Choosing fantasy football running backs to avoid is almost easier than it should be. There are going to be busts each and every year. Without fail, a huge star from the previous season is going to take a nosedive, and catapult your team right down with him. With that being said, there are certain ball carriers that should absolutely be avoided, whether due to situation, age, or past history. Unless they take a big slip in your draft, stay away from the following rushers:
- Adrian Peterson – Shocker right off the bat. Peterson is the best running back of this generation and that can’t be disputed. He’s been a fantasy superstar since the first game he donned the purple and gold. Father time catches up to even the greatest of talents though. After leading the league in rushing, again, Peterson will surely be a top five pick in just about every fantasy draft possible. If it’s my pick and he’s there though, I’m passing. I absolutely believe he’ll finish in the top 10-15 this season, but he just can’t keep up the same pace as years past. The Vikings have a solid backup in Jerick McKinnon, and while he won’t steal a ton of carries, I expect his contribution to increase this year. Again, I feel AD will still put up over 1,000 yards and get close to 10 TDs, but he’s just not worth my first round pick any longer as a 31 year old that can’t catch out of the backfield.
- Devonta Freeman – I love what Freeman was able to do the first half of last season after being the second stringer heading into week 1. He exploded onto the scene and helped win a few weeks with huge numbers. A lot of people are looking past the fact that his last 100 yard rushing game was way back in week 7, and after that he was held under 50 four times. Atlanta’s coaching staff named Tevin Coleman the starter for a reason and he will get a shot to reclaim his job during training camp. Freeman has a tight grip on it, but this will be more of a timeshare than anyone wants to believe. Freeman will go within the first two rounds of most drafts, and whoever gets stuck with him will kick themselves while he struggles to match even his 2015 second half stats.
- Lesean McCoy – Many will go to the pending legal issues surrounding McCoy as reason not to draft him, but I’m going with a reason that will become clear as soon as training camp starts up. Karlos Williams. Williams gashed opposing defenses last year in limited action, is hungry for a larger role, and seems to be a better fit for the Bills offense. He missed significant time due to injuries last season, but was an almost sure bet for a touchdown each week he took the field. McCoy still wants to dance around and look for the big run every play, and with his increasing age and decreasing speed, this is not the way to consistent production in the fantasy realm.
- Jamaal Charles – I am fully aware of what a special player Charles is. He has been personally responsible for eliminating my fantasy team from the playoffs on more than one occasion. However, he is coming off his second major knee injury and will hit the dreaded age 30 in December of this year. That’s not to say all running backs suddenly become worthless at that age, as Adrian Peterson led the league in rushing last season while being 30. Charles has always relied on his speed, and this latest ACL tear could have taken some of that away from him. He’s nowhere near big enough to become a between the tackles runner, so I believe the Chiefs will begin to utilize him more as a gadget player as opposed to an every down back. Charcandrick West and Spencer Ware were more than capable of carrying the rushing load, reducing Charles to a specialist. While this would make the Chiefs offense extremely potent and dangerous, it would not do any favors to Charles’ fantasy stats.
- Doug Martin – I’m avoiding Martin like the plague in all drafts and all formats. It’s a story we’ve seen too many times in the past. A running back is on the last year of his rookie deal. He has a career season and is going to cash in during the offseason. I don’t know why this happens, but those players tend to drop off significantly in the year following. Demarco Murray is the latest example. Led the league in rushing during the 2014 campaign (Martin was second in 2015), got a huge payday from the Eagles, and his production fell off a cliff. I’m not saying Martin isn’t talented, he is. He’s also in a great position in Tampa, with a promising QB and stud wideouts to take some pressure off him. Charles Sims is emerging as the best third down option however, and there is no guarantee that Martin stays with the Bucs. If he does, he could still have a decent year, but I’m not paying the mid-second to early third round price on him when there are many better options that didn’t let owners down two straight years before re-emerging.