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Fantasy Football Edge: Running Backs To Buy Low

Trent Richarson (credit: Dustin Bradford/Getty Images)

Trent Richarson (credit: Dustin Bradford/Getty Images)

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By Moe Koltun, Matt Cott, and Matthew Schwimmer of Roto Analysis

With 2 weeks in the books, it’s hard not to overreact to what has happened so far. The sleeper you liked before the season may have done nothing, and the player you hated may be putting up huge numbers. But be careful. As important as it is to take into account the start to the year, it’s also a prime opportunity to take advantage of those who lose the ability to value their players correctly. This week, we at RotoAnalysis are focusing on a trio of running backs that have seen their value drop at the beginning of the year. We’d be careful to drop them too far, and would call them great “buy lows” at this point in the season.

Chris Johnson, Titans RB

One major thing I look for early in the season in a buy low candidate is just how often a player has gotten into the end zone. Touchdowns can often be a lucky break or play one week at a time, but even out over the course of the season. Yards are more consistent from week to week and lead to me targeting players who haven’t hit pay dirt as buy lows. Chris Johnson hasn’t looked great but with 50 carries through two games he is clearly going to be the focus point of this Titans offense. Jake Locker has looked shaky and don’t forget how well CJ finished last season and that he is still one of the most skilled backs in the league. Some owners may look at his 3.3 YPC and 0 TDs through two games and lower his value, but I’d say he’s still around the #15 RB. Buy accordingly.

Stevan Ridley, Patriots RB

After being selected as a consensus top 20 pick headed into the year, Stevan Ridley has been one of the biggest disappointments in fantasy so far in 2013. Despite Shane Vereen getting injured for the better part of the year after week one, a seemingly huge boon to his value, Ridley has managed just 25 carries for 86 yards through his first two games against the Bills and Jets.

However, now is the time to buy low on Stevan Ridley. After managing just three catches for 13 yards all of last season, Ridley already has 6 catches for 51 yards through two games. With Vereen out and a worse-than-usual receiving core, it’s reasonable to expect Ridley to continue that three catch a game pace, which is added value that no fantasy prognosticator foresaw. Plus, besides the Texans, no team in football has rushed the ball more inside the ten yard line over the last three years than the Patriots. The yards, carries and touchdowns will come—now is the time to buy low on Ridley, especially if you can flip a back-end top 10 wide receiver for the still top-end running back.

Trent Richardson, Browns RB

The Browns look like a team with some potential on offense thanks to an extremely talented second-year back in Trent Richardson and emerging tight end Jordan Cameron except teams have been able to clog the box against them early on this season due to the lack of weapons the Browns have had on the outside. However, unlike most of these situations where the team has to wait until the off-season to fix its problem, the Browns solution comes next week with the return of Josh Gordon. Gordon should be a perfect fit for a Norv Turner offense that likes to work vertical and should keep the extra safety out of the box. So far this season, Richardson has struggled to the tune of 3.4 YPC and an inability to reach the endzone. It’s hard to imagine Richardson regressing from last season when you remember he missed most of preseason last year as opposed to being active for all of this year’s preseason. Richardson will find the endzone as the season progresses and should still be a back-end RB1/ top-end RB2 option in leagues as the season progresses as I expect him to exceed the 3.6 YPC mark he posted last year.

Agree? Disagree? Questions? Tweet @RotoAnalysis and be sure to follow Moe @MoeProblemsMatt @KidCotti21and Matt@Schwimingly. Check out their work on RotoAnalysis.com, as well as The RotoAnalysis Fantasy Sports Podcast.