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Fantasy Football: Running Backs to Fade

Fantasy Football: Running Backs to Fade
Cade Grogan the newest addition to NFL Draft Diamonds and will focus on Fantasy Football for our readers! He breaks down running backs first. What players could begin to fade in 2024?

Isiah Pacheco

Pacheco is coming off a year where he finished as RB14 and averaged 15.3 pts/game. He is currently being drafted as RB10. Pacheco had 49 targets last year compared to just 14 the year before. Pacheco benefitted from a wide receiver room that led the league in drops. Because of this, the Chiefs had to change the direction of the offense leading to Mahomes finishing 29th in ADoT. Pacheco is not known for his role in the passing game and benefited greatly from the struggles of the receiver room. 

The Chiefs have added Hollywood Brown and Xavier Worthy to pair with Rice and Kelce. I expect Pacheco to lose a large share of his receiving role and go back to being a solid running back with a limited ceiling. On top of that, he had surgery on his shoulder before the 2023 season, re-injured the same shoulder during the year, and had another surgery on it. Not saying he’ll get hurt again, but just another reason to steer clear of him at ADP.  Pacheco does not have the ceiling that running backs going behind him have such as Achane, Henry, and Cook. 

Kenneth Walker III

Walker has now played two full seasons in the NFL. Below are his stats in those seasons: 

2022: RB18 overall, 228 attempts, 1,050 rushing yards, 27 receptions, and 9 TDs

2023: RB19 overall, 219 attempts, 905 rushing yards, 29 receptions, and 9 TDs

It’s safe to say we know who Walker is and what to expect. Walker is going as RB17 which is right in line with his first two seasons.  Charbonnet should continue to be a factor and is going to control the passing downs and two-minute drill. 

With the Seahawks set to pass more under the new offensive coordinator, it’s more likely that we see Charbonnet return value than Walker. Similar to Pacheco, Walker has a low ceiling due to the lack of receiving making him a less than ideal pick at his current price. It’s worth passing on Walker and taking a running back going later that can produce similar numbers such as Conner, Pollard, or Montgomery.  

Zamir White

White is currently ranked as the RB23. He’s set to take over for Josh Jacobs as the lead running back for the Las Vegas Raiders. White averaged 15.18 points per game over the last four games of the season. However, the Raiders are currently projected to score the 6th fewest points in all of the NFL. On top of that, only the Panthers, Patriots, and Broncos are projected to win fewer games than the Raiders. This is going to cap White’s upside. 

The Raiders will be playing from behind quite a bit this year leading to less running and more passing. Both Alexander Mattison and Ameer Abdullah are better receiving options than White which means White isn’t going to be on the field much for the two-minute drills and the numerous possessions the Raiders will have playing from behind. At his current value, short four-game sample size is not enough for me to trust a running back on a bad offense with very limited receiving work and two ACL tears. He’s going to have to score touchdowns to return relevant fantasy weeks which is why I prefer running backs going later like Pollard, Najee, and Brooks.

Javonte Williams

Sean Payton has had every chance to name Javonte Williams the lead back in Denver and has yet to do it. Javonte was one of the top running backs at breaking tackles during his first two years in the league before his leg injury. However, he finished just 41st in missed tackles forced per attempt among running backs with at least 100 carries last year. Payton has spoken highly of both Jaleel McLaughlin and rookie RB Audric Estime, stating that he loves Estime as a first and second down back and that Jaleel McLaughlin will see more touches this season. 

Williams now finds himself on a team that is projected to score the third-fewest points in the entire NFL. With increased backfield competition, there’s not much to be excited about for Javonte at his current price of RB27. I prefer players in better situations going later like Moss, Brian Robinson Jr., and Mostert.

Cade Grogan

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