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NFC Backfield Breakdowns (Updated)

By Matt Schauf | Updated on Thu, 13 Jul 2023 . 2:28 PM EDT

Deciphering all 32 backfields is as important now as it’s ever been. Committee attacks have made those true 3-down workhorses more rare (and valuable). But they’ve also deepened the pool of viable fantasy RBs.

So let’s dive into the NFC backfields and determine how the touches and fantasy points will be divvied. The “top fantasy target” for each team below is the best value at ADP, not necessarily the highest-ranked player in that backfield.

(Check out the AFC edition here.)

Note: This article was originally published on July 25 and updated on August 26. Updates are in bold.

Arizona Cardinals

Top fantasy target: David Johnson
Others in the mix: Chase Edmonds

This looks like 1 of the league’s clearest situations. Johnson will likely continue to lead the backfield by a wide margin. Even amid a disappointing 2018, he still handled 72.7% of Arizona carries. Only Saquon Barkley beat that carry share.

The Cardinals, of course, have since changed coaching staffs, which means unknown usage patterns. But multiple reports have already featured HC Kliff Kingsbury projecting a big role for Johnson and lauding the RB’s size-speed combo. Johnson, meanwhile, has professed excitement for the plan to get him into open spaces.

Kingsbury’s offense should feature a lot of shotgun, a formation from which Johnson averaged 6.3 yards per carry in his breakout 2016 campaign.

Edmonds is more of an unknown after 80 touches in his rookie campaign. Kingsbury said in mid-June, though, that he was “surprised at [Edmonds’] ability as a pass catcher.” The coach said Edmonds will “have a really nice role in the offense.”

That doesn’t tell us anything about his touch count. And it’s difficult to find room for Edmonds to produce reliably if Johnson is living up to his 1st-round fantasy status.

But there’s plenty of room for Edmonds to be Arizona’s Gio Bernard: a potential bye-week flex option when the starter’s healthy with huge handcuff upside. Edmonds -- RB58 in current best-ball drafting -- will be more attractive if the Kingsbury offense looks good this summer.

Atlanta Falcons

Top fantasy target: Devonta Freeman
Others in the mix: Ito Smith, Qadree Ollison, Brian Hill, Kenjon Barner

Re-read those “in the mix” names, and you might just become a bigger fan of Freeman’s 2019 fantasy outlook.

Smith ranked just 44th and 45th among 53 qualifying RBs in Football Outsiders’ receiving-efficiency metrics as a rookie. He also rated poorly in rushing efficiency (while falling short of a qualifying carry total). Smith did check in a solid 24th in Pro Football Focus’ elusive rating among 85 RBs with 30+ carries. Most of that comes from the receiving side, though. He ranked just 50th in that group in yards after contact per attempt.

It’s worth noting, however, that Smith’s 2.73 in that category was more than Freeman has produced in any season so far. Freeman has averaged 2.30 yards after contact per carry for his career, topping out at 2.60.

Freeman has certainly delivered the fantasy goods, though. He led all fantasy backs in 2015, ranked 6th across formats in 2016 and then finished top-13 in points per game across formats in 2017. The lead back struggled with durability late in 2017 and then missed nearly all of 2018 with multiple injuries. But he has been healthy throughout this offseason and appears set to dominate backfield work in 2019, his age-27 season.

Smith appears locked in as the #2. Only he and Freeman played with the 1st team in the 3rd preseason game. Smith wasn't particularly efficient in any area as a rookie, though. So you shouldn't view him as the Tevin Coleman replacement.

Ollison enjoyed a solid college career -- 5.4 yards per carry, 7.5 yards per catch, 32 total TDs -- and then posted an above-average speed score in pre-draft testing.

Hill has reportedly had a good summer, though he has generated limited preseason production: 3.7 yards per carry over 4 games, 2.6 over the past 3 contests. The Falcons already let Hill walk once in 2017, despite spending a 5th-round pick on him that year. But they also brought him back last year. And Barner has earned touches with multiple teams over the past 6 years, while proving his worth on special teams.

