2017 Running Backs: It’s the most injury-prone position in the N.F.L., making it even more difficult to know who will be reliable from season to season in fantasy football. But here’s an educated guess at how some of last season’s Studs and Duds will fare in 2018.
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Mark Ingram (NO)
In 2017, the New Orleans Saints produced one of the best running back duos we’ve seen in the last decade, with Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara. Ingram finished the year as RB6 while Kamara finished RB3.
Mark Ingram, who is getting a little older now, will be entering his 8th NFL season this year. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Saints give more looks to the younger, better receiving back in Kamara entering just his 2nd year.
Over the past few seasons we have seen the N.F.L. turn into a much more pass-friendly game. I’m not saying Kamara is going to completely take over this backfield, but I don’t believe Ingram is going to see as much action as he gets older. As of right now he is being drafted in the 2nd round of mock drafts, and I do not see him living up to that.
Todd Gurley II (LAR)
Gurley went from a great rookie season, to a disappointing second year, then on to another great year in 2017. So what do we expect from him this year following a monster season? The same thing as last season.
Gurley is a complete beast and his 2016 down year was a complete fluke in my opinion. He was misused under Jeff Fischer and that Rams team was going absolutely nowhere.
All hail Sean McVay, who is going to be a great coach in the N.F.L. over the rest of his career. He came into last year with a mindset of turning this team around and he did just that. Acquiring lots of talent through the draft and free agency, he has this team on the right track to success.
Gurley was used exceptionally well on offense, both running and catching the ball and I do not see that changing moving forward. Barring injury, he is going to have another huge year in this offense.
Joe Mixon (CIN)
Joe Mixon was a very popular sleeper pick in last year’s drafts. He was being drafted in the 3rd round consistently before anyone even knew he was going to be a full-time starter. That didn’t happen until about Week 3 or 4 where he was getting about 15 carries a game.
Let’s cut to the chase. Mixon did not live up to that 3rd round draft pick that most spent on him (including myself). But, I believe this year will be different. Mixon got better last year as the year went on and a couple of weeks ago it was stated by a Bengals front office member that Mixon will be the ‘bell cow’ back in 2018. I think this is the right move because they’ve got to take pressure off Andy Dalton to succeed and Mixon is a very talented player. He would’ve been a 1st round NFL draft pick last season if it weren’t for the off the field issues.
Jay Ajayi (PHI)
Last year, Ajayi was being drafted in the late 1st, early 2nd round slot along with Melvin Gordon and Jordan Howard. Ajayi was the most disappointing out of the three, finishing RB36.
Miami was really in a tough spot last year so they decided to deal him to the Philadelphia Eagles for a 4th round pick after week 8. The Eagles went with a running back by committee approach to end the season and let’s just say it worked, even after losing Carson Wentz.
I think Doug Pederson will stick with this philosophy on offense as they have a lot of young backs including Wendell Smallwood, Donnel Pumphrey and Corey Clement. Ajayi will lead this pack but don’t expect him to be the bell cow he was in Miami a season ago.