I'm going to list a few running backs I don't like at their current ADPs. I have nothing against these guys personally, but this is a business and we can't play favorites around here! You hear me, Gary! Anyway, I think you get the picture.
Peterson led all running backs in rushing yards last year and finished second in fantasy scoring to Devonta Freeman in what was an extremely down year for fantasy running backs. Last year, there were expectations for Peterson to be used more in the passing game with Norval Turner as offensive coordinator, but Peterson just doesn't have the receiving ability to pull off heavy usage, so we started to see more and more of Jerick McKinnon, who caught two passes a game from Week 9 on, whereas Peterson had just under two per game in that stretch. It seems clear that McKinnon is going to continue to take away receptions from Peterson, which also means taking away more third downs.
Peterson had 327 rushing attempts last season, which were 39 more than the second-most by Doug Martin. That's what we would need from Peterson again to be a Top-5 running back, because he isn't going to catch enough passes to supplement his fantasy points. While McKinnon, who averaged 5.2 yards per carry last year, only saw 52 attempts on the ground, I expect that number to move up a little, while Peterson's moves down.
Peterson is a beast, but at 31 years old and not the primary receiving back, his upside will depend largely on big touchdown and rushing numbers. I'd much rather draft a running back like Lamar Miller, who we know is going to be used fully in all phases of the game, which raises any player's floor.
Martin looked great last year, but much like Peterson, he lost passing down work to his compatriot Charles Sims. Last season was also Martin's "money year" as he was going into free agency the following offseason. It's hard to know a person's motivations, but when you are a NFL running back, your time in the league is often brief and getting paid is clearly a motivating factor. Martin got paid and Sims isn't going anywhere, plus, the Buccaneers will most likely throw the ball more in Jameis Winston's second season.
Forte has been one of my favorite players to watch throughout his career. He has a stride like Gale Sayers and can make a defender miss with just slight movements, but Forte has slowed down some, averaging just 3.9 and 4.1 yards per carry in the last two seasons. And now he's on the Jets, who have three running backs who will compete for touches.
Beat reporter Ralph Cimini believes Bilal Powell and Forte will split work evenly, with Forte the slight leader. Then, there is Khiry Robinson, who has shown ability to score goal-line touchdowns, albeit in a small sample size, but Forte has been one of the worst goal-line backs for his whole career. For Forte to be a fantasy value, he will need to catch a lot of passes, but Powell is also quite adept at doing that as well. Forte has too many questions that need to go his way for him to be a solid fantasy back, and I would rather have someone with a clear path to the majority of touches at his ADP.
Murray doesn't make too many people miss or run through many tackles. He has great speed, and if he can get it built up, watch out, but that didn't happen all that often last year. He slowed down noticeably toward the second half of the season, averaging just 3.2 yards per carry in the last seven games. After last year, you could also hear plenty of rumblings that the Raiders wanted to upgrade at running back or at the very least bring in competition. They didn't end up going for a top free agent or early round draft-pick, but they did select DeAndre Washington in the fifth round. Washington is a strong, compact player, who was great as a receiver in college. At the very least, I expect Washington to push Murray and most likely earn a receiving role, which would cut into Murray's numbers.
Langford averaged a paltry 3.6 yards per carry during his rookie season despite a few big games and only caught 54 percent of his targets. He is the incumbent now that Matt Forte is gone, but the Bears drafted Jordan Howard, who is a bit of a brawler and could win goal-line work. Langford has bulked up a bit to help him absorb more punishment, but he's already shown a lack of ability to make defenders miss and the extra weight is not going to help him there. Then, you have receiving backs like Ka'Deem Carey and Jacquizz Rodgers, who both could cut into Langford's targets, and a coach in John Fox who has no qualms about using a running back committee. It's all too precarious for me.