Carolina Panthers

Top fantasy target: Christian McCaffrey
Others in the mix: Jordan Scarlett, Elijah Holyfield, Cameron Artis-Payne, Reggie Bonnafon

Fantasy drafters like to grab handcuffs for 1st-round picks, but this looks like a situation to avoid on that front.

McCaffrey is an undisputed stud at this point. The only real knock is that Cam Newton claims a fair amount of goal line work. But McCaffrey ranked a fine 13th in share of carries inside the 5-yard line (57.1%) last year, according to Pro Football Reference. He ranked a stronger 8th in share of carries inside the 10 (63.0%).

There should even be upside remaining to McCaffrey’s red-zone scoring. He tied for just 11th in the league in red-zone rushing TDs in 2018 despite ranking 4th in red-zone carries, according to NFL Savant.

If McCaffrey goes down, the Panthers could be in trouble.

Scarlett arrived this spring as a 4th-round pick. He brings speed: 4.47-second 40, producing a 78th-percentile speed score among RBs. (Scarlett stands 5’11 and 208 pounds.) But he also delivered a poor 3-cone time, indicating a lack of agility. Scarlett also totaled just 344 carries and 15 receptions across 3 years at Florida. He topped out at 179 rushes in 2016 and never caught more than 10 balls in a season. Fellow Gator Lamical Perine edged Scarlett in both categories last year, while also beating him in yards per carry and yards per catch.

Holyfield delivered a more productive rushing campaign in his final Georgia season: 159 carries, 1,018 yards, 6.4 per rush and 7 TDs. But he also caught just 7 career passes and then went undrafted after horrible pre-draft testing numbers.

If McCaffrey gets hurt, we’d bet on Carolina signing a free agent.

Carolina's 3rd exhibition game saw McCaffrey drawing all the 1st-team RB touches. Scarlett hit the field next (and with some starters still in the game). Bonnafon didn't touch the ball until the 4th quarter. Holyfield played just a single offensive snap.

Artis-Payne played only 2 special-teams snaps after starting the 1st 2 preseason games. He seems like the best bet to back up McCaffrey initially -- but no one should be shocked if he instead misses the regular-season roster. CAP hasn't done C-R-A-P in the pros: 118 carries, 10 catches, 577 total yards through 4 seasons. That included just 19 total touches in 2017 and 22 last year.

Chicago Bears

Top fantasy target: Tarik Cohen
Others in the mix: David Montgomery, Mike Davis

Montgomery got harder to ignore after his impressive preseason debut, but he didn't play in either of the following contests.

His problem isn’t talent or situation as much as it is price. Montgomery has steadily climbed up the ADP board since landing in Chicago as a 3rd-round pick. His ADP sits in late Round 3 on FF Calculator, the beginning of Round 4 on and mid-Round 4 on

Jordan Howard left behind 250 carries when the Bears traded him to Philly. But Chicago signed Mike Davis before drafting Montgomery. We’re all betting on the rookie to take over a much larger chunk of Howard’s leftovers than Davis will. But how big can that piece get?

We have Montgomery projected for a reasonable 207 rushing attempts as of this writing, 24th in our rankings. But we also have him just 47th among RBs in projected targets -- and that projection gives him a few more looks than the 26 Howard drew last season.

Now, only 15 RBs last year reached the 237 total opportunities (carries + targets) we’re projecting for Montgomery. Just 14 reached the 230 touches. The PPR RB22 for 2018, T.J. Yeldon, tallied just 159 touches. The 2017 edition, Tevin Coleman, tallied 183. So Montgomery’s probably capable of returning value at ADP. But his range of outcomes also includes falling well short of those 207 carries. We’ll be watching through summer for clues about the size of his role.

Cohen followed an RB34 PPR finish as a 2017 rookie by ranking 11th last season. Credit his 71 receptions, which ranked 6th among RBs, and 8 total TDs. Cohen’s 5 red-zone TD receptions tied for 2nd among RBs, according to NFL Savant, while his 17 red-zone targets tied for 4th. Overall, 7 of Cohen’s 8 TDs came on red-zone plays.

