Give Them The Damn Ball!

2 October 2018

Kerryon Johnson
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New Detroit Lions Coach Matt Patricia saying that Kerryon Johnson is playing a good amount leaves fantasy football owners and Detroit Lions fans alike begging for more carries for the promising rookie. Johnson is not the only running back not getting enough love. Here are some RBs that could put up nice numbers if they receive more opportunities.
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Matt Breida, San Francisco 49ers – Averaging an NFL-high 7.6 yards per carry, which is double that of Alfred Morris’ 3.8. Meanwhile, Morris actually has three more totes than Breida. Come again? He has failed to top a dozen carries in any of the Niners first four games. Give Him the Damn Ball!
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Nick Chubb, Cleveland Browns – Again, I really like Carlos Hyde. Even if you throw out the three carries for 105 yards last week, Chubb averaged 5.9 YPC in the first three games. Let’s see what he can do with 5-10 carries per game. Give Him the Damn Ball!
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Tarik Cohen, Chicago Bears – I like Jordan Howard. I really do. That said, he’s dominating carries 64 to 27 despite a 3.2 YPC average for Howard vs. a 5.1 mark for Cohen. He racked up 13 carries this past week so perhaps he’ll see more than the 4.7 carries he averaged the first three weeks. Cohen is explosive. Give Him the Damn Ball!
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Kerryon Johnson, Detroit Lions – Averaging 5.7 yards per carry to LeGarrette Blount’s 2.7 with Johnson only toting three more carries YTD. The only time he received double-digit carries he became the first Lions runner in years to crack the century mark. Give Him the Damn Ball!
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Aaron Jones, Green Bay Packers – After putting up 65 yards on 11 carries last week, Jones will likely be the primary back for Green Bay going forward. He’s averaging 6.3 YPC vs. 3.4 for Jamaal Williams and 4.5 for Ty Montgomery. In case Mike McCarthy is considering keeping Williams as the lead back, he should reconsider Jones and Give Him the Damn Ball!
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Also check out:

Saquon Barkley
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1. Saquon Barkley, New York Giants
Barkley not only is the odds on favorite to be the top rookie running back, he is a strong candidate to finish in the top ten of fantasy football scoring for all running backs. The last two seasons at Penn State Barkley averaged 1,813 total yards and 20.5 touchdowns.
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2. Rashaad Penny, Seattle Seahawks
The Seahawks have been looking for a Marshawn Lynch replacement for a couple of years now. Penny more than doubled his production last year at San Diego State with 2,027 rushing yards and 19 touchdowns with another 18 catches for 142 yards and a pair of scores. If he can stay healthy, perhaps Penny can solidify Seattle’s backfield.
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3. Sony Michel, New England Patriots
Michel ran for 948 yards and 13 touchdowns on a 7.2 yards per carry clip last year for Georgia. He’ll form a committee with James White and Rex Burkhead, but given his explosiveness look for Bill Belichick to find ways to get him the ball.
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4. Derrius Guice, Washington Redskins
Guice averaged 1,373 total yards and 13.5 touchdowns over teh last two years at LSU. He should emerge as the lead back for Washington, but Chris Thompson should limit him to 1st and 2nd downs. Samaje Perine could be in the mix for some carries as well.
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5. Royce Freeman, Denver Broncos
Freeman finished his collegiate career at Oregon with 6,435 total yards and 64 touchdowns, including 1,639 total yards and 16 touchdowns last year. Freeman may enter the season behind Devontae Booker, but Booker may be better suited as the third down back leaving Freeman for early downs and goal line work.
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6. Ronald Jones II, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Jones saw his production at USC improve each year culminating with 1,637 total yards and 19 touchdowns last year. He should enter the year as the lead back for the Bucs, which puts him in RB2/3 conversations.
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7. Nyheim Hines, Indianapolis Colts
Hines does not have a challenging climb to the top of Indy’s depth chart. He ran for 1,040 yards with 9 touchdowns at 5.7 ypc for NC State last year. If Marlon Mack struggles Hines could see RB3 status based on opportunity.
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8. Kerryon Johnson, Detroit Lions
Johnson had 1,508 total yards and 19 touchdowns at Auburn last year. LeGarrette Blount will cut into goal line work and perhaps some 4th quarter duties if the Lions are ahead. If they fall behind, then Theo Riddick will cut into the time. Johnson is an intriguing dynasty pick though.
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9. Nick Chubb, Cleveland Browns
Chubb’s prospects would be much higher had the Browns not signed Carlos Hyde. He averaged 6.2 ypc with 1,175 yards and 13 touchdowns for Georgia.
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10. Kalen Ballage, Miami Dolphins
Ballage has to get past Kenyon Drake and Frank Gore to make an impact as a rookie. Barring injury, that isn’t a likely scenario. You never know though. Ballage did catch 44 passes as a junior for 469 yards and a touchdown to go along with 536 yard and 14 touchdowns on the ground.

