FF-Winners.com’s Two Running Backs To Avoid in 2016

It happens every year.  It was Eddie Lacy in 2015, Doug Martin in 2014, and CJ Spiller in 2013. Every year, someone ends up taking the high profile player that ends up absolutely tanking their fantasy team’s chances all season.

To prevent that, let’s take a look at a couple of guys to  avoid for 2016:

DeMarco Murray, RB, Tennessee Titans — He’s nowhere near as high up on draft boards this year as he’s been in years past, but in a standard scoring (non-PPR) league, we still have DeMarco Murray outside of my top 25 running backs. Consider the fact that the Eagles signed Murray to a highly lucrative $42 million contract for five years just one season ago, and were compelled enough to trade away Murray just one season later. Frankly, you can’t blame the Eagles, either. After handing Murray all that money, he responded with the lowest yards per carry of his career (3.6). He played in 15 games last season, but only had one game with over 100 yards rushing; outside of that one game, he ran for less than 85 yards in every other game. Over the last eight games of the Eagles season, Murray ran for less than 70 yards in each of them. It’s no wonder that he spent time in Chip Kelly’s proverbial doghouse, just weeks after supposedly being the centerpiece of a vaunted rushing attack that Kelly was supposed to unleash. So, again, why is it going to get any better under Mike Mularkey? The last time Mularkey was a head coach (in 2012 with the Jacksonville Jaguars), his top three running backs combined couldn’t crack 1,000 yards. In his entire NFL career Murray has only played in all 16 games for one of them (in 2014), and if (or when?) he goes down, he’s got a stable of young running backs — David Cobb (the Titans 5th round pick in 2015), Antonio Andrews (the team’s leading rusher from last year), and Derrick Henry (the reigning Heisman Trophy winner and the Titans 2nd round pick in 2016) — waiting to take his job. Stay away from Murray.

Devonta Freeman, RB, Atlanta Falcons — scoff as you might, just take a look at the facts. Between Weeks 3 through 7 last year, Freeman was the most productive running back in fantasy football, putting up 578 yards rushing and eight touchdowns in only five games.  But don’t let that sample size influence you too much. In the other 26 games of Freeman’s career, he’s ran for a total of 726 yards and four rushing touchdowns. His yards per carry in Week 3 through Week 7 last year was 5.3; over those other 26 games, his yards per carry drops to 3.29. Over the last eight games of the 2015 season, Freeman ran for 440 yards. In other words: he ran for 130 more yards over five weeks than he did over the last eight weeks of the season. The Falcons may have beefed up the interior of the offensive line (having signed Pro Bowl center Alex Mack), but that could just as well help running back Tevin Coleman: the guy who many thought would win the starting job last year. There’s plenty of reason to believe that Coleman could still develop into the running back that gets more carries for the Falcons, with Freeman being the change-of-pace and third down specialist running back.

[Analysis by NFL expert Rajan Nanavati]

About Rajan Nanavati


Rajan Nanavati is a professional sportswriter with over 15 years of experience covering the NFL, NBA, NHL, MLB, college football, and fantasy football. His work has been featured on ESPN and the Washington Post, among other publications. He runs a successful sports podcast with several hundred listeners per month at http://www.hailtothedistrict.com/.