Whether it’s buying a car, at the grocery store, or even in fantasy football, everybody loves a good deal. The feeling of getting something for less than it is actually worth is always the goal when making a purchase. If you can execute this strategy in fantasy football you will have a huge advantage on your competition.
Heading into 2013 many players are going to be undervalued for different reasons. They could have had a rough 2012, are coming off an injury, or even a change in coaching philosophy can make an individual slide down the draft board. However, in some cases these can be illusions and you could be rewarded for taking a chance on someone.
Here are some running backs that should be undervalued heading into this season.
LeSean McCoy – Philadelphia Eagles
It’s not like McCoy is ranked terribly heading into this season, but it is certainly a drop off from last year. In 2012 he was among the top three running backs heading into the campaign and even went number one overall in a lot of drafts. McCoy ended up battling injuries and was on an awful squad that was playing from behind most of the time, which limited his carries.
This season Yahoo has him rated as the sixth best running back at the moment, but there is reason to believe he can bounce back and finish near the top of the league in rushing. Andy Reid and his pass happy offense are now gone, and they have given way to Chip Kelly who ran the ball a ton at Oregon. The Ducks were averaging nearly 40 rushing attempts per game in 2012 and also led the nation in yards per carry. Kelly figures to bring that system to the Eagles and McCoy is the perfect back to benefit from it. His ability to change direction and make cuts is crucial for Kelly’s up tempo offense. McCoy is just 24 and if he can stay healthy he should be in for a big year. If he is still available late in the first round of your draft you would be wise to pounce.
Maurice Jones-Drew – Jacksonville Jaguars
Jones-Drew missed most of last season due to injury and has slid all the way down to 13th in Yahoo’s rankings. The key thing to remember here is that Jones-Drew’s fantasy value is aided by the fact that the Jaguars have awful quarterback play. Until Blaine Gabbert turns into a legit threat behind center, expect him to be handing the ball off with regularity to Jones-Drew. In 2011, when Jones-Drew was healthy, he led the NFL in carries with 343.
Jacksonville also spent their first round pick this year on offensive lineman Luke Joeckel. The second overall pick should be a nice boost to the running game in 2013. Jones-Drew is still worth of being a number one back on your fantasy squad.
Chris Johnson – Tennessee Titans
Oh how the might have fallen. At one point Johnson was borderline the best fantasy player on the entire board, but after three average seasons that followed his 2,000 yard campaign, Johnson is barely ranked as a top 15 fantasy back these days. He currently sits behind the likes of Steven Jackson and Stevan Ridley on Yahoo’s list.
Many were disappointed in his play last year, but as a whole it actually wasn’t that bad. Johnson finished with over 1,200 yards, although it was built on far too many peaks and valleys. His play was inconsistent as he had six games where he posted less than 50 rushing yards, yet he also had five games where had over 120 yards on the ground. The thing Johnson always has going for him though, over perhaps any other back, is his explosiveness. He has that capability to get a week’s worth of production on a single play by breaking an 80-yard touchdown.
Johnson has probably letdown owners so much in recent years that they no longer trust him as a number one back, but getting stuck with him even as your second option wouldn’t be terrible.
Ryan Mathews – San Diego Chargers
Mathews has been over-hyped for much of his career and so far has produced three sub-par and injury filled seasons. The good news is that his fantasy value is now at an all-time low after a 2012 campaign that saw him produce less than four yards per carry and only a single rushing touchdown.
With that being said, there are a couple of positives Mathews has going for him heading into 2013. He only fumbled twice last season, which was a career low. Fumbles had been a major issue for Mathews early in his career and it cost him some playing time because of it. Norv Turner is also now gone and he didn’t trust Mathews, perhaps rightfully so, in goal line situations. With Mike McCoy taking over the coaching duties it should give Mathews a clean slate and if he can stop the fumbling, he should get a few more scores this year.
By no means should Mathews be worthy of a number one back role on your squad at this point, but as a number two he could be worth a risk that just might pay big dividends.
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