George Banko

George Banko

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Editor's note: Landing spot and age are the two most important variables when it comes to drafting a fantasy running back in our opinion. However, talent matters as well. This series aims to show you what a running back could do at the next level. How he can be used, what systems he fits in, can he catch, and more.

To sum Montgomery up. He's a magician in the open field with his lateral movement to elude defenders. He also has good balance to keep his feet under him after contact. He's a good pass catcher and could be an excellent screen pass back at NFL level.

His biggest weakness is his initial burst. He doesn't accelerate quickly through the hole which means faster NFL defenders closing the gap on him too often. He wouldn't work well in a gap system. But he's an ideal zone-blocking runner. Plus his pass catching ability makes him versatile. He could line up in the slot for some teams like Christian McCaffrey in Carolina.

Let's look at some clips that illustrate these points.

Good pass catcher

This is one of the areas where Montgomery really excels. He has soft hands, gets up field quickly and can make defenders miss.

The NFL is a passing league and running backs have to have this trait to be productive now a days.

Here's a pass where he showcases this ability.

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Notice how he catches the ball behind him but is already turning to recognize the defender. This allows him to make his first lateral move before the defender has a chance to get set. Then he plants his foot and makes the safety miss. This kind of elusiveness in the open field is what could make him a great PPR fantasy back.

Here's another example below. In this clip, Montgomery runs a crossing route. This type of route is one you could see him excelling at in the NFL. When he catches the ball in space, he can use his lateral movement to string multiple moves together. Here you see him plant his foot in the ground to elude a linebacker. Then cut up field and spin off to elude another defender.

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Here's a pass he caught against Oklahoma St. It's kind of a flashy catch and he obviously won't have to make this catch very often. But it's good to know he has the ability.

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Notice how with this catch with a defender draped on him. Shows great concentration to reel it in with one hand and uses his balance to stay on his feet through the tackle.

Montgomery can also be used in the slot as you'll see in this next clip.

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Fantasy value

This year's running back class as a whole is not very fast.

Montgomery, like several other top backs in this group, didn't show out at the combine in terms of speed. His 4.63 40 time illustrates that. This will be a question mark for him at the NFL level. Does he have enough burst to get to the hole quick enough before the defenders collapse on him.

Despite his speed concerns, Montgomery really excels in the passing game. He caught 71 passes for 582 yards while at Iowa State. After the catch, he gets up field quick and makes guys miss.

If he finds himself on a team with an accurate quarterback, Montgomery could be a solid contributor early on. Landing spot is key though. But if a good team drafts him, he's worth taking a flier on in redraft leagues.

 

 

 

Editor's note: Do running backs matter in the NFL anymore? The short answer is 'yes.' But they don't matter nearly as much as their landing spot. This series shows you what a running back does well. That's all. So this what you might see him do at the NFL level. Once again, what team drafts him and how they use him is A LOT more important. So don't take this as direct advice to draft him as of yet. This series is meant to make you aware of the player and what he can do.

Today we're taking a look at Florida Atlantic's Devin Singletary. A very fascinating back who is fun to watch.

Singletary is not quick. He's definitely not fast in a straight line either.

But he has some very impressive traits. Traits that translate to the NFL level immediately. 

He could contribute to your fantasy team as a rookie, but it's highly unlikely he blows the doors off the stat sheet.

If he does contribute to a fantasy team, it would be likely be later in the season. He would have to wait until a starter gets injured. He could also contribute if he's playing behind a shaky starting back.

So he's somebody to monitor off the waiver wire this year. Just remember his name for now.

Film Example: The clip I feel encapsulates everything he does well

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What's his archetype?

Singletary will be smaller than most backs at the NFL level. He comes in at 5'7, 205 lbs.

As we mentioned earlier, he's not very fast. He doesn't play fast on film and ran a 4.6 40 at the 2019 NFL combine.

But one thing that immediately jumps off the charts is his suddenness.

Singletary embarrasses defenders at times with his stop-and-start ability.

His lateral jump cuts are also a thing a beauty.

While he's definitely not Le'Veon Bell, he does have similar patience in the hole and eludes traffic with a cool and calm demeanor. He doesn't panic and try to do too much on inside runs.

Film Example: Patience

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Has the track record

Another impressive thing about Singletary is his consistent production at Florida Atlantic. He ran behind a bad offensive line and still put up 3 consecutive 1,000-yard seasons.

He finished with 1,348 yards and 22 touchdowns his junior year.

He caught the ball less and less each year, but his freshman year he had 26 catches for 163 yards. Showing he has potential to thrive as a back in the modern pass-heavy NFL.

He's also a willing pass blocker and because of his good decision making, he shows the mental awareness to potentially pick up complex blitz schemes at the NFL level. Which is one the toughest but necessary traits for an NFL back to have.

Can he be a feature back?

It's tough to tell with Singletary because he plays stronger than his size at times.

If you remember Ahmad Bradshaw with the Giants. Bradshaw was an undersized back but could play physical and knock defenders backwards. However, Bradshaw was a lot quicker than Singletary.

But he runs hard and can plant defenders on their backs. He also has exceptional balance as you'll see in the clips below.

Film Example: Balance and Physical Running Ability

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Verdict

It's hard to imagine Singletary being a feature back at the NFL level due to his lack of size and quickness.

Of the small amount of running backs I've studied so far, Devin Singletary is the most fascinating. I think he could be a good goal line back due to his toughness, elusiveness and patience to sift through the trash.

He also has a lethal jump cut and sudden change of direction. But he lacks is quickness, burst, and size. 

I don't see him being a big fantasy contributor this season barring a perfect landing spot or an injury to the other team's starter. But there's a lot to like about him and I can't wait to see how he turns out.

 

Editor's note: This is not direct advice telling you to draft this particular player. The 'What Can This Rookie Do For You' series aims to show you the traits of each running back. What scheme could lead to the most fantasy points for him. And any other noteworthy things.

Justice Hill is an explosive runner with the burst to rattle off big chunks of yardage in the right system.

We will dive into what that system is and how he could be effective for an NFL team and your fantasy team.

Hill's combine numbers illustrate his burst ability. He ran the fastest 40-time at the 2019 combine among running backs (4.40). He also tested among the highest for the broad and vertical jump. This explosiveness is shown on the field with his ability to change strides and accelerate.

But although he ran a great 40, there are some things about his game speed that don't exactly translate to the field.

Hill frequently gets chased down by defenders in the open field. Meaning he's not as fast in pads as he is in shorts.

But even though the tape didn't show Hill as a true home run hitter, there's still a lot to like about his game.

Let's see where he fits best in the NFL.

Born for a gap system?

Hill was used primarily in the shotgun at Oklahoma State. Though they occasionally split him out wide.

He's at his best when he can sift around the line, find a lane and use his burst to accelerate quickly for chunks of yards. You'll see this in an example below against Kansas State.

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Notice how fast he gets up field after he decides where to run.

His burst allows him to cover a lot of ground. Leading to a big gain. This was made possible due to him identifying the running lane and then shooting down the crease.

Because he's undersized, Hill will likely struggle as a short yardage back. So don't expect a lot of goal line touchdowns from him at the NFL level.

A hard runner

Though he's undersized, the effort is definitely there with Hill. He fights for extra yardage and can even take a few players along for a ride from time to time.

The running back position is a raw one, where those little extra inches of effort pay off in the form of 2-3 more yards.

Hill can definitely do this. He can fight and move the chains. As you'll see in this run below.

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Whether or not Hill can do this consistently will decide if he can be a solid backup or just a depth guy at the NFL level.

What could hold him back?

If you draft Hill to your fantasy team, you're going to have to hope he improves his pass blocking. This was a weak area for him at Oklahoma State. Although he struggled, he does show mental instincts to know where to be on the field when it comes down to who to block. He sometimes dives at defenders, which can be ineffective.

This could keep him off the field on passing downs. But it's common for younger running backs to struggle at this and many have drastically improved with practice.

Can he catch?

Though he wasn't thrown to a lot in college, Hill showed some ability to make plays in the receiving game. He was especially effective on flat routes where he could just turn up the field and go.

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Despite that, he was pretty limited in his routes run at Oklahoma State. So there's not a big sample size to look at. However, it doesn't mean that he can't catch at the NFL level.

Overall summary

Hill is an exciting runner. He racks up yards quickly due to his great burst/acceleration. He's not a pure home run hitter as he lacks top line speed. He also struggles in pass protection as of now. There's potential for him to have some success in a gap system at NFL level.

 

 

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Editor's note: This is a quick post on Penn State running back Miles Sanders. Sanders is coming out for the 2019 NFL Draft this season, so we though it'd be a good idea to discuss what can do if you draft to him to your fantasy team. Whether that be in Dynasty or redraft or any kind of MFL10. It's all on the table. 

So in the limited film i watched, one thing that jumped out to be was Sanders' agility. You'll see in this clip that he has the ability to cut across a defenders body in the open field. So he can definitely be a back that can make defenders miss at NFL level.

At 5'10, 211 lbs, he's a bit undersized but has the pad level to push defenders back. While he's not a force of nature when he makes contact, he still has some good power and would be a solid goal line option if he gets his number called on.

He's not an explosive back, so don't expect him to rattle off 150 yard games at the NFL level. He's more of a skilled player.

He has good hands, so he can catch the ball and be a potential PPR threat. However, he's not overly explosive which means linebackers will be able to keep up with him on wheel routes. It's tough to see him making a lot of big plays down the field on pass routes because of this.

His game was kind of overshadowed at Penn State since he played behind Saquon Barkely for two seasons. He only had 276 carries in his three seasons, but that shows he's fresh and doesn't have a lot of mileage on him.

While he had a 4.49 40 at the combine, his film doesn't show him as a homerun threat guy. This doesn't mean he can't run like mad at the NFL level. This is just what he looked like on the two pieces of film I watched on him (Kentucky, Wisconsin).

Where he fits on an NFL team plus his fantasy value

Miles Sanders looks like someone who can assume a backup role immediately. He also has the potential to be a three-down back at the NFL level due to his play strength, elusiveness and instincts at the position. He would be a good complementary guy to a team with a straight line, downhill running back. An example of this would be the Jacksonville Jaguars, who use Fournette as their power guy.

One of the best fantasy fits would be the Pittsburgh Steelers, who are looking to move after Le'Veon Bell went to the New York Jets in free agency.

Sanders won't wow you too much on film in terms of explosiveness. But he has a lot of skills going for him. I remember watching Alvin Kamara on film and saying 'what's the big deal with this guy?' and he turned out to be tremendously effective as a receiver and every-down back with the New Orleans Saints.

Not comping Sanders to Kamara at all. I don't think the two are similar in that way. Just saying that crazy college highlights don't really mean a lot overall. It's consistency that matters most. And Sanders has enough skills to be consistently effective at running and catching.

In terms of fantasy, keep an eye out for where he goes of course. But this guy is someone worth taking a chance on this season.

 

 


 

Editor's note: This series is meant to explain what rookie running backs can do for your fantasy team. A good running back also requires a good head coach, offensive line and quarterback to be successful in NFL. But these articles will aim to give you an idea of what could happen if this player lands in an ideal fantasy situation.

Other articles on 2019 rookies: Rodney Anderson


This article dissects Alabama RB Josh Jacobs

The consensus among experts is Jacobs is one of the top running back prospects in 2019.

Jacobs best strengths that will translate to great fantasy football stats include his angry running style and his unique catching ability for his size.

First, his angry running style. Jacobs is the ideal running back size at 5'10, 220 lbs. But more importantly, his low center of gravity allows for him to blast through defenders while still keeping his feet under him. This allows him to generate plenty of yards after contact and he showcased this against tough college defenses last season.

Of his 121 carries in 2019, he forced 33 missed tackles. That's a missed tackle forced once every 3.7 rushing attempts. This is the kind of production you want from an every-down back at the NFL level.

He'll make an ideal goal line option on NFL teams. If he ends up getting drafted by a good offensive team that gets in the red zone a lot, expect him to be the guy they go to for the score.

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Burst over straight line speed

Though he could be an ideal goal line back, Jacobs is much more than that. His straight-line speed won't blow you away and his since 4.6 40-yard dash at his Pro Day illustrates this. But he has the ability to make smooth lateral jukes in space to elude defenders.

You'll come to find out that 40-yard dash times aren't always the best indicator of running back talent at the NFL level.

Kareem Hunt, for example, also ran a 4.6 40 which led to many teams passing on him in the first and second rounds. Hunt ended up getting drafted by the Chiefs and finished with an incredible 1,327 rush yard to go along with 455 receiving yards and 11 total touchdowns.

Hunt found himself in an ideal system under Andy Reid in Kansas City. Reid loves using running backs as receivers out of the backfield as evidenced by Jamaal Charles and Brian Westbrook's excellent receiving stats. Plus, the Chiefs had an accurate quarterback in Alex Smith that could deliver the ball on point so Hunt could immediately turn up field and create more yards.

Not saying Jacobs is Hunt. Just showing you that 40-yard dash times aren't all they're cracked up to be.

His role as a receiver

We mentioned how running backs can thrive in the passing game as long as they have the tools and Jacobs is one of those guys. He can track the ball like a receiver and make catches over his shoulder. Very impressive for a guy who weighs 220 lbs.

This makes him a potential force at the NFL level because teams can use him to exploit matchups against slower linebackers and safeties. If you pair him with an accurate quarterback and a creative offensive coordinator he could be a points per reception dream. 

If you look at some of the top running backs in the NFL today, nearly all of them are great pass catchers. According to Pro Football Focus, top fantasy backs Alvin Kamara, Saquon Barkley, and Christian McCaffrey all had at least 70 catches last season.

These backs are fantastic route runners who can make difficult catches look routine. Jacobs definitely showed flashes of a similar skill set at Alabama. While he only saw 56 targets with the Crimson Tide last season, he made the most out of them.

Jacobs hauled in 48 of those 56 targets, only dropping three. He averaged 12.4 yards per catch and forced 21 missed tackles on those catches. Some of them were on difficult routes as well, like this one against Auburn.

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Notice the subtle body adjustment Jacobs makes. He's running down the seam and shifts his body to where the ball is going. This isn't easy for even great athletes to do and Jacobs does it to perfection. He makes the catch over his shoulder and uses a few jukes in the open field to score the touchdown here. These types of routes are run by running backs in the NFL much more now a days.

Where he's potentially weak

There's the knock on Jacobs about his 4.6 40 time. This might make him less than a home run threat when he gets in the open field, meaning he won't be scoring 95-yard touchdowns. But like we said before, running backs who have burst are more valuable than home run hitters over the long run. Jacobs has that burst.

Another potential weakness is his ability as a true every-down back. Jacobs didn't get a ton of carries in Alabama, carrying the ball just 251 times in 3 seasons. Still, that could be a potential strength since his body doesn't have a ton of wear and tear. However, it does raise the question if he can handle a large portion of the carries since we haven't seen that from him yet.

Overall verdict

Jacobs will be ideal on a team that needs a running back. He'll be even more ideal if he has a creative offensive system that uses running backs in the pass game a lot. He'll be even more ideal than that if he goes to a team that needs his services, has a creative offensive system and an accurate quarterback.

Editor's note: In this series, we dissect how upcoming NFL rookies can help your fantasy football team. This is meant to show you what kind of stats he can pile up for you if you draft him.

Of course, scheme fit, coaching philosophy, and offensive line skill are key as well.

But this series seeks to isolate the particular player for what he can do by himself. Ideally, an NFL team will use his skillset to the fullest. Though that might not always be the case.

To get the most out of this series, pay attention to what he does well and adjust it to the rules of your particular league. Of course, we don't know for sure which team will draft him. But this will be a good indicator of what to expect from him.

Football has always been a young man's game. That notion has never been more true than at the running back position.

Here, we'll show you one tip when drafting a running back to enhance your team's likelihood of success. This is a simple one.

Today's NFL is all about preserving the running back.

Coaches and general managers now have enough data to know a running back typically lasts 4-5 years on average before seeing a drop in production. The best backs can produce into their 30's. But these are rare cases.

The constant wear and tear at the position causes RB's to get injured over time. This can hurt your fantasy team because you could draft them in one of these down years.

So how do you use this to your advantage in fantasy?

Simple. Go young and draft a lot of running backs in the later rounds.

This will help ensure you get a fresh young back who's ready to produce. It will also give you replacement options in case your back struggles or gets injured. 

A quick telling stat from last season.

Eight of the top 10 running backs in rushing attempts in 2018 were under 24 years of age. This brings us to another point.

Volume is key when it comes to running backs. You want guys who are on the field. And due to many teams opting to go with multiple starting running backs, it's getting harder and harder to find high-volume backs.

In fact, a running back getting 25 carries per game is unheard of these days. The highest last season was 19 per game from Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott.

Elliott finished with 304 carries for the year. The next closest back was New York Giants Saquon Barkley with 261. Over 40 carries less than Elliott.

One other thing to note is both these running backs were under 24 years of age. Elliott is 23 and Barkley 21. These running backs were the top 2 rushers in the league in 2018.

To point out how important youth is, all of the Top 7 rushers in 2018 were under 24 years of age. These include Todd Gurley (24), Joe Mixon (22), Chris Carson (24), Christian McCaffrey (22) and Derrick Henry (24).

Also, in 2017, the two top rushers (Kareem Hunt and Todd Gurley) were 22 and 23 years old, respectively.

2017 was a little better for some of the older backs though. LeSean McCoy (29 years old) and Mark Ingram (28 years old) ranked in the Top in rush yards.

There are always outliers. Last season Adrian Peterson eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark at 33 years old.

Quite a feat. One caveat though. Peterson hadn't played more than 6 games in a season since 2015. Indicating the rest he got for three years helped him preserve his body a little.

So as a general rule, it's wise to take several running backs in your draft. Have at least 3 or even 4 on your bench. Still, you should always pay attention to each individual's injury history as well. Beware of young, unproven running backs with knee issues.

Plus, if you have a choice between a younger back (21-24 years old) and a slightly older back (25-27) and both running backs are getting a similar amount of carries, then best to go with the young back.

Photo/Keith Allison

 

Tuesday, 20 March 2018 00:00

Episode 199: Walls of Jerick(ho)

Wednesday, 27 December 2017 00:00

Episode 198: Sweet streams are made of these

On the final 2017 episode, the Helpers dole out their awards for the 2017 Fantasy playoffs. This year's titles include the '11th hour,' the 'we can't complain to that guy on Twitter anymore,' the 'where did that guy come from' and the honorable 'sweet streams are made of these' mention. Hope this season was a successful one for you all. But that's not really mathematically possible, but you still probably had fun and that in and of itself...is a success.

Tired of getting beat my sharks on big name daily fantasy sites like Draftkings and Fanduel? Use the promo code 'FFHelpers' and play Daily Fantasy Football at DRAFT a daily fantasy website that gives you an 80 percent better chance to win based on the payout structure.

Saturday, 09 December 2017 00:00

Episode 197: Playoffs are here

On this week's episode, we help you understand that the playoffs are here. Then we tell you what will happen. Listen to us.

Also, check out DRAFT, a daily fantasy website that you can actually win money on unlike DraftKings and FanDuel.

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About Us

We believe Fantasy Football success comes down to two things — opportunity and talent. You will have Fantasy Football mastered once you understand how good a player is and how good of an opportunity he has to gain yards and score touchdowns. The thing is, you'll never master Fantasy Football. But you can get pretty darn good at it when you have even a slightly better understanding of opportunity and talent than the average Joe. That's what Fantasy Football Helpers is dedicated to doing.

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We'd love to hear from you. Feel free to email George Banko