Maintaining that red-zone role and his receiving role will be key. It’ll also be interesting to see whether the Bears improve on their #20 ranking in yards per play on offense last season, or whether we get some regression from the team that scored the 12th most offensive TDs (while gaining the 21st most yards).

Davis played ahead of 1st-round rookie Rashaad Penny in Seattle last year, ranking 2nd on the team with 112 carries and leading Seahawks RBs with 42 targets. He’s not a special player but any measure but did check in 11th in Football Outsiders’ rushing DVOA in 2018; 27th among 53 qualifying backs in receiving DVOA.

Davis’ current RB64 ADP makes him an intriguing stash -- especially for best-ball teams.

Dallas Cowboys

Top fantasy target: Ezekiel Elliott
Others in the mix: Tony Pollard

Pollard has enjoyed 1 of the league's buzziest summers and turned into a decently coveted asset -- as long as Elliott keeps holding out.

Pollard arrived in Round 4 after a stellar receiving career at Memphis. He racked up 104 receptions, 12.4 yards per catch and 9 receiving TDs over the past 3 years, despite sharing the backfield with Darrell Henderson and Patrick Taylor (208-1,122-16 rushing, 17-197-2 receiving last year).

There have been MILD Alvin Kamara comparisons, and Pollard quickly expressed excitement about the scheme of new OC Kellen Moore. The RB-WR hybrid could carve out an early role even with Elliott in the lineup. We wouldn’t bet on enough touches to make Pollard a standalone fantasy asset in that case. But we would bet on Pollard as the upside play if Elliott goes down or doesn't start the season on time.

Mike Weber, Alfred Morris and Darius Jackson remain on the roster as of this writing, but Pollard has clearly pulled away from the pack.

Elliott, of course, is a beast whenever on the field. The only question with him is when he returns to the field. We're currently drafting him as though he'll start the season on time.

Detroit Lions

Top fantasy target: Kerryon Johnson
Others in the mix: C.J. Anderson, Ty Johnson, Zach Zenner

We dug into the RB-friendly history of new OC Darrell Bevell on the recent NFC North projections podcast. His 12 previous offenses (5 in Minnesota, then 7 in Seattle) averaged 47.2% rushing among all offensive plays. That 12-year average would have ranked 4th most run-heavy in the league last year; 6th most run-heavy the year before. Detroit already increased its run share each of the past 3 seasons, and the Bevell hire points to ramping up further.

The lead RB in Bevell offenses has averaged 17.9 carries per game across those 12 seasons. That tailed off over his final 4 years with the Seahawks, as injuries knocked down Marshawn Lynch, Thomas Rawls and others. Still, only the final 2 teams failed to have a RB average at least 15.9 rushes per game.

If Johnson can get to 15.9 per contest, he’d be on pace for 254 over the full season. Just 6 RBs reached 250 carries in 2018; 8 of them the year before.

Johnson’s competition figures to come mainly from Anderson, the Lions' consolation prize after the Rams matched their offer for RB Malcolm Brown. Brown was created by cloning Anderson’s DNA in 2015, so Detroit was clearly looking for that style back: big and slow. Will that mean Anderson siphons goal-line work from Johnson? That’s a question we’ll hope to start answering over the next month.

The Lions also re-signed Zenner in the offseason. But they still added Anderson about a month later. Zenner has totaled 211 touches across 4 seasons in Detroit and reached 10 carries in just 7 of a possible 64 games. Don’t expect him to be a factor, even he even makes the regular-season roster.

The team has already decided to release RB Theo Riddick is an interesting case, which adds further intrigue to Johnson. Riddick averaged 6.4 targets per game over the 8 he shared with Johnson last season. That’s 102 targets over a full schedule. It was also the 3rd time in the past 4 years that he averaged at least 4.4 receptions per game -- Riddick's overall average for the 4-year span. That’s a full-season pace of 70 catches.

