Undervalued fantasy football running backs
Note: All average draft positions (ADP) are according to Yahoo.
Chris Johnson (TEN): A lot of people thought CJ2K was primed for a bounce back season in 2012, but were sorely disappointed when he finished his third game with 24 rushing yards, giving him a grand total of 45 on the season. Through the rest of the year, however, Johnson averaged 91.2 rushing yards per game, occasionally exploding for massive fantasy point outbursts. He finished the year averaging 4.5 yards per carry - his highest total since his record-setting 2009 season. Much of Johnson's struggles over the past three years can be attributed to a poor interior offensive line, but the Titans have made substantial upgrades in that area this offseason with top free agent guard Andy Levitre and 10th overall pick Chance Warmack. Johnson's ADP is currently 30.0 - he has a shot at being a huge steal there.
Reggie Bush (DET): This change of scenery could do wonders for the career of Bush, who excels in open space. The Lions run the pass-happiest offense in the NFL, and Bush will likely become the top check-down option and security blanket for quarterback Matthew Stafford. In addition, the Lions will likely design plenty of screen plays to get Bush in the open field, where he is among the most electrifying players in the league. This makes Bush a high-upside pick in PPR leagues, and the 28-year-old will also have a chance to pass 1,000 yards rushing for the second time in his career. I fully expect Bush to outperform his 60.4 ADP.
Darren McFadden (OAK): McFadden found himself on my overvalued running back list last summer, but another disappointing, injury-plagued season has caused his stock to plummet. In my opinion, however, his stock has plummeted a little too far. An ADP of 65.9 is a little too low for a player who averaged 88.6 yards per game on 5.3 per carry over 20 contests from 2010-11. Yes, the injury risk is very much there, but once you're in that area of the draft I think you can justify taking a player as electrifying as McFadden. His production woes in 2012 stemmed from a poor scheme fit, as offensive coordinator Greg Knapp attempted to implement a zone-blocking scheme while McFadden is clearly better suited behind a power-blocking offensive line. I know it's a huge "if," but if McFadden can stay healthy, he'll be a huge steal.