Click here to enter the 2017 Lester’s Legends Fantasy Football Team Name Contest!
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Le’Veon Bell David Johnson hurdle
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With fantasy drafts taking place, here’s an updated and expanded look at the 2017 fantasy football running back landscape.
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1. Le’Veon Bell, Pittsburgh Steelers
2. David Johnson, Arizona Cardinals
3. Melvin Gordon, Los Angeles Chargers
4. LeSean McCoy, Buffalo Bills
5. Jay Ajayi, Miami Dolphins
6. Ezekiel Elliott, Dallas Cowboys (I care about last 10 games more than the first 6)
7. DeMarco Murray, Tennessee Titans
8. Lamar Miller, Houston Texans
9. Devonta Freeman, Atlanta Falcons
10. Jordan Howard, Chicago Bears
11. Todd Gurley, Los Angeles Rams
12. Leonard Fournette, Jacksonville Jaguars
13. Ty Montgomery, Green Bay Packers
14. Dalvin Cook, Minnesota Vikings
15. Isaiah Crowell, Cleveland Browns
16. Joe Mixon, Cincinnati Bengals
17. Marshawn Lynch, Oakland Raiders
18. Kareem Hunt, Kansas City Chiefs
19. C.J. Anderson, Denver Broncos
20. Doug Martin, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
21. Carlos Hyde, San Francisco 49ers
22. Ameer Abdullah, Detroit Lions
23. Christian McCaffrey, Carolina Panthers
24. Bilal Powell, New York Jets
25. Jonathan Stewart, Carolina Panthers
26. Adrian Peterson, New Orleans Saints
27. Eddie Lacy, Seattle Seahawks
28. Tevin Coleman, Atlanta Falcons
29. Mike Gillislee, New England Patriots
30. Frank Gore, Indianapolis Colts
31. LeGarrette Blount, Philadelphia Colts
32. Matt Forte, New York Jets
33. Mark Ingram, New Orleans Saints
34. Terrance West, Baltimore Ravens
35. Danny Woodehead, Baltimore Ravens
36. Paul Perkins, New York Giants
37. Robert Kelley, Washington Redskins
38. Derrick Henry, Tennessee Titans
39. Thomas Rawls, Seattle Seahawks
40. Darren McFadden, Dallas Cowboys
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Dalvin Cook
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With Latavius Murray sidelined, Dalvin Cook is establishing himself as the lead back for the Minnesota Vikings. Early indications are that Cook should be moving up draft boards. I have adjusted my preliminary rankings to put him in the top 15. The Vikings have been praising his pass protection, which is wonderful news if Cook wants to establish himself as a three-down back.
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Cook was impressive in his three years at Florida State. As a freshman he ran for 1,008 yards and eight touchdowns on a 5.9 yards per carry average. He followed that up with 1,691 yards and 19 touchdowns on 7.4 ypc as a sophomore and 1,765 yards and 19 touchdowns on 6.1 ypc as a junior.
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Cook’s receiving totals increased every year also going from 22 catches for 203 yards to 24 catches for 244 yards to 33 catches for 488 yards.
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Minnesota finished dead last this past season with 1,205 yards and 3.2 ypc. They were also one of seven teams that failed to reach double-digit rushing touchdowns. Clearly a change was needed.
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Murray was solid last year with 788 yards on 4.0 ypc and 12 touchdowns, but Oakland had one of the league’s best offensive lines last season. Jalen Richard (5.9 ypc) and DeAndre Washington (5.4 ypc) had some impressive moments as well. He isn’t as dynamic as Cook though. I can see Murray getting a crack at goal line carries, but Cook should lead the team in touches and total yards.
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How much do you like Cook?

