The first week of the 2015 fantasy football season is going to be tricky. In some ways it’s super obvious, like when Tom Brady unleashed his wrath on the Steelers en route to four touchdowns. Or when Rob Gronkowski scored three times. And when Antonio Brown caught 9 balls for 133 yards and a score.
All of that makes sense. DeAngelo Williams rushing for 127 yards and Dion Lewis randomly being a super effective feature back, however, boggles the mind.
Perhaps we should have see that coming. Or maybe it’s just the start of another illogical fantasy season. For all the calls that go right, though, or the guys that come out of nowhere to save you, there will be wrong calls and guys that completely burn you.
I’m not saying these running backs for sure are going to suck, but I can tell you I’m not starting them in my season long fantasy football leagues and I’ll be avoiding them in DFS fantasy football games, too. I understand the draw of a quality contrarian play from time to time, but there is enough reason to fade the following five running backs in fantasy football this week:
Note: I already touched on Lamar Miller and Alfred Morris, neither of which I like this week, so I won’t be mentioning them again here.
Andre Ellington and All Cardinals Running Backs
Ellington is the starter and the Saints were awful against the run in 2014. Naturally, he’s a pretty tempting RB2 and potentially an elite Flex. Two problems. For one, Arizona has admitted how they conduct their running game will depend on the flow of the game. In other words, if Ellington struggles, he could be replaced by Chris Johnson or David Johnson. Not good. Also, Ellington was really bad as the lead guy last year. Like 3.3 yards per carry on the year kind of bad.
Sure, he’s versatile and explosive, but he’s not really built to handle a full workload. And with two other seemingly capable backs behind him, that’s really not what he’s headed for. That was Ellington’s upside, too. He’s a tiny back who isn’t effective in short yardage and goal-line situations, but as long as we knew he was getting 15-20 touches per game, screw it, we’ll take the chance. But we don’t know that. That makes Ellington a pretty big gamble, while trying either of his backups is even less stable.
If you drafted Ellington in season long leagues and have no other viable options, it’s whatever. Then you have to use him and he’ll probably be fine enough to get you 8-12 fantasy points. Hopefully. But if you’re banking on a big day, you might end up being disappointed.
Joseph Randle and All Cowboys Running Backs
The story is similar here. The only caveat is unlike the Cardinals, Dallas he a behemoth-laden offensive line that makes very big men shrink in fear. It’s true. Joseph Randle is the tentative starter, but just a day ago it was Darren McFadden. And the day before that it was still Randle. And the day before that it was the chef from Muppets. Fudge. This is just a messed up situation that I can’t bring myself to get excited about.
Two things I know: Christine Michael COULD factor into the mix but I won’t even consider trying him until we know for sure how involved he’ll be. Also, McFadden is without a doubt the superior talent to Randle. He’s more explosive in his cuts, he’s faster at top speed, and he’s more versatile. His only real knock is he spent his entire career in Oakland and can never stay healthy. For week one, those are not huge concerns. If you’re taking a stab on a Cowboys running back, I vote for McFadden. But fading Dallas rushers altogether to start the year is probably the way to go.
Even though I don’t like these first two RBBC situations this week, it’s worth noting that NFL.com’s Michael Fabiano likes them just fine.
LeSean McCoy Just Too Shady
This is more for DFS fantasy leagues. If you drafted LeSean McCoy and he’s ready to go (hamstring), you have to use him. He’s still one of the top talents in the entire league and the Colts won’t be stopping the run at a high level with Arthur Jones out for the season. Even admittedly at less than 100%, you’re probably not going to have anyone on your bench that trumps McCoy in week one.
In DFS leagues, though, you shouldn’t take that dive. McCoy is over $7k on DraftKings and isn’t going to be nicely priced many other places, either. Hamstrings are a bitch and he’s still not even completely recovered from this one. That breeds so many negative outcomes, it’s not worth worrying about. McCoy could get hurt further, he could be a decoy, he could just be limited, or the Bills could rotate Karlos Williams and Bryce Brown in way more than you’d ever wish for them to. He could also go off, but that’s just one of four pretty realistic scenarios. I’m gonna pull the hard fade on this one.
No Love For Isaiah Crowell
The Cleveland Browns want to pound the rock. Correction: they have no choice but to try because Josh McCown and their entire passing game are as pedestrian as a crosswalk. Isaiah Crowell is the first guy they’ll throw at the Jets staunch defensive line, which will miss Sheldon Richardson but should still be quite nasty. The reality is Crowell really isn’t a game-breaker to start with, plus the Jets are going to sell out on stopping the run to make McCown beat them. Pretty good plan, I’d say. Crowell could sneak in a touchdown, but I doubt he’ll find much room to run. There’s also the pesky issue of explosive rookie running back Duke Johnson, who suddenly could be in for a “big role”. Great. I don’t love Cleveland’s offense in any regard, but I’m waiting to see how things unfold before I start actually using any of them. Crowell and Johnson are both worth rostering for sure, but I’d refrain from using them in week one if possible.
Bishop Sankey Can’t Be Trusted
Last, and in so many ways least, Sankey is a guy with a role that just can’t be trusted. He’s facing a seemingly beatable Buccaneers defense, but three things worry me: He’s on the road, he’s playing with a rookie quarterback and he sucks. He also isn’t a full-blown feature back, which means he could lose carries to a number of bodies. The most important take away, though, is how bad he was last year with a similar role. He flashed potential during the preseason, but that could have come out of pure desperation. Sankey is a tough sell in general in 2015, but like Crowell, he’s still worth rostering and seeing what comes of his situation. Starting him in week one isn’t something I’d feel good about, though.