Everyone loves to start their fantasy football draft by taking a running back with their first pick. The first time I ever played fantasy, my first pick was the great LaDainian Tomlinson during his record-breaking touchdown season back in 2006. 12 years later doing fantasy and not much has really changed. Getting stud running backs to bolster your roster is the way you win your league. Picking the wrong one, however, can automatically destroy your fantasy season. Don’t listen to what the experts have to say by eating the media cheese; they’re always wrong. Last year if you picked David Johnson with your first pick, I’m guessing you probably lost your league fairly quickly. With a new season on the horizon, which fantasy running back should you avoid in 2018?
4. Joe Mixon
Can we just be honest here; Joe Mixon is not good and never was good. I’ll say this again since this may have been one of my better calls, Mixon’s draft stock improved as sad as that is to say because of the domestic violence situation. He flat out stinks, get over it. I made a bold claim before the draft a year ago that his collegiate teammate, Semaje Perine was better. That’s not out of the question right now.
The weirdest part of this whole situation is that fantasy experts are somehow trying to justify that Mixon could be a top 10 running back. Mixon averaged 3.52 yards per rush last year. That’s flat out terrible. However, here’s an even better stat to prove that the former Oklahoma running back isn’t going to make it. In the first quarter, Mixon averaged 4.6 yards per carry. In the second quarter, Mixon averaged 3.6 yards per carry. In the third quarter, Mixon averaged 3 yards per carry. In the fourth quarter and overtime, Mixon averaged 2.7 yards per carry. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that he wears down in games. To put the cherry on top…he plays for the god-awful Bengals. Do not waste your time with Mixon. I repeat, DO NOT waste your time.
3. Leonard Fournette
Do you really think Jacksonville is going to win 10 games again? I do not. It’s nothing against Leonard Fournette but it never feels like he plays up to his capabilities. Plus, Jacksonville was actually better without him. Jacksonville went 3-0 when he didn’t play. Fournette did average just 3.9 yards per carry and that’s because defenses pretty much dare Blake Bortles to throw the football. I don’t see how that really changes? Again, it’s not that I hate Fournette, it’s just that I can’t really justify taking him with my first pick or spending a lot of money on him in auctions.
2. Melvin Gordon
If you ever want to pull a Ken Giles and punch yourself in the face, all you have to do is take Melvin Gordon. Drafting Melvin Gordon in fantasy doesn’t lead to anything other than headaches. In back to back seasons, Gordon has averaged 3.9 yards per carry. If you have watched the Chargers late in the season, they started to make the running back position a timeshare of sorts. Austin Ekeler has been used more and more and stole 5 of Gordon’s touchdowns last year. Gordon has been a good fantasy back but the Chargers are the definition of underachievers. I just don’t have a good feeling here.
1. Devonta Freeman
Forget the old Devonta Freeman. That guy does not really exist. If you have paid attention over the years, Shanahan has taken the likes of Alfred Morris and Steve Slaton and convinced the public that they were actually good. He most recently had people confused that Devonta Freeman was actually good but that really isn’t the case. Freeman’s yard per rush dropped by .4 a year ago in the first year without Shanahan. I don’t expect that to get better in year two. Freeman only rushed for 865 yards this past year compared to 1,079 yards in 2016. He also caught 18 fewer passes. Also, don’t forget that Tevin Coleman is a viable running back who is in a contract year. Add in that they drafted Ito Smith to be a change of pace 3rd down back. Tell me again how Devonta Freeman is a top 10 running back?