His departure clearly raises the target ceiling for Johnson, who caught 55 balls at an 8.7-yard average over 3 college seasons.

Anderson and Ty Johnson replaced Kerryon Johnson on 3rd downs in the 1st couple of preseason games, raising some concern. But the starter saw some 3rd-down duty his last time out. We still expect him to clearly lead this backfield.

Anderson has proved an adept passing-down back -- both receiving and pass-blocking -- in his career. But he doesn't appear to beat Johnson on upside in that category. Each could be used across game situations. Ty Johnson, meanwhile, caught just 29 passes across 4 seasons at Maryland. That included just 1 year of more than 6 receptions.

Green Bay Packers

Top fantasy target: Aaron Jones
Others in the mix: Jamaal Williams, Tra Carson, Dexter Williams

Pro Football Focus rated Jones the league’s #7 RB heading into 2019. Among 63 RBs who have played 500+ snaps over the past 2 years, Jones tied for 6th in overall grade and 1st in rushing grade. He ranked 12th in yards after contact per rushing attempt last year among 47 backs with 100+ carries.

There have been reports that new HC Matt LaFleur wants a “mix” in the backfield, which leads some to worry about Jones’ role. But only 10 teams had a RB gather 50+% of the team’s rushing attempts last year; just 11 teams did in 2017.

Even while spending most of 2018 under-used, Derrick Henry still ranked 14th in the league in carry share under OC LaFleur. Todd Gurley cracked 60% in 2017, with LaFleur as OC under Sean McVay. Those 2 offenses each also had a RB among the NFL’s top 10 in targets for the position.

Jones will find competition from a pair of Williamses. The biggest asset for Jamaal Williams to date has been his pass-blocking. Everything else has been average-to-weaker. Jones improved drastically in that area last year, according to PFF’s grades.

Jones’ 2-game suspension to begin last season helped Jamaal Williams open in the starting role, but Jones took it over by mid-year.

Dexter Williams looked intriguing on his college tape and will bear watching long term. Perhaps he challenges Jamaal Williams’ role as soon as this year. But the 6th-round rookie totaled just 279 career touches over 4 seasons at Notre Dame. He sits 4th on the depth chart behind Carson as of this writing, though, according to HC Matt LaFleur.

Los Angeles Rams

Top fantasy target: Todd Gurley
Others in the mix: Darrell Henderson, Malcolm Brown, John Kelly

In case you haven’t heard, Gurley missed the final 2 games last regular season and then never regained his lead-back role during L.A.’s 3-game run to the Super Bowl. Then came an offseason of up-and-down headlines. He’s “feeling great.” His knee’s a concern. He’s dealing with arthritis. He’s done serving as a workhorse. He’s good to play his usual role.

What’s the truth here? We're still waiting to find out. As expected, Gurley didn't play at all in the preseason. And we didn't get much in the way of updates on his status. That just might be a good thing.

We won’t really start getting the answer until the actual games begin. From here, though, it’s hard to see the Rams continuing to limit Gurley as much as they did in the 2018 playoffs.

The other big backfield question here is exactly what will happen around Gurley. We love Henderson’s talent and will gladly roster him in dynasty when given the chance. Redrafters fell too hard for him early but have cooled amid an unexciting preseason. A month ago, Henderson regularly showed up in Round 6. He carries a late-Round 8 ADP in best-ball drafting on as of this update. You can find Henderson available into the double-digit rounds in some other players. He's OK to take a shot on in that range.

If Gurley goes down, though, the Rams figure to split the backfleld between Henderson and Malcolm Brown. They matched Detroit’s 2-year offer to the restricted free agent. Brown’s 2-year, $3.3 million deal isn’t big. But the move was enough to show they prefer him over C.J. Anderson and Kelly. Anderson arrived only after both Brown and Gurley got hurt. Brown is a younger version of Anderson: same size and 40 time. Kelly, meanwhile, is reportedly competing with Henderson for those "change-of-pace" touches and currently leads all RBs in Pro Football Focus' elusiveness rating for the preseason.

