Fantasy Football 2019: Running Backs to Avoid in Drafts

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistAugust 7, 2019

Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry (22) warms up during an organized team activity at the Titans' NFL football training facility Thursday, May 30, 2019, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)
Mark Humphrey/Associated Press

Running back can be a fickle position to figure out for some fantasy owners once drafts hit the middle and latter rounds. 

In most leagues, the premier ball carriers will be swooped up in the first round, leaving everyone to decipher through the rest of the available options to fill out depth. 

In the process of finding the best fits for your roster, you have to decide which running backs you want to avoid entirely. 

Previous injuries and an inconsistent past are two of the many reasons why research is required on the position before you enter your league's draft room online or in person.


Derrius Guice, Washington 

Steve Helber/Associated Press

The obvious factor to point at when breaking down why you should avoid Derrius Guice is the torn ACL he suffered before the 2018 season.

The former LSU running back has not played a single game in the NFL and no one is sure how he will react to the 16-game slate off the injury. 

It may take time for Guice to adjust to the game speed and trust his legs, especially over the first few weeks.

Guice is also stuck in an odd spot on the Washington depth chart since the team brought back Adrian Peterson and still has Chris Thompson for third-down and pass-catching situations. 

A year ago, Peterson ran for 1,042 yards and seven touchdowns at age 33, which is a phenomenal accomplishment in its own right. 

If Peterson produces even 50 percent of those numbers in 2019, it will cut into the statistics Guice could put up. 

Thompson hauled in 41 catches on 55 targets for 268 yards, while Peterson picked up 20 receptions as well for 208 yards. 

Peterson and Thompson are still expected to be effective parts of Washington's offense, even if Guice breaks out in September. 

In June, running backs coach Randy Jordan told Julie Donaldson of NBC Sports Washington that he expects a split in production between Peterson and Guice. 

"They are both different, but they are both explosive," Jordan said. "The thing is ideally you would like to see a 50/50, 60/40, however, the game goes through. But the thing is all those guys can play on first, second, and third down."

Of course, the volume of touches both players receive can change throughout the season, but it is not a positive sign going into Week 1 that Guice will not be the clear-cut top running back on the depth chart. 

For now, Guice is a late-round option at best, but he might serve you better as an early-season waiver pickup if he produces at a high clip in his initial appearances for the Redskins.


Derrick Henry, Tennessee Titans

James Kenney/Associated Press

Derrick Henry's massive December left a good impression on owners that benefited from his success in the fantasy postseason.

The 408 yards and six touchdowns earned by Henry against the Jacksonville Jaguars and the New York Giants combined put him on the radar as a potential option for 2019. 

In addition to the monster performances in Weeks 14 and 15, Henry produced 177 rushing yards versus Washington and the Indianapolis Colts to close the campaign.

But when you look at those statistics from a broader perspective, you will realize 585 of Henry's 1,059 rushing yards came in a four-week span. 

Before that outburst, Henry did not eclipse 60 yards on the ground and had a single multiple-score game. 

Two years ago, the Alabama product's numbers were even less reliable, as he hit triple digits twice in 16 contests. 

Henry's overall production in the NFL suggests he is a player to select as a depth option in the latter rounds once your starting positions are filled at best. 

In addition to the inconsistency that has plagued Henry, he is dealing with a calf strain, per ESPN's Adam Schefter. 

The combination of those two things should be enough to convince you to stay away from Henry in drafts and go after better options at running back. 


Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90

Statistics obtained from Pro Football Reference