We had our first “real” NFL action with the Hall of Fame game this past Thursday. For fans of Dallas or Arizona there may have been some interest. The rest of the world turned the game off by half time, assuming they turned it on at all!
But the Fantasy Football juices really started flowing. The Hall of Fame game is the official start of the NFL season, and when most Fantasy Football players really start to pay attention. Now is the time to look at average draft position (ADP) and determine when it’s your turn to make a draft pick, who would you rather draft?
While I was looking at the current ADP, I came to the conclusion that I will have to make some difficult decisions as I will not be able to take every player that I want. Running backs are a particular kryptonite for me as I tend to draft a lot of them, and really like a lot of them. I want to take you through a journey of running backs that are being drafted close to one another that I would love to have both, but will only be able to draft one.
LeSean McCoy vs. Melvin Gordon
Both of these running backs currently have an ADP in the 1st round. Both running backs are “work horse” backs that will be on the field in all situations for their respective teams. They have also shown that they can be an effective weapon in the passing game for their quarterbacks, which also ensures they see the field more. In a lot of respects, the two running backs are almost the same player.
The difference is that LeSean McCoy has proven year after year that he is a stud running back and Melvin Gordon has only been in the league for two seasons, and one of those was a dud. The other plus for McCoy is that he is the focal point of the offense. The starting wide receiver, Sammy Watkins, is the only person on the team that could put a dent in McCoy’s production. Gordon has to contest with two wide receivers and two tight ends for production. LeSean McCoy is someone I would take as early as the 4th overall pick, so it’s a no-brainer who I take out of the two.
Jay Ajayi vs. Jordan Howard
Coming into last season, no one thought that these two would have any impact in Fantasy Football. In fact, I drafted Ajayi to be the handcuff for Arian Foster, and dropped him after he didn’t even travel with the team in week 1. Howard wasn’t even on my radar until it was too late to pick him up off waivers.
In this situation, I lean towards the team with the better offense, and that is clearly Jay Ajayi and the Miami Dolphins. Sure, the offense could be in trouble with the recent news that Ryan Tannehill could miss the entire season, but the Dolphins will still be a better team than the Chicago Bears will be this year. Ajayi and Howard were almost identical in Fantasy Football points, but Ajayi still has a better situation than Howard which is why I would draft Ajayi 10 out of 10 times.
Leonard Fournette vs. Todd Gurley
This is a battle of the “new hotness” versus the “slightly used” models of running backs. Leonard Fournette was the 4th overall pick in the past draft, while Todd Gurley was the first running back selected in the 2015 draft. Fournette is currently being drafted ahead of Gurley based on ADP.
I’m excited to see how the ADP currently looks because I want Todd Gurley in every draft I can get him. While Leonard Fournette could be great, everyone is expecting he will be Ezekiel Elliott and dominate in his rookie year. The Jaguars are not the Cowboys, and owners who take Fournette as early as they are will be disappointed. Gurley’s outlook started looking a lot better when they fired Jeff Fisher and brought in Sean McVay. I believe that Gurley will have a huge bounce back year and will win owners a championship like he did his rookie year.
Dalvin Cook vs. Adrian Peterson
The (likely) starting running back for the Vikings versus the former starting running back. The Vikings parted ways with Adrian Peterson in the offseason, signed Latavius Murray and drafted Dalvin Cook. Since Murray can’t seem to get healthy, it looks like it will be Cook’s job to lose.
Even though Peterson is 32 years old, I will still take him over the rookie Cook. The upside for Peterson is very high, even if he misses a couple of games or sees limited touches. In every season that Peterson has played at least 12 games he has scored double digit touchdowns and had at least 970 yards. He has also not been used a lot in the passing game, so if the Saints decide Mark Ingram is the 3rd down back, it shouldn’t impact Peterson’s stats. While I do like Dalvin Cook’s opportunity, he ceiling isn’t as high.
LeGarrette Blount vs. C.J. Anderson
As far as value goes, a starting running back for two teams that like to run the ball that you can draft in the 5th round is music to my ears. I know I will end up with a lot of both of these players on my teams, but I’m going to have to make a tough decision if they are both available for me to draft.
Blount is a great goal line back, as evident by the fact he scored 18 touchdowns last year and 15 of them were with 10 yards of the goal. He is not active in the passing game, having 46 career receptions and 1 receiving touchdown. That’s why I would take Anderson over Blount. Anderson will be someone who is on the field in every situation, not just running situations. While he does have an injury history, I’ll take 8 or 9 games of production in all situations for Anderson versus 16 games of only having the opportunity to touch the ball on 1st and 2nd down with Blount.
Frank Gore vs. Danny Woodhead
This is one running back comparison that is really tough for me. On one hand, you have Frank Gore who is always a #1 running back at the end of the season. On the other hand, you have Danny Woodhead who is a PPR machine, but doesn’t carry the ball a lot. It would be a tough decision for me.
At the end of the day, I would take Danny Woodhead. Joe Flacco likes to throw screen passes to his running back, and Danny Woodhead’s favorite thing is screen passes. Woodhead will thrive with Flacco this year, and all reports say that the two are creating a great chemistry together. What puts Woodhead over the edge for me against Frank Gore is that Gore will be 34 at the start of the season and it’s possible the Colts could be without Andrew Luck for the first 6 games while he recovers from shoulder surgery. Even if Flacco misses time because of his back, all quarterbacks like having the running back who is the quick outlet, so Danny Woodhead will be fine no matter what.
Follow Me on Twitter @hardknoxffb