Click here to enter the 2017 Lester’s Legends Fantasy Football Team Name Contest!
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Le’Veon Bell Ezekiel Elliott David Johnson hurdle
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With the NFL Draft behind us it is time to start thinking about next year’s fantasy football landscape. Here is an early look at running backs. Click here for updated rankings.
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The Elite (Interchangeable)
1. Le’Veon Bell, Pittsburgh Steelers
2. Ezekiel Elliott, Dallas Cowboys
3. David Johnson, Arizona Cardinals
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The Rest
4. Melvin Gordon, Los Angeles Chargers
5. LeSean McCoy, Buffalo Bills
6. Jay Ajayi, Miami Dolphins
7. DeMarco Murray, Tennessee Titans
8. Lamar Miller, Houston Texans
9. Devonta Freeman, Atlanta Falcons
10. Jordan Howard, Chicago Bears
11. Todd Gurley, Los Angeles Rams
12. Leonard Fournette, Jacksonville Jaguars
13. Spencer Ware, Kansas City Chiefs
14. Ty Montgomery, Green Bay Packers
15. Dalvin Cook, Minnesota Vikings
16. Marshawn Lynch, Oakland Raiders
17. Eddie Lacy, Seattle Seahawks
18. C.J. Anderson, Denver Broncos
19. Carlos Hyde, San Francisco 49ers
20. Isaiah Crowell, Cleveland Browns
21. Samaje Perine, Washington Redskins
22. Tevin Coleman, Atlanta Falcons
23. Bilal Powell, New York Jets
24. Adrian Peterson, New Orleans Saints
25. Christian McCaffrey, Carolina Panthers
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Lamar Miller Houston
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A lot of the talk out of the Houston Texans’ camp has been the possibility of a monster season for running back Lamar Miller. The Houston Chronicle suggests that he will have a versatile role with the club in 2016, solidifying Miller as a major three-down back. Bleacher Report’s Mike Freeman is saying that Miller is poised for a “season for the ages”.
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Miller ran for 872 yards and eight touchdowns in 2015 with 47 catches for 397 yards and two touchdowns. In 2014 he ran for 1,099 yards and eight touchdowns with 38 catches for 275 yards and a score.
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Miami ranked dead last in rushing attempts last year with 344 while Houston ranked fifth with 472.  In 2014 Miami ranked 22nd with 399 carries while Houston led the league with 551.
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Miller will certainly get his opportunity. Houston trusted Alfred Blue to 183 carries, Chris Polk to 99 more and Jonathan Grimes to 56 of his own. Don’t look for Blue or Grimes to steal much of Miller’s work. His ability to pass protect and catch the ball out of the backfield will help with the touches and add to his fantasy appeal.
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In Houston’s first preseason game he ran for 30 yards on four carries. Don’t expect a heavy workload as we gear up towards the season, but once it’s go time, he will be on full display.
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Miller’s career high in carries is 216. He has averaged 195.7 carries the past three seasons and sports a career yards per carry average of 4.6. If he can get 250 or more carries for the Texans to go along with 30-40 receptions, he should be in line for a massive season.
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Personally, I have Miller just outside the top five, but I do have him slotted as a legit RB1 with major upside.


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