PFF Roundup - Week 8
Every week I look around PFF Main content and features to see what fantasy insight we can take away to help owners going forward. This week we’re examining the value of five running backs around the league, including their Week 8 value and potential going forward in 2014.
Miller continues to see scoring opportunities
Nathan Jahnke highlights Miller’s play in his 32 Observations from Week 7. He notes that Miller has the most carries within 10 yards of the end zone out of any running back this year. With 14 carries in these situations, Miller has gained 41 yards and four touchdowns. Mike Clay’s opportunity-adjusted touchdowns (OTD) recap shows Miller ranks No. 3 among all running backs this year with a 3.8 OTD
His offensive line ranks in the middle of the road among PFF’s overall run blocking grades. Sam Monson pointed out that Mike Pouncey struggled again at right guard in Week7, as Pouncey finished with a -3.4 overall grade. The Dolphins offense line has been a mixed bag in this area.
Branden Albert continues to excel in creating space for Miller. His run blocking grade is the highest in Miami at +7.6 for the year. Center Samson Satele has also been solid with a +2.9 run blocking grade. Pouncey and left guard Daryn Colledge are both in the red for the year with their grades.
Miller is actually averaging 2.8 yards before contact per carry, but he has only forced seven missed tackles on 81 attempts. The good news is he’s touched the ball 37 times over the past two games. The bad news is he faces one of the toughest schedules going forward, with matchups against the Lions, Bills, Broncos, Jets and Ravens from Week 10-14.
Some owners might look to sell high on Miller, but he has a favorable championship matchup in Week 16, he’s in an offense that wants to run the ball, he’s seeing good volume near the end zone and he’s clearly the No. 1 back with Knowshon Moreno out. Given the lack of depth overall at running back around the league, I’d hold on Miller unless I could package him for a top-tier running back.
For DFS players, Miller’s $6,000 price on DraftKings against a poor Jaguars run defense is a great value for Week 8.
The top Jets running back
The Jets run game appeared to get the best of the Patriots in Week 7, but it was mostly Chris Ivory doing the damage single-handedly. According to Khaled Elsayed’s Jets-Patriots ReFo, 55 of Ivory’s 107 rushing yards came after contact.
Elsayed was not impressed by the Jets run blocking on Sunday, and that’s not a new trend. New York has the fourth-worst run blocking grade in 2014. Center Nick Mangold is the only starter on the offensive line with a positive run blocking grade for the year.
Ivory leads all running backs with 50-plus carries in yards after contact. On 88 carries Ivory is averaging 3.07 yards after contact per attempt. He’s forced 24 missed tackles, trailing on DeMarco Murray (187 carries) and Arian Foster (126 carries).
The biggest concern with Ivory is his involvement in the offense. He finished with fewer than 10 carries in both Week 5 and 6. He’s still receiving more touches than Chris Johnson, though, a trend that will continue with the way these two are playing. Ivory is on the RB2 radar if the Jets rely on him like they did against the Patriots.
McKinnon’s rise to the top
Going back to Janke’s 32 Observations, Jerick McKinnon is another running back whose numbers jump off the page. When facing four or fewer defensive backs, McKinnon has rushed for 218 yards on 35 carries. His 6.23 yards per carry against base or goal-line defenses ranks the best among all running backs with at least 30 carries.
McKinnon is averaging 2.92 yards after contact per carry. Despite head coach Mike Zimmer expressing a desire to get Matt Asiata more involved, McKinnon still led the way with a career-high 21 touches in Week 7. It’s clear who needs to be touching the ball more for the backfield to thrive.
For Week 8 McKinnon costs just $4,900 on DraftKings. He’s facing a Buccaneers defense that gives up the fourth-most fantasy points to running backs. Take advantage of his value in DFS before it starts to rise.
Is Forsett still under the radar?
I talked about Forsett in this column a few weeks ago calling him an RB2 with upside. Forsett is now the RB7 in PPR scoring for the year. The leap he’s made in the wake of Ray Rice’s absence has been incredible to say the least.
While the Ravens offensive line typically provides some of the best run blocking in the league, Forsett got the job done on his own in Week 7. According to Michael Renner’s Falcons-Ravens ReFo, Forsett gained 51 of his 95 yards after contact against Atlanta.
Left tackle James Hurst was lost on Sunday as he received a -6.9 overall grade, the lowest among all Ravens offensive players. Baltimore’s offensive line graded at -2.1 in run blocking, but Forsett still managed a 4.1 yard per carry average.
This week the Ravens get left tackle Eugene Monroe and left guard Kelechi Osemele back, which will greatly improve run blocking on the left side of the line. Forsett loves his offensive guards, as he’s averages 6.63 yards per carry running between the guards in 2014. With a decent schedule ahead, hold steady on Forsett as an RB2. His ownership still isn’t even in the 90 percent range on ESPN.
Defenses can’t slow down Bell
It’s amazing to see what a little weight loss can do for a running back. Le’Veon Bell is a different player in 2014, and Week 7 only increased his fantasy value going forward.
Ben Stockwell writes about Bell in his Texans-Steelers ReFo, saying the Steelers No. 1 running back “simply beat the first wave of defenders” and ran into open space far too often. Bell also forced five missed tackles on his way 155 total yards.
Bell is currently your RB3 in PPR scoring, and that’s with only two touchdowns so far. Bell scored for the first time since Week 1 on Monday night, catching a pass on a quick out route at the goal line. He caught eight passes for 88 yards against the Texans.
In seven games in 2014, Bell has four-plus receptions in six of those matchups. His receiving skills give him a solid floor each week. If you’re in a keeper or dynasty league, Bell is one of the most valuable assets you can have right now. He looks like he’ll compete with Matt Forte and DeMarco Murray for the No. 1 spot overall among running backs for the year.
Keep his $6,300 price on DraftKings for Week 8. The Colts defense was stingy against the Bengals, but they let Arian Foster rush for 109 yards and two touchdowns in Week 6. Bell is another value pick.