By Matt Cott, Matt Schwimmer, & Moe Koltun of RotoAnalysis.com
As we near the midpoint of the fantasy football season, the league is stocked full of shockers and disappointments. This week, we’re going to target some running backs who we think will be studs or duds in the second half. Next week we’ll bring you our picks at wide receiver, but for now value these guys correctly!
2nd Half Stud: Ahmad Bradshaw, Giants RB
I was wrong. In general, there are 2 types of hardcore fans in this world: fans who vehemently defend their team no matter the situation, and fans who are extremely critical of their team unless there is perfection. I’m the latter. And all of last season, I thought Bradshaw looked completely done. Well, not any more. After averaging 3.9 Yards Per Carry last season and looking slow, Bradshaw worked hard this off-season to get back in shape, and it’s really showed this season with a YPC so far of 4.7. Even better, the Giants’ schedule has been surprisingly hard against the run so far (6th in the NFL via Matt “3.5” Schwimmer’s study), and going forward have only the 23rd hardest schedule against the run. Now’s the perfect time to buy low on Bradshaw because he’s dealing with a sore foot (which isn’t serious and likely won’t hinder his long-term value at all) and I’d expect Bradshaw to at least keep up with this pace, if not exceed it the rest of the season.
2nd Half Dud: Adrian Peterson, Vikings RB
This is not an affront on Adrian Peterson’s talent; AP is still, no doubt, a top 5 running back talent-wise in this league. The problem is the Vikings’ schedule, particularly after their week 11 bye. To end the season (not including week 17), the team plays: @ Bears, @ Packers, Home Bears, @ Rams, @ Texans. That’s right, after week 10, the Vikings literally do not play one defense outside of Football Outsiders’ top 10, with all but one of those games being on the road and two of which are played against the best defense in the league in Da Bears. You can easily still get top 10 overall value for AP—go out and trade him before it’s too late and he underperforms down the stretch.
2nd Half Stud: Chris Johnson, Titans RB
Although Chris Johnson was a better buy-low prior to his explosion against the Titans, he is still great value in fantasy leagues. Johnson has clearly shown for years he is a special talent, although not always displaying that talent. With many uncertainties after the top 3 RB’s, Chris Johnson could easily end up being the 4th best running back the rest of the way. The schedule should be the thing that helps CJ most as he faces Football Outsiders’s 32nd ranked run defense twice as well as the 28th. Kenny Britt should have a much better second half and prevent defenses from clogging the box. We’re so high on Chris Johnson the he’s the #1 RB this week on rotoanalysis.com.
2nd Half Dud: Matt Forte, Bears RB
The time is now to sell on Matt Forte as people still few him in a tier just below those elite backs. However, while he is considered safe, he hasn’t performed well enough this year to deserve that placement. Having not scored a touchdown since week 1, Forte hasn’t been very active in the passing game. Last year, Forte made up for his lack of goalline touches by being so active in the passing game. This year, Forte has a total of 21 yards receiving in his last three games. Having faced an extremely easy schedule, Forte’s schedule is about to take a turn for the worse. He is scheduled to face one of the top two hardest rushing schedules the rest of the way. The combination of his injury risk, Michael Bush’s appearance, and his schedule make it a good time to cash in on Matt Forte.
2nd Half Stud: Daryl Richardson, Rams RB
Going from Chris Johnson’s other worldly speed in Tennessee to Steven Jackson’s diminishing skill set has been frustrating for Jeff Fisher as he’s been trying to get the Rams’ offense going. Enter Daryl Richardson. While he was always regarded as quick, the Albeliene Christian product was less heralded than fellow rookie Isaiah Pead and widely overlooked by fantasy owners. However, as we near the halfway point of the season Richardson is essentially splitting carries with SJax. As the season goes on, Richardson’s production should continue to eclipse Jackson’s (his YPC gives him a 5.1 to 3.8 advantage through week 7). He’s only owned in 70% of leagues on CBS, and is a great guy to target as a cheap RB while his trade value is still relatively low.
2nd Half Dud: DeMarco Murray, Cowboys RB
While Murray is an obvious name due to his foot injury, we are even lower on him than most others, and I’d even venture to say that he’s not a top 20 guy going forward. You can look through the game logs of his career and see that if you take away two monster games against the atrocious defenses of the Rams and the Bills last year, this is a guy with a 4.27 YPC last year and 4.4 so far this year. He still has just 3 career rushing touchdowns and hasn’t established himself as a great red zone back. When you combine a talent level that might not be as high as fantasy owners think with a foot injury that will nag and you come up with an overrated guy who I’d be very nervous to own.