Minnesota Vikings

Top fantasy target: Dalvin Cook
Others in the mix: Alexander Mattison, Ameer Abdullah, Mike Boone

What does a healthy Dalvin Cook look like? We don’t really know yet.

The young back struggled with nagging hamstring trouble last season, exceeding 10 carries just once (in the opener) before Week 14. Cook started well as a 2017 rookie but saw a Week 4 ACL tear end his season.

Cook’s healthy now, though. And Minnesota retained the OC who handed Cook the ball 46 times over last year’s final 3 games. The Vikings winning 2 of those in lopsided fashion certainly helped, but the OC change reportedly came primarily because of staff friction over how little the offense was running the ball.

A healthy Cook might gain further touch upside by Minnesota letting Latavius Murray walk and replacing him with 3rd-round rookie Mattison. The former Boise State RB didn’t “wow” in pre-draft testing. But he did spend his final 2 college seasons as a workhorse. That included 514 carries and 55 receptions. Mattison runs hard, though not explosively.

Can/will he assume the goal-line volume of Murray (11 rushing TDs in that range over the past 2 years)? Expecting that doesn’t seem fair. The handcuff upside on Mattison is pretty clear, though -- especially if Minnesota rebounds from last season’s 8-7-1 record.

Abdullah was once an intriguing name. If he makes the roster, though, it'll likely be for his value as a return man. Boone logged 49 carries last preseason and brings a size-speed profile near-identical to Cook’s. He has racked up 5.1 yards per carry and 2 rushing scores through 3 preseason weeks -- including a 64-yard TD run in the opener.

New Orleans Saints

Top fantasy target: Alvin Kamara
Others in the mix: Latavius Murray, Devine Ozigbo, Dwayne Washington

“Top” target is a little tough to pick here. Kamara’s consensus top-4 draft position leaves a lot more room for downside risk than upside. And Murray’s going just 33rd among RBs as of this writing.

Kamara saw his fantasy scoring dip after Mark Ingram returned from suspension in 2018. Kamara averaged a whopping 33.0 PPR points across the 1st 4 games (no Ingram). That dropped to 19.6 over the 11 contests after Ingram returned.

The latter number still would have ranked 9th among RBs for the season, and there’s no guarantee Murray steps right in to the role and production that Ingram managed. Just be aware that Kamara does come with some downside risk.

Murray, meanwhile, is being drafted lower than Ingram ranked in PPR points per game either of the past 2 years. His upside probably doesn’t reach to Ingram’s #8 finish of 2017, but he’s certainly capable of cracking the top 30.

It’s worth noting that Ingram finished just 3 of his 12 weeks last season among the PPR top 24.

We’ll see if anyone behind the big 2 can prove relevant. Jacquizz Rodgers and Kerwynn Williams also remain on the roster as of this writing.

New York Giants

Top fantasy target: Saquon Barkley
Others in the mix: Rod Smith, Wayne Gallman

Barkley only led the league in total yards his 1st time out. That’s all. His 2,028 yards marked the 3rd most ever for a rookie. Barkley also led the league in team carry share and ranked 3rd among RBs in target share.

With Odell Beckham gone, Barkley not only enters his 2nd season as an offensive focal point; he could lead the Giants in targets.

If Barkley goes down, we’ll see a pair of backup-level RBs in what could be a poor offense. Smith and Gallman don’t even look interesting as handcuffs.

Philadelphia Eagles

Top fantasy target: Miles Sanders
Others in the mix: Jordan Howard, Darren Sproles, Corey Clement, Josh Adams, Wendell Smallwood, Donnel Pumphrey, Boston Scott

Philly drafted Sanders in Round 2, easily their biggest commitment of capital to a RB since Doug Pederson arrived. They obviously see more in him than they have for other backs passing through.

After sitting out most of the spring because of injury, Sanders enjoyed a buzzy training camp with regular beat-writer takes that he was clearly the team's most explosive back. Sanders has also reportedly handed blitz pickups better than expected. He's the upside pick over Howard in what looks like a committee.

