Five running backs to pass on come fantasy draft day
Ryan Mathews (SD): Ever since coming out of Fresno State in 2010, Mathews has been deemed worthy of a first round fantasy draft pick. However, he has never lived up to the hype. With former backfield partner Mike Tolbert signing with Carolina, people expect Mathews to get even more looks and finally live up to that stud running back potential, but I don't see it happening. Fantasy Football Guide ranks Mathews as the fifth best running back.
Mathews has a chance to be a good pick in your draft, but I'm not willing to risk a first round pick on him. He has a history of various injuries that have made him tough to rely on regularly. As a matter of fact, Mathews is already dealing with a fractured collarbone. The injury would reportedly keep him out for 4-6 weeks, leaving a Week 1 return as a possibility, but SI.com's Peter King is now reporting that he'll miss "at least a week or two of the regular season." That injury is unlikely to be the last for Mathews this season.
According to Fantasy Football Calculator, Mathews' average draft position (ADP) is a modest 20.1 (14th among running backs). That ADP took a free fall after the report of his broken collarbone came out. I wouldn't knock anyone for taking him there, but don't fall victim to the first round hype.
Maurice Jones-Drew (JAX): MJD managed to win a rushing title playing with the league's worst passing offense, a rare feat. Considering the fact that their passing attack can't get any worse, that shouldn't be an issue for those who are considering Jones-Drew. My problem with MJD and ESPN ranking him fourth among running backs is that he is coming off a huge workload and has had trouble with his knees in the past.
After carrying the ball a league-leading 343 times and piling up 386 total touches, it's no sure thing that MJD's body will hold up through another season as the workhorse. Take a look at some recent runners with similar workloads: Garrison Hearst carried the ball 310 times in 1998, then missed the entire 1999 and 2000 seasons with a devastating ankle injury. Stephen Davis carried the ball 318 times in 2003, then found himself on the injured reserve after only 24 carries in 2004. Finally, there's Steven Jackson, who piled up 346 carries in 2006, then experienced a decrease in over 1000 total yards in 2007. Taking players coming off a heavy workload is risky business.
When you throw in the fact that Jones-Drew has yet to report to training camp, there are plenty of players (Chris Johnson and Matt Forte, to name a few) who I'd rather pick as the fourth running back off the board.