Fantasy Football Believe it or Not: Trust Seattle running backs? What about the Falcons?
Running back committees have become our reality in Fantasy Football. Heath Cummings dissects three of them in this week's Believe It or Not.
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There used to be a time when we hated the running back by committee. It was the bane of our existence in Fantasy Football. I'd like to think we're long past that, because it's definitely here to stay. The positive is it gives us more running backs to talk about, but it can also lead us to a false sense of security about running backs in unsustainable situations. So let's look at three of those committees and how we should treat them moving forward.
Remember when the Seahawks couldn't run the ball? While I'm not a fan of what Brian Schottenheimer has meant for Russell Wilson, you have to at least give him credit for accomplishing what he said he would. The Seahawks have brought back the running game.
On Sunday, Chris Carson ran 19 times for 116 yards. It was the third straight game in which a Seahawks running back topped 100 yards. Mike Davis added 12 carries for 68 yards and a score. If anything, he's been more impressive than Carson. It's very rare for a team to have two running backs that are startable in Fantasy, but running 30-plus times per game certainly helps.
Verdict: Don't believe it.
There is a case to be made that the Seahawks will play from ahead against the Raiders in Week 6 and that you can trust both of these backs. But this is not a sustainable formula over the remainder of the season. The defense is still full of holes and the team is still inefficient on the ground.
On a team where Carson is my third or fourth running back, I would be looking to sell. While he will be the feature back in this offense whenever he's healthy, Davis is playing too well to be left on the bench. Both backs will see work and this won't be a situation that can support both of them.
Zach Ertz is the most valuable tight end in Fantasy.
It hasn't exactly been a smooth liftoff to the 2018 season for the Philadelphia Eagles. They're 2-3 and they've yet to top 24 points in a game. But don't blame Zach Ertz for those struggles.
Ertz leads all tight ends with 41 receptions for 437 yards. He's the No. 1 tight end in PPR scoring and No. 4 in non-PPR because he's only scored one touchdown so far. That will even out over the course of the season, and Ertz will be the most valuable player at his position.
Verdict: Believe it.
We knew coming into this season it was going to be a three-horse race, but so far only Ertz and Travis Kelce are competing. Rob Gronkowski has been beat up and thus far isn't living up to his second-round price tag. The reason? Target share has a lot to do with it. Gronkowski has seen just 17 percent of his team's targets, which makes it really hard for him to come close to what Ertz (28 percent) and Kelce (26 percent) are doing.
Reasonable people could disagree about whether Ertz or Kelce will be the best tight end over the rest of the season, but since a majority of leagues are now PPR leagues, the edge should go to Ertz. With at least 10 targets in every game, he's a reliable stud and the best tight end in Fantasy.
Robby Anderson is back as a starting option at wide receiver.
This is why we shouldn't overreact early in the season. Robby Anderson scored a touchdown in Week 1 but had a hard time connecting with Sam Darnold after that. Anderson didn't reach 30 yards from Week 2-4, and he's on the waiver wire in many leagues right now. But it finally clicked on Sunday.
Anderson caught a pair of bombs from his rookie quarterback and ranks as the No. 2 receiver in non-PPR scoring for Week 5 (pending Monday Night Football). He is the best receiver on this team, and Darnold finally figured that out. If he's available, he should be a top waiver wire priority.
Verdict: Don't believe it.
I want to believe it, but it's just not true. Anderson saw five targets in this game. He caught three passes. This was a great performance if you were forced into starting him and I'm fine treating him as a bye-week replacement who can make your week with one play. But you can't count on a receiver getting only 4-6 targets per week. Anderson's only true value in Fantasy Football is in best-ball leagues until he starts seeing more targets.
Austin Ekeler is a must-start running back.
Maybe the tandem running back thing isn't that rare, because it's working for the Chargers as well. Austin Ekeler caught his third touchdown pass on Sunday and currently ranks as the No. 15 running back in PPR leagues this season. While a lot of Ekeler's value comes in the passing game (he's one of eight running backs with more than 200 receiving yards), he's also excelled on the ground, averaging 6 yards per carry. Volume is king in the NFL, but Ekeler is efficient enough to succeed without it.
Verdict: Don't believe it.
I'm not saying you shouldn't start Ekele -- he's a fine flex most weeks. But there's just no reason to believe he keeps this up. For one thing, we don't ever expect anyone to average 6 yards per carry and Ekeler needs to if he's going to give you anything on the ground with less than seven carries per game. For another, he's only seen 17 targets on the season. If Ekeler gets seven carries and three targets per game, he's going to have more disappointments than successes in the second half of the year.
You can't trust any Falcons running backs.
Devonta Freeman made his return on Sunday, and we didn't get much clarity. Freeman received 10 touches against the Steelers while Tevin Coleman saw nine. Ito Smith had four touches, including the only touchdown for the trio. As long as everyone in this backfield is healthy it looks like it's going to be close to an even split, and that's going to make it tough to trust Freeman or Coleman on a regular basis.
Verdict: Believe it.
It's not just the splitting touches, because we've seen that before in Atlanta. In fact, it was the expectation. What has changed is this defense. The Falcons don't look like a team that will have a lot of second-half leads, and they aren't involving their running backs enough in the passing game for them to benefit from a pass-happy scheme. Both Freeman and Coleman look like low-end No. 2 running backs who are in practice touchdown-dependent flexes.
So who should you sit and start? And what shocking QB could win you Week 6? Visit SportsLine now to get Fantasy football rankings for every single position, and see which shocking QB finishes in the top 10 this week, all from the model that out-performed experts big time last season.
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