The main wave of free agency is over, and the NFL draft is in the rearview mirror. Now it’s time to re-evaluate players, taking into account the changing teams and influx of talent. Unfortunately, not all players’ prospects have stayed the same or improved. As a result, the following trio of backs should be avoided near their current expert consensus ranking (ECR) in point-per-reception (PPR) formats.
Avoid running backs
Cam Akers (RB – LAR): 34 ECR, RB16
It’s impossible to overstate how remarkable Akers’ return from a torn Achilles was in the same season. It was rightly unprecedented. Unfortunately, while it looked explosive, it was highly inefficient.
According to Pro Football Focus (PFF), 61 running backs had at least 70 carries (including the postseason), and Akers ranked 57th in yards after contact per attempt (2.31 YCO/A) and tied 57th in missed tackles Forced (10). , ranked 60th in rushes for 10 yards (two) and was last in PFF’s stride quality and yards per attempt (2.4). Of course he should be better, further away from injury, but last year he was terrible.
However, being more efficient is just one hurdle Akers has to overcome. He also has a role to play in the passing game and there are reasons for skepticism. First, Darrell Henderson outplayed him in the passing game in the Super Bowl. Akers played 24 passing snaps and ran 19 routes. However, Henderson was significantly more productive on his 18 passing snaps and 15 routes, staggering three of five targets for 43 yards versus three catches for 14 yards on four for Akers. Additionally, the Rams used their third pick (pick 164 overall) to catch Kyren Williams the pass.
As a result, Akers’ road is marred to a bell cow roll. Therefore, the price is too high for Akers after an inefficient return from injury last year.
Antonio Gibson (RB – WAS): 38 ECR, RB18
Last year Gibson was hyped as Washington’s version of Christian McCaffrey. Instead, according to Pro Football Reference, Gibson just doubled his 2.6 receptions per game he made as a rookie in his second campaign. He is unlikely to enter production as a receiver after Commanders re-signed receiver specialist JD McKissic.
The veteran coming back worked well ahead of Gibson on the third downs. Gibson had just three receptions for 20 yards on four goals in third and fourth place in 2022. Conversely, McKissic had 16 receptions for 162 yards on 17 goals.
The lack of redistribution work hurts Gibson’s value. Unfortunately, even as a runner, he faces competition for early work. The Commanders made Brian Robinson the sixth running back selected in this year’s draft, putting him in the running in the third round with the 34th pick (98th overall). Robinson’s draft capital was not dissimilar to Gibson’s, as the acting running back was the second pick in the third round (66th overall) in the 2020 draft. Also, veteran film analyst Greg Cosell was a big fan of Robinson’s band.
Aside from threatening Gibson’s early work, Robinson could be struggling for goal-line touches as both backs are a desirable size, weighing in excess of 220lbs. Gibson should probably be the favorite for goal-line duties and most early work from goal, but his leash is likely shorter.
Last year, according to the Fantasy Football Leaders tool, Gibson tied in the fantasy football season (Week 1 through Week 17) for RB19 in PPR per game. With more early-down and scoring territory competition, and new talent like Travis Etienne and Breece Hall joining the roster as potential top-20 PPR defenders, it’s probably wishful thinking that Gibson would repeat last year’s result . Still, he’s one spot ahead of where he landed in that position last year. A top 40 pick is too much to sacrifice for a player with Gibson’s limitations and ground.
Josh Jacobs (RB-LV): 44 ECR, RB20
The Raiders hired former Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels as their head coach. He regularly fieldes committee backfields, and it looks like he’ll do the same for the Pacific time-zone Patriots.
The organization turned down Jacob’s fifth-year option, restructured Kenyan Drake’s contract, signed former Patriot Brandon Bolden to a two-year deal with a $2.4 million guarantee, and signed Ameer Abdullah to a one-year deal, albeit a small one , which means he could be cut there. Also, they used their second pick (122 total) to push back Zamir White, who was half of a brace with James Cook in Georgia. As a result, the Raiders’ backfield is a crowded mess.
Unfortunately, Jacobs isn’t the talent to overcome a multi-back committee. According to Football Outsiders, Jacobs ranked 37th on the Defense-Adjusted Value Over Average (DVOA) out of 50 running backs with at least 100 rush attempts in 2022. He was also a great 21st in YCO/A (2.97) and he was an underperformer receiver.
According to the PFF, Jacobs ranked 24th in yards per route run (1.19 Y/RR) out of 44 running backs who were tackled at least 35 times last year. To make matters worse, Bolden, Drake and Abdullah were significantly better on this metric with 1.89 Y/RR, 1.71 Y/RR and 1.50 Y/RR. As a result, there’s no reason to believe Jacobs will work ahead of Bolden, Drake, or Abdullah in temporary situations. So it’s ill-advised to dump a top 50 pick on a two-down banger who isn’t likely to have that role to himself.
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Josh Shepardson is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more information from Josh, see his archive and follow him @BCad50.