Every season, fantasy football aficionados put their trust in a number of players who ultimately render their roster a disaster and devastate their chances of winning a championship.
Unfortunately, there’s no foolproof way to avoid picking a complete bust in fantasy football, but you can learn to understand the red flags that many players carry and use that knowledge to your advantage.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at five running backs who are destined to disappoint during the 2016 fantasy season.
Jeremy Hill – Cincinnati Bengals
Jeremy Hill shocked the masses by having a phenomenal rookie season in 2014, tallying 1,124 rushing yards and nine TDs to the delight of those that drafted him as Giovani Bernard’s handcuff in fantasy. As a result, he carried a gargantuan amount of hype into his 2015 sophomore season.
Despite the fact that Hill racked up 12 total TDs (11 rushing, one receiving) in 2015, most fantasy owners were livid with Jeremy as he only finished with 794 rushing yards and a brutally lackluster 79 receiving yards. Hill is expected to win the job of starting running back for the Cincinnati Bengals this season, but fantasy owners should still temper their expectations. Put simply, Jeremy’s inability to produce in the pass attack drastically limits his value in PPR leagues, and he’s too touchdown dependent to rely on in standard settings.
Thomas Rawls – Seattle Seahawks
Thomas Rawls was recently taken off of the Seattle Seahawks PUP list, and no one is disputing that this development is an incredibly encouraging sign in regard to what he might do in fantasy this season. However, as Joseph Nammour of numberFire pointed out earlier this summer, Rawls’ ankle injury was rather severe.
Thomas suffered a broken ankle and torn ligaments during a Week 14 showdown against the Baltimore Ravens, which could render Rawls a tad apprehensive in the trenches during the 2016 season.
The Seahawks undoubtedly believe they are built to win a Super Bowl, and with the talented C.J. Prosise behind Rawls on the depth chart, there’s simply no way Thomas will have a long leash if he gets off to a slow start this season.
If you have your heart set on drafting Rawls in fantasy this season, you must also commit to drafting Prosise as his handcuff.
Ezekiel Elliott – Dallas Cowboys
Many fantasy experts have labeled Ezekiel Elliott a borderline must-draft and some have even declared he’s worthy of a No. 1 overall selection. While I understand Elliott possesses immense talent and may one day be worthy of this hype prior to a fantasy season, everyone needs to pump the brakes for a minute and realize we’re talking about a guy who has never played a single down in the NFL.
Todd Gurley was fantastic last season as a rookie, and it seems his performance leads many to believe Elliott will do something similar, but there’s simply no way to say for sure that Ezekiel is as talented as Todd.
Behind the Dallas Cowboys seemingly impregnable offensive line, there’s a solid chance Elliott will indeed impress at times during the 2016 season. However, there’s absolutely no way he can live up to the standard many fantasy writers have prematurely set for him, which means he’s destined to disappoint.
Melvin Gordon – San Diego Chargers
Melvin Gordon’s rookie campaign can only be described as an unmitigated disaster. After carrying an abundance of hype into the 2015 season, Gordon managed just 641 rushing yards (3.5 yards per carry) and zero rushing TDs. Melvin didn’t look much better catching passes out of the backfield, tallying 33 receptions and 192 receiving yards.
Fantasy drafters mustn’t put much stock into a guy who struggled so mightily just a season ago in an offense with such a solid quarterback in Philip Rivers, who commands a plethora of attention and consequently makes it nearly impossible for opposing defense to stack the box against the run.
Gordon’s targets will always be limited with Danny Woodhead behind him on the depth chart, so don’t even think about drafting him in PPR fantasy leagues.
You’re best served by avoiding Melvin altogether this season with perhaps the exception of occasionally rolling the dice in daily fantasy leagues.
Jay Ajayi – Miami Dolphins
Jay Ajayi carried some hype as a fantasy sleeper prior to his 2015 rookie season, but instead tallied a measly 187 yards over 49 carries and one rushing TD. The Miami Dolphins are said to be high on Ajayi, but their signing of the oft-injured veteran, Arian Foster, is not exactly a move that shows a plenitude of confidence in the NFL sophomore.
Not many offensive players from Boise State have made the NFL, and the few that have, with the exception of Doug Martin, have failed to perform. Ajayi has a golden opportunity to be an exception to the rule this season, but he doesn’t carry enough upside to put much stock into his 2016 fantasy campaign.
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