Howard saw his carry share drop last year from 2 straight seasons of 65+% to 53%. His yards per rush dropped each of the past 2 years. His targets and receptions have declined for 2 consecutive seasons. But the Eagles traded a draft pick for him (albeit a 2020 sixth-rounder), and they’ve talked up his receiving ability some this offseason.

“I feel like they’re allowing me to do more, show my game off more instead of just being one-dimensional like Chicago had me,” Howard said at OTA time. Jimmy Kempski of Philly Voice and Eliot Shorr-Parks of 94 WIP each projected in July that Howard’s likely to lead Eagles in carries this season. We’ll see if Sanders can change that in August.

The Eagles haven’t produced big RB numbers the past 2 years, ranking 17th and 20th in total PPR points at the position. But they checked in 9th in Pederson’s 1st season, led by Ryan Mathews and Darren Sproles.

In Pederson’s 3 seasons, no Eagles RB has exceeded 173 carries or reached 37% carry share. And none of the 3 teams has had the same guy lead the backfield in both carries and targets.

RBs coach Duce Staley said in June that the committee approach will continue.

Sproles returns after playing just 9 of 32 regular-season games the past 2 years. He averaged 9.8 touches per game in Pederson’s 1st year at the Philly helm, though, and could be in for a similar role in 2019 -- perhaps depending on Sanders’ development.

Clement returned slowly from offseason knee surgery but had a busy 3rd preseason game that Eagles writers expect to portend a decent-sized regular-season role. The others appear to be duking it out for roster spots.

San Francisco 49ers

Top fantasy target: Matt Breida
Others in the mix: Tevin Coleman, Jerick McKinnon, Raheem Mostert, Jeff Wilson

McKinnon opened training camp on PUP, returned and promptly suffered a setback with his repaired knee. He's expected to return to practice this week. We'll see if that means he'll be ready to begin the regular season.

Breida said back in mid-May that we should expect all 3 RBs to be “used a lot.” In June, though, NBC Sports’ Matt Maiocco projected that 1 of the presumed top 3 would be a healthy scratch come game days. He reasoned that “it’s difficult to envision” the Niners keeping 4 RBs active in addition to FB Kyle Juszczyk. And Maiocco projected that Raheem Mostert would be active because he’s the 49ers’ “best special-teams player.”

Coleman will certainly stay active. San Francisco just guaranteed him $5.25 million this offseason, with the other 2 already rostered. McKinnon got an even bigger contract just a year ago -- workhorse-type money -- and had HC Kyle Shanahan talking excitedly about him from the start.

Breida, meanwhile, has quietly finished each of his 2 seasons among the top 50 PPR backs since arriving as an undrafted free agent. He ranked 26th last year, despite losing 2 full games and parts of others to multiple injuries. Over those 2 seasons, Breida ranks 9th in yards per carry among all RBs with 100+ attempts and 8th in yards per catch among all RBs with 40+ receptions. (Coleman ranks 4th in the latter category.)

Coleman is the favorite to lead Niners RBs in fantasy points, but he's also going 4.5 rounds ahead of Breida. We're not so sure the gap with wind up that large.

Seattle Seahawks

Top fantasy target: Chris Carson
Others in the mix: Rashaad Penny, C.J. Prosise, Travis Homer

Carson seemed barely ahead of Penny, coming off knee surgery as camp began. But he has generated buzz since making it back for the 1st workout. That has included HC Pete Carroll's assurance that Carson will see more receiving work. Carson has also operated as the clear #1 back through the 2 preseason games he has played. (He sat the 1st with several other key starters.)

There’s room for both to succeed in fantasy, of course, as 2018 showed us. Carson ranked 7th in the league in carries last season, despite missing 2 games. Yet his 46.3% share of Seattle rushing attempts ranked just 17th in the league.

Mike Davis’ free-agent departure left behind 112 carries (21% of the team total) and 42 targets (9.8%). Penny could absorb most of that, still check in just 2nd among Seattle RBs and yet push for a top 20 spot league wide in touches.

