Early-Round Running Backs to Avoid

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When it comes to running backs in fantasy football, it is important not to overdraft them. Making the wrong choice in the early rounds of drafts will certainly have your team playing catch up. Managers should be looking at situations rather than ranking as a predictor of success. These early-round running backs should not be drafted at their current average draft position.

Early-Round Running Backs to Avoid

Aaron Jones

Aaron Jones value ties to one person: Aaron Rodgers. If Rodgers is playing this year, Jones will most likely return first-round value. If Jordan Love is the starting quarterback for the Green Bay Packers, his value will plummet. As long as Rodgers continues his holdout, Jones is an unnecessary risky selection. Currently ranked as the ninth-best running back on ESPN, there are many other options you can choose at running back at the end of the first round that doesn’t have this type of outcome volatility.

Saquon Barkley

When drafting any player in the first round it is important to eliminate as much risk as possible. As great as Saquon Barkley is, he is coming off of an ACL tear. While Barkley has elite upside when he plays, the New York Giants have been vague about his timeline for a return. That combined with a possibility of limited snaps early in the season elevates his risk. The Giants should have a better offense this year and Barkley is still worth taking in the first round, but he should not be taken with a high first-round pick. Currently ranked as the second-best running back on ESPN, players with the second overall pick would be smart to draft Dalvin Cook or Derrick Henry instead.

Miles Sanders

The situation for Miles Sanders does not look as promising as it was last year. The Philadelphia Eagles have a new quarterback, head coach, and they just drafted fifth-round rookie Kenneth Gainwell. While Sanders is very talented (5.3 yards per carry average last year) the Eagles just aren’t going to use him as a workhorse running back. He only had 28 receptions last year and that number won’t increase enough to justify taking him. There is also a question of how good Jalen Hurts will be this year and the caliber of play-caller that head coach Nick Sirianni is. With all of these question marks surrounding the Eagles, it is best to let somebody else draft Sanders in the first or second round.

Joe Mixon

Joe Mixon is going to have a tough time meeting his ADP as running back 14. First, the Cincinnati Bengals will almost certainly be trailing in most of their games, so Mixon will have a hard time getting carries. Head coach Zac Taylor said Mixon will be splitting third-down snaps with Samaje Perine. His yards per carry have been trending down over the past two seasons (4.1 in 2019 and 3.6 in 2020). Mixon only played in six games last year and the Bengal’s offensive line didn’t improve after they decided to take Ja’Marr Chase instead of Penei Sewell. Simply put, there are too many negatives with Mixon and not enough positives to justify taking him.


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