We're moving into prime trade season for Fantasy Football and everyone is looking to buy low and sell high. Of course, that makes it difficult to trade whenever everyone is thinking the same thing.
The other thing that's difficult to know is which running backs who have been bad recently are actually buy-low candidates vs. just bad Fantasy options.
More importantly, you don't want to sell high on a running back that's going to give you elite production all year long. That's why we're here and that's what we'll cover in this week's Believe It or Not.
One of my concerns when Adrian Peterson went down was that McKinnon's value would be overstated because of the problems with the Vikings' offensive line. That fear was realized in Week 5. McKinnon rushed for 36 yards on 20 carries and saw Matt Asiata score the rushing touchdown and handle most of the red-zone work.
This was a perfect game script for McKinnon where the Vikings held a lead and the team ran the ball 35 times. If McKinnon can't succeed in this situation I'm really not sure when he will. This is a running back in a timeshare that won't get goal-line carries and plays behind a terrible offensive line. That just doesn't have much value.
Verdict: Don't believe it. I was down on McKinnon's value, but I'm guessing his perceived value is going to drop too low now. Yes, McKinnon is in a far-from-enviable situation right now. But have you looked at the running back rankings lately?
McKinnon is an exceptionally talented young running back on a run-first team that has arguably the best defense in the NFL. Yes, his efficiency was awful in Week 5 but I'll take any back that's coming off 20 carries and has a defense that will put him in a good game script most every week. McKinnon is an excellent buy-low candidate assuming you can get him for RB3 value.
No one is a bigger sell-high than Melvin Gordon.
Listen, I rode the Gordon gravy train with you guys. It was great. He leads the NFL in touchdowns and he's been a Fantasy asset for the first third of the season. But look at how he's done it.
First, if you know me, you know I don't trust touchdowns. An inordinate percentage of Gordon's Fantasy value has come from touchdowns, which is a complete reversal of how touchdowns drug him down to be one of the biggest rookie busts of recent memory.
Those touchdowns cannot be relied upon and his efficiency running the ball has been awful. Generally, that's a more accurate measure of how a running back will perform in the future. Now, Gordon is still the bell cow in San Diego and his guaranteed volume will make him a must-start most weeks, but he won't be anywhere close to as good as he's been so far this year.
Verdict: Believe it. The most concerning part of Gordon's efficiency is who it has come against. He has faced the Saints, Colts and Raiders in the past three weeks. The only above-average run defense he has faced is the Kansas City Chiefs and that was when they were at their weakest.
Gordon has averaged 3.4 yards per carry after averaging 3.5 as a rookie. He's done this against arguably an easier opening schedule than any other running back in the league. Gordon faces the Broncos in two of the next three weeks and his value will never be higher than it is right now. If you can get even high-end RB2 value, now is the time to sell.
Well, Tom Brady is back and Blount is back to a bye-week replacement only right? Brady threw for more than 400 yards, Blount ran for less than 2 yards per carry and only had his value salvaged by a touchdown, which we just talked about not being reliable.
Blount is someone you're hoping will score a touchdown, but not much more. We already saw a bigger role for James White this week and that will only get worse when Dion Lewis comes back. Blount was an excellent option for the first quarter of the season but I hope you have a better one moving forward.
Verdict: Don't believe it. Much like McKinnon, Blount looks like he'll be a back that gets volume with good game scripts. Yes, that volume could decrease with Brady back but he still saw plenty of work. Also like McKinnon, I wouldn't be surprised if Blount's owner is frustrated by Week 5 and willing to sell.
Blount is probably not a solid RB2 the rest of the year but he will be a borderline option and a good flex most weeks in standard leagues. Capitalize on the fact that the Patriots just played a team with a decent run defense and a terrible pass defense and trade for Blount if you can get him for RB3 value.
Lamar Miller is going to be the healthiest bust of the first-round RBs.
We blasted the Miami Dolphins for their usage of Miller, but boy he doesn't look great as a workhorse in Houston. Miller is rushing for a career-worst 3.7 YPC and his quarterback is getting worse each week. The fact that he's yet to get into the end zone is mostly bad fortune but it's also representative of a Houston offense that needs big plays to score. The problem for Miller is that he doesn't look as capable of producing big plays with the type of volume he's getting.
Verdict: Don't believe it. Volume is not a bad thing. Miller hasn't exactly had a great start to the season, but he hasn't had a very favorable schedule either. He still has four games remaining against the Colts and Jaguars so it will most assuredly get better. If you think not meeting your draft value means bust, then yeah, Miller probably isn't going to live up to his draft cost. Still, he's likely a borderline RB1 and an excellent buy-low candidate with his schedule getting ready to take a turn for the better.
DeMarco Murray is a top five running back for the rest of the season.
DeMarco Murray's 13 forced missed tackles vs MIA were the most since Marshawn Lynch forced 14 against GB in the 2014 NFC Championship Game.— Pat Thorman (@Pat_Thorman) October 10, 2016
I think it's pretty clear now. DeMarco Murray is an elite running back outside of Chip Kelly's system. Murray has everything you want in a No. 1 running back. He has volume guaranteed by Mike Mularkey's conservative nature. He's got the burst back from 2014. He's got touchdowns and, more importantly, has elite skills in the passing game that make him game-script proof.
Worries about Derrick Henry should be all but forgotten and Murray will be a top-five back for as long as he stays healthy.
Verdict: Believe it. What, you thought everyone in this article was a buy-low or sell-high? Murray is a strong hold. You probably can't put him in the same class as Le'Veon Bell, David Johnson or Ezekiel Elliott but I'd have a hard time making a definitive argument for anyone else above him. The combination of high volume in the running game and work in the passing game is so rare in today's NFL that Murray becomes nearly irreplaceable.