Last week, I discussed the first three Tier 2 Running Backs on LeSean McCoy, Melvin Gordon, and Devonta Freeman. You can go back and read this article by clicking here. This week, we will be following the same format with the remaining three Tier 2 Running Backs.
2016 Stats: Attempts: 293 Yards: 1,287 Receptions: 53 Yards: 377 Total TD’s: 12
Why he could be a Stud: Let us begin with the obvious stat from last year, Murray’s volume was unbelievable. He was one of only four running backs to have over 290 carries last year, and he produced at an efficient rate of 4.4 yards per carry. Next, no matter what happens, the offense is going to run through Murray. In the offseason, the Titans made great additions to the passing game picking up Eric Decker, and drafting Rookie Wide Receiver, Corey Davis. This should lead to fewer loaded boxes and more running lanes for Murray. Lastly, the Titans play one of the easiest schedules this year, according to CBSsports.com they are tied for the 2nd easiest schedule this year.
Why he could be a Dud: Last year, Murray suffered a foot injury, which ended up hurting him during the back half of the season. This makes you wonder, will they cut back his volume to prepare for any potential playoff run they might have late in the season? Also, they would feel safe handing the ball off to the backup in Derrick Henry who averaged 4.5 yards per carry. Henry showed he can be trusted in this offensive scheme, so if the excess volume were to be distributed, it would end up with Henry. Finally, through the Titans last 5 games; Henry had more red-zone rushes than Murray, which is a cause for concern considering Murray averaged almost 19 touches through those last games.
2016 Stats: Attempts: 252 Yards: 1,313 Receptions: 29 Yards: 298 Total TD’s: 7
Why he could be a Stud: We can start out by saying that Howard had a great rookie season averaging 5.2 yards per carry, with a solid workload. Next, Howard only started in 13 games last year, and now the Bears organization knows they have a real workhorse in the stable. This ends up being a great feeling because no one is in line to take work away from him. This leads me to my last point; Howard’s workload can only go up from his rookie season. He showed us what his floor could be, so the expectation to get a much higher amount of touches definitely makes Howard a compelling Running Back.
Why he could be a Dud: Let’s be honest, the Chicago Bears were not a very good football team last year. To make matters worse, they even had the 2nd easiest schedule last year. Now they will face a middle of the road schedule this year in a tough division. Even if Howard had a good season last year, was it inflamed by a terrible schedule? Next, Howard is not the greatest pass catcher either. He did have 29 receptions last year, but that came off of a whopping 50 targets! How can you trust him to be a three down back if he is not a real threat in the passing game? Lastly, we don’t really know who the Bears are this year; mainly what is their offensive identity? They brought Mike Glennon this year and he is projected to be the starter, but will that really improve the offensive attack?
2016 Stats: Attempts: 260 Yards: 1,272 Receptions: 27 Yards: 151 Total TD’s: 8
Why he could be a Stud: If you know one thing about me, it’s that I love an efficient Running Backs, and that is exactly what Ajayi did last year averaging a superb 4.9 yards per carry. To follow this up, Ajayi only played in 15 games, and through his first three games, he averaged only 6 carries a game. Kind of shocking, I know, but one would expect Ajayi to be in line for a serious uptick in work out of the backfield. Lastly, in my mind, the addition of Jay Cutler could be huge for Ajayi. Cutler brings a big arm which allows those safeties to back off, and more running lanes to open up underneath. Cutler also loves to check down to the running back. Ajayi had 27 receptions last year with the Dolphins, but during his junior year in college, he posted 50 receptions. This leads me to believe that he has the ability to catch the ball out of the backfield he just needs more opportunity.
Why he could be a Dud: So, with such a great past season, can we expect a repeat? The narrative out on Ajayi is that he might have had a lucky season. Now teams have a full season of tape on him, and they can pick apart his tendencies along with, the Dolphins offensive line. Next, can he be a consistent Running Back for your team from week-to-week? Think about this, in just 3 out of Ajayi’s 15 games last year, he had 624 rushing yards… that’s almost half of his production for the year. Sure, he might win you those three weeks, but he ends up averaging around 50 yards a game for the rest of the year. Lastly, the Dolphins play the 6th toughest schedule this year, so it should be a much harder test for Ajayi this year.
Like I said before, find what you value on your fantasy team out of the Running Back position. It is a very scarce position this year, and there will be a lot of shots in the dark. But hey, Shooters shoot.
If you have any further questions, comments, or just want to talk fantasy you can find me on twitter at @a_disberry