It’s easy to forget about the upside a player possesses, coming off an extremely disappointing season. Could they rebound and deliver on the hype (or performance) that they once showed? Or they worth the draft day “gamble” or should they be avoided? Let’s take a look at two running backs who have the potential to go from “Dud” to “Stud” in 2019:
Obviously no one is going to completely give up on Leonard, but it’s easy to be down on him after a frustrating 2018 campaign. He ultimately appeared in only 8 games, taking 133 carries for 439 yards and 5 TD. That was good for a meager 3.3 yards/carry and having missed 11 games over his first two seasons he’s starting to garner the label of being injury prone.
Of course last year’s numbers, at least in part, were dragged down by a pathetic December (2.9 yards/carry over 43 carries). During that time Jacksonville’s offensive line was also ravaged by injuries, and a healthy line bolstered by second round draft pick Jawaan Taylor looks that much better. Throw in improved quarterback play, with the addition of Nick Foles, which should relieve some of the pressure on Fournette and the outlook gets that much brighter.
Let’s not forget that he has the potential to be a three-down back (58 receptions) who can consistently find the end zone, make big plays and doesn’t have a lot pushing him on the depth chart. Doesn’t that sound like a strong investment?
Considering he was likely a first round pick a year ago who is now holding an average ADP of 25.2? He’s an easy target at the end of the second round.
The Arizona Cardinals hired Kliff Kingsbury, who brings with him a high-paced offense that should mean more opportunities across the board. With a rookie quarterback under center, regardless of the upside he may have, it’s easy to envision the Cardinals leaving even heavier on their running backs in 2019.
Johnson proved to be among the elite running backs in the league in 2015 and 2016. After missing all but 1 game in 2017 due to injury he started slowly but showed signs as the year progressed:
- September – 3.3 YPC, 2 TD
- October – 3.1 YPC, 3 TD
- November – 4.7 YPC, 1 TD
- December – 3.4 YPC, 1 TD
Obviously there was only one impressive month, but at least it gives a sense of hope. With a more favorable offensive system in place, a quarterback who should help keep defenses honest and another year behind him and his injury the outlook seems promising.
He’s not a value pick with an average ADP of 6.4, but he could prove to be a Top 3 back. If you are picking towards the end of the first round he’ll be impossible to pass on if he’s still available.
Sources – ESPN, NFL.com, Fantasy Pros
Make sure to check out all of our 2019 preseason rankings: