Drafting players who exceed their value in average draft position often separates the good teams from the truly great ones.
So how do you give yourself the best chance of finding talent in the later rounds at the running back position? You have to find one that fits several categories.
One guy with the potential is Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Ronald Jones II.
So what do we like about this second-year back out of USC?
Steady producer in college
When it comes to predicting success, there's no greater indicator than college film. Specifically consistent, strong production over several years at the Division-I level.
Jones has this quality in spades. He burst onto the scene hard as a freshman at USC, averaging 6.5 yards per carry and 987 rush yards. He finished 2016 with 1,082 yards and 12 touchdowns that year. He finished strong in 2017, rushing for 1,550 yards and 19 touchdowns. And this was despite USC being a pass-heavy offense.
I know it seems like an obvious strategy, but a lot of people end up reaching on an unproven back early because he has 'talent.' Sure, you're throwing some darts in the later rounds and not every player is going to fill every possible hole. But why not draft a guy who has talent but also showed he could produce at the college level?
Not much competition to deal with
The Buccaneers went extremely defensive heavy in the draft. They didn't take a running back and didn't even draft a skill position player until the sixth round, taking WR Scott Miller out of Bowling Green.
Because of this, all Jones is competing with is ho-hum back Peyton Barber. Barber only averaged 3.7 yards per carry last season, so he didn't exactly blow the doors off the place. Plus he's on a one-year deal for a little over $2 million, so it's not like the Bucs are heavily invested in him.
When it comes to finding running backs who will produce fantasy points, you want to find a guy who the coach likes and will look to get the ball to. Volume is one of the most effective ways of predicting fantasy success. Even a mediocre running back getting 25 carries a game is better than a great running back getting 12 carries a game.
Has the speed for big plays
There's a lot of speed here with Jones. He's an explosive player. He was one of the faster guys at the 2018 combine, running a 4.48 40. He can stretch the field with his speed.
When it comes to running backs, talent isn't the most important thing, volume is. However, the ability to rip off big runs at the second level is still very helpful. Often times a big 56-run will mitigate 10 runs of 3 yards or less. You want a running back with the capability of hitting a home run, and Jones has that.
He's a dual threat
Jones is a good route runner, has soft hands and catches the ball well. He wasn't asked to catch the ball a ton at USC, but he made the most of it when he did.
Key tip: Receiving running backs are deadly. If you look at the top running backs from last season like Christian McCaffery, Alvin Kamara and Saquon Barkley, they all racked up a ton of targets.
His current ADP is juicy
Jones is going in the 9th-10th round in most fantasy drafts. Meaning you can get him at a steal. He's going around the likes of Adrian Peterson and Austin Ekeler. Now, his ADP will likely rise, especially if he shows out during preseason.
Overall, Jones is a worthy dart throw running back this season because of his speed and opportunity.
Todd Gurley has some issues, and people should be getting excited for rookie Darrel Henderson in 2019.
ESPN's Lisa Thiry reported earlier that Todd Gurley will miss the entire preseason.
While many weren't too concerned about Gurley's knee, it's definitely starting to look like there could be some issues now.
If that's the case, it's important to adapt to the situation as a fantasy owner. That's why we look to the next guy up. Darrell Henderson.
Why it matters for fantasy
Gurley battled injury woes down the stretch last year, and he was the worst kind of fantasy player because of it.
You didn't know what you were going to get with Gurley. But it was tough to bench him because he was such a stud.
Also, we saw how good a backup running back can be behind the Rams potent offensive line.
Running back C.J. Anderson had three games of 100+ yards in the playoffs last season, and was by the far the Rams best back in that stretch. With Anderson gone now, there's now more room in the offense for volume.
Why you should be excited about Henderson's immediate fantasy potential
Henderson is by far the most explosive back coming out of the draft this season. He was also one of the most efficient running backs in college football history. You can read more about his stats and traits in our 'Talent Evaluation' section here.
Also, the Rams traded up to get Henderson in the third round. Draft capital investment is often a good indicator of how soon a rookie sees the field. This shows that even if Gurley is healthy, the Rams are likely going to use Henderson anyway, making him valuable in deeper leagues.
To top it off, you can currently get Henderson in the 8th round according to FFCalculator. Making him an absolute steal there.
Is Malcolm Brown a problem?
While Henderson has some opportunity, Malcolm Brown is still in the mix. The Rams hung on to him in the offseason and he's a talented enough back that could be a starter on several other teams.
But should we get worried about Brown stealing touches?
There's definitely some cause to worry. Brown is definitely going to get a shot as well. So he's a welcome dart throw as well.
The current state of the Rams as a team
The Rams burst out of the gate last season as one of the best offenses in the league. But many factors contributed to their team's slow decline near the end of the season.
They had injuries to their key players, including key wide receiver Cooper Kupp. Plus Gurley's play declined as the season went along. Defenses also started to figure out Sean McVay's style, which lead to more teams beating them in the playoffs.
But despite that, the Rams are still a very good offense heading into 2019. They'll have Kupp back. Sean McVay will also have to evolve his play style once again to counter other coaches counters. But he's proven to be a smart enough guy where I'm confident he'll do that.
Overall, Henderson has the potential to be a league winner for fantasy teams in 2019. The Rams offense will be among the best in the league. There's opportunity for high volume with Gurley's knee issues. The Rams showed a lot of interest trading up to get him in the third round.
Lastly, Henderson is one of the most explosive rookie backs this season. Draft him in as many leagues as you can.
The 'What Can This Rookie Do For You' series aims to show how drafting this player will benefit your fantasy team. It illustrates his strengths and weaknesses. What scheme he would fit best in, and what kind of fantasy stats he could put up.
Today, we're looking at current Los Angeles Rams running back Darrell Henderson out of Memphis.
Two words comes to mind when describing Henderson. Explosive and efficient.
With 4.49 speed, Henderson is far and away the most explosive back in this draft. He's decisive when he sees the hole, getting up to speed quickly at the first level. Watching him rip off big gains when the Memphis offensive line opened up massive holes for him was a thing a beauty.
Savvy in the open field
Another key strength of Henderson was his efficiency. Henderson rushed for 8.9 yards per carry over his last two seasons.
Once he's through the first level, he's fast enough to outrun most linebackers at the second level. He's also savvy enough to take the angle away from safeties and defensive backs. This results in him rarely getting chased down by faster defensive backs.
Notice how Henderson gets skinny to break through those two defenders at the first level. This isn't a well-blocked play but Henderson's decisive cut and upper body strength breaks two tackles through that hole.
Once he's in the open field, Henderson stays calm in the open field and doesn't try to do too much. Instead he just takes the angle away with subtle right shift towards the center of the field. This takes the safeties angle away and all Henderson has to do is turn up field for the score.
Also keep in mind this play came in the fourth quarter against a good UCF team. Plus, Memphis was losing at the time. Showing Henderson has potential to endure an entire game and still come up clutch. Showing he could wear defenses down at the Pro level.
But can Henderson's college traits translate to the NFL level?
An NFL back
Henderson has some good traits going for him in terms of being a pro. He shows good ball security, fumbling just twice while at Memphis. He keeps the ball high and tight against his chest. This should lead to him having plenty of chances on crucial plays late in games and on the goal line.
He's also a good pass catcher, an important trait in the modern NFL. With a 82 percent catch at Memphis, Henderson catches with his hands and turns up field quickly and smoothly. He can be used as a screen back at the NFL level.
How his change of direction could hurt him
The big weakness in Henderson's game is lateral quickness. He takes too many steps to gather himself before making sharp lateral cuts. Overall, he lacks the suddenness to change direction and avoid the tackle. The clip below demonstrates that.
Overall, Henderson's burst, efficiency and straight line speed should translate to gap style systems very well. A good offensive line will allow him to maximize this efficiency. You won't have to worry about him leaving meat on the bone as he follows blocks and doesn't try to do too much. You also won't have to worry about fumble issues since he's a good protector of the ball.
His main weakness is his lack of change of direction, which could lead to some poor outings against good NFL defenses. Still, he can be a very solid, consistent back at the NFL level. He can get you those 100 yard games when he's on a team with a good offensive line.
Henderson is an exciting player worth monitoring for fantasy.
On this episode of the Fantasy Football Helpers pod, George and Scott discuss CBD oil, Home Depot Fantasy and Atlanta corporations. Oh, and then they talk about who the number 1 pick should be in fantasy football drafts this season.
They debate it down to 4 guys. Alvin Kamara, Christian McCaffery, Ezekiel Elliott and Saquon Barkley. All these running backs are excellent, but who's the top guy?
Both Scott and George go with Elliott because of several factors. For one, his offensive line will be very good in Dallas. Two, he doesn't have any running back to steal carries from him. You say 'Ok sure but can't you say the same thing about the other guys?' And the answer to that is 'yes.'
So what makes Elliott better than the other guys? Well it really comes down to touchdown probability. You can't predict touchdowns. They're fluky. But running backs do have a tendency to even out their touchdown totals for the year. That's exactly what might happen with Elliott.
Elliott had only six touchdowns in all of 2018. But he still won the rushing title with over 1,400 yards. Plus, he led the league in carries with 304. You have to figure his touchdown numbers are going to be better this season. Barkley is a worry with touchdowns because the Giants lost some one of their best offensive weapons in Odell Beckham Jr. Plus Eli Manning is way up there in age and rookie Daniel Jones looks like a reach of a pick. The Giants could struggle on offense a lot and that could hurt Barkley's chances.
Kamara is entering his first year as a true bellcow back. He's not going to have Mark Ingram to keep him fresh. But that shouldn't matter too much. Kamara will still produce amazing stats. We just like to play it as safe as possible with our first overall pick. Elliott seems like the safest because he's a proven bellcow back.
Then, they go on to talk about dynasty players. Josh Jacobs is one of their top running backs for dynasty. He steps into a great situation in Oakland. They also talk about other players they wouldn't take as high in dynasty leagues. They mention how every year brings a different crop of amazing players. They talk about the Patriots wide receivers and how rookie N'Keal Harry is already impressing. He could be an instant dynasty stud in 2019.
Overall, when drafting high in redraft leagues, just make sure you take a running back in the best offensive situation possible. Look for a good offensive line, plenty of scoring opportunities and a high volume of carries. If you just do that, you'll be golden. Take your dart throws in the later rounds. Don't overcomplicate things. And have fun.
Keep an eye out for coverage in 2019. We'll have plenty more in store for you as the season nears.
The 2019 running back class didn't have a once-in-a-generation star. But many rookie running backs still have a chance to score massive amounts of fantasy points in 2019. As we know, landing spot matters a lot for running backs. And in the 2019 NFL Draft, many backs got drafted to teams in dire need of a running back.
The most talented of the bunch was clearly Alabama prospect Josh Jacobs. But the question remains, is Josh Jacobs the best fantasy rookie running back to draft in 2019?
The answer to that is undoubtedly yes. Don't say 'yeah but I think Miles Sanders blah blah blah or David Montgomery blah blah blah.' I know you (the reader) are saying that right now. But take off your contrarian hipster glasses, put down the Pabst Blue Ribbon, and keep on reading.
Why Jacobs the better option
Sure, there were plenty of other talented rookie running backs with promise. Miles Sanders went in the second round to Philadelphia, a team with a good offensive line and only an injury-riddled Jordan Howard to beat out. David Montgomery went to Chicago, which was a solid spot since there's no clear-cut starting RB on the roster. Both backs have good potential opportunity in 2019, but Jacobs rises above them all for several reasons.
For one, there was no running back in a weak 2019 class more NFL ready than Jacobs. At Alabama, he showed he could run between the tackles, catch the ball and also pass protect (a common bugaboo among rookies). No running back in this rookie class was that solid in all three phases like Jacobs.
Sanders and Montgomery, while talented, have some holes. Sanders runs tentative at times and Montgomery lacks long speed to separate from defenses.
Jacobs isn't a speed demon either, but he's by no means slow. Jacobs even improved his 40-time on his second Pro Day, clocking in at 4.52 compared to 4.6 he ran on his first attempt. Plus, Jacobs' size creates more chances to break tackles and gives him a chance to rip off a big run.
Where Jacobs can become an elite fantasy RB
Jacobs is no doubt an excellent inside runner. He has great balance and runs with some anger to create yards after contact. According to Rotoworld's Graham Barfield (creator of Yards Created metric for Running Backs), Jacobs tied Saquon Barkley for 3rd highest percentage of carries to create 5 or more yards. This shows his propensity to break tackles.
That alone is exciting. But there's an even bigger factor that could help Jacobs be the man in 2019.
That factor comes in the passing game. Jacobs averaged 2.4 receiving yards per route in 2018, according to Graham Barfield. This ranked second among all rookie running backs. A good route runner who moves incredibly well for a guy his size, Jacobs can adjust his body to make difficult catches in ways most 220 lb backs can't. You can see some highlights of in this article here. He also has massive hands 10 inch hands, an obvious good trait for a pass catcher.
Receivers do fantasy better
In 2018, the Top 5 running backs (Todd Gurley, Saquon Barkley, Ezekiel Elliott, Alvin Kamara and Christian McCaffery) all had at least 80 targets. And 3 of the 5 (Kamara, Barkley, and McCaffery) had over 100 targets. In 2017, three of the Top 5 fantasy RB's had over 87 targets, and the fourth had 79. While this is only a two-year sample, it's looking more like target numbers are becoming a huge indicator for fantasy success among running backs.
Catching running backs score fantasy points regardless of game script. They rarely post '0' point weeks. If the defense is stopping them in the run game, they can flare out on screen passes and create yards in the open field. If the defense has slow linebackers, they can exploit those matchups for big gains in the pass game.
Catching the ball is also good because it allows running backs to gain bigger chunks of yards in the open field. We saw Kareem Hunt do this especially well in 2017 on screen passes. Same thing with Barkley on the Giants in 2018. Jacobs isn't incredibly elusive like those backs, but he's fast enough and athletic enough to make people miss in the open field as well.
The right spot with Oakland
Jacobs steps into a golden opportunity with Oakland to showcase his receiving ability. With only Jalen Richard and DeAndre Washington to contend with, it's tough to see Jacobs not starting immediately in 2019.
The Raiders made some major splashes in free agency. grabbing arguably the best wide receiver in the league in Antonio Brown. They also added Tyrell Williams, a high-quality No. 2 who was a consistent touchdown producer with the Chargers. Williams is already impressing coaches in practice, and these receivers will move the chains and give Oakland more scoring opportunities in the red zone. When the Raiders get done around the goal line, Jacobs will be the top candidate to punch it in. This gives him added touchdown value.
The big question is quarterback Derek Carr. Will he be able to return to his 2016 form when he was a Pro Bowl quaterback? He hasn't played at that level since the injury, but you could argue 2018 was a rebuilding year since the Raiders lost key weapons in Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree. Carr has proven he's capable when he has the tools, and the Raiders certainly have them in 2019.
Even more promising is the game script within the division. The Raiders play in the loaded AFC West, featuring MVP quarterback Patrick Mahomes in Kansas City and future Hall of Famer Philip Rivers. There's going to be a lot of shootouts in these games, leading to more chances of getting Jacobs involved in the passing game and score touchdowns.
Rookie running backs are the best kind of rookie
Running back is a young man's position and so it's not surprising to see Jacobs as one of the top contenders to win this year's Offensive Rookie of the Year award. If you're playing the odds, three of the last five AP Offensive Rookie of The Year players were running backs. Those were Saquon Barkley (2018), Alvin Kamara (2017), and Todd Gurley (2015). All running backs finished in the Top 5 in standard fantasy scoring at their respective position.
To go deeper on one of them Alvin Kamara finished 4th overall in standard fantasy scoring as a rookie. A big part of that was his 105 targets, which allowed him to snag 81 catches and 709 receiving yards. Kamara also had the fortune of playing with one of the three best quarterbacks of this generation in Drew Brees.
But while it's safe to say you won't expect Jacobs to amass 105 targets as a rookie since the Raiders are unlikely to be THAT prolific on offense, there's still plenty of opportunity to utilize his catching ability. The Raiders passed the ball 59 percent of the time last season, good for 12th overall. It's expected they'll throw more given their new weapons in Brown and Williams on the outside. So expect Jacobs to see his fair share of targets in 2019.
Josh Jacobs is an NFL ready running back. He has a scintillating opportunity with zero running backs ahead of him on the depth chart. There's potential for Oakland to give him plenty of targets since they're a fairly pass-friendly offense. He'll also be playing in a high-scoring division where several games could become shootouts.
He's a no-brainer RB2 in all standard scoring leagues this season. You should also snag him a ton in best ball and he should be one of the first picks off the board in dynasty leagues at running back.
To see all our rookie coverage, check out our 'Talent Evaluation' section here.
If there's one thing you must know about dominating your fantasy draft, it's this. You must extract value in the later rounds.
Washington Redskins running back Derrius Guice is the kind of player you might think about taking. But his ADP is way too high according to FFCalculator. Here's why you should avoid him in re-draft this season.
Why is his ADP where it is?
People's confidence in Guice likely stems from two variables. For one, he's young. At just 21 years of age, he best years are ahead of him.
Plus, he's got talent. He was drafted in the second round of the 2018 NFL Draft. So Washington is invested in him and wants him on the field.
Both of those are true enough. But if you look closer at Washington's offensive situation, you'll see Guice is drastically overvalued at that price.
Here are the main reasons Guice should be avoided in re-draft this season.
No opportunity in the passing game
First, you don't want to draft a guy with zero receiving floor, and Guice is that guy this year. Chris Thompson is a dynamite screen receiver who's magic in the open field. Thompson will likely see the targets on third and long passing situations, not Guice.
Receiving ability is how good fantasy backs become great fantasy backs. Here are a few backs with higher ADP's than Guice you could look at here.
One example is Kareem Hunt, who is 79 overall. Yes, I know he's suspended for a bit and Nick Chubb is there. Still, Cleveland's offense will be much better and Hunt will likely see plenty of red zone receiving opportunities as a result. Plus, running backs who sit out tend to fare better when they actually do get back on the field due to lack of wear and tear. Le'Veon Bell's stats are an example of this.
Even Jordan Howard and Miles Sanders have better opportunity in Philadelphia's offense. You could draft Howard at 62 or Sanders at 114, respectively. The Eagles have a stout offensive line. They also have an MVP-caliber quarterback returning from injury in Carson Wentz.
Not only that, Guice is also competing with Adrian Peterson for ground touches. Peterson managed to turn the clock back enough to earn another year with Washington. The Redskins are committed to using him for at least this season.
Not enough red zone trips
This piggy backs on argument No. 1. You don't want a running back in a bad offense, and Guice will likely be in one.
The Redskins are a poop show at the skill positions, particularly quarterback and receiver.
They'll be trotting out a heavy dose of Case Keenum and Colt McCoy. Both quarterbacks lack big arm strength and Keenum is coming off a poor season with the Denver Broncos. First-round rookie Dwayne Haskins will likely take his lumps at some point as well. Expect plenty of poor field position spots for Washington in 2019.
At receiver, their current top guy is Josh Doctson, who's entering his third season. Doctson has yet to breakout and has dealt with injuries and consistency issues early in his career.
Rounding out their receiving core are underwhelming guys like Jehu Chesson, Darvin Kidsy and Brian Quick. Paul Richardson is a speedy slot guy, but it's unlikely he benefits from weak-armed Colt McCoy or Keenum throwing him passes.
Instead, the Redskins will likely resort to a run-heavy, dink-and-dunk style offense that relies on a bend-don't-break defense to stay in games. Meaning there will not be a lot of high scoring affairs. And Guice's touchdown value will suffer.
Then there's the knee issues. Guice is coming off a major knee injury. When I say major, I mean there's a standard ACL tear and the kind of ACL tear that Guice has.
According to Kareem Copeland of the Washington Post, Guice also got an infection to torn ACL that required 3 additional procedures. This required a catheter in his arm and seven weeks of antibiotics. An ACL tear is a severe enough injury on its own. Adding complications to the problem is an even more troubling sign for longevity at NFL level.
Who to look at instead
There's some intriguing rookie running backs to keep an eye on this offseason. Devin Singletary has upside due to Buffalo's upgrades on the offensive line. They may also cut LeSean McCoy to save money. Plus Frank Gore is entering year 7 of his farewell tour in the NFL. It's still a long shot Singletary becomes a starter. Still, you could get him on waivers basically and there's more opportunity for him than Guice.
Also, I mentioned earlier that Jordan Howard and Miles Sanders are available to take later than Guice. Both those players would be fine dart throws given the strength of their offensive line. Plus, that offense could be money like it was in 2017 if Wentz stays healthy.
Those are just a few guys that stand out.
