Some of these backs had tenuous holds (or were perceived to) on starting roles, while others had strangleholds on their jobs but were gifted offensive line help via the NFL Draft.
Marlon Mack – Indianapolis Colts
Mack struggled in his rookie season to the tune of 7.4 fantasy points per game, ranking 54th in weekly scoring. The Colts added Jordan Wilkins and Nyheim Hines in the 2018 NFL Draft. Initially, this was seen as a threat to Mack’s hold on the lead role. But after missing four of the first five games on the 2018 season, Mack largely put those fears to bed. His 14.5 points per week ranked 15th best at the running back position.
Mack did leave some room for doubt though based on his weekly volatility in scoring. He did have four RB1 weeks and two RB2 weeks, but that still left six weeks outside of top 24 scoring. Combined with the minimal draft capital invested in him (fourth-round pick) there was enough reason to be at least slightly concerned the Colts would invest early draft capital on a premier running back. But the Colts did not do that. They didn’t spend any capital and drafted zero running backs.
The only offensive positions the Colts addressed were at the wide receiver position and along the offensive line. The addition of Parris Campbell and his 4.31 speed is an indirect move that could benefit Mack. If you subscribe to the theory that you want to own running backs on good/elite offenses (you should) Campbell’s ability to break big plays from anywhere on the field, or at least take the safeties deep with him leaving the middle of the field open for Mack to run through unencumbered is one of those unmeasurable benefits.
Ronald Jones – Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Two weeks ago when Tampa Bay GM Jason Licht said that Ronald Jones was the player that had most impressed the Buccaneers coaching staff so far most of the dynasty community chuckled to ourselves. Well except for @_NickWhalen. It looks like Nick gets the last laugh. The Buccaneers added exactly zero running backs in the draft. Is Jones any good? I don’t know. No one does. What we do know is that he was drafted in the second round of the NFL Draft last year, a high second round pick at that going off the board at 2.06.
From the moment he arrived in camp ex-Bucs head coach Dirk Koetter wanted nothing to do with him. Koetter criticized Jones all offseason. He then gave him just 30 touches during the 2018 season. To pretend we can deduce if a player is any good after only 30 career touches is laughable.
With only the exceedingly average Peyton Barber to compete with and a new coaching staff in place, Jones will get the chance to prove his worth in 2019. If you still believe in Jones, then trade for him. If you don’t? This works for you too. Sell him with his relative spike in value.
Lamar Miller – Houston Texans
The dynasty community has been replacing Lamar Miller as the Texans running back for just short of forever. All Miller does is keep producing no matter how much everyone hates him. As I noted in a recent article for Fantasy Pros, Miller has put up at least RB2 seasons every season going back to 2014.
*Based on per game average and excludes players with less than 10 games played
Miller might not be an exciting option but he does have a consistent floor with top 30 scoring in 10 of 14 weeks in the 2018 season. The Texans added offensive tackles with two of their first three 2019 picks, drafting Tytus Howard with the 23rd overall pick and Max Scharping in the second round with the 55th overall pick. They drafted no running backs, though they did add a fullback in the seventh round.
D’Onta Foreman is Miller’s main (only) competition for backfield touches. Foreman was only able to play one game last season as he recovered from a torn Achilles suffered in his rookie season. Already lacking even average explosion, it’s yet to be determined how good Foreman can even be returning from a devastating injury. Perennial thorn in the side of Lamar Miller owners Alfred Blue left the Texans via free agency. The only other running back listed on the Texans official site depth chart is someone named Buddy Howell. Look for Miller to put up low-end RB2 production again in 2019. If you own a roster built to compete this year sell off a second round rookie pick to acquire him and capitalize on the general dislike for him in the dynasty world.
As always, thank you for reading! Who do you think was a winner based on the NFL Draft? Let me know below or on Twitter @DFF_Shane. And if podcasts are your thing then check out the DynastyTradesHQ.