Another fantasy football season approaches, meaning another year of “what was I thinking taking him???” has also arrived.
Last year many of us fell into the C.J. Anderson trap, taking the would-be Denver Broncos star rusher with a first round pick. It’d haunt us for much of the year.
Heading into the 2016 fantasy football season, avoiding huge running back busts like Anderson has to be very much on your radar. Because of that, it’s important to take a long, hard look at some big names that may not be as reliable as they appear:
Devonta Freeman (Atlanta Falcons)
Devonta Freeman had a great year last season, much to everyone’s surprise. It seemed like every game for a six-week stretch he was scoring multiple touchdowns in his sleep.
This year my mind is telling me that I need to stay away from him. Freeman was a big play guy and teams struggled to defend him as well as Julio Jones consistently. It’s the NFL though, and coaches and coordinators are paid to design new schemes to stop these guys.
As much as Devonta Freeman was a surprise in 2015, I think it’s very likely he’s a fantasy football bust in 2016. Defenses are going to know he’s coming, career years are hard to come by and the guy was not an elite talent coming out of his draft class. A healthy Tevin Coleman might play a big factor in that, also.
While Freeman very well could still be a competent fantasy running back, I don’t see him being as good as he was a year ago and a first round pick just feels too rich. Look for some value elsewhere, instead.
C.J. Anderson (Denver Broncos)
As I mentioned in the opening statements, I was high on C.J. Anderson last year, but I won’t fall for it again.
The Broncos should look to run the ball a TON this year with Mark Sanchez running the show this year, but they also have talented running backs behind Anderson and their inability to effectively pass the ball could also work against their running game – much like it did last year when Peyton Manning struggled so badly.
While Anderson is a talented running back, he just isn’t great at any one thing, which makes me very cautious with him. Talented rookie Devontae Booker is also a big play threat and should not be taken lightly. We also can’t write off Ronnie Hillman, who is easily the most explosive rusher the Broncos have on their roster.
Ultimately, we see the upside in C.J. Anderson, but the guy is just not a safe option at all. If he’s your RB3, you’re doing fine. But if he’s a weekly starter, you’re asking for trouble.
Latavius Murray (Oakland Raiders)
Latavius Murray had a solid year last year and is expected to get better this year with an improved offensive line. I’m not buying any of that though; if the Raiders want to stay on the rise it will be through the arm of Derek Carr.
Murray just doesn’t have lasting power in the NFL, and I haven’t seen a running back who is this boring to watch since Joseph Addai. The harsh reality is this is a physically gifted dude who just doesn’t make enough high-level NFL plays. He’s arguably still living off of a huge effort he had against the Kansas City Chiefs two years ago.
Murray is not a scrub, but he’s not the star rusher some make him out to be. He’s not a bad depth guy if the price is right, but much like C.J. Anderson, if you’re depending on him on a weekly basis, you’re not in an ideal spot.
Jamaal Charles (Kansas City Chiefs)
Jamaal Charles is one of the best running backs that the NFL has ever seen. There is no getting around that. Unfortunately the knee injuries are adding up, along with his age. It’s a shame that a career like his could end up on a bad note, but the Chiefs now have a collection of capable running backs and may be headed in more of a “running back by committee” direction.
There’s no denying that a healthy Jamaal Charles is still the man and he brings an explosive, versatile skill-set to the table. There’s also no denying the way he played the last time he returned from a shredded knee:
the last time jamaal charles tore an acl, he came back and ran for 1,500 yards on less than 300 carries.
— zero everything (@Fantasy_Mansion) July 9, 2016
But we may have to come to terms with his elite fantasy football days being fully behind him. A much as I love Boyz II Men, I really hate quoting them in saying its “The End of The Road” for Jamaal Charles.
That doesn’t mean you can’t draft Charles if he slides to you in the second round or later, but spending a first round pick on him this year feels like a mistake.
Got some fantasy football running back busts of your own for 2016? Let us hear about them in the comments below!