Overall, Guice is somebody who's vastly overvalued at his current ADP. There's better upside backs in the later rounds to look at.
It's time to break down some receivers you should keep on your waiver wire radar in 2019.
These types receivers are so crucial to fantasy success. They're not the big time No. 1 guys, but they produce plenty of fantasy stats at the WR2 and WR3 position. And all those points add up.
Some of these players might not have huge roles to start. But as we all know, things change on a dime in the NFL. Starters go down with injury. Or they get benched because they're struggling to produce. Rookies developing all offseason get their shot next, and sometimes they flourish. So you better be there to catch them while they're hot.
It's important to note that these players usually start crushing it AFTER the season gets underway a bit. So don't expect most of them to start producing during Week 1.
One example of this in 2018 was Atlanta Falcons rookie Calvin Ridley. Ridley took over the spot vacated by Taylor Gabriel and had monster production in Weeks 3 and 4. Catching 7 of 8 targets for 146 yards and 3 touchdowns in Week 3. Followed by 4 catches on 6 targets for 54 yards and 2 touchdowns in Week 4.
That last part is key. You want a wide receiver who can give you two or three consistent good weeks, as it's hard to predict exactly when a receiver will pop.
Also, two important things to look at when selecting these receivers.
No. 1 — Quarterback play. A wide receiver's value is very dependent on the talent of his quarterback. Only the elite wide receivers can still produce good numbers without a great quarterback.
No. 2 — Targets. There has to be enough targets to go around in the offense for a wide receiver to be successful. Some offenses prefer to spread the ball around. This is especially true if there's a lot of talented receivers on the offense. So it's important to find where the opportunity will be for a wide receiver.
Here are some players who might not get drafted in your fantasy league worth keeping an eye on later in the season.
Parris Campbell — Indianapolis Colts
How he could be fantasy relevant in 2019: Talk about a dream pairing. Campbell is a scorching 4.31 40 receiver who gets Andrew Luck as his quarterback right out of the gate. The Colts were in dire need of a slot receive, so targets will be there for this rookie. Plus, he will make a nasty matchup for slower slot corners and linebackers.
He's also not your typical frail slot guy. Campbell stands 6'0, 205 lbs and should provide some physicality if he's going over the middle. He was also drafted in Round 2, meaning the Colts will be expecting him to play very soon if not right at Week 1.
Dontrelle Inman — New England Patriots
How he could be fantasy relevant in 2019: Inman has a slight bounce back year with the Colts last season, catching 3 touchdowns on 39 targets. The Patriots are in a major offensive transition right now. Josh Gordon's year-long status is always a mystery given his past off-the-field struggles. Injuries have derailed DeMaryius Thomas and he might struggle to make the roster. 40+ year old QB Tom Brady is still under center, so there's good touchdown potential there as crazy as that sounds. There's potential for the chips to fall Inman's way, and he could see a substantial role in New England's offense at some point.
JJ Arcega-Whiteside — Philadelphia Eagles
How he could be fantasy relevant in 2019: The Eagles have plenty of wide receivers already. They brought back DeSean Jackson while also keeping Nelson Agholor. So Arceda-Whiteside likely won't see a ton of targets early on in 2019. However, Alshon Jeffery has battled several injuries since Philly's Super Bowl run two years ago, including a torn rotator cuff. Arcega-Whiteside is a similar type of receiver to Jeffery. He's a big wideout who can go up and get the ball, which plays into Wentz's strengths as a quarterback who likes to take chances and let his receiver go get the ball.
Deebo Samuel — San Francisco 49ers
How he could be fantasy relevant in 2019: The 49ers had some of the worst wide receiver production of 2019, so there's plenty of room for targets in that offense. They also have a potential Pro Bowl quarterback in Jimmy Garroppolo, who's coming back from an ACL tear. Samuel was drafted in the second round by San Francisco, which is a good indication that they're going to try and play him early. As long as he's not a complete bust, Samuel will be given plenty of opportunity to see targets in 2019.
So there you have it. Four wide receivers to keep an eye on in 2019.
On this episode of the Fantasy Football Helpers podcast, George and Scott break down the 2019 rookie RBs. Scott states why he likes David Montgomery in Chicago. George gushes about Miles Sanders in Philadelphia. Plus reaction from Giants taking a quarterback in Round 1.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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
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.