun guy to own. The best part? Right now you can snag him in round five or later.
Ameer Abdullah – Lions (ADP: Round 6)
I’m personally a bigger fan of hard-nosed runner Zach Zenner when it comes to Detroit runners, but Abdullah has way more sheer talent and remains a very interesting and explosive option for the Lions. He’s at worst a scary change-of-pace guy and there is still real hope that he can be a dangerous featured runner for the Lions.
Abdullah has some work to do to earn such a big role, but the competition around him is not staggering and he’s already guaranteed a solid chunk of the pie. If he can just round out the edges going into year two, he’s going to be a killer steal in round six.
Duke Johnson – Browns (ADP: Round 7)
One of the best current steals resides in round seven, where Duke Johnson’s fantasy stock is simmering and preparing to rise. He’s extremely talented as he stands, but the Browns seem to be itching for the chance to have him trump the odd ball Isaiah Crowell on the depth chart.
Crowell remains in the mix for now, but it’s only a matter of time before Cleveland gives Johnson a huge role. Johnson is far more versatile and one of the most explosive backs in the league, yet he’s just entering his second season. It’s time for him to be unleashed in 2016 and if you get him at this price, you’re getting a crazy bargain.
Justin Forsett – Ravens (ADP: Round 7)
One more bargain could come in Baltimore, where the Ravens have a healthy stable of running backs, but only one who truly best fits offensive coordinator Marc Trestman’s pass-happy system. Forsett probably figures into Trestman’s plans regardless of what his actual role is, but he’s such a gifted receiver and runner that the Ravens can’t help but hand him the majority of the touches.
Forsett was the guy they handed a big contract before last season, too, while he also was getting the job done (nearly 800 total yards with 31 catches) before breaking his arm in week 10. Fantasy owners prefer more touchdowns and a more cemented role, but there aren’t more tantalizing risks this late in your draft.
Got a running back value you covet even more than the guys that made our list? Tell us all about it in the comments below!