The 2018 NFL season has been a volatile one for running backs. We lost guys like Kareem Hunt and Le’veon Bell. We also watched guys like Phillip Lindsay and James Conner emerge as legit top RBs in the league. Needless to say, the position was extremely unpredictable. But it was also of the utmost importance to fantasy owners this season.
This article will be a farewell of sorts. As we transition to the offseason and kick our dynasty and draft content into high gear, I wanted to give one final shout out to all the RBs out there that made this season special. In the final Rushing Report of 2018, we’ll take a look back at some of the guys I wrote about in previous reports and see how they panned out and what to look for them going forward. With a bit of a heavy heart, let’s get to it!
Rushing Report: Year In Review
In week two I wrote a bit about the RB tandem that was supposed to be the Denver Broncos. Due to the offseason hype that built around Royce Freeman, I was a bit modest with how I felt about Lindsay. Even if I hadn’t been, I have the feeling I still would have been too low on him going into ROS. Man, he proved me and a ton of people wrong.
Going into week 16, Lindsay currently sits at the RB13 in PPR formats. On the season he has 182 carries for 991 and nine rushing TDs. He’s also logged 33 receptions on 45 targets for 230 receiving yards and one receiving TD. He’s also had himself this kind of season while still giving up work to Royce Freeman. Lindsay has just a 54% opportunity share of the Broncos total RB touches. That seems low for a kid with his season statline.
Despite splitting work out of the backfield, Lindsay has proved himself to be a top fantasy RB option going into 2019. To date, he’s only placed outside the top 24 RBs just four times and also drops an average of 15.4 PPR points per game. I’ll be the first to admit that I didn’t predict this outcome for my man Phillip Lindsay. Going into next season I believe he will be a no-brainer mid-to-late-second-round pick in redraft leagues. This kid is going to be around for a while.
Kansas City Chiefs
I won’t bore you with rehashing the entire Kareem Hunt story just to get this portion started. So why am I even talking about this? Well because Kansas City will be a literal goldmine for whichever RB lands there and we need to talk about it. I profiled Hunt’s slow start this season but once the offense got going, so did the backfield.
Hunt finished the 2017 season as the fantasy RB4 and was on pace to have yet another huge season this year. Before the incident, he sat at as the RB6 going into week 12. Pulling his fantasy average PPG and adding to his total, right now Hunt would be sitting at the RB6 and also be the 10th ranked fantasy player overall. Pretty special huh? Yes and no. Andy Reid is known for having great RBs throughout his career.
Hunt relinquished an 80% opportunity share of the KC backfield. Like I said above, as well as shown visually in the charts, Andy Reid favors one RB over having a tandem or RBBC. That makes Kansas City’s RB situation very intriguing going forward. In his five previous years in KC, Reid’s RB1 had a top seven fantasy RB finish three times. This is worth monitoring in the offseason as I don’t believe Spencer Ware or Damian Williams is the long-term answer.
In early October I profiled the Green Bay backfield trio that was Jones, Montgomery, and Williams. This was right after Jones was coming off a two-game suspension and the fantasy community was hyped about it. He finished week four with an 11-65-1 statline against the Bills and owners rejoiced. It looked like Aaron Jones would slowly be able to take control of the backfield the way we thought he would.
Week eight was somewhat of a coming out for Jones. He totaled a moderate 16.6 PPR points against the Rams. Little did owners know that was the beginning of the takeover. From weeks eight to 14, Jones ranked as the RB5 in fantasy and totaled 137.8 (19.7 avg PPG) fantasy points in that seven-week span. Jones has also proven he enhances Rodgers ability as a passer when targeted more than any other RB in Green Bays backfield (as seen above).
Unfortunately for Jones owners, he went down at the beginning of week 15 and was placed on IR shortly after. The backfield has been left to Williams for the rest of the season. Next season should be Jone’s time to shine through. His fantasy production down the stretch proved he was the best RB in the Green Bay stable. Not to mention that Mike McCarthy is finally gone. Maybe Green Bay gets an HC that loves to run the football?
2018 In A Nutshell
This season was one of wonder for the RB position in fantasy. We lost a few guys but we also gained a few unlikely heroes. 2018 wasn’t the best one to be an “RBs don’t matter” guy. Of the top 10 overall fantasy players so far this season, five of them are RBs. Four of the top five are all RBs. I understand that positional variance is something that largely draws people to the WR position in fantasy. It’s extremely easy to go for the “safe” bet instead of going for a position with such high risk as the RB. With that said, I believe that elite level RBs have made themselves more valuable than any WR in fantasy. Look for the position to continue to surge with elite fantasy production. Take that ZeroRB truthers!
As always, thank you for swinging by and reading! 2018 was full of lessons as well as fun moments writing for you guys. Although this is the final in-season Rushing Report it will NOT be my final article! make sure you stay tuned and watch out for what’s to come. Maybe ‘Dynasty Rushing Reports’? As always, you can reach me @JesseReevesFF on Twitter.