As I study mock drafts this month, I can't help but notice that some players are going way too late. Here's my take on three running backs that should be drafted significantly higher than their ADP's are at the moment.
1. Personally, I think some of the hate has gone a little too far with Latavius Murray this year (RB 18 in mock drafts), which is why he’s my favorite running back sleeper this season. The Oakland Raiders made a great improvement to the O-Line by adding Kelechi Osemele. The O-Line unit will be one of, if not the best in the league. With weapons like Crabtree and Cooper, it’ll be difficult for opposing defenses to stack the box. Call me crazy, but I don’t think Roy Helu and Taiwan Jones pose a threat to Latavius Murray this year. The Oakland defense will be much improved this season with the additions of Bruce Irvin, Karl Joseph, and Sean Smith. These changes will make the Raiders much more competitive and in turn will lead to a substantial increase in rushing attempts (won’t have to throw to catch up as much). With a 72 % market share of the Raiders carries from last year and the improvements made to the roster this year, I think we can safely project Murray for 290+ carries this season. I’ve got Latavius ranked 13th on my board right now. Expect a nice return on investment from the Oakland back.
2. In mock drafts, Jonathan Stewart is going way too low (RB 26). For some reason people tend to forget how many carries he receives (when he’s healthy). Under Mike Shula, the Panthers have never ranked lower than 8th in rushing attempts. Stewart was on pace for 342 touches before he got injured last season, which is an insane amount of usage. With the defense being a little weaker this year due to Josh Norman’s departure, I’d expect the Panthers to rely on the run even more this season. With three of the best interior blockers in the NFL, the Panthers boast one of the top O-Line’s in the league. I’ll continue to put my trust in Stewart until he proves me wrong. With that being said, I’ve got Jonathan Stewart ranked as my RB 21. Take advantage of the public being down on him in fantasy drafts this year.
3. Lastly, Chris Ivory is one of my favorite backs in the league and he also happens to be going way too late this year at RB 32. It’s obvious, with the contract they gave him and T.J. Yeldon’s ineffectiveness last season, that they’re going to use Ivory a lot. Expect the Jaguars to be a little more run heavy this season to help compliment the young and talented defense (Dante Fowler, Jaylen Ramsey, and Myles Jack). I think we can safely project 250+ touches for Ivory this season. Also, with big time weapons such as Allen Robinson, Julius Thomas, and Allen Hurns, the running game should be efficient due to the inability for opposing defenses to overload the box. Offensive Coordinator, Greg Olson, never seemed to trust Yeldon based on the fact that running backs only touched the ball 39 % of the time inside the opponents 5 yard line last season. I’m expecting a great season out of Chris Ivory this year as I have him ranked as my RB 26.
*All ADP’s are collected from FantasyFootballCalculator.com.