Homer arrives as a 6th-round rookie after averaging 6.0 yards per carry and 10.9 per catch over 3 seasons at Miami. He’ll likely compete primarily with Prosise for a role behind the top 2. It’s easy to view Prosise as a non-factor at this point, after he managed just 21 total touches across the past 2 seasons. But he’s healthy, drew praise for his offseason.

“He’s really strong, worked out really hard in the offseason to get his strength right, and his weight is up, but he’s fit and has really been able to do a little bit of everything,” coach said. “So to add him into the competition is really nice. So we’re fired up about C.J. being back.”

We’ll see.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Top fantasy target: Dare Ogunbowale
Others in the mix: Ronald Jones, Peyton Barber, Bruce Anderson, Andre Ellington

Ogunbowale had just 1 college season of 100+ carries, before sliding behind Corey Clement in that category as a Wisconsin senior. But he caught 60 passes over his final 2 seasons as a Badger, beating Clement in that area each time.

Ogunbowale played 10 first-team snaps in the 3rd preseason game, compared with 10 for Peyton Barber and 11 for Ronald Jones. It's not hard to imagine Ogunbowale leading this backfield in receiving.

Jones vs. Barber remains the primary battle. Bucs beat writers have spent the summer projecting Barber to lead the backfield in carries again. This seems to be shaping up as a pretty even split, though. And that makes neither uninspiring runner attractive for fantasy purposes.

Anderson -- an undrafted rookie -- hails from Carson Wentz’s alma mater, North Dakota State, where he averaged 6.0 yards per carry and 14.0 yards per catch career. But Anderson topped 124 carries in just 1 of his 4 seasons there and totaled a mere 32 career receptions. He's had a quiet camp and preseason.

The Bucs brought in Ellington after hiring Bruce Arians -- his coach in Arizona -- but they’ll be a backfield to avoid if things are bad enough that he’s getting meaningful touches.

We still wouldn't be shocked if the Bucs try to add a RB.


Top fantasy target: Derrius Guice
Others in the mix: Adrian Peterson, Chris Thompson, Bryce Love

Guice finally showed up in the 3rd preseason game and ran well. That helped stabilize an ADP that had started to dip.

Guice sits 32nd among RBs in current ADP. And Peterson continues to linger into the middle of Round 13.

Peterson, of course, surprised everyone by stepping in for Guice last year and finishing top-19 across fantasy formats. He remains in the mix after Washington re-signed him in the offseason. And in early June, RBs coach Randy Jordan said that “ideally” the team would split carries 50-50 or 60-40 between Guice and Peterson.

Besides the strength of Guice’s knee, that’s the question we’ll need to see answered this summer. Was that just a position coach talking? Or is it really the plan? Either way, Peterson’s current RB49 puts him in play for fantasy.

Let’s not forget about Thompson. He’s not likely to repeat his 2017 performance -- RB11 in PPR points per game -- but he surrounded that by ranking 46th in 2016 and 2018. That’s not an exciting level, but it’s a jump from his current RB62 ADP. We obviously can’t count on Thompson to make it through a full season, which he has done once in the NFL. But he’s coming off a career-high 4.1 receptions per game. Thompson ranked 18th among all RBs in receptions over the past 2 years and 15th in targets, despite playing just 20 of 32 games over that span.

Love looks like an exciting long-term prospect, especially with Thompson’s contract set to run out after this season. But Love tore his right ACL in Stanford’s final regular-season game last year. Unless he surprises this summer and Thompson gets hurt or dumped, Love doesn’t look like a 2019 factor. Consider him a nice low-cost dynasty stash, though.

Matt Schauf Author Image
Matt Schauf, Editor
Matt has earned two Fantasy Pros accuracy awards for IDP rankings and won thousands of dollars as a player across best ball, dynasty, and high-stakes fantasy formats. He has been creating fantasy football content for more than 20 years, with work featured by Sporting News, Rotoworld, Athlon, Sirius XM, and others. He's been with Draft Sharks since 2011.
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