Running backs are chosen in the first round, and the hype train churns into motion. Are we looking at another Kareem Hunt or Alvin Kamara? Should he be chosen among the first 20 backs? Then reality starts to set in.
Rashaad Penny and Sony Michel specifically. These backs were chosen late in the first year, and they have some fans out there. Per Fantasy Football Calculator they are currently being chosen as the 23rd and 25th running backs in drafts. But those are big ADP numbers to live up to. Both are far more likely to miss than hit at that kind of investment.
Penny ran for 2,248 yards last year at San Diego State, and many have jumped to the conclusion that he’s going to be another Marshawn Lynch, banging out yards and touchdowns. But it looks far more likely that Penny will begin the season as a backup behind Chris Carson.
Carson isn’t chopped liver. He was playing really well last year before he got hurt. And as The Seattle Times has been documenting all along, Carson has been running with the first-unit offense for the past three months. Carson caught a 65-yard touchdown in the team scrimmage on Saturday. Penny hasn’t been a bust (he had a nifty 57-yard run in that game) but it doesn’t look like he’s going to be used in a starting, full-time role anytime soon.
Carson is currently going 41st in drafts. He’s a much better value than Penny right now. If I were walking into a draft today, I believe I would select Carson before Penny. I think the value of having been around for a year, with a better idea of how the offense works, is not to be underestimated.
It’s playing out similarly in New England. Michel is athletic and explosive, but he’s got to learn the offense. Now he’s undergone a knee procedure that will sideline him until late August.
New England has a notoriously complex offense, so I find the idea of Michel will be a heavily used, starter-type back to be laughable. He wasn’t even a full-time guy at Georgia.
More reasonably, Michel will be used in combination with Rex Burkhead, James White and maybe even a fourth back.
Burkhead is currently going 33rd among running backs. He looks like a better value. In PPR scoring, James White has an ADP of 55; he will outscore Michel in that format.
I understand that Kamara, Hunt and Leonard Fournette worked out nicely last year. Dalvin Cook would have had a great year had he not gotten hurt. But more commonly, rookie running backs chosen in the area where Penny and Michel were selected don’t meet expectations.
In this century, 22 running backs have been chosen in the second half of the first round. (That is, they were chosen in the first round, but they were chosen between 18th (T.J. Duckett) and 32nd (David Wilson). And only five of those 22 put up more than 1,000 run-rec yards in their first year.
|BACKS IN SECOND HALF OF FIRST ROUND|
|2000||Shaun Alexander, Sea.||313||41||354||2|
|2000||Trung Canidate, St.L.||6||4||10||0|
|2001||Michael Bennett, Minn.||682||226||908||3|
|2001||Deuce McAllister, N.O.||91||166||257||2|
|2002||T.J. Duckett, Atl.||507||61||568||4|
|2003||Larry Johnson, K.C.||85||2||87||1|
|2003||Willis McGahee, Buff.||0||0||0||0|
|2004||• Kevin Jones, Det.||1133||180||1313||6|
|2004||Steven Jackson, St.L.||673||189||862||4|
|2004||Chris Perry, Cin.||1||33||34||0|
|2006||• Joseph Addai, Ind.||1081||325||1406||8|
|2006||Laurence Maroney, N.E.||745||194||939||7|
|2006||DeAngelo Williams, Car.||501||313||814||2|
|2008||• Chris Johnson, Tenn.||1228||260||1488||10|
|2008||Felix Jones, Dall.||266||10||276||4|
|2008||Rashard Mendenhall, Pitt.||58||17||75||0|
|2009||Beanie Wells, Ariz.||793||143||936||7|
|2009||Donald Brown, Ind.||281||169||450||3|
|2010||• Jahvid Best, Det.||555||487||1032||6|
|2011||Mark Ingram, N.O.||474||46||520||5|
|2012||• Doug Martin, T.B.||1454||472||1926||12|
|2012||David Wilson, NYG||358||34||392||5|
|2018||Rashaad Penny, Sea.||?||?||?||?|
|2018||Sony Michel, N.E.